#TBT – 5 Things Every Man Needs to Learn Before He Gets Married
Wedding season is in full swing. This 2014 article is for the men interested in being married one day.
I’ve been married for almost two years, but I still feel compelled at times to share bits of wisdom I’ve collected over the years with singles that have intentions of being married some day. I think it’s especially important for married men to share with single men because so much of what we have all been taught about being a man is counterproductive to having a good marriage. I hope current husbands will also find this list useful because sometimes we don’t realize we’ve brought some unhealthy beliefs into our relationship until after we’re married. That said, here’s a simple list of five things every man should know before tying the knot.
1. Women are people, not objects
Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately too many men have grown up believing women are objects to be collected or challenges to be conquered. This is a global problem, but this first lesson is especially important for the millions of black men who grew up hearing men that look like them casually refer to women as “bitches” and “hoes” in their music, in movies, and on TV shows. Understanding this fact will impact every interaction you have with a woman, whether as a single man on the dating scene or a married man at work. Most men will give lip service to how precious women are when they are talking about their own mother, aunts, grandmother, or daughters. Sadly, some of the same men who talk about their love for mom will leave their mother’s house and harass the first woman they see on the street. Your future wife will have her own thoughts, desires, ambitions, and feelings, but it will be hard for you to receive them and value them if you don’t see her as your equal. Always remember, “objects are collected, people are respected”.
2. Being a good husband requires more than having a degree and a job.
I know a number of black women who have dated in big cities that have described what I would characterize as a sense of entitlement among many of the black men they have encountered. Given the effects of substandard schools, mass incarceration, and unemployment, I could understand how some men with a degree and a job could have an over-inflated sense of their value on the dating market. While impressive on paper, advanced degrees and ambitious career aspirations say nothing of your ability or desire to resolve conflict, practice forgiveness, or encourage your future wife in her professional endeavors. Make no mistake, I certainly believe that part of my duty as a husband is to provide for my family. But, meeting material needs is only one aspect of provision. My wife also has social, emotional, and spiritual needs that a paycheck or letters behind my name won’t help me meet. I’ve learned the hard way that becoming a good husband requires moving beyond the basics.
3. Nothing you bring to the table is as important as your character
The type of husband you become will be strongly influenced by the type of man you are, and ultimately the consequences of a lack of character development (e.g. infidelity, abuse, etc.) will be remembered far longer than your ability to pay the bills. Your honesty, consistency, and integrity are not just a personal foundation for you. And, will also serve as a source of stability in your marriage and prepare you for the many challenges that you will face over the course of your relationship. Men have been mistaught for so long to focus on the parts of our lives that are easiest to quantify while neglecting the intangible qualities that really make us who we are. Thankfully, it’s never too late to develop the type of character that will help you weather the storms that will come in your marriage.
4. You need to love you before you can love her
I’m willing to bet that almost every relationship book for women includes some advice to women about learning to love themselves. The same advice holds true for men. A man that does not love himself or cannot accept himself is not ready to become a husband. If you are not happy with your life or have not dealt with the hurt caused by bad relationships, abuse, or family issues, you will find it difficult to fully receive or give love in your marriage. It’s important to know the type of baggage you bring into your relationship so that you can own your feelings and start on the road to healing. There’s one other point you need to know about being comfortable with who you are and where you are in life. If you are intimidated by a woman that is smart and successful or makes more money than you, that’s your problem, not hers. No woman wants to be with a man that has to make her (or others) feel small for him to feel adequate.
5. One body has to be enough
Sex is one of the most important parts of marriage, but many people don’t realize that we begin preparation for our married sex lives long before our wedding day. As a Christian, I believe that sex was created to be enjoyed within the context of marriage. While that may seem archaic to some, I have seen the types of problems that arise when one or both parties fail to properly manage their sexuality as singles.
For men, mismanaged sexuality often takes the form of unrestrained indulgence. We are trained from an early age to believe that manhood is defined in part by the number of women we’ve been with. We are also taught that it is normal for men to feed our sexual appetite in whatever ways we find convenient, from mistresses to strip clubs to pornography. All of these things reinforce one message: one body is not enough. And while we have come to see this as a fact of life for single men, taking this attitude into marriage is a recipe for disaster.
A man who has sought variety and relished the feeling of conquest (again, see #1) may find the transition to a single partner in marriage to be quite difficult. That’s why men who have no desire or show little ability to remain monogamous should not get married. One body has to be enough. That’s what you commit to when you take your vows and that is the expectation your wife should rightfully have. In the event that you fall short of that standard for any reason your response should be to confess what you have done wrong, accept the consequences of your actions, and begin to do the hard work of rebuilding trust in your relationship.
There are certainly other things I could say to my single brothers, but I think these five are a good start. Marriage is a big commitment and it is never too early to begin preparing to be a husband. Doing so will likely require throwing out some of the things you’ve learned about what it means to be a man. It may feel like hard work, but it’s necessary if you want your marriage to be successful. Trust me, your future wife will thank you.
What’s the one thing you think every man should know before he gets married?
*Original article can be found on Black and Married with Kids.