I’m going to go out a limb and speculate that most people who are mad at Tyler Perry, aren’t actually mad at what he said. What he said is rooted in reality, and actually exemplifies true love. A marriage built on the fact that a man can provide for you is destined to fail—what happens if he can no longer provide? Ideally a relationship is about making a connection, feeling safe, being able to share the ups and downs while being vulnerable, trust, and of course joy. I would absolutely rather have a husband that loves, cherishes, supports, and protects me but can’t contribute financially than one who pays all the bills but neglects, scolds, alienates, and mistreats me. I think majority of women would say the same…
So why is it that a large number of women are upset with Tyler Perry and his comments? I think it has a lot more to do with the consent barrage of advice and condemnation that is pushed toward women—specifically black women. I can’t think of anyone going viral discussing where there is room for improvement for men, or telling men they should settle or lower their standards.
TD Jakes has a viral clip—from Father’s day—where he admits that the behavior of many women is a reflection of men hurting or not protecting them, but the majority of the clip is him saying how masculine women are and complaining that we can buy houses or cars. It’s very possible that he went on to talk about how men can stop hurting and start protecting women or how to help build trust with a woman who is in the process of healing. However, if he did turn the conversation back to the men, that part didn’t go viral.
In Tyler Perry’s viral clip, he suggests that black women are making more money than black men and so, women should be ok with a man who cannot contribute much to the house financially. Once again, we only have a piece of his message and any part that might have included encouragement to young black men about pursuing more lucrative careers didn’t spread around the web.
Neither man was particularly wrong, but ironically they’re also a bit contradictory. TD Jakes is telling us a man has to be able to “pour in to” us and can’t do that if we’re out here buying our own house and car, while Tyler Perry is telling us we should be ok paying the mortgage (buying our own house) and marry a man who is unable to “pour in to us.” Most of the advice thrown at women is like this. The same men who want “traditional” wives who focus on the home and rearing children, don’t want women to have any expectation when it comes to their ability to provide for said home and children.
Many women feel like they’re being told to expect less, accept less, and do more without any accountability or requirement for men. That’s why they’re mad.
Studies are showing that marriage rates are dropping, and not just among black people or even in the US. Yet, every time there’s a viral clip on relationships it’s pitting men and women against each other, and usually reinforcing a narrative that women expect too much.
The things people really need to be talking about are effective communication. Trust. Respect. How to show love/understanding love languages. Setting and respecting boundaries (i.e., the Keke Palmer situation). Working together. Vulnerability. Encouraging and inspiring people to be the best version of themself. Support—emotion and mental support that is.
Truthfully, any time we’re talking about relationships there’s fault on both sides. Just a cursory glance in any comment section shows that no narrative fits 100% of men or women. There were women who agreed with Tyler Perry (and TD Jakes), and women who disagreed. One size does not fit all. The only way such a drastic marriage decline could be the fault of one gender would be if all members of that gender thought and behaved exactly alike. That’s simply not the case. What’s actually happening in our society is way more complex, but men are pointing fingers at women and women are pointing fingers at men. That’s never going to solve the problem. Both sides have to listen, reflect, and compromise.
Choosing a Spouse is like Buying a House
Pardon me for cheesy rhyme but it’s actually true and all this chatter about what Tyler Perry said really got me thinking about it. I’m in the house hunting market for the third time in my adult life and I’ve realized there are so many parallels to choosing a spouse (and best of all they’re non-gendered parallels!).
🏠 Buying a House
💍 Finding a Spouse
Buying a house is a long term commitment. It’s not something you do on a whim.
Marriage is an until death do you part commitment. You shouldn’t do it on a whim.
Before you buy a house you typically have to talk to a bank about how much they will loan you. This number is determined by a bunch of factors, not limited to your occupation, salary, credit score, and debt. Some people be may denied the ability to get a mortgage all together, while some people may be granted millions of dollars. (There are also those who buy cash, but they’re also constrained by the amount of cash they have set aside for the house)
The sad truth is each of us has a different frequency of attracting people. The probability of another person saying yes to a date is not the same for all people. Contrary to popular belief, this difference isn’t just about looks. A variety of factors can influence how people respond to you—personality, economic status, and looks are a few of those factors.
There’s no such thing as a perfect house, so when you start shopping for one, it’s recommended that you create a list of must haves a prioritize it. Some of the things that typically end on these lists are proximity to work, good school districts for kids, amount of storage, upgraded finishings, a yard, a pool, etc.. Each person is going to have a slightly different list and they won’t be ordered the same way. Depending on your budget, you may only be able to find a subset from your list and depending on how you prioritized the list, you number one must-have may not be possible in your budget.
None of us are perfect. There are going to be things about your spouse that you may not like. Most people have a list of nonnegotiable traits (e.g., must have a relationship with the Most High) and wants or nice to haves (e.g., doesn’t already have a family—ex and kids). Many people have to reassess where things fall on the priority list as they age. For example, the older we get, the more likely our spouse may have started a family prior. Similarly, things like being equally yoked (particularly when it comes to faith or parenting philosophy) becomes more important as we age.
Realtors often remind you about resale value when you purchase a house. This is to make you think about how easy and profitable it will be if you ever decide to sell. If you go in with the idea that you want to sell eventually, you purchase the house based on trends and what other people will value. However, if you purchase with the intention of living there forever, you’re only concerned about what works for you.
Some people go into relationships for the long haul, but some people are just seeing what happens. If you date (or court) with the intention of finding someone to spend your life with, your focus is going to be a lot different than if you’re just looking for the next few months. You have to find what works for you not what other people want or expect.
Whether you stay in the same house for the rest of your live or move a few times, houses are an investment. You put some amount of money in and you get something out of it. If you sell the house, usually you make money. If you live there forever you gain memories, perhaps a certain lifestyle, and of course a roof over your head.
Relationships are an investment. This means that while you should receive something, you should also be putting something in. It is just as important for a wife to lift up, protect, and care for her husband as it is for a husband to lift up, protect, and care for his wife.
When you’re 25, a four story townhouse may be a perfect fit because it has a rooftop terrace for you and your friends to hang out in. That might not be so convenient when you’re 75. What’s more, it might not be so convenient if you become injured and can no longer climb stairs. Similarly, the empty lot beside your house could be turned into a liquor store if the zoning permits. I am a quasi-only child with aging parents so I chose a home that would still be comfortable if my parents came to live with me. When you’re housing hunting it’s important to think about what the future might bring and whether the house you’re looking at will allow you to adapt as the seasons of your life change
People do not (and should not) stay the same. We learn new things and grow every day. Those things take us in new directions, but usually there are indicators of what those directions will be. For example, I once met a man who said he would never live outside of Atlanta. Sure, 20 years from now he very well may be living somewhere else, but if that was truly a core belief of his, a woman who desires to live the life of a digital nomad probably isn’t a good fit. Conversations about where you see yourself in the future are crucial! While some changes are unpredictable there are definitely changes you can foresee.
Sometimes the things we don’t like about a house are simple cosmetic changes (e.g., paint colors, light fixtures, etc.). There are other changes that taking a lot more effort and are much more costly (e.g., fixing the foundation, redoing all the electrical work, etc.). And then there are some changes that aren’t possible at all. An example of this latter problem: I found a really nice townhouse, but it didn’t have any outdoor space—not even a balcony; not only would the HOA prevent me from altering the exterior of the unit, there wasn’t any room.
It’s not a good idea to go into a relationship thinking you will change a person. Nonetheless there are things about people that may change more easily than others. Please note that change only happens when the person decides for themself, of their own free will, that they wish to change. An example might be if you meet someone who is presently at an unhealthy weight but has already made a decision to eat better and workout. On the other hand a person who already has 8 kids is always going to be a parent (and if they decide not to be a parent anymore they’re probably not marriage material…).
References & Footnotes
- I say quasi-only child because I’ve never lived with a sibling and my sister and I have different mothers (so I’m actually my mom’s only child and my dad’s youngest daughter).
- Sally C. Curtin, M.A., and Paul D. Sutton, Ph.D. “Marriage Rates in the United States, 1900–2018”. National Center for Health Statistics. 2020; visited September 2023
- Nicole Hong and Zixu Wang. “Why China’s Young People Are Not Getting Married”. New York Times. July 10, 2023; visited September 2023