My parents got married in 1988.
I was 6 years old. I was the flower girl and cute as a button. At the time, my mom and dad were 23 and 24 respectively. For those of you with a similar mind as ya girl, the idea of being married at 23 is not only shocking, but I want to push a bill into law that request folk do not get married until after 30 because whatttt?!! Why are you so young making such a big decision? I'm kidding...sort of. Do what ever moves you!
Watching incredibly young people navigate marriage as a kid was all I knew.
Growing up as a millennial has been an interesting thing to look back on as it relates to marriage. In one way, we felt like we had so much choice when it came to marriage. We thought about marriage in a completely different way and some of us don't think about it at all. My parents were together since they were 14 and divorced when I was in my early 30s. The reality is I saw a lot of the traditional aspects of marriage growing up. My grandparents have been married for almost 65 years. My grandmother cooked every meal for my grandfather until just a few years ago when at that time, she decided she wasn't cooking anymore. She cooks on occasion, but not nearly as often. As you can imagine, it was quite shocking for him. I actually felt bad for the poor guy.
When I decided to get married, there were some institutional aspects of marriage that I wanted to carry into my relationship. For example, I enjoy doing things for my husband. I really like cooking. I like the idea of creating a home for the two of us. I enjoy the aspects of girliness that come along with our partnership. The only difference is all of the aforementioned expectations I had for myself, on some level I had for him, as well. He also cooks, cleans and looks pretty. LOL!
One thing we don't really discuss as a culture coming out of our generation is this unspoken expectation of who is the leader of a household. Recently, singer Fantasia made a statement about the head of her household. Some of us sort of rolled our eyes, but there are people even younger than I am that still believe in a man being the lead. I don't buy into it as for me it reeks of antiquated ideals that quiet women and assume we do not have the ability to lead. I understand where it comes from and respect others who see this tradition as important. What I will say is my husband does have leadership qualities. He also has a very strong personality. He is an only child, went away to college, has traveled the world and is also Haitian. (If you know, you know.)
Now the truth of the matter is that I am also a leader. I also have a strong personality and can be very decisive in most areas of my life. So balancing those two ideals while also navigating the history of what a traditional marriage looks like has been quite interesting. Do I see him as the head of our household? Yes, of course. The reality is in some ways I am also the head. I think it varies based on different topics or ideas. I'm not here to judge other people for their reasons whether it is based in their religious beliefs or otherwise. I think we need to be open to the notion that sometimes we are walking through our relationships with traditional ideas of marriage governing us, but we may also be inserting aspects that work for the partnership you are in currently. Some of the traditions we bring with us work for our relationships and some of them don't.
I love the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". In the movie, there is a line by the mother who said, "Your father is the head, but I am the neck." We all laughed, but as I looked back on that movie I realized it is very dismissive to women. It says women have to be manipulative or secretive to be heard. In reality, some of us have to do that to get things done. I do not mean just in intimate relationships. If you think about it, we do it in work environments and in our family of origin. I'm not knocking the movie, but I am saying we need to consider how we directly and unconsciously block women from being leaders.
So, did our grandparents and parents have it right? I don't know. I don't think life is made of rights and wrongs. The gray area is more prominent than anything else. There are some traditions I really love like weddings, birthday parties and marriages. In other cultures, women have always been leaders. I think we need to balance how we see women today in the roles they carry both personally and professionally.