Why Don’t We Focus our Marriage Ideology on Young Black Men?

Young Black Men and Marriage

Rachel Miller-Bradshaw wonders why the Black community doesn’t prompt young black men to become spouses the way they do for young black women.

From the time I turned 28 the pressure was on for me to find a husband. People would ask me if I had a boyfriend, and when I would say yes, they would get on me to get that ring. When I turned 30 and was still single it was a state of emergency for my family and friends. Many would tell me “get on it soon while you’re still desirable.” All of these statements started to get to me and it made bitter, anxious and quite frankly depressed at times. I come from a Guyanese-West African household where marriage was important, even a dysfunctional one.

I understood how important the institution of marriage is. I always knew that I wanted to be married. I proclaimed that I would be some man’s wife. I got that marriage is important and productive for family structure and wealth building.
The pressure made me aggressively pursue marriage and I realized that I made “being married” to fit in line with people’s opinions more important than who I was looking for to marry.

But there was another aspect to my situation. I couldn’t force or pay a man to marry me- well maybe, pay, but why should an attractive, independent, good-natured woman have to do so. I was holding my breath waiting for my future husband.

I was able to exhale 3 years ago when I met my husband, the love of my life, my best friend. I remember a church member telling me “I was lucky to find a husband”; another told me “I beat the statistic.” These weren’t personal slights against me but it is just the reality of so many women, professional or not, especially in the African American community.

I often wonder why the pressure society places on women to marry are not directed towards men. Women can’t marry if their male counterparts are not willing. A man can enjoy his single life well into his late thirties and be viewed as a catch. The community has to place more emphasis on socializing young boys to desire to be husbands and family men. Music and television often glorifies a man’s singledom. It’s perpetuated as being cool. It is not cool to say “I desire to be a husband.”

As parents, we have to raise our boys to prepare for marriage. We have to change our mindset to reflect a gender balanced belief on when individuals should be married if we consensually adopt this as a community. We have to make them understand that women do have a biological clock and work on a different time schedule. If we focus on commitment with our boys they won’t fear it. In our households, we have to display happy marriages to leave a good impression on our boys. If we can do this our boys and girls will be on the same page and women won’t be the only ones answering the dreaded questions about getting married.

Photo: Flickr/JoelleIm

About Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

Rachel Miller-Bradshaw ​, a Harlem native, ​fell in love with film as a teen and eventually merged her passion for social advocacy and television producing to create Little Harriet Productions , a production company that vows to create appealing visual content to spark conversation within African American communities.

Since the company’s creation, Miller-Bradshaw’s produced her first documentary, On My Own, which explores the overwhelming trend of single motherhood in America.


  1. Why was my first comment deleted? It stated clearly the climate that affects men and the reasons they turn away from marriage.

  2. As an African American woman – singe, never married, I can honestly say that I do agree with the article; not because I am unmarried, but because what is stated has a lot of truth to it. Our community is so disjointed when it comes to valuing and respecting relationships and unfortunately it is more common (and to some degree acceptable) to have (several) children out of wedlock, be called ‘baby momma’ or ‘baby daddy’ and never make a full commitment to that woman who bore their children – given there was any forethought in the beginning as to who/m they are laying down with. I also think that is why we are so behind economically because we dismiss the notion that marriage can benefit both individuals when it comes to financial health. Our community does not value marriage and I disagree with Josh when he says that marriage is only beneficial to women. Marriage is beneficial to men as well as long as both individuals are committed to the relationship and the integrity of their union.

    • Point out exactly how marriage is beneficial to men?
      The risks out weigh whatever marginal financial benefit.
      Once there are children involved the risk goes up and the financial margin goes negative.
      Even if those risks never eventuate whats the advantage?
      Marriage is such a sham now the event it self is just consumerism.
      The risks are more apparent in black communities. For what ever reason feminism has been far more successful in destroying black families above all. Perhaps on the back of lower economic situation?
      Don’t get me wrong its a problem. Fatherlessness is the big issue here.

  3. Tom Brechlin says:

    Watch “house wives of (fill in the blank)” or “Bridezillas” or any number of reality shows and then ask me why “marriage” isn’t being encouraged.

    Take a look at the % of fatherless kids and the affect it’s had on the kids. I don’t think I’ve even had a conversation about marriage where someone didn’t say “I was raised by just my mom and I turned out well” or “Are you saying kids in single parent homes turn out bad?”

    Marriage used to be something that was a hope for both men and women but society has tarnished it. Can’t talk about marriage with someone, usually a women, who rants about her ex being an ass wipe.

    The reality is that kids raised in intact families do better overall. But no one wants to say that because it will maybe “offend” someone.

    I’ve been 39+ years and do ya one better, my wife and I were virgins when we got married. Some things DO work but because it goes against the societal grain, many don’t want to hear it.

    Josh made some very good points. When I got married, things were simple. My wife wanted to be a wife and a mom, I was perfectly happy being the bread winner. And now that we’re empty nesters, I still work and my wife is a stay at home wife and super great grandma. Two traditional roles that the feminists destroyed many years ago.

    For my married daughter … she’s a stay at home mom and her hubby is the breadwinner and besides being a damn fine fireman, he’s an amazing dad. Sadly, my unmarried son is waiting for the right women. He wants to be married but the women, not interested.

    Great points Josh …..

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