Written by Nisa Muhammad
Once again the latest news about Black women and divorce is bad news. Research from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) at Bowling Green State University, using 2010 Census data, shows that Black women have substantially higher rates of first divorce compared to all other racial and ethnic groups, at 30.4 divorces per 1,000 women in a first marriage.
I could have told them that and saved the researchers time plus money. Black women are the least partnered women in the world. I repeat: the world. When it comes to love and marriage we are the least likely to do it and, if we do, the first to call it quits.
Black children are suffering with high rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, low standardized test scores, and high incarceration rates. The list goes on and on because couples refuse to see the value of marriage; they ignore its benefits to everyone involved (men, women, children, communities and faith institutions) and refuse to make a commitment that lasts a lifetime, not just until the problems come.
The study does explain some variances. Women with college degrees have lower divorce rates. Among Blacks, Asians and Hispanics, women with less than a high school degree have a similar low divorce rate compared with women who graduated from college.
Among Blacks and Hispanic women, the lowest first-divorce rates were found among women with less than a high school diploma. In other words the less educated Black women are, the more likely we are to stay married. People gravitate towards the applause in life. If your applause comes from your husband and children, you will put more time and attention there to cultivate the applause. On the other hand, if you have several sources of applause in your life such as husband, children, career and education, some people choose the course of least resistance and give it more than it’s due. Sometimes we are so affirmed by everything but our spouses that our marriage becomes last on our list of things we devote ourselves to and the first to go when things get rough. Being a working wife and mom requires skills in juggling so many things that sometimes our marriages don’t often get the attention they should, and we don’t get the care we should. It may seem like a lose- lose situation, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Things can be better.
Too many enter marriage looking for a way out, looking for the exit sign when they run into problems instead of looking for a way to solve the issues most couples face.
I ask couples around the nation that if their car breaks down how quick are they to just throw it away. How likely are they to condemn their home when a window breaks or if the air conditioning breaks down? Their answers are the same. Most people will go to great lengths to fix their car, repair a window and the air conditioner. Yet so many do so little when their marriage breaks down and don’t treat their family as important as their air conditioning!
Getting help for your marriage takes courage and certainly more effort than just calling a repairman, and so many people are reluctant to make the call. So couples suffer and too many marriages fall by the wayside. We don’t calculate the high costs of divorce – neither the financial costs nor the emotional ones, the social costs or the psychological ones. We just choose to lose instead of continuing to invest in our marriage for the greatest payoff ever.
With all of the gloom and doom that those divorce statistics offer, however, there is a silver lining. All across this country organizations, groups, families and couples are preparing for Black Marriage Day, March 25, 2012. Celebrating our ninth year in over 300 communities, we are preparing to show the world once again that marriage matters, bad marriages can become good marriages, and good marriages can become great. Black Marriage Day offers workshops, conferences, dinner dances, programs, inducts couples into a Black Marriage Day Hall of Fame and more. It celebrates marriage and also promotes services to help couples in trouble.
Each community is different and offers something unique to couples, singles, parents and youth. Wedded Bliss Foundation is in the business of changing the hearts and minds of the Black community to reconsider marriage and reconsider divorce. Together we can change these horrid statistics and create a better future for all.