Category Archives: Relationships

The relationships category provides man to man advice to young men of color. There are topics and discussion that men need to discuss. This category provides a platform for that firm discussion.

Lunch discussions Episode #3 Gender Roles

I headed to the cafeteria about 12:50pm, I was anxious, not sure why.

When I got to the area where we sit I noticed there were more people, more women sitting in the area. I guess that’s why I was anxious…the word got out. I got nervous so nervous that I walked past the group. I don’t know if I got caught up in looking for a seat or the numbers of eyes looking at me. Some of those eyes weren’t comforting, some of the glances had that latency of disdain. It’s going to be a long lunch, I know that look. Luckily the microwave was nearby so it appeared that’s where I was going. I heated up my food again…turned and saw them setting up the chair at the end of the table. It felt like I was being strapped to the electric chair but I was excited, my adrenaline was flowing…stay focused grasshopper.

Coming from the microwave, sitting down with my sirlion burger over rice I made the night before, ripping the little free packets of pepper, feeling eyes on me. I look up…one of my male homies is looking at me with the wide eyed, “dude it’s about to go down” look. I hear someone say, “That’s him.”

“So y’all think I’m looking for perfection?!” I jump right in.

The comments flooded in like I ripped duct tape off their mouths, “Mmm Hmm”….”Kinda”…”Get a white woman”….”Unrealistic”…”Go to Brazil” …”He must be muslim”…”Ain’t nobody perfect”

While the comments were coming back, I burned the roof of my mouth, shouldn’t have microwaved my food twice. “Men can’t handle a strong black woman.” one of the women throws out. That got my attention.

Most of the men roll their eyes or shake their heads…or both. “You mean an angry black woman.” I didn’t say that…it was someone else, male of course. I hear a lot of teeth sucking and the body language of the group was not that usual cool fun crew. It was suddenly contentious. I mean there was civility but this was no longer checkers or chess, this was a street fight. I’m in with both feet, “You think black men can’t handle a strong black woman, are you serious?!”

“Well,” same woman.

I respond, “Who do you think raised these men?! More importantly, in what society do you think these men were raised? Do you think this American society is kind to black men? Do you think we’re appreciated, honored, respected, or loved in this society?”

“Not really”…”No”…”Mmm mm”

“Oh you want a woman to submit…to OBEY,” a woman snaps “…men have dropped the ball.”

“Ooooooooh” chorus the men.

My homie gives me the “I’m your boy but you on your own” look. I felt like Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom. I respond, “No…not exactly but you can’t have two bosses. If I fight to exist, just enough to survive in this society, then why am I in a rush to come home to a strong woman that wants to fight?”

She responds, “I didn’t say fight.”

“Then what do you want to be strong for?…for me or for yourself? It’s my job to protect you and our family. I’m not saying to be weak and humble, I just don’t want to fight. If I make you the queen in my…sorry, OUR castle then why can’t I be the king?”

Feeling like I was responsible for this negative tone I try pacify the group, “Like I said, you can’t have two bosses. I’ll give you an example…a woman spent the night. Next morning… I’m washing her car while she’s in the shower. The night before, she mentioned that she was going to get her car washed in the morning after she left my house. I didn’t volunteer that night because I wasn’t sure if I’d feel like it but her dirty rims were bothering me so I washed her car in the morning. When she got out of the shower she saw me out back…drying her car.”

A woman in the group was like, “That’s what’s up.”

“Wait…that’s not the point I’m trying to make…wait for it.”

I continued, “as I was drying the car she leaned out the door and asked, How do you want your eggs? I didn’t immediately know what she was talking about…cause I didn’t know she was cooking, then realizing it I said, ooooh cool, scrambled baby…she grinned cause that was the first time I called her baby.”

One of my boys joked, “That’s pretty Smitty from Philly!”

That statement brought some levity but I continued in between chuckles…

“It was a quid pro quo yes but it was reciprocated. My point is…we didn’t discuss it, she didn’t feel like I’m “too strong” to be cooking for a man, it was just the roles we fell into and we were comfortable with ourselves doing what was natural.”

She continued, “Oh so you want the woman to cook?”

Now I’m kinda annoyed, “You’re killing me, NO she doesn’t have to cook but damn if you’re sitting there not doing anything while I’m washing your car, maybe I won’t wash your car next time…maybe there won’t be a next time.”

“I can wash my own car.” she is keeping it going.

“You know you’re making my point…right.” I quipped.

She’s not done fighting, “I’m just saying, I don’t need a man to wash my car.”

“Men have to feel needed…” stirring my now warm food.

“Cause I can get a man”

Now I’m pissed, Yes anyone at this table can get a man, but can you keep him?!”

“Let me ask you, where has the new found strength in women gotten us, where are all the successful marriages with these strong women? All I see is broken families, ‘Me Too’ movements, child support payments, brunches and girls trips.”

I respond, “The problem with society’s strong black women is they want to wear the pants and also get the benefits of a woman when it’s convenient. They want a gentleman to treat them to dinner but want to make the same salary and not pay for the date. You can’t have it both ways.”

“Real strong black women don’t ever have to say they’re strong black women, you just know it.”

“My concern is that the gender roles are screwed up. Women have become so independent they don’t know how to be vulnerable. Men are dealing with a generation of women that have been raised hearing, “Don’t depend on no man, get your own” Fathers raising their daughters to be strong, almost like young men. On top of that, women are in the workforce dealing with leadership positions, that “I’m a BOSS” syndrome, so they get home and can’t or don’t want to turn that s#@% off…just my opinion.”

Another woman in the group said, “It’s hard to let your guard down sometimes.”

“Ok…but you’re sleeping with these men…but NOT letting your guard down?!…I’m asking.”

“Hey…NOT judging cause I’ve been the guy slept with! I’m just saying, don’t you think that’s backwards?! Society has hardened our women, some of you have masculine energy.”

One of the new women repeats a question from before, “What are you looking for?”

I respond,

I’m not looking for a perfect woman I can live with

…I’m looking for a woman I can’t live without.”

“Preach brother Preach!”

We laugh until he someone brings up Gayle King and her insensitivity to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.

“I’m done with Gayle King, I’m boycotting anything she is associated with…done.”

MPM

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My marriage argument…Part 2

https://middlepassagementor.com/2020/01/20/my-marriage-argument-part-1/

Eating my chili con carne, trying to dismiss the sting a little bit, “I’m 49 thank you, I’ll be 50 next year.”

I continued, “I didn’t plan to be single and without children at this age. It just happened…timing, career and maturity, I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to profess to be blameless in this situation.

I’ve been in bad relationships and stayed too long…

and been in some good relationships and didn’t stay long enough.

Like I said, timing, career and maturity, but yeah but after it’s all said and done…I’m not unhappy.”

She kept coming at me, “So are you scared of marriage?”

“Well…I didn’t succumb to the pressure of getting married or have kids just to check off a box in my life’s accomplishments. I’ve witnessed, in the last two decades, the integrity of marriage disintegrate. There’s almost an assault on marriage, like marriage has become obsolete with women and their new independence. Divorce parties, monthly child support payments, cheating, work husbands and work wives…man please.”

Noticing attitudes in the air, “I’m not saying it’s all women’s fault, it’s just that women have changed. Women have the option to cash in and take half the assets on the way out.”

The “marriage is work” dude said, “That’s scary bro.”

This was chess and she was pursuing my king, stopping all the side conversations she said, “You didn’t answer the question, are you afraid of marriage?” eating her salad, not looking at me but definitely understanding her tone and relishing in the quiet of the table.

I was a little annoyed, “No…I’m not afraid of marriage…I’m afraid of divorce.”

“Damn…that’s real.” someone(male) said.

I continued…”I know 4 men that are going through divorces…right now! Two of which are very close friends of mine and they are in pain. I’m not talking about who’s fault it is cause I don’t live with them…I’m talking about dividing up a family. One friend who went from a three thousand square foot house to renting out a room in a townhouse.” He told me, “No one wins in a divorce but the children definitely lose.” He also told me they spent, collectively, ninety thousand dollars on the divorce in legal fees. He told his wife, “We spent 90k on a conversation that we could have had ourselves… we could have invested in the kids…his ex-wife said to him, “I was mad.”

So with society’s casual disrespect to marriage, I’m not in a rush to get into a contract that I hope doesn’t get derailed by emotions.

A married man told me…

“Women marry with hopes the the man will change..and they don’t.

Men marry with hopes that the women won’t change…and they do.”

Looking directly at her I said,

“So let me ask you a question…”

waiting for some of the side conversations to stop,

“…did you plan to be divorced with 2 kids at your age?”

The women in the group were revealing, in their body language, the pain and reality of the question. The tilted heads and stealthy side glances at each other but not at her. There was also a slightly uncomfortable silence at her end of the table, so much that people, all of us, realized we better get back to work.

I continued, “You had the option of moving on because he makes payments for his kids, but he is handicapped financially with the threat of jail time if delinquent. Now you both have to explore options of a blended family, not to get in your business but I don’t want to do that to my family…ever.”

“I don’t want that for me, my family or my kids. I don’t want abbreviated visits, trading weekends and intermittent time with my children. Yeah maybe it’s old fashioned or traditional but that’s how I was raised. I don’t bend to every societal whim, sexual swinger trend or gender confusion. I believe until death do you part. I don’t want marriage if me or my potential wife immediately see these exit strategies as options.”

Checkmate.

Another woman in the group said, “You seem like you are looking for perfection.”

I wanted to address that but I saw my boss glance at the clock when I was leaving the office to go to lunch.  Someone, right on time, said, “We want to keep our jobs right?…let pick this up tomorrow.”

As people were leaving, a couple people asked, “What time you coming tomorrow?”

“12:45pm,” looking back at the woman that asked the perfection question, “Is that a good time for you?”

“Yes”

“Ok then…be ready.”

MPM

“When in a relationship, a real man doesn’t make his woman jealous of others, he makes others jealous of his woman.”
Steve Maraboli

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
Audrey Hepburn

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My marriage argument…Part 1

In the company cafeteria, all the next generation ambitious black people would sit together during lunch talking about dating, office racism, who got fired or hired and the next happy hour or event. While conversing the fellas would give a conservative nod or silent greeting to the corporate honeys walking by and likewise the women would give some eye hustle to suited dudes and both men and women would confirm with their friends in the circle the eye candy passing by. Only when the subject was heavy all attention was inward and this was one of them.

This one dude says, “Marriage is work.”

I usually allow opinions to float over me but when there’s a right or wrong issue or an opinion that I feel passionately enough to support or defend, I welcome the fight.

I paused while I swallowed to get my response out and said,

“No…marriage should be maintenance, not work…at least not all the time.”

I knew what he was going to say and right on que…

“How do you know?! You never been married.”

I said, “Yes but I’ve bought a car before.”

A collective group chuckle, “What?!”

He dismissed, “Man you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I said, “When I’m in a relationship I invest in it…flowers, wine tastings, Kennedy Center events, dinners, weekend trip to the islands, etc.”

As I looked at the women getting all geeked on what I just said, “Don’t get it twisted, I hope that my woman would reciprocate in some why, I’m not going to be just putting out and she don’t do something.”

Someone (female), “Something…I know what that something is.”

“No…it has little to do with sex, it has everything to do with her just showing her appreciation somehow.”

My “adversary” continued, “If you looking for 50/50 you’re going about it the wrong way.”

I said, “Not at all…that’s NOT what I’m saying, it’s never 50/50 and if you keeping score you shouldn’t even be in a relationship at all.”

“What I’m saying is maintenance has to be frequent, just like when I own a car, I detail it, change the tires, tune up, premium gas sometimes, change the brakes, armor all, hell sometimes I even shampoo the inside. I expect the car to have a clutch or some major repair once a year maybe…on a bad year twice but not every damn month. If I own a car that is repeatedly in the shop, why would I want to keep it?”

“Just like a woman…if she’s arguing, lying, not communicating why would I keep her around? What cause she looks good?!  That’s gets old quick!”

Someone joked and said, “Is it a new Jag?”

I laughed and said, “That’s my point…you buying the Jag cause it looks good but it costs more money to maintain that Jag.”

“Just like some women that are high maintenance…you choose to deal with that bullshit, that’s your fault.” (I knew that statement was a little aggressive so I backed off…the group is usually clowning or joking but I’m passionate about these black family subjects.)

I softened up and said, “Look…I’m not saying anything about your marriage or your woman bro, I don’t know her or you, but I know I’m not keeping a woman or a car that’s causing me more stress than it’s worth.

Why would anyone stay with a man or woman that is not helping you or reciprocating love in the way you recognize, why the hell would you marry them?!”

“Look I’m single and hella happy and marriage, for me, hopefully will be just as happy as my “single-hood.”

A woman in the group whispers something about perfection…or me looking for perfection. I responded, “I’m not looking for perfection…I’m looking for perfect for me…chemistry, you can’t fake that”

A woman said something serious at the end of the table that had everyone’s attention. I could tell it was serious by the body language of the group…I didn’t hear it so I said, “Say it again…I’m sorry.”

A woman was pointing her fork at me, a woman I knew to be newly divorced with 2 kids.

Holding her fork up pointing at me she said, “So if you’re not looking for perfection, how did you get to 45 and never been married or have any kids?”

All eyes were on me…

My marriage argument…Part 2.

MPM

“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
Mary Ann Shaffer

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Repairing relationships: Apologize and Forgive

I saw the video of the Magic Johnson Isiah Thomas’ reconciliation.

First…I really didn’t know they had beef, but when I saw the emotions it validated that whatever happened was real.

Second…I was happy to see these two iconic black men, moguls even,  humble enough to apologize. I have nothing but respect for them.

Just think, these two friends, for whatever reason, stop being friends for all those years. Sometimes we get in our feelings about things that really don’t matter, sometimes.

Maybe it mattered at the time and you can be mad but to hold a grudge for years…it’s really not worth that amount of time.  The misunderstanding, communication, joke that went bad…in the grand scheme of things, whatever you’re mad about, it’s not that important to hold on to the anger, let it go.

So…when you’re with your family this holiday season, remember the things that are important, forget the things that are not. I just thought it was important to share.

Lastly…they both joked at the end of the hug, the apology lasted about 3 minutes and it was over that fast. Think of the decades of missed memories between friends, resolved in 3 minutes.

Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas

MPM

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