After the Broom

The Bougie Bridegroom Chronicles: Lessons Learned

A different perspective for you today. Rob, who met Amy here in BougieLand, will be flying to San Diego tomorrow in preparation for his wedding on Saturday. He has a few thoughts he'd like to share:

Hi, my name is Rob and I'm getting married this weekend. Less than five days from now, I'll be Mr. Bleek. Yes, I know I'm Mr. Bleek now but I'll be the Mr. as in Mr. and Mrs. *gulps air rapidly*

Here's what I've learned since proposing:

1. Marriage doesn't scare me but all the wedding shiggity planning in advance has freaked me out. I can honestly say that I don't care if the flowers are white or ivory. I don't care if Amy wears her hair up or down. I can dance to Johnny Cash and Johnny Gill, whoever. But it seems to be important to Amy, so I weigh in. Yes, I want my middle name on the invitation. Yes, I can find four groomsmen. Yes, teal is a beautiful color. No, I didn't know it wasn't the same as turquoise or ocean... but I do now. My lesson - if it's important to her, it's important to me - like it or not.

2. Guys that I thought were my friends have pulled me aside to question my sanity. "Rob, are you sure about this?" "Rob, my dude, marriage - really?" "Rob, what do you really know about her?" Very quickly, I was able to figure out which friends were trying to be helpful, which ones were hating, and which ones were bitter. It was illuminating. My lesson - there's got to be an easier way to learn who your friends are.

3. With the exception of the excessive extensive marriage counseling that we attended, we had very little time to actual think about the future. My lesson - thank God Amy and I had fleshed out who we were and what we wanted from each other before the circus started, otherwise we would be two strangers walking towards each other on Saturday.

4. Family means well but at some point the wedding becomes more about them then about us. Lesson learned - nothing wrong with eloping. 

5. Pre-Wedding TapBack is no joke. After the invitations went out and the Facebook statuses were changed, Amy and I have heard from people we hadn't given a thought to in years. I kid you not - my ex-girlfriend from the seventh grade reached out. Ma'am? Really? Lesson learned - Chele was right, beware the tapback.

6. Old(er) married people are your friends. Single people who have never been engaged, close to engaged or maintained a relationship longer than a weekend are useless to the bewildered and the betrothed. (And yet they feel compelled to offer up advice) I quickly learned to listen to the LMs (Long Marrieds).Best advice - You're never ready, but at least be prepared.

In conclusion, I'm over the engagement and the wedding - I'm ready to be married. Thanks BougieLand for letting me vent.

Bougienistas - any thoughts on Rob's thoughts? Any good wishes to send the future Mr. & Mrs Bleek? Do you think people plan more for the wedding than the marriage? The floor is yours...

Three things I miss/don't miss about being single by @AverageBro and @BBWaite

From @Average Bro - Three Things I don't miss about being single..

This September will officially mark my tenth year "Out Of The Game". If you read this blog with any regularity, you can probably guess what said "Game" is. That's right, folks, I've been happily married for nearly a decade now, which means I've defied most of the grim statistics (and boy, are they ever grim!) about black marriages.

I'd be the lassssst guy to tell you marriage is easy. It isn't. It requires a whole lot of compromise, a whole lot of changing, and a whole lot of "shutting up when you really feel like going off". Whereas lots of so-called experts consider marriage the cure to all that ails Black America, I don't necessarily agree. Some people (especially brothers) have absolutely no reason whatsoever for getting married, not now, not ever. A functional marriage means being in a perpetual state of growth. It goes without saying that we all know a bunch of 35 year old teenagers. Again, this ain't for everybody.

All that said, marriage isn't all bad. I wouldn't even dream of trading places with my single friends. And on that note, here's a few things I definitely don't miss about being single:

The Game - Let's face it, even if you're a guy who does relatively well on the dating scene, the whole dating/courtship game is still pretty annoying. You meet someone and wonder if they're really into you or just using you as a rebound from a prior relationship. Dating isn't cheap, and often is a waste of time. The posturing of showing someone your best side, just long enough to get what you want gets old. The bar/club/lounge scene, even in a city like DC where I live, gets monotonous and tired. There's a lot of posturing and BS involved. Frankly, it's a lot easier (in some ways) having just one woman to please.

The Loneliness - I'm sure a lot of guys are gonna be too gully to admit this, but yes, single guys sometimes get lonely too. You can have a great social life, but still find those rainy Thursday nights when the only thing on TV is a sh*tty Nuggets/Pacers game, and you'd much rather have some company. There's the annoyance of having to figure out who to take to your family reunion, cousin's graduation, etc. And yes, sometimes, at the end of a long day, you just want someone to vent to. When you're single, that someone isn't always there.

The Pointlessness - Around the time I turned 25, I looked up and realized that as much fun as I was having, I was basically treading water in life. Sure, I dated a lot, hung out all the time, and basically lived it up, but there was always the nagging feeling that weeks of my life were going by with little to show for it. Strange as it might sound, being married has given me purpose and focus in all my extramartial endeavors, career-wise, financially, even as a blogger. Yeah, I know that sounded silly. But then I look back and realize how many weekends I totally pissed away chasing chicks who really didn't deserve to be caught. By comparison, my focus in life is razor sharp now. I feel like I can literally accomplish anything, and the stability and focus of having a family to raise, love, and provide for gives me all the motivation I need.

From @BBWaite - Three things I miss about being single:

Mr. Waite and I have been married for over 20 years. I'll start counting again after the 25th anniversary. I love my husband, after all these years - I really do. I love my kids. I especially love the fact that all three children will be out of the house in about two more years (637 days, 2 months, 4 days, 12 hours... who's counting). I love my life. We're happy, financially secure, I'm secure in my faith and in my career, I'm fulfilled as a woman and a person. But...

I have to admit every now and then to looking at OneChele (and other singles) and feeling just a twinge or two of envy. There are a few things I miss about being single-

1) Picking up and going - She doesn't do it as much now but I was around for the days when Chele would get a phone call on Wednesday, throw her laptop and a couple outfits in a bag on Thursday and be off to all areas of the planet. As I planned bake sales, arranged carpools and juggled dentist's appointments, I watched her jet off to Hawaii and Spain and Italy. And I had to admit a part of me wanted to be there.

2) Single-minded decision making - I suppose I could go buy a new car and redecorate the upstairs without consulting my husband or worrying about saving for the kids' college funds but that wouldn't make me a very good steward, now would it? When you are single, you can decide to move to the West Coast and buy all organic products for two years. When you're married, you have to take others into consideration.

3) New Dudes - (not Dude Formerly Known as New, he was a huge disappointment) Mr. Waite gave me a serious side-eye when I typed this portion but after 20+ years both he and I know that while our passion, mutual respect and compatibility remain firmly in tact - there's very little novelty left. We have to really work to surprise each other. There are no more first kisses (God willing) for either of us. That "new-new" excitement is long gone. 

Now I already know (and Chele told me quite passionately) that I wouldn't trade what I have for any of the little things that I miss. I almost lamented about the inability to keep a pint of chocolate ice cream or leftover chinese food in the house. I almost went in on the ridiculous amounts of laundry and disappearing socks. But I kept it generic and light-hearted. Honestly, if I could jet off to Hawaii tomorrow, I'd want my husband with me. If I made all the decisions, I'd overthink them to death. And my husband still knows how to take my breath way, new-new or not...

BnB - What do you think? Show AverageBro and BB a little love for sharing their thoughts and experiences. Can you (married and single) relate to what they're saying? Did anyone notice the shot BB took at me (moving to the West Coast and buying organic)? How did you enjoy After the Broom week?

Five things I don't miss about the Single Life - a guest post by @TiffanyNHouston

In an interesting twist, I asked three different married people what they did/did not miss about being single. Tiffany is a newlywed so I wanted her "newbie" insights. Her story is below. Tune in tomorrow for the other two opinions and show her some comment love.

When Chele pinged me on my BlackBerry and asked me to write a guest post for After The Broom, I was a little confused. My response back to her was a question. I asked, “Have I been married long enough??” After all, I’m no marriage expert having been hitched a whole FOUR months. LOL!! But she said I did and so I write.

I got married later in the game, at age 37. I had a lot of time to enjoy being a single woman and all the benefits that come with it. But having crossed the burning sands into matrimony, there are certain things about singleness that I was glad to leave behind. Follow along with me, would you??? J

What I don’t miss about being single:

1. The minefield that is the dating game.

I was talking with my husband about this topic in general and the first thing he said is that he didn’t miss dating at all. (I should hope so! LOL!) After I gave him a strong side of disapproval, he clarified. What he meant is that he didn’t miss the anticipation of meeting someone that you feel has potential and then finding you and the person ultimately do not click. I nodded my head in agreement when he said that. I’ve been there, done that, and have several T-shirts and battle scars to show for it.

2. The endless loop of relationship discussions.

I was at a birthday party for a good friend Saturday night. My husband and I were the only married people at the table. The discussion turned to the subject of dating and relationships. It was kind of weird for me to be silent having participated in many of those type of chats. But this time, I just sat and listened. On the ride home, I told my husband how I didn’t miss those debates at all, going back and forth with my homegirls trying to figure out how men think. The only man that I have to try to figure out now is my husband. Trust me, I am still learning about him and that is MORE than enough.

3. Coming home to an empty house

Living with another person is an adjustment to say the least, but honestly I don’t miss coming home to an empty house. I enjoyed my solitude as a single woman but there were also many nights that I was lonely and simply wanted some conversation. I spent about as many Friday nights on the couch alone as I did out kicking it with my girls. One of the best parts of being married so far has been coming home to a long hug from my husband and being able to laugh at his silly jokes.

4. Hot steaming cocoa, without the guilt.

I don’t think this requires much explanation, but if you are a Christian you should feel me. LMAO!!!!

And last but certainly not least, the MOST important thing I don’t miss about being single…….

5. Being asked the infamous question: So why are YOU still single???

This annoyed me to no end when I was single and still annoys me now. People are single because they want to be or maybe because they are trying to work through some stuff or maybe because they just haven’t met the right person yet. But for whatever reason someone is single, they are and that’s that. It’s would be nice if folks accepted things as they stood. Being single is a state of being, just like being married is.

I love being married, I love my husband but I also cherish my single past. I think it actually has helped me to become a better wife. I had time to learn and grow and be my own woman. That is the best gift you can give your future spouse, the ability to be a full and complete person…..on your own.

For the BnB singles, do you get tired of coming home to an empty house? Are you one of the guilt-ridden about premarital cocoa? Married people, if you had to get back out there - what would be your hardest adjustment? The floor is yours...

Marriage isn't for everyone - Guest Post by FreeBlackMan

Today's post comes from FBM (FreeBlackMan) who as he says "escaped" his marriage less than a year ago. He has a unique perspective on marraige that I thought was worth a share. Show him some love:

(Shout out to OneChele who took my rantings and turned them into this post)

Truth - I stumbled out of my six year marriage like a wounded one-foot Kunte Kinte breaking for the Freedom Trail. That ish was indentured servitude. I'm still struggling with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). My whole marriage was trauma.

I met old girl in my junior year of college. She was highly sought after on campus. Not gonna lie, all I knew about her was that she was pre-law, member of a sorority that wears red, and had the bangingest body I'd seen in a while. I approached her, she seemed uninterested. I started dating her line sister and wouldn't you know, that piqued her interest. She chased me down like a lioness pouncing on a gazelle near the Serengeti watering hole. I went down hard.

What can I say? She was hot, ambitious, adoring, "spoke so well", very demanding of me and herself. Neither of us was particularly religious though we both believe in a higher power. I thought we loved each other. And did I mention she was hot? My non-knowing azz thought that was reason enough to seal the deal. I always planned to get married after college. In my mind that was time enough to sow the oats, see the field, pick one and lock it down. Yes. I know NOW I did it all wrong.

It never occurred to me that I was going to have to share my entire life and give up things I didn't want to give up just to call someone my wife. It never occurred to me that a woman being driven could quickly turn into controlling with a ring on the finger. I didn't know that a person without an organized religion can also be a person without a moral base. And I clearly didn't know what love was supposed to be all about.

I'm not blameless. I was hella immature. I thought marriage meant having a 24/7 sex partner, a chef, a housekeeper and someone to split the bills. I really didn't think much further than that. Someone should have pulled me to the side and wised me up (in other words, I could have used this series six years ago). When the going got tough, I shut down. And neither of us cared enough to repair the ever growing rift. Then came the frustration. Then we got mean. And then we started flagrantly cheating, I don't know who cheated first. It probably doesn't matter at this point. And then it was just ugly.

She was mad I didn't live up to her dream and I was mad she was still in my reality. I had nothing to prep me for living in the bowels of hell so I just hung out there for awhile cursing life. Until one day I realized - I don't have to live like this. After opening the window and screaming, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" I bounced. 

My mother always used to say to (scream at) me - You're so hardheaded, why do you have to learn everything the hard way? Deep masculine sigh... I don't know. 

I'm not anti-marriage. I may not even be anti-marriage for me. But I'm not sure I'll get married again. Sometimes ish falls apart. For me, it's easier to get out of if I don't have to involve lawyers and the court system. But that's just me. The planets gotta align and I have to know and trust that woman better than I know and trust my mama (and that's saying something). I need a woman without a Cinderella Disney-azz complex. I have to see no signs of potential crazy. I have had the windows busted out of my car... I don't care to repeat the experience. 

Long story short - good luck to the single folks trying to make it happen. Hats off to the married folk making it work. Fist bump to the almost, nearly and newly divorced who are intimately aware of that "bowels of hell" feeling. And yes, I'm working on being less bitter. You should have heard me six months ago. At least now I can say - Let my story me be a lesson to you...

Well now BnB, what do you think of this particular After the Broom perspective? Any other BnB divorce stories to share? What did you learn from FBM's story? And he wanted me to ask you all to guess (or list) where he went wrong from jump. He wants to compare your list with his. It's like group therapy this week on BnB. Join the session...

Three things Single Folks need to know about Marriage - guest post from @MaxReddick

Today's post comes from my blog brother @MaxReddick. He took a little hiatus from these innanets but now he's back and better than before. He hasn't posted over at SoulBrother V2 in a while but he's here to drop consider knowledge about his insights into marriage. Show him some comment love...

This upcoming May, my wife and I will have been married nineteen years.  Nineteen years!  We’ve been married so long now that people have begun to say we look like brother and sister.  I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but just to think that when we got married, people were taking bets on just how long it would last.

Now we’ve reached that stage of our lives in which younger people and couples actually seek us out for marital advice.  And the thing is that I really don’t know how our marriage has been successful;  I was just blessed to marry an incredibly intelligent, caring, and most of all, forgiving and understanding women, so I just follow her lead.  But my favorite bougie black blogger asked me to contribute my two cents, so here goes—a few things you single people should understand about marriage.

1.        The Ring Doesn’t Change a Thing
Take a second and think about everything that absolutely irks you about your intended.  Think about everything that absolutely drives you out of you natural born mind?  Well, if you plan on marrying this individual, you had better get used to it because you’ll more than likely be putting up with it for the rest of your lives together.

I hear it all the time:  “Girl, I’m putting up with that foolishness now, but as soon as I walk down that aisle and put that ring on my finger, a few things are going to change.  Hmmph!”  Girl, believe that foolishness if you want to because as soon as you walk down that aisle and put that ring on your finger, ain’t nothing changing;  he’ll be that same person he was before, except now you are stuck with him.

2.        Sex:  For Better or for Worse
I spoke with one of my younger fraternity brothers just a few days ago.  His wife is a pediatrician, and he is a young, up-and-coming attorney.  They have two young children under five, and just made a major investment in a custom built home.

Well, we had a few drinks, and Jose Cuervo took control of his tongue, and he in so many words lamented that marriage had somehow put the skids to a once apparently quite active and exciting sex life.  But marriage wasn’t the culprit;  it was reality.

I can remember the first few years of my marriage.  We had no kids, no bills, no distractions—just us in a one bedroom apartment.  And we got it in.  The older couple who lived below us eventually moved because of the noise.  They knew our names before we ever introduced ourselves.

Then came the kids and the careers and the twelve to sixteen hour days and the mortgage payments and the car notes and whatever other distraction you can think of.  Before long the choice between damn good sex and a damn good nap became quite a hard choice indeed.

But from it all we learned that sex was but one expression of our love for one another.  We could express our love by simply being there for each other, taking care of the emotional needs of each other.  And whenever the kids went to sleep early or were away, or we could steal a little time from work or had a long weekend, I would break out that old mixtape I made back in the day, the one labeled simply “LOVE”, and we make it do what it do.

3.        Happily Ever After Does Not Necessarily Mean You Will Be Happy Every Day
People always remark to me and my wife, “You two always seem so happy together.  How do you do it?”  Well, it’s all a mirage.  While we are happy most of the time, we have our bad days.

If I were to define our marriage with one word, it would be passion.  But passion runs both ways;  love and hate are flip sides of the same coin.  On some days I am so swollen with love that I have to think to myself, “What manner of voodoo has this here woman afflicted me with because I ain’t never loved no woman like that.”  Then on other days, maybe even perhaps in the same day, I’m thinking to myself, “Will someone come get this crazy behind woman.  What demon done got into her?”

But those bad days are few and far between, and most of the time, they hardly ever last even a day at all.  At some point a smile or a caress will make everything all better again, and then I’m searching desperately for the mixtape labeled simply “LOVE” and waiting to get voodooed all over again.

Bougienistas, who else is dying to know what's on that "LOVE" mixtape? What did you learn from today's post? Any questions for Mr. Reddick? Anything to add? The floor is yours.

The Truth about Marriage - guest post by @JaymeCinDallas

Kicking off After the Broom week is JaymeC. Jayme is our resident family psychologist and moral conscience. In addition to having more degrees that I can keep up with and being an all around good friend, Dr. Jayme is speeding towards her 20th year of marriage (a good one at that). So with that in mind: Respect, learn, share.

One of the things I find alternately fascinating and frustrating about society today is that there is so much emphasis placed on finding The One, catching The One, and having a perfect wedding with The One. I hate to say this (but I must) - as hard and trying as it is to find The One - multiply it twentyfold and it's that much harder to be married to The One.

Things that are sexy while dating can wear thin when you are also arguing about why the trash hasn't been taken out and whose turn it was to pick up the orange juice. 

The truth about marriage? It's hard work if you're doing it right. Marriage is a fluid, living thing. It must be feed, nurtured, allowed to breathe and change. It ebbs and flows and sometimes neither party in the marriage has a clue of where you are along the journey.

I have a system with Mr. C. When something feels a little "off" between us, I ask "Hot or cold today?" He answers honestly. If he's not feeling me, it's chilly. If everything's fine, it's room temperature. If we're all good, it's tropical. If we're room temperature or below, we schedule a time to get out of the house (away from the kids, the TV, the internet) and have a talk about it. Too many lukewarm days are (as Chele says) "no bueno." He does the same with me. Neither of us are mind readers. Pursed lips over coffee and cereal could be about the kids, the news, the weather or... our marriage. The only way to figure out is to ask.

The truth about marriage? It's not fidelity or finance you have to worry about... it's complacency. The minute you completely relax and start taking your spouse for granted, that's when someone spends money that's not in the budget, someone looks twice at that hot person in the gym, someone gains fifty pounds, someone stops communicating with you. It's the slippery slope from "we're okay" to "I have no idea who I married" that you have to be on the look out for.

You have to be willing to let your spouse become someone other than exactly who you married. As long as they morph into someone you still like and who still likes you, embrace it. 

The truth about marriage? If there's not mutual respect, chemistry and an agreed communication style to begin with, you're never going to make it. It's kinda cute when you're dating to settle every argument by swirling the cocoa. But three kids, two cars and a mortgage payment later - that's not always the ideal solution. I ask people in pre-marriage counseling to set up a standard of how they will 1) Manage Money 2) Make Decisions 3) Swirl Cocoa 4) Communicate 5) Split Household Chores. If you can agree on those five things, you are way ahead of the game.

The truth about marriage - It's totally worth it. I wish healthy, happy marriages on everyone at least once in their lifetime. That feeling of having someone on your side through thick and thin is amazing. The ability to look across the table and know exactly what the other person is thinking ("it's time to go, why did we come to this party?) is immeasurable. There's nothing to compare it to. Just trust me on this. 

When I do marriage counseling, I ask couples if they have the following feelings about their spouse 1) They won't hurt me intentionally 2) They love me unconditionally 3) They have my best intentions at heart 4) We're in this together. If one of those is missing, I know I have a lot more work ahead of me. But when those things are there? It's worth it.

Okay Bougienistas, Jayme has spoken. For the single folks - what struck you the most about Jayme's revelations? Any surprises? Anything really resonate? Married folks - agree or disagree? Any truths to add? Do share. The floor is yours...

After the Broom Week on BnB

"Jumping the Broom" is a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, or a symbol of new beginnings. Jumping the broom has become one of the most popular African traditions at "weddings of color." Generally, the broom jumping is the first act as man and wife.

So then what? Join us this week as we'll be hearing about life "after the broom" from some of our married folks. Should be interesting, come back through and check it out.