I read Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, in about 3 days. I respected her before, but I had a new found reverence for her after. The one thing that I love about the Obamas, is that they loved each other out loud.
Here is what I mean.
As the hardest portions of the their marriage (again referring to what Michelle Obama tells in her book-this portion of the book is the BECOMING US portion), Michelle tells how unhappy she was. She tells of how busy Barack was, and how other people’s marriages didn’t make it through what they had.
But here is where and what I think is the most important. Too often we assume, and expect, Black women to suffer the brunt of all the miscarriages of happiness and burdens of relationships. We’ve heard the stories, related to the women whose hearts were broken by the men they were making life with. Only to have to keep going–regardless of how you may feel. From that pain is supposed to bring and breed the strength Black women are supposed to be known for.
However, the things and people you love are never supposed to bring that kind of pain.
The thing that I love about the Obama’s was the strength they exuded. The tenacity to be together, no matter what is going on. Which is entirely different from having love be the backdrop to through the relationship’s issues on. President Obama frequently honors her, and tells the entire world that she has made him a better man. First Lady Obama had to endure more slings and arrows than any woman should in the public eye, and yet–she had to keep going. Yet, Barack still gave her the umbrella when it rained. Still held her hand. Encouraged her and still was her husband, while being the President.
This strength they developed was dynamic. It was evidence that married Black women are neither the mules nor the glue of a relationship. Every relationship has their moments where being together, staying together seems impossible. In the dynamic nature of the relationships, one part of that relationship may be called upon to support the other when situation needs. The truth strength of a relationship is being able to balance this dynamic! Being able to support one another even when it seems to be hard to do, or easier to leave.
The strength of Black couples, the belief that forever can be ours and theirs, seems superhuman. Especially, against the backdrop of a world that doesn’t value anything (or anyone) Black. In a world that believes if something stops working, it should all be thrown away or burnt to a cinder. This realization that these moments of strife and discomfort, are that–moments. What makes the love shown that much more precious, is when the both of you can remind the other these times are just moments.
The power of knowing these moments are fleeting is what makes a relationship the powerful forces they are! Knowing that the person you are building life with is entitled to mistakes, flaws, hangups and frailties allow you to be more in love with them than first thought. You would like that same radical love, same applicable strength should be given to you.
Black couples, the beauty of them, is the cultivated strength in them. The willingness to love each other, when the world cannot. To support one another, when the world does not. To make the decision to be together, even when the world doesn’t know what to do with either part of the YOU that makes the US. The decision, to choose the US, over the ME on a daily basis.
And as my Mama told me (which is the best relationship advice I have ever gotten), “Everybody can’t be crazy at the same time.”