At the naive age of 19 years old, I moved into my first apartment with a friend of mine. I thought I had life all figured out, only to quickly realize that I didn’t know Sugar Honey Ice Tea! My new roommate and I were in different spaces in life. I was in a “committed” relationship and she was single. I was the epitome of Destiny Child’s song, Cater To You: I literally fixed his hair and put his durag on. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, made his lunch for work. I would have his shower running for him when he got home! I was a domesticated dream, but my mouth and attitude was a nightmare (still can be sometimes). When I discovered that the man I had been everything to (so I thought) cheated on me and created a child within his infidelity, I was devastated. I remember telling Mr. Heartbreaker, “I may not be the prettiest girl in the world, but I know I am a damn good woman!” Mr. Heartbreaker had a different opinion and let me know “You satisfy me sexually and domestically, but you don’t satisfy me emotionally”.
From that relationship, I got this wisdom that I will share with you.
- Listen to men.
A lot of times men tell us directly what it is they need. But we spend so much time trying to decode the already forthright message that we completely do not hear what they are saying.
While in the relationship with Mr. Heartbreaker I would call him a Momma’s Boy, the B word and if the spirit moved me, and I got angry enough, I would even put my hands on him. I would remind him, “This is my house, and you can go!” I would talk on the phone to my friends about him, loudly, to ensure he heard me. Whenever his friends were around? I would make sure they knew that I was the boss in this relationship.
- Do Not talk down to them.
When has anyone, no matter the gender, or age, enjoyed being belittled? However, when it comes to Black men this should never be an option. If positivity, praises, or positive corrections aren’t coming out of your mouth, then it shouldn’t be said. Even if you feel they don’t deserve it, just keep in mind how they are belittled in this world by so many other entities. The last place they should receive treatment like that is from their own.
We often say we want a man to show his sensitive and vulnerable side. But when he does, we roll our eyes, huff and puff, or sometimes even go back to belittling him verbally! I have personally been guilty of this. Even in recent times within my current relationship. I’ve shown “tough love” in times when he was vulnerable about his thoughts and feelings
- Comfort them when necessary.
We have seen the Memes and quotes “Be His Peace”. In the midst of life’s storms that will definitely blow our Black men’s way, we should be that place of comfort for them. When they need to scream, cry, or even just vent! Sometimes just knowing they have a shoulder to lean on or listening ear for just a moment is enough to keep them pushing forward.
Although we need to be that necessary comfort for our Black men, we also need to be their push. The self-motivation should already be there, but we should be there to help them keep pushing. Cultivating their ideas. Using resources to help them obtain their goals. Not letting them make excuses on how or why they will not be able to achieve something.
- Challenge Them.
When he shares an aspiration, don’t let him just give lip service! Ask follow up questions that make him not only think, but light a fire under him to make him want to go that much harder to achieve it. You may even have to go as far as assigning him tasks: creating a business plan, 5-year goal chart, vision board, or maybe even a small 6-month goal plan. Keep him on his toes sis!
As much as we like to remind our men “I am not your mother!” To a certain extent we do have to take on that maternal role for them. While I do believe in gender equality, I also believe in traditional roles. Yes, household responsibilities can and should be shared. However, there is still a capacity for us to be nurturing to our Black men. Especially for the hard-working Black men
- Romance Them.
They may not say it out loud, but running your man a nice bubble bath after a long, hard day of work will make him melt like butter. Sending him flowers to his job or pick up some on the way home and give them to him. Let him have control of the TV for the entire day or night. Plan a date night and take care of all of the details. Leave notes in his wallet, jacket, car, or lunch to find. Compliment him unexpectedly or try learning about his interest.
*disclaimer* I am not a licensed relationship therapist or have conducted a statistical field study. So if these suggestions do not work. I am not responsible! I love you guys though 💙