As a single man – never married, no kids, a true bachelor – who has a desire for such, I am “on the hunt” so to say. As time has gone by, the amount of engagement parties and weddings that I’ve attended and the number of my surrogate nephews and nieces has grown while my social status remains unchanged. This is not a thirst trap or a lamentation, it is simply to say that I am older than I thought I would be to still be in this same social status. Not an issue, yes lonely moments pop up here and there but the benefits of being unattached spark reciprocal envy in people who are in different phases of their life. “I wish I could stay out all night but these kids……..”.
Basically, there are pros and cons to every situation and I am learning to be at peace with them and to maximize the moment and whom I find myself with in those moments. That said, one of my life goals/dreams is to have my own family and my own wife to drive absolutely bonkers.
One needs to approach life with the full weight of their current level of experience. It would be a front on myself if I were to revert back to a 22 year old way of thinking when that age has come and gone. To date and pursue relationships with a 22 year old mindset would be foolish, things have changed, understanding has grown, priorities have evolved, patience is LIMITED. I ,at 22, was a man then but a young man without experience in manhood. The time to apply, stretch and prod at what I believed as a young man new to the ‘hood was short in duration. Faith and hope had not been challenged. The basic status of manhood was reached via age but it was without the depth of quality which can only be developed by pushing through the “contraries” of life.
As a church boy, as a nice Christian kid, we are raised with religious notions, ideas and gross generalizations of God and life. Now, as a man and man of God and a raw Christian who has at least one lap around the proverbial block of life under his belt, it is clear to see that the number of generalizations about life that are safe to make amount to zero. The complexities of life cannot be categorized, this tapestry of reality is overwhelming at best and requires a constant self-reflection to maintain balance. So it is safer to say that at this point I’d like to believe that I have more faith than religion and more evidence than ideas and more truth than notion. It gets silly to simply believe something with no result or applicability or to take out of context that which is supposed to guide us or take things at face value from what one person says.
The concept of manhood (especially in the black community as I represent and more so as a black Christian male) is under attack. This goes double, triple, x-time’s more for a woman, a black woman and a black Christian woman. I participate and frequent events hosted by friends and family and actively engage in dialogue where these concepts of manhood, womanhood relationships and dating are really being sifted through. My conclusion is that we are at an impasse of culture and truth and we are really struggling to figure out who we are as individuals. This ongoing struggle has our relationships suffering.
Long intro to this post but to understand something, one must return to the foundation over and over and for that reason I am focusing on the original Biblical marriage and the original identification of man and woman. This is very conveniently found in Genesis, the 1st book in the Bible. The word Genesis being translated as the Greek word for “origin”. It’s almost like God wanted the Bible to establish a few things about us from the onset…….
The basic overview, God created the world and all we see and lastly created man (Sidebar: the earth is for men so we should care for it). God said let Us make man in our image and likeness, so we are like God, we are NOT God but like Him. He specifically created woman from man by using one of Adam’s ribs. Can’t say how it happened but I guess Adam caught the itis and woke up next to a supermodel (need that kind of sleep in my life). From that example I now see in today’s world a hashtag/t-shirt type of mentality that has seeped into identity and dating culture for Christians and non-Christians alike that a woman is a rib and man is I guess waiting for his rib…figuratively speaking of course.
I have all my ribs. In fact I came from a woman, my beautiful mother, so the concept is reversed from what happened that one time with Adam. In fact we all came from women, even Jesus. So I understand that there is an embracing of concept with women nowadays saying I’m a rib, I came from the man’s side so when I meet my man we can indeed become one flesh as per the Bible. Sounds cute and weirdly romantic but it embraces conceptual undertones of a lack of identity, awareness and wholeness that I want to unpack.
The idea of a rib is to protect vital organs while providing enough flexibility for movement. They take impact so that your organs do not. Bones provide structure and form and protection and are vital for locomotion. They (bones) also are the birthing place for red blood cells which carry life.
The implications of a woman being a man’s rib or her man’s rib is akin to a man being his woman’s backbone. What I not saying is that this synergy will not develop as the “one flesh” truth is realized over the lifetime of a marriage. What I am saying is the idea of my strength for protection, for locomotion, for form, strength, for life being housed in someone that I may not have met yet leaves me as a man who in his current bachelor capacity as incomplete. Needing and not desiring. This would mean that there are women out there just kind of floating around in life looking to be a part of something and have no purpose unless they are attached to a man and likewise men searching for that missing piece they need to progress on.
I’m going to go ahead and disagree with Rocky. He got slapped around by Apollo and Clubber Lang. The goal is to be whole individual first and then be better together if you are blessed to be in a together. Gaps are not healthy to bring into a relationship. However weaknesses are unavoidable and yes we all got them and that is the area where our partners should shine. Otherwise ,if I come gap bearing, I will see you as something that you are not, which is my God and savior. Not a fair burden to put on anyone.
When you know who you are then you should also know who you are not. The concept of being part of a whole as the rib is part of a body leaves me to think that that mindset is limited. Different than identity is awareness. If identity is a viewpoint and thereby visual in the mind’s eye then awareness is practical as you know and carry yourself as if you believe your idea of who you are and what you are capable of. For example, if both my parents were athletic then it would make sense that I would be athletic. I would never see it in sports if I never stepped on the competitive and developed my awareness into tangible action. But to take it further, what if I boiled it down to the basics that as athletes both of my parents were hard-working, goal-oriented, driven and competitive. If I am aware of these basic elements I can then take those talents and traits and apply the same tenacity in being a web developer or a real estate agent and find equal or greater success in something non-athletic. If you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses prior to really being involved in something that you have a better chance of success once you are involved.
This is the biggest thing I see that goes unaddressed in relationships, being whole. This is because that is something to be ideally addressed prior to getting into a relationship. Mental health is serious. So many diseases are onset from stress which our bodies have no way to process. You can develop immunity to toxins but no one is immune to stress. Prayer, meditation, therapy all of it need to be utilized.
Women, especially in western society, are conditioned from birth to be someone’s something. While I would prefer my wife to take my last name as I want to continue legacy, she actual came with her own last name. She has her own legacy that needs to have been lived out, walked in, sifted through. She needs to have failed repeatedly, succeeded repeated, struggled, fought and battled and really learned that life was not breaking her but making her. My ideal woman needs to understand that she does not need me, that she is a strong vibrant soul made in the image of God, who like God has capacity, reason, ability, creative powers and shines brightly. Women, before they enter any serious or potentially serious relationship need to know that they have their own ribs, to protect their own self, that they are whole and complete and need not a man or a status in life to complete them and they need to understand a very important concept:
That they bring the unique strength of a woman to every situation and environment.
This unique strength is designed by God for them to carry and wield. Seeking strength as per man’s (people as a whole) or the male’s definition of strength is to decrease your own thereby decreasing your own self-worth.
As a man the same is true of me. Adam in Genesis had a job and a purpose before he met his wife. In other words I can be dope all by myself. It was in the doing of his job that God said yeah nah, Adam being alone is no good. Understand this truth:
God, not Adam, decided it was not good for Adam to be alone.
The only time God said it was not good during creation was when He decided that Adam needed to be boo’d up. Before that there was no lack in Adam. Adam did not even know he was alone, he was busy. Adam was whole, with placement and purpose and capacity to accomplish his job. He was protected and had structure and identity, he was in no lack. So why would God say no Bueno?
God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone not because Adam was lacking. He was literally created by God, formed and CPR’d His essence into him, God did not make any mistakes So Adam was not broken or damaged or missing anything. He was fully stocked with a blueprint for life. What actually occurred was God determined that even in his wholeness Adam required something he did not have which was another whole person with whom he could do different and more with.
Sure God used his rib, God made it a bit dramatic but God wanted to make sure His fingerprint was as much on the woman as it was on Adam. He made them differently but equal.
When you understand the concept of “differently but equal” then you will understand that there is no power struggle in relationships except when we lead our actions with our inadequacies. When women bring their strength and men bring their strength you have an unstoppable force being generated. The combined strength literally creates a miracle as it forms a child but beyond that you have the full potential of being fruitful in the way God would have man as “them” be fruitful.
African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”
Together as a single man is a different concept than together as a married person. In neither case does that mean incomplete or lack of wholeness. Together as a man means my friends and family. My circle, crew, squad, peoples tribe, society, congregation or whatever you may call them. You need a community to support you and one to give support to. This is vital for any individual as we are not designed to live apart. Romantically ask any man what they want in a woman and the phrase “she has herself together” will come up and so many times if means a head on a pair of shoulders that is straight. As a woman…well……I don’t know. I speak for men. Women are the most sought after mystery that God has ever created, I will not speak for them because I am intelligent enough not to.
No woman is going to be my “rib” at least not on sight. I need my ribs, which is why I have my ribs, both physically and metaphorically. I also do not need a wife, at least not now. This is why I do not have what I do not need. However, I want a wife, I look forward to that but if this faceless, nameless beauty doesn’t appear for while yet or ever (ahem Lupita Nyong’o) then I need to be whole in the strength that God gave me. I need to be aware, identified, able to produce life within my own scope and sphere and moving with purpose until such a time as that changes. When that changes, when I have met this other, separate, whole, vibrant being who is also not searching for completeness in me but rather recognizes compatible potential with whom she can interface for future growth, then we can be fruitful and multiply and do so no longer just as individuals but as a team. We will be able to be partners of equal standing. The result will be that I will have the opportunity to become a different kind of man, not any more complete or whole, just a man imbued with a new and different experience and I would hope that any woman would be looking for the same to become intimate with a new experience, not to be made whole by it.
Lastly, whole is not perfect. It is a state of being complete thereby fully able to realize full potential. A whole fist is needed for boxing at the highest levels. For many that full potential includes legacy of marriage and family, but divorces and disappointment happen for many as well. Even in failure we are not less than complete, (again I say this as a Christian). You don’t become less whole because circumstances suck at the moment and neither do you become more whole when things are going well. We can and will be bruised, broken, beaten down, busted, frustrated and denied multiple times and that should never define you.
Surprise yourself, discover for yourself that you never knew you needed someone until you met them. If you are with someone, meet them again and discover that same truth. You will understand that that is not need you feel, but it is tangible math. It is in this person the recognition of addition to yourself and multiplication of you both.