Sister Space

Put a ring on it!

By Laila Muhammad | Last updated: Jan 2, 2013 - 10:28:40 AM

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Beyonce’s popular song Single Ladies put the issue back on the table that if a man loves and respects you, he should marry you!

Even those  “independent” women, who spout the mantra that they don’t need a man for anything, they make their own money, buy their own cars, and own property, if they are honest with themselves they know at the end of the day, none of that material stuff matters if you don’t have a mate to share it with.

Like our mothers told us about men, “Why would he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?” Maybe it’s time as women to try things a little differently. How about demanding respect? If you are shacking up, or in a long term relationship with a man, he needs to commit and make an “honest woman out of you” (smile).

The percentage of women who were currently cohabiting (living with a man in a sexual relationship) rose from three percent in 1982 to 11 percent 2006–2010. The rate was higher in some groups, including Hispanics and the less educated.

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Between 2006–2010, women and men married for the first time at older ages than in previous years. The median age at first marriage was 25.8 for women and 28.3 for men.

Premarital cohabitation contributed to the delay in first marriage for both women and men, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Fifty-one percent of White women and 44 percent of White men are currently married compared to 26 percent of Black women and 32 percent of Black men. This is startling.

Marriage is not overrated! It’s very beneficial. In Islam, we are taught that marriage is half of our faith. Though you may feel you are complete in your individual life, you’re still missing a half of your faith. Speaking in terms of a test, if I get a 50 percent score, out of a possible 100 percent, I’m still failing!

You may be thinking divorce rates are extremely high in America—more than 50 percent of everyone who marries will divorce. But the good news is that people are still getting married every day, they are not losing faith in this institution ordained by God. So there is hope, your marriage could be one of the ones that will last, especially if God is at the center!

The divorce rate is 3.4 per 1,000, and the marriage rate is 6.8 per 1,000. So actually, the odds are in your favor, more people are getting married than those getting divorced.

Married people also tend to experience less depression and fewer problems with alcohol. Men who married and stayed married tended to be less depressed than those who remained single. Among women, marriage was associated with fewer alcohol problems.

Getting married increases the probability of moving out of a poor neighborhood. Marriage nearly doubled the probability that a person would move from a poor to a non-poor neighborhood. Likewise, the dissolution of a marriage more than doubled the probability that a person would move from a non-poor to poor neighborhood. Among Blacks, marital dissolution increased the likelihood of moving from a non-poor to a poor neighborhood almost six-fold.

Married men make more money. Taking into consideration a number of factors including educational attainment, compared with unmarried peers, married men earned, on average, 20 percent more in wages.

Marriage is associated with a lower mortality risk. Compared to married individuals, those who have never been married had nearly twice the mortality risk. Divorced or separated individuals ran a mortality risk more than 50 percent higher than those who were married. The Black-White mortality gap narrowed when marital status was taken into account.

Unlike our parents before us, we have more information readily available to assist us in staying married. Seeking counseling isn’t taboo any longer. As a Black community, in order to have a strong Nation, it starts with family, which is the foundation. Don’t we owe it to ourselves not to be labeled as baby mommas and baby daddies? And we owe it to our children to allow them to grow up in a healthy nuclear family!

Laila Muhammad is a Chicago-based writer and videographer.

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