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Before You Marry Him, Check Out His Relationships With Other Folks

Love & Relationships

There's a spiritual sistah (that's what I call someone I like but we're not exactly friends) who, whenever we see each other, we talk about how much of a bullet that I dodged that she didn't. Without getting into too much detail (because you never really know who reads internet copy, do you?), there are a few times when I got mad cool with someone while they were dating a relative of someone I was seeing. Well, in this case, I broke up with my boyfriend while "she" ended up marrying one of his relatives.


Her husband? He's another article for another time (chile…CHILE). But what she and I can both vouch for is a part of the reason why he is so, let's go with the word "challenging" is, in a nutshell, his family is cray-cray (meaning toxic). So are some of the other people in his world. So yeah, in many ways, not marrying his relative was such a blessing. If for no other reason than dodging all of the constant familial drama.

My spiritual sistah is not alone, though. A good friend of mine—one who is totally in love with her husband—tells me, in the form of a warning, at least once a week to really investigate a man's family before jumping the broom with him. Long story short, her husband has such an unhealthy relationship with his mother that it can be really difficult to tell who is the top priority in his life (for the record, it's supposed to be his wife).

As a marriage life coach, I'd hate for you to put a ring on your finger and then wonder what kind of Twilight Zone you are in all due to your hubby's other relationships; ones that you didn't pay nearly enough attention to before marrying him. So, before even contemplating saying "I do", take out a moment—or two or 10—to see what his connections are like with the following 10 dynamics. I can assure that you'll be close to floored by how much the pre-work could spare you so much regret on the back-end.

His Relationship with His Mom

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There are some sayings that seem to stick, even if they aren't the best kind of advice to take. Take "How a man treats his mama is how he'll treat you", for example. In theory, that should be accurate but listen, I have counseled more than my fair share of couples who are at their wit's end all because the husband puts his mom before his wife (emotionally, financially and otherwise). I also know some single men who are so "devoted" to their moms (which typically means that their moms are also either manipulative or controlling) that they have no clue how to have a healthy (or lasting) relationship with another woman.

So no. I wouldn't say that just because a man adores his mom that you'll automatically be treated like royalty. My personal opinion is to watch more than if he treats her well. Also pay attention to if there are established boundaries, mutual respect, if she loves him like a son while treating him like her man and if he can make decisions without always needing her input or agreement. If that is the case, mom did a pretty good job of preparing him for a wife. If not…at the very least, push pause. A long hard pause.

His Relationship with His Dad

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I am not the one who co-signs on single mothers who say, "I am the mother and the father" to their kids. You may be a supermom, but you were not created to be your child's father—that's their father's job. That said, I remember once hearing that a man is his child's first understanding of God in the sense that the Bible describes God as our Father (Matthew 6:9). I like that because the Most High is presented as someone who loves us, provides for us and protects us.

Where am I going with this? I know some very phenomenal men who have emotional and commitment issues out of the wazoo; it starts with the fact that they didn't have a relationship with their dad. As a result, they learned the hard (or wrong) way about how to be a man and/or how to treat a woman.

I'll be the first to say that just because someone had both of their parents in their life, that doesn't mean they had the best example of adulthood or intimacy. At the same time, what I will also say is it's important to put just as much effort into learning about a man's relationship with his father as his mother. A man by the name of Frank A. Clark once said, "A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be." A man has to be around—and then active as a parent—in order for that to happen.

His Relationship with His Siblings

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There's something very special and endearing about the relationship people have with their brothers and sisters. That is, if the relationship is healthy. The reason why this is something you should pay close attention to is that some people allow their older siblings to come really close to controlling their life, while other people want to spend darn near every hour of every waking day with one or more of their siblings. Then there are the siblings who are uber nosey or the siblings who feel like your partner should have more allegiance to them than to you. Oh, and let's not forget the families where, there is so much dysfunction among siblings that, if your man doesn't know how to say "back up" or "no", all you're gonna do is bring a boatload of stress into your life if you choose to marry him.

A lot of people know that it's a good idea to not ignore the relationship their partner has with their parents. But don't underestimate the drama that can come from someone who has an unhealthy relationship with their siblings as well.

His Relationship with His Best Friend

Another unpopular opinion? I'm not big on married people referring to someone other than their spouse as their "best friend". It's because I'm big on words and if you're choosing to share your life, heart and body with someone for the rest of your life, they definitely should be your friend and I'd think that would put them into the best spot being that best means "of the highest quality, excellence, or standing" and "most advantageous, suitable, or desirable". That doesn't mean that your former besties aren't still special. I just think that they become good/close friends after you say "I do".

Whether you agree with me or not, still here's a word of caution. Watch how close a man you're dating is with their BFF before marrying him. Just like a man's parents, sometimes besties hold more weight and influence than they should and if, for some reason, they are not very fond of you, that can wreak all kinds of havoc.

The first example that comes to mind right here is LeToya Luckett's "Back to Life" video. If you've never seen it, LeToya's man (in the video) has a female best friend who not-so-low-key has feelings for him. It ultimately breaks LeToya and her boyfriend up.

A good best friend wants their best friend to find love. They will make necessary adjustments in order for that to happen. Make sure that when it comes to your man and his BFF—whether it's male or female—that that is exactly what's happening between the two of them.

His Relationship with His Female Friends

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Personally, I think it's healthy for married people to not only have friends, but friends of the opposite sex. Getting another person who is the same gender as your spouse's perspective on things can be super beneficial and even time-consuming. The key is to make sure that the female friends "in question" respect your relationship, have no romantic history (or that it's resolved romantic history that you are fully aware of and OK with) and that you have access to them in some form or fashion.

If everything is on the up and up, even if you and your man's female friends aren't exactly buddies while you're dating, you will know who they are, they'll make you feel comfortable in your presence and they will have no problem interacting with you, when he's around and when he's not.

If you're already seeing flags in these areas, he needs to handle it. These are not the kinds of things that will automatically go away once he is your husband and you are his wife.

His Relationship with His Pastor

I'll be the first one to say that just because someone goes to church, that doesn't mean they have the healthiest relationship with God or just because someone doesn't, that doesn't mean they and the Lord aren't in a good place. If you read online news (cough, cough), you'll see PLENTY of examples of churches and leaders in them who could stand some therapy and time in the pews rather than in the pulpit.

So, when I say that you should pay attention to your man's relationship with this pastor (or worship head if he's not a Christian), by no means am I saying that he has to have one. What I am saying is, if he does, pay attention to how he speaks about the leadership. Is he receptive? Does he humble himself to messages that personally apply? Or does it seem like he's bucking the pastor and his church at every turn? The flip side to this coin is does he respect this pastor or does he treat him like an idol? Does he refer to him in certain situations or does he not know how to make a decision without his pastor's input? Does he worship at a certain church or does he basically live there?

With the first set of questions that I asked, it could show signs of your man having a really hard time dealing with authoritative figures. And yeah, be leery of anyone who always wants to lead but can never seem to be led. With the second, your man may not know that having a relationship with God doesn't mean that you have to put your all and everything into a church (especially ahead of your own family). Either way, you're in for quite the bumpy ride of you underestimate all of what I just shared.

His Relationship with His Exes

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Why is this one on the list? In part, because of an article that was featured on our site a couple of years ago—"Why Staying Friends with an Ex Is Okay (& Healthy)". I know some people who are still friends with one or more of their exes, so I'm not knocking it. So long as the past remains in the past, do your thing.

Now, I will say that the word "friend" is a big one to me, so I don't give a ton of folks—male or female—that title. And, because of the sacredness of it, I'm not really out here trying to be friends with someone who's seen me naked and heard me have an orgasm. Intimacy was once shared and most of my exes are still as fine as when I left them; therefore, firm boundaries must be set. Still, I do strive to remain at peace and to be able to hug them if I see them in the mall (only two get the death stare these days). We're cool.

But no matter what side of the fence you're on about keeping exes in your life, I do think it's worth mentioning that you should pay attention to (and ask questions when and where needed) your man's relationship with his ex(es). Are they close or just social media connected? Does he plan on them coming to his wedding someday? Why did he break up with her/them and are there still some unresolved feelings?

I'll be real with y'all. I think a part of the reason why I'm still single is because I had some heart pieces that certain exes still had a hold of. It's working at a disadvantage (and that's putting it lightly) to enter into something serious with someone who is still unresolved, on any level, with one or more of their exes. Don't assume. Discuss it.

His Relationship with His Co-Workers

Years ago, I went to someone premarital classes for singles at a local church. The requirement was that you couldn't be in a relationship in order to attend them because they wanted us to look at relationships without romanticizing them based on the situation we were currently in. Anyway, a lot of what was shared was straight up common sense concepts like, "If a man doesn't show up to work on time, why would you expect him to come home on time?" (I'm sayin'.)

Unless your man works at home, he's probably dealing with an office full of people during most of his waking hours. Does he respect his employer by being responsible? Does he get along well with his co-workers? (Has he ever dated any of his co-workers?) Does he take pride in his work? Shoot, does he enjoy his profession? Don't underestimate how a man's professional life rolls over into his personal life. If he's consistently dissatisfied during business hours, it's pretty unrealistic to expect him to soar when he's off of the clock.

His Relationship with His Enemies

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There's a Catholic writer from back in the day by the name of G.K. Chesterton who said something that is oh so true—"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people." Sometimes the people we love the most get on our last nerve; sometimes, at the same time.

That's not the kind of "enemy" I'm referring to. What I'm saying is pay attention to what he says about people he's had big issues with. Does he hold grudges? Is he vindictive or even just plain ole' petty (you might be surprised by how many men are; I personally know more than a few)? Does he tend to take the violent approach? Maybe he suppresses and then explodes on everyone around him, but who he's actually mad at.

Just like you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats the people he likes, you can tell a ton about that same man based on if he's able to forgive, release matters and be chill (have boundaries but still be chill) in an enemy's presence.

If you sleep on this particular point, you might end up being caught totally off guard if he falls out with one of your family members or, God forbid, the two of you end things. Just sayin'.

His Relationship with Himself

A while back, I penned a post on the site entitled "6 Signs You Love A Man (Who Doesn't Love Himself)". If I could print it off and send it to every single woman (who desires to be in a relationship with a man), I would. I'll be the first to say that I know some pretty amazing men who would be HORRIBLE HUSBANDS (and yes, I am yelling that!); it's all because they are not in touch enough with themselves to be out here trying to lead and protect another human being.

The article I backlinked touches on how to know if a man doesn't love himself. Signs that a man does include he's open and honest; he practices self-forgiveness; he's not afraid to ask for what it he wants—personally or professionally; he makes his spiritual growth and development a top priority; he understands the power and purpose of intimacy—both inside and outside of the bedroom; he doesn't tolerate toxicity within himself or others; he has lasting friendships; he knows how to be alone (and enjoy it); he's not afraid of love; he's confident without being arrogant; he embraces life—you get the gist.

It all boils down to this—I don't care how wonderful a man appears to be. Before you jump a broom with him, make sure that he loves his God and himself and that he makes a concerted effort to cultivate lasting intimacy with both on a daily basis. Because a man is not even close to being marriage material with you until he is healthy and happy within himself and with his Creator. You can take that to the bank, baby.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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