"Is he OK with the baby?" was the question a supervisor posed to me earlier this week, after sharing with me that staff attendance was mandatory at an after-hours work event.
I had also volunteered to help clean up after the event with the expectation I probably wouldn't get home until after 8:00 pm. The "baby" she was referring to is actually a three-year-old and the "he" is my husband who, for the record, doesn't look at spending time with his daughter as doing anything extra but part of his responsibility as a husband and spouse.
This wasn't the first time this same supervisor seemed surprise that I was "granted" a few hours of freedom for happy hour, dinner with friends, or working late while my spouse took on the bedtime routine alone. The fact that she looked at the fact that my husband was taking on his fair share as a parent and partner as some kind of rewards perk for me was alarming and said more to me about her own expectations about marriage than any privilege it seemed I had.
I was reminded about expectations again just recently after coming across an interview that Torrei Hart, entrepreneur, comedienne, and ex-wife of superstar Kevin Hart had with Atlanta's TV One in which she expressed her appreciation of the "side b**ch":
"You men just got to be more upfront. See here's the thing, I appreciate a good side b*tch. There's days I don't feel like doing sh*t, let that side b*tch do that job. There's days I don't feel like sucking d**k. There's days I don't feel like cooking and cleaning."
"So If I'm the main, and there's a side b*tch that I get along with and she's doing her job properly, I might let her stick around."
Hold up. Wait minute, beloved (In my Iyanla voice).
First of all, don't let a man convince you that "honesty" is some kind of added benefit.
When I dated my husband, he was honest about the fact that he was promiscuous and had no intention of settling down at the time, and while I appreciated the honesty, I didn't think to myself, "I gotta have his oversexed but honest ass."
That wasn't the type of relationship I wanted at the time and I didn't think him telling the truth about his behavior made him special.
Also, as much as people might think my issue is with Ms. Hart making excuses for side chicks in a marriage, I think I'm bothered more by the message that marriage is about a man having all of his needs met all of the time and in the event they're not, then clearly their spouse is not fulfilling her duties as a wife.
Everyone's views of marriage are different and I wholeheartedly believe wedded bliss looks differently on every couple.
However, when I made vows, I made a vow to commit to the well-being of our union and unconditional support and love for my partner. With that said, marriage isn't always comfortable or convenient. Life happens, and sometimes that means my husband will have a dusty d**k in a dirty house while dialing the number to the local pizza place and he will still love me anyway and not feel the need to run to the next vagina within a ten-mile radius because he needs his needs met and he needs them met now.
Why do so many women believe that men are two levels above rabid raccoons on the evolutionary chart that just behave in selfish ways without the ability to empathize and show compassion and make decisions in the best interest of the people that they love and care about?
In other words, primal instinct my ass.
We need to start holding our partners accountable for treating us with respect and consideration.
We need to stop rationalizing and accommodating disrespect and infidelity while overly-praising the ones who know how to act like competent adults with emotional intelligence.
With that said, as I mentioned, every relationship is different and before you find yourself waist deep in a marriage with a partner who has completely different expectations, communication is key. When it comes to my marriage, I always tell folks, "I know what I signed up for." And the disclaimer above the dotted line went something like, "Do you promise to love, honor and obey this workaholic, who has issues expressing his emotions to some degree, but is loyal almost to a fault, balances your idealism with practicality, and has an A1 credit score?"
In addition, he knew he was getting an optimist who believes in creating a sex-positive household and operates on a pretty regular cycle of concerts and happy hours. Before we picked out wedding invitations and cake favors, we talked about what we expected from each other as partners and parents and what the division of chores and bills looked like. We defined infidelity and were clear about how we'd handle conflict. We met each other's church-going Grandmas and crack-head uncles, and witnessed what interactions with each looked like and how much they played into our individual lives.
We took ten years getting to know each other so that no one was blindsided when the honeymoon was over.
Are there still tough times?
As we grow and experience different phases of life from job layoffs to the our daughter's "Terrible Twos," there are still times when we are getting to know one another, but never do I feel like I'm getting my Tamia on with a "stranger in my house."
Torrei Hart may have her reasons for her sister wife/side chick appreciation. In the interview, she admits to possibly just being jaded from experiencing infidelity in the past stating, "That's probably bad. I'm so jaded. I sound real jaded, don't I?"
She's expressed before she believes all men cheat and has said she has no problem with side chicks as long as she's the "main." She and her ex-husband, Jumanji star Kevin Hart share two children and have been open about their relationship and marriage issues over the years. Kevin Hart explains in his autobiography I Can't Make This Up, that their union had been troubled for some time and admits to cheating on Torrei several times during the demise of their marriage, which rotated on a cycle of break-ups and make-ups. However, he maintains that he began dating current wife Eniko Hart after he and Torrei were separated.
Torrei has never publicly accused Eniko (whose maiden name is Parrish) of being the side chick but did express that numbers don't lie and the math doesn't add up when it comes to the divorce and when the two started dating, simpy stating, "You, Kevin, and I know the truth."
Hart eventually found himself literally caught on camera at the center of a cheating scandal just last year while Parrish, who is now currently his wife, was pregnant with their first child.
On social media lately, I've noticed a trend of judging and shaming of folks engaged in relationships that appear one-sided.
Whether you're cool with your husband having a side chick, you choose to be Holly Homemaker, or you don't expect a man to do half on the rent if he's pulling overtime in your bed, when it comes to the trend I'm witnessing in expectations, I'm convinced of two things:
- Too many of us aren't witnessing enough diverse, yet healthy relationships.
- We need to do less essay-writing on Instagram about everyone else's household and focus more on communicating with our partners in our own.
I didn't witness a mother who was comfortable being a "main" while her husband entertained side chicks. The only thing that seemed to distract my dad from his family were Star Trek marathons and a glass of cognac with a Marvin Gaye track every now and then. On the flip side of that, he probably couldn't imagine having to deal with more than one woman's attitude and was committed to building a family and being his daughters' first example of the way a man behaves when he is truly committed to a marriage and his family.
Honestly, it's probably the reason I refused to settle for anything less in my own life.
I want my daughter to know that she has all the right in the world to choose the type of relationship that works best for her and doesn't feel forced to settle for the little a man is willing to give her. Whether you believe all men cheat or you're holding out for the same person who has the same outlook on life and love as you do, remember this:
You're always going to cheat yourself before any man gets a chance to if you allow low expectations to dictate your approach to relationships.
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