(ThyBlackMan.com) Black Love. It begins simply enough: you are everything he says he ever wanted. You are smart, independent, charming, sexy, and a suitable representative of the two of you. You are able to bring thoughts, opinions, and ideas to the union. You are not dead weight that he has to think for, do for, and support without assistance. You are a partner. A true contributor to the union.
And he presents himself as everything you ever wanted: A leader, a provider, a protector who in unafraid to take on a Black woman of strength. He is not threatened, nor impressed by you. In fact, he knows just when to reel you in—just when to exert his authority as your king—and you love him for it.
Somewhere in the union, though, as you grow more comfortable with finally having someone who can truly understand and support you, it begins—the subtle resentment: the elephant in the room. He doesn’t understand that he is a part of the reason you are able to truly blossom. The stability of his love for you makes you rooted and able to pursue your dreams, your ambitions. Maybe it’s a change in profession. Maybe it’s going back to school to earn your degree. Maybe it’s returning to the stage or some other passion you had long given up on. Given up in prior relationships that left you drained and completely absorbed in the ‘fixing’ or ‘surviving’ of lesser men. But, now, in this relationship, you are settled and happy, ready to spread your wings.
And you believe with all the stability of his love for you, that he will be happy for you. That he will be among those celebrating your accomplishments. But he isn’t. It’s small at first. Silent insecurities that manifest themselves as little pouts; tiny little acts of rebellion like not kissing you before he goes to work when he always has. Not telling you where he will be—when he always has. Understated comments that chip away at the security you have always felt in his solid emotion for you.
It escalates into full-blown tantrums that somewhere sound like complaints and attacks against your character and your motives, things that are uniquely you. “You think you are so smart…” You are smart! It is one of the things he said he loved most about you. “You’re always so worried about everybody else…” or “you’re always in everyone else’s business…” And you are! In your circle of influence, you are the light. You are the one everyone turns to for wise counsel and good advice. Again, the fact that you had a personal ministry to and love for others is one of the things he said he loved about you. Then, there’s the most common one of all: “Your mouth…you always have something to say!” What once was a certainty that he always had your back begins to morph into someone who seems to barely know you at all. Everything that was so perfect in you before has become a source of discontentment and complaint in him. You are left confused wondering what you have done wrong and how your attempts at self-improvement could be so threatening to someone whom you considered a part of your strength.
While certainly not in every case, there are far too many situations in which you have done nothing wrong. You are not guilty of waiving your newfound successes in his face. You have not suddenly become the degree-wielding woman who fancies herself now ‘too good’ for the man who loved her when she was ‘nothing,’ so to speak. You have not begun to dip your toe in the waters of other, more suitable men, who have so much more to offer now that you have ‘come up.’ You are the same woman he fell in love with. The only difference is now you feel better about yourself, having settled a certain rumbling within you to simply do better.
We see the examples continually in Black women. Look at Hollywood: Halle Berry —the more accomplished she became, the greater turmoil she experienced in relationships with Black men. Countless Black women outside of Hollywood experience the same drought of love the more successful they become.
None of this is meant to label Black women, nor Black men. Theories abound concerning the reasons for failed relationships within the African-American culture: Black men really want white women; Black women are difficult to get along with; professional Black women are uppity, judgmental and mean, therefore contributing to the failure of their own relationships; Black men are unwilling to commit. For every failed relationship—Black or white—there are two people at fault, not one. Alternatively, there are tens of thousands of examples of successful Black relationships and marriages. These are the result of two people working hard everyday to sustain their commitment to each other.
However, there are many relationships in which jealousy of one’s mate is the true culprit. At the root of this jealousy is basic insecurity and fear: nothing more, nothing less. The question becomes: what should you do? Do you let your good relationship die on the vine? Do you try to salvage it by returning to your less-successful self so that your man will feel less threatened? Or do you confront your man with the ugly truth of his jealousy and see if his admission will bring revelation and correction.
If you are truly interested in keeping the relationship, none of these things is the answer. You will have to talk to him. Communicate with him in an open and honest way. For some of us, there is a bit of a challenge here. Whether we mean to or not, we find ourselves trying to confront problems with this good man with a great deal of rationale and reason—as though we were ministering to a fallen friend. He will feel as though he is being ‘handled’ by you and that your efforts do not come from a place of sincerity but from one of judgment. “You think you’re better than me!” Sound familiar?! And so, he will shut you out of the vulnerability of his true emotions. If you’re waiting for him to say ‘okay, I was jealous,’ please know that he never will.
In approaching the conversation, you are going to have to find some true humility. Not groveling or begging, but the search for true understanding. The way you would search for it if you were addressing the needs of a child whose imaginary friend has died. You know the friend is not real, so he/she could not have died; but you have to find a way to treat the situation like a real situation. You will have to find a way to gently coax his participation in the conversation and offer a safe place for his emotions: a place where he will be free from judgment or attack from the much more experienced and slightly dangerous tongue of his female partner.
Exactly how to accomplish this challenging task will require a great amount of prayer and submission to whatever higher power appeals to you. And it will require desire and awareness on your part to truly understand this man you love. That is, if you want to survive the elephant in the room.
Staff Writer; Jazzie Dixson
This talented sista is a writer from the midwest who writes on a wide range of topics about relationships, including romance, intimacy, communication.