Last week I had the opportunity to attend Spelman College’s Women of Color Leadership Conference. My experiences at Women of Color are always empowering and enlightening, and this year was no different. However, while the conference this year was focused on wealth building, entrepreneurship and giving back, I managed to walk away with a few relationship lessons as well.
The first tidbit came from Nicole Ari Parker, who we all know managed to snag her a gem. During the pre-conference wellness session, she talked about reading a book that instructed her to make a list of all the things she wanted in a partner and then make sure she became those things.
All too often we want what we are not willing to become. We want someone with good credit, but our credit score looks more like someone’s GPA. We want someone who is going to stay sexy, yet we eat whatever we want and refuse to workout. We want someone who is spiritually mature and submitted to God; however, we haven’t picked up our Bible in two months and only go to Him during dire emergencies. I’m not suggesting that we diminish our standards or alter our #HeyBoo prayer lists, but I would encourage us to step up our game and become the person we want to marry. (Yeah, I’m preaching to the choir right now.)
The second piece of advice came from Gail Perry Mason who is a HILARIOUS author and financial advisor. Her advice was simple: “A man is not a financial plan.” Confession, I’m guilty of telling God, “It’s expensive trying to do everything you’ve placed on my plate. But I will be able to do that once you send me a husband. Two incomes are better than one, and if he’s rich that will be even better.” Gail got my life together REALLY quickly. What if #HeyBoo never comes? What if #HeyBoo’s not rich? Do I not trust God to provide for the vision He’s given me? After processing these seven simple words, it took me back to what Nicole said: become who you want to marry.
The final piece of advice came through Dr. Brenda Wade, who is an amazing clinical psychologist. She was once told by someone, “If black people get married and stay married, our wealth would quadruple.” This made me think. Divorces, child support and raising children alone are all financially burdensome, and something African Americans do way too often. However, I’m not a proponent of encouraging people to get married simply for financial security. As women, we’ve worked long and hard to liberate ourselves from that requirement, and I wouldn’t dare suggest we go backwards. But I would suggest that African Americans (and all people) think long and hard of the consequence of their actions. If we are ever going to build sustainable wealth, we have to be intentional about who we are entering relationships and procreating with. To clarify, I’m not suggesting we seek wealth in our marriages (see Gail’s previous advice), but we should seek partnerships that we are completely committed to, relationships that will cause both individuals to be fruitful in all areas of their lives, not those that are going to cost us in the end.