Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Sonnet 116: Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds
by William Shakespeare
Six months have passed since my husband and I got married in the presence of family and friends. When I said those words aloud to him on the morning of the specific date in question (I won’t call it an anniversary as it is not a real one in the true sense of the word, in my opinion*), it surprised us both.
It is astonishing how quickly the passage of time can sneak up on you with regards to certain highlights while other spheres of your life seemingly drag… but I digress. In the six months we have been married, I have noticed a recurring theme in the questions we are asked.
I am almost certain that some of these questions will not be synonymous to just us – please correct me if I am wrong, so I decided to share. Some of the questions are downright farcical therefore I thought it relevant and helpful to shine a spotlight on those so you may think twice before asking couples the same thing.
Here we go…
1. How is married life?
This question should not come as any surprise to you. I know prior to getting married I would ask my friends and family the same thing. I am generally a curious person and wanted to know what I had to look forward to in future. Now that I actually am married, I realise how open-ended and unoriginal a question it is and I often find myself too-ing and fro-ing between answering the question honestly or regurgitating a generic response while flashing my signature smile. The reason why I question being honest is because my experience has actually been pretty amazing. I wake up every day thanking God for my husband and no that is not to say that we do not argue – that isn’t real life. Thankfully, we rarely argue and we have a profound understanding of one another. I hesitate with my honesty because I do not want the questioner to think I am bragging or being disingenuously verbose because oftentimes couples struggle in the first year or two – what most refer to as the adjustment period and no one knows what is around the next corner. We have been extremely fortunate in this regard so I tailor my answer according to who I am talking to. I much prefer specific questions e.g. “in what ways has your relationship changed since getting married?” By the way, if you are married and finding it difficult in the beginning, I would advise you think twice about who you tell this to. Not everyone has your best intentions at heart but that is a post for another day.
2. When are you having babies? / What are you waiting for?
So much of the world is obsessed with children! Especially children born to parents with very different heritages and skin colour. Mixed-race children are all the rage and have been since as far back as I can remember. Just before we got married I had a former [black] colleague tell me that she cannot wait to see our children because they will be very beautiful. I asked her why and she responded “because they will be mixed-race” as though it were obvious. I was shocked but reserved my displeasure in order to allow me to unpick the statement further. I asked her what she meant by that and she replied “mixed-race children are better looking.” Again, swallowing outrage I spelled it out so I could not be accused of misquoting and asked: “so you think mixed-race babies are better looking than black babies” and she replied yes. Conversation over. What do you say to that? It was too much self-hate for me to deal with in that moment and (as I often do) I heard this particular Mark Twain quote blast in my head “never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
Moving swiftly on, before asking a couple when they are having children or what they are waiting for, perhaps ask them if they actually want children first because not everyone does. Also, some people could be struggling with the process so asking what they are waiting for is incredibly insensitive. As for the ‘cute mixed-race babies’ comment or ‘caramel babies’, a number of people have made it. 80% of the time I ask the inquisitor why they use those words specifically and most often than not the reply is “because mixed-race babies are so cute / adorable / beautiful.” Only one person had a different response “because you and your husband are good looking of course! Why else?” I liked that response a lot.
3. Are you going to start a YouTube channel?
I kid you not. I have been asked this question multiple times. Very random right? Apparently not. When they enquire, I ask each person “why” and the comeback is always “because you’re an interracial couple and that’s what they do isn’t it?” Can you see what social media has done? Due to the rise of and subsequent intrigue surrounding public interracial couples, people now believe it is perfectly normal to ask this question or assume that we want to capitalise on the phenomenon and get instafamous. Contrary to the assumption, not every interracial couple wants to live their relationship publicly for likes or views. Someone once asked me if I married a white man to make me more popular? Sacré bleu! The answer is no. I do pretty well on my own and news flash: white privilege is not transferrable. I married my husband because he is unequivocally one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever met. Which leads me to my next question…
4. Do you hate black men? / Do you hate yourself?
One would think we were past this process of thought but clearly, some are not. I do not hate black men. I have a black father, black brother, black male cousins and black friends who I love and respect. I have dated black men. I did not have restrictions on the race of the men I dated, hence I happened to date my husband ended up loving him more than anyone I have ever met and we got married. I do not hate myself either. I am pretty proud to be black despite [some] other black people not making it easy for me – I have been called a coconut, bounty and whatever synonym people felt like using to say you are black on the outside and white on the inside. I have been asked why I “talk like a white girl” and “like doing white things.” My love of the English language, tendency to enunciate my words, speak with little to no slang and my interests were a result of my environment and my parents, not my colour, or perceived lack of. It is sad that this is the go-to mind-set when dealing with people who do not fit stereotypes.
5. What do you eat?
I find this question so amusing. My reply to this usually tends to be “food.” We eat food. What the person really means is “does he eat Nigerian food?” but you probably should begin by asking if I eat Nigerian food? I do, but admittedly I do not cook Nigerian dishes often. This is not new. I have eaten like this long before I met my husband – even when I dated someone from Nigeria. We eat everything from Nigerian to Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian and English food. Neither of us are particularly fussy with food but I like good food / nice flavours. We eat whatever either of us prepares although I do most of the cooking so really it is whatever I make. I suppose I am grateful that my husband is not picky with food as I have license to make whatever I feel like or whatever is convenient. However, if he does want something specific and I do not want the same thing we either compromise or I prepare two different things – that does not happen often at all.
6. What does he think of your hair?
Another funny question but I understand the interest in this one. My husband loves my hair. He prefers it most when my afro is out but understands that it can be time consuming so I will often have a protective style such as braids and occasionally I may wear a wig for a period of time. Braids or my afro are my personal preference. I find moisturising my hair extremely tedious so he graciously helps with this – he’ll even pick up hair products for me if I have run out of certain things. He does not mind how I wear my hair as long as I am comfortable.
That’s it. Six questions in six months. Obviously we are asked other things from time to time such as “is he/she taking care of you” and “have you dropped all of your single friends?” etc (the answer to those are yes he takes great care of me and no, I have not dropped my single friends – most of my closest friends are not married yet actually). Anyway, the questions above are simply the ones I have found the most fascinating or alarming.
Is there anything in particular that you ask married couples or if you are married, are there certain questions you get all of the time?
* I am not knocking anyone who chooses to celebrate mini-milestones. More power to you. However, we are not those people. We tend to celebrate the major milestones and sporadically do nice things for one another all of the time without needing an anniversary or specific landmark attached to it.