If you are lucky enough to meet the man of your dreams and twice fold fortunate enough to yield your hand in marriage, then you are surely favored….or are you.
That all depends on your view-point.
I’ll first declare the prominent fact that by no means do Caribbean men take marriage lightly. In fact they are quite reluctant to enter into such a scenario without much consideration. Some may say it’s a result of their commitment-phobia (the remnants of men who have grown up without a prominent example of long-lasting marriages), the mere established climate in which Caribbean women demand less than they deserve, or that he simply respects the notion of forever; who knows? Rest assured, when he has made such a decision, he has done it with utmost deliberation and has all intentions of sharing a life with you for the rest of his life. He does not consider the option of divorce and will remain yours for as long as life permits.
So what is marriage to the Caribbean man? It is an emotional contract with a woman who he has chosen to be his life partner. More-so the woman he believes would be a fitting mother and second in command to his household. She is the keeper of his secrets, the sole beneficiary of his vulnerabilities, and the impeccable editor of his life’s story. For that, he will play the patriarch. He will take best care of his family and ensure their needs, if any, are few.
Last Christmas at an ugly sweater party with a slew of islanders, we got caught up in a conversation about why an island man will not allow his wife to do certain things in bed. I expressed that as a wife, my tendencies lean towards the submissive, and that if I have chosen and been chosen by my love, there is very little if anything that I am unwilling to do. The resounding opinions of the men were that as awesome as that is, it doesn’t matter. “He” doesn’t want his wife doing certain things. “She’s the mother of my children, I’m not going to ______ with her.” When I asked why, it was offered that I simply wouldn’t understand.
In several other conversations with Caribbean men (specifically of Jamaican, Haitian and Bahamian decent) I was confronted with the FACT that cheating has, will and continues to persist. The climate has become so dense with this notion, that my conversations with Caribbean women have conceded an acceptance of this reality. So much so that I can vividly remember a Haitian coworker of mine (approx. 54 years old) telling me, “this up and leaving your husband because he cheated business is something prominent only in your generation. Every little thing you guys wanna get up and leave.”
One of my close male friends (Jamaican) is presently going through a divorce. While he has been unfaithful to his wife through their entire marriage, that was not the reason for it’s demise. For all he could tell, she never suspected his infidelity (financial discrepancies as well as growing and crippling incompatibilities were said to be blamed). He often speaks of his infidelity as such a minor detail. Quoting that he has never loved anyone but his wife and that the cheating was often animalistic and very much a “drop in a bucket” ordeal. Due to the nature of his work, he travelled very often and more or less saw his activities as a mere occupational hazard.
Another gentleman I work with (Cuban) has pursued me for years. We had a brief ‘almost’ encounter, that has encouraged a years long pursuit to ‘seal the deal.’ During this pursuit he has had many suitors, one of which he asked to be his wife. The night after he proposed to her, he texted me to hang out (another on the list of his numerous correspondences I often ignored). Now approaching marriage, as opposed to calming down, he was instead increasingly eager to satisfy curiosities he may have had. A few months later it was found that she cheated on him and called off their engagement. He was literally destroyed; like crying real tears – at work, destroyed. Can’t eat, can’t sleep, what is the meaning of life if I don’t have her, destroyed. Foolish huh? Well not so much. This is the unwavering and distinctly masculine art of compartmentalizing. His cheating and outside pursuits are an entirely separate beast, mutually exclusive if you will. To him, one has nothing to do with the other. She was his queen. The others are just itches to scratch.
That brings me back to the divorcee. He offered up this explanation when asked, “Why if being cheated on hurts you so much, would you proceed to do the same” He shared that it’s “because it’s emotional for ‘u guys.” “If I could be sure that the sex was not emotional or that there was no risk of losing her, it would be far easier for me to move past it….but when y’all cheat it’s normally the symptom of something much greater, the beginning of the end. For us it’s a meaningless animal instinct…I’ve chosen you. This other girl is a depository.
So what is marriage to the Caribbean man? Well it is something, like any other entity that requires a personal/individual approach. Everyone is different. Everyone does not buy into the norms or fulfill the stereotypes. That said stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. The Caribbean man views marriage and sex as two mutually exclusive entities. Marriage is something he enters with respect and hopes of preservation. It is a shared dream of prosperity, friendship and genuine affection, a dream he hopes to cling to forever. What he succumbs to outside of that is just that….outside.