Divorce Perspectives

Essence magazine’s Senior Editor, Charreah K. Jackson, wrote an interesting article on divorce entitled: “9 Interesting Facts About Divorce for Black Couples” in which she shares her insights into modern divorce issues that anyone can benefit from.

Although the article is from 2013, the wisdom is timeless . . . and in some ways surprising. Some of the surprising findings from the front-lines of divorce include:

It Takes a Village to Get a Divorce

“When you’re Black, you’re not just married to one person, you’re married to a family. You’re married to a community. You may be married to a church. We’ve always embraced the concept that it takes a village.

For instance, you’ll have a grandmother who will come to court and the judge will say, ‘Well this is between the mother and father.’ Well in many instances, that grandmother is the one who is taking care of the kids.”

Women Pull the Purse Strings

“What makes our divorces different is that our community is formed around a matriarch. African-American women tend to be better-educated and higher-wage earners so when you’re ending a marital relationship the economic factors come into play.

If you have an African-American woman who has her master’s degree and she’s married to someone who has a high school diploma and works at the post office, she’s not going to voluntarily pay alimony for maintenance to him.

Mental Health Neglect and Marriage Don’t Mix

“African-Americans don’t do as well with getting therapy. So for Black people who are having marital problems that may lead to divorce, we’re resistant to any kind of intervention by mental health.

We perceive that, if I have to see a therapist, then something’s wrong with me. Often times, we don’t have the same resources available to us that the broader community has and even when we do have those resources, the stigma can be very challenging.

Conditioned for Call and Response

“When we go to church, we yell out, ‘amen.’ If the preacher is off-tune, then you’re, ‘Oh Lord, please help ‘em.’ We’re just a more expressive people.

I’ve seen White judges and lawyers who don’t fully understand how we express ourselves. A couple could be fighting like cats and dogs before the judge, but in the hallway, they are back friends again. And the judge looks at them and says, ‘Oh my God those people are out of control.’

But they might drive back in the same car. Just because we express ourselves a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean that others understand what we mean when we express ourselves.

Divorce is for Spouses, Not Children

“All children of a divorce are impacted by their parents’ divorce. Most children will tell you that they want their parents to be together. But they have little control over the outcome of a divorce situation.

What tends to happen in the African-American community is that many fathers who get divorces from their spouses simply divorce the whole family and walk away. I have seen lawyers who don’t look like myself who will think:

‘I’ve gotten her the house, I’ve gotten her the kids. I’ve gotten her alimony.’ But that wife is saying, ‘more important than all those things is that he has a relationship with our children at the end of the day.’

That lawyer thinks he or she has done a great job for that client and at the same time, they don’t recognize the impact this is having on this family in the future. When a father divorces his children, when he divorces his spouse is a very tragic thing in our community.”

The Essence article is here.