Not Easily Broken...My Ideas on Love / by Shanelle Gabriel

I went by myself to see the T.D Jakes movie, "Not Easily Broken," a movie about marriage, family, and forgiveness.

I come from a world where marriages disintegrate as soon as I dos are exchanged. Where married men aren't considered off the market because they never act like they are. I've seen the majority of the marriages around me fail, and most of the others just look so darn unhappy. My definition of marriage has been summed up into one word: Submission.

Submit your dreams, heart, passion, love, and life into the hands of someone who may not know what to do with it or may realize later on that they really don't want all of that. It's scary.

Both my biological parents have been married more than twice. The mother who raised me, once, and her one failed marriage seemed to have led her to raise the rest of her daughters to be strong women without the need of a man or anyone for that matter. She showed us how be independent, unmovable Black women, but not wives.

I remember being home from college one break and I asked her to wake me up one morning so I could learn how to cook. She asked me why. I thought it was a strange question, and I think my response was even stranger to her. I told her, "Well, one day I'll need to cook for my husband, so I should start learning now." She was silent for a moment, then replied, "Girl, just focus on your books." My mom had a way of ending conversations without much discussion, and that one was over. (Later she would say, "I meant that if you really wanted to learn, you would wake yourself up. But, I don't like people in the kitchen getting in my way.") Needless to say, I taught myself how to cook in college. My mommy taught me how to love everyone, how to be self-less, just not to a man. She is the most generous person I know, but after my dad, she refused to date, and clung to her kids.

Meanwhile, my biological mother and father both "had to kiss a few frogs to find their prince/princess." Both of their present spouses are absolutely perfect for them, but should it take so many bad situations to find your soul mate?

As I watched this movie, I thought about how my parents' marriages (and separations) trickled into my views on marriage. I recognize the extremes (one side being married numerous times and the other giving up after the first), and have created my own special blend. I never adhered to the idea that all men are selfish (although I've seen more than my share of selfish men), nor have I been one to ignore the flaws I see in an individual. As I watch my friends around me get married and pro-create, I'm forced to examine my ideas on the subject. I am, in fact, scared of marriage. And that leads to my trepidation when it comes to love. Disney fantasies never talk about whether Snow White and her prince stayed together forever or if the Prince tried to holla at Sleeping Beauty after Snow White gained a few pounds.

Amidst my skepticism, I watch the Obamas (the new ideal for 2009) and the few other happy, wholesome marriages, and I realize that I have to speak prosperity into my life. Cycles of dysfunction can be broken if we take the time to not repeat our parents' and their parents' and their parents' parents' mistakes. "Love" is one of those words spoken when someone seems to have SO MUCH in common with us like the love of cheesecake and the color green. There is more to love and marriage than the happy honeymoon phase. I've learned from those around me that truly loving someone isn't easy. There isn't a set way to be successful in a relationship. People are complex, so imagine how difficult a union between 2 people can be. Make sure that the person you choose to be with is worth the effort, the long talks, the prayers, the counseling, the disagreements, the annoyances, as well as the kisses, the hugs, the laughs, the fun, and the love. Make sure that God is the tie that binds you two together, not money, friends, or parents. That should equal out to a fulfilling relationship.

Let's break the cycle.