Posted April 8, 2008 – Stable, long-lasting Black couples most often attend chruch, found ways to deal with their differences, stood as examples to others in their communities and often are the folks people go to for emotional and economic support.
Those are the findings of a new study that shows why Black marriages work and their value to African-American communities.
“This all started about five years ago, when two of my students came up to me after class to ask me a question I couldn’t answer,” said Loren Marks, assistant professor of human ecology at Louisiana State University and author of the study called “Together, We Are Strong: A Qualitative Study of Happy, Enduring African American Marriages." “They asked me why there wasn’t any research done on strong, marriage-based black families like the ones they came from.”
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Marks, along with several LSU colleagues, published “Together, We Are Strong: A Qualitative Study of Happy, Enduring African American Marriages" in the April issue of the Family Relations journal.
According to the researchers, scholars tend to view African-American families through what is known as a “deficit perspective,” a manner that emphasizes problems and negatives. The "Together" study, one of the only studies to look at positive, long-lasting African-American marriages, found that those relelationships are invaluable to Black communities.
“We felt it was time that someone stepped up and researched the many solid, long-lasting African-American marriages that are out there,” Marks said.
The study relies on in-depth interviews rather than numerical data, from discussions with 30 African-American married couples identified across the country. The findings mostly showed:
- Approximately one-half of African Americans – and 24 out of the 30 interviewed couples live in inner-city neighborhoods typified by poverty, deficient schools, unemployment, street violence and high levels of stress.
- It is difficult to get married and stay married in such an environment. But, because of their stability, these marriages serve as a primary source of support for those around them: “Knocks of need,” or calls for financial, emotional and social support, come to these couples in a seemingly disproportionate amount.
- The couples’ household incomes weren’t high by national standards, but they typically had more liquid assets than their neighbors – at least until they shared.
- The researchers also found that, like all relationships across racial and economic boundaries, each couple had arguments, disagreements and reported generally being “different” from one another, but they found ways to work through their conflicts.
- Also, 90 percent of the families interviewed attended church regularly.
“We want young people, Black and White, to see that strong, happy marriages do exist, but that they don’t look like the movies,” Marks said. “These marriages involve work, sacrifice, patience, unselfishness and commitment. It is tough, but it is possible.”
For more on the study, go to here.