Polite Comportment And Good Habits During Uncertain Times

A WORD FROM THE VICTORIAN ERA

Dear Hearts, after reading this frightful report, I thought it might be a timely occasion to remember what our predecessors overcame. Remembering this is a good mental habit to cultivate. I shall note that true politeness is the exercise of civility as an everyday practice. I know that as ladies of rank and refinement, you would never engage in the vulgarity of gloating about another’s misfortune. Or using their being brought low as an opportunity to rehash a philosophical debate with a wounded opponent. I know that you will continue to match the salutary example set by Gina, blog host of What About Our Daughters, by discussing such matters with the delicacy that they require.

Melina, blog host of The Art of Being Feminine, recently extended a most gracious invitation to share some brief remarks with her guests. An invitation that I was delighted and honored to accept. I hope you will find the example of Madam C.J. Walker a helpful and encouraging one during these uncertain times.

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36 Responses to “Polite Comportment And Good Habits During Uncertain Times”

  1. Jules says:

    Great work over at Melina’s blog. I will now always remember that true femininity dignifies and elevates a woman.

    Blessings

  2. pioneervalleywoman says:

    I liked seeing the post at Melina’s blog as well. I have the book about Walker; I bought it at a reading–a book festival a number of years ago. Thanks for reminding me.

    I read as well, the story about Dickerson from WAOD. I once saw Dickerson do a reading on her first book, An American Story, and I remember admiring her when she spoke about her life; she was about to get married then. Oh my word. Troubling, sad, scary, indeed. She filed for divorce and the resolution of it impoverished her. What will happen to her and her children?

    I admire her courage, though, for even blogging about this, because this type of story brings out those who would gloat.

    Definitely not a story to gloat about, because I always believed in the saying “there by the grace of God,” as well as others, like, “be careful on your way up, because you never know when you might be down,” or one from my old folks, “when your neighbors bed is burning, throw water on yours…”

    Her story sounds like the basis for an interesting, timely and sobering blog post, since a good number of women explained that their strategy for building riches lay in marrying a man of means.

    This is definitely going to the dark side of that discussion. I was reading recently stories about women falling into poverty. One of the most significant causes of women’s fall? Divorce or death of a partner.

    I like your new signature, by the way: “expect success”!

    It is perfect!

    Regards,

    PVW

    • Faith says:

      Yet the leading cause of poverty for many women is still never-married (single) motherhood. I know it seems inconceivable for a Harvard-educated, celebrated author to hit the skids, but statistically-speaking it’s an anomoly. I think black women especially regardless of whether they marry or not must always have a back-up plan or three, but NOTHING is guaranteed.

      • Muse says:

        Dickerson’s situation is the stuff nightmares are made of. I hope she manages to get back on her feet and heal from the emotional and mental distress her divorce has caused. What’s sad is that some people celebrate this woman’s downfall because they disagree with her philosophy on life. I’m disappointed that anyone would find excitement from the suffering of another human being. Dickerson does have a great opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong and get back on her feet. If she survives this ordeal she will have an amazing and inspirational story to tell. However I can’t help but to wonder if there is more to this story. How does someone who has educated family members and so many resources at their disposal end up homeless? I also wonder what kind of man would allow his ex-wife children to live in hotels? Are people really that cruel? Some of the “facts” being presented doesn’t make any sense to me. If anything her Dickerson’s tale reinforced my mom’s view of women always having their own “stash” that no one knows about. It may sound dishonest but there are way too many horror stories of women being left destitute after a divorce.

  3. Faith says:

    That was a great post. I just sent the link out via Twitter. I’ve read about Dickerson’s problems (she’s on Twitter as well) and have offered her words of encouragement.

    I do notice how some men recognize the more feminine-acting women in public in greeting, by holding doors, etc.

    I’ve also noticed how detrimental it is to be associated with the ones who spit in public, wear overly tight clothes, hold loud convresations and are generally uncouth.

    Whether it be categorized a class issue, stress or a mentality doesn’t matter to me. It just needs to STOP!

    One thing I’ve noticed is how complacent many are if they aren’t in any immediate (perceived) danger to their lifestyle or perception of success. They’re not striving to further elevate themselves aside from holding on to their jobs.

    Then there are those who still focus on feeling injured by the suggestion they be willing to change or at least reevaluate how they behave.

    Either way all of our conversations for the past year in particular have been very beneficial even as excuting these changes doesn’t always come easily, quickly or work out smoothly.

    They are still very necessary.

  4. Jules,

    Thank you for your kind words about the guest post; I truly appreciate it.

    I enjoyed channeling my inner-Victorian-era woman. [Briefly, though. It’s hard for me to maintain her for long. That’s the thing about the past. People from previous eras were NOT simply 21st century Americans who dressed in antique costumes. The way they viewed the world and their lives was VERY different from modern thinking. The past truly is a foreign country.]

    I was also surprised and amused by several of the materials that I came across while doing my research about Victorian-era etiquette. One amusing thing was this museum’s computer game that tests one’s knowledge of proper Victorian manners. After I made an initial unfortunate dress selection, I guessed well and did okay during the rest of the home dinner party quiz.{chuckling}
    _______________________________________________

    PioneerValleyWoman,

    Thank you for your kind words about the guest post; I truly appreciate it.

    Yes, I had also bought the book about Madam Walker a few years back. It was quite eye-opening. Until I read the book, I had believed the myth about her work being about hot combs and hair straightening. Instead, it was about growing healthy hair. And Madam Walker made a point of publicly distinguishing what she was doing from the various products that promised straight hair. It’s disgusting how these urban myths have “got it all twisted” about Madam Walker’s work. I wonder if this was part of a deliberate effort to dismiss and diminish her accomplishments.

    You said, “I read as well, the story about Dickerson from WAOD. . . .I admire her courage, though, for even blogging about this, because this type of story brings out those who would gloat.”

    Yes, that’s what I’ve found disturbing about some of the comments I’ve seen at various blogs about her post about impending homelessness. There are many (uncomplimentary) things I could say about a number of Ms. Dickerson’s opinions. Particularly about her essay from a few years back about her half-White children titled, “Don’t Be Black On My Account.”

    The thing is, now is NOT the time to get into all of that. Now is the time to say a prayer for her and her children.

    You said, “Her story sounds like the basis for an interesting, timely and sobering blog post, since a good number of women explained that their strategy for building riches lay in marrying a man of means.

    This is definitely going to the dark side of that discussion. I was reading recently stories about women falling into poverty. One of the most significant causes of women’s fall? Divorce or death of a partner.”

    Oh yeah. Meanwhile, men’s income goes up after divorce—because they’re no longer supporting a household. And often, they’re no longer supporting their children at all.

    As with anything else, the “Man Plan” can blow up in a woman’s face if she doesn’t build secure fallback positions for herself.

    Thank you for your kind words about the new signature. The previous one had a “we be struggling” vibe to it; so it had to go. {chuckling}
    _____________________________________________

    Faith,

    Thank you for your kind words and “tweet affection” for the post; I truly appreciate it.

    You said, “One thing I’ve noticed is how complacent many are if they aren’t in any immediate (perceived) danger to their lifestyle or perception of success. They’re not striving to further elevate themselves aside from holding on to their jobs.”

    My mother has an amusing saying about that sort of complacency. As she explains it, life is a big “NO LOITERING” zone. You can pause, you can sit on the “park bench” to briefly rest your feet, wait for the bus, or hold a conversation. But you have to ultimately keep moving. You won’t be allowed to camp out on the park bench. And the moment you try to lay out a blanket and sleep on the park bench, something unpleasant will happen to jolt you awake, and give you the bum’s rush off that bench.
    ____________________________________________

    Muse,

    If I gambled, I would be willing to bet a not-insignificant amount of money that there’s more to Ms. Dickerson’s story. There’s almost always “more to the story” than what people tell. This includes what they choose to tell their professional advisers (lawyers, accountants, and so on—and this holding back makes it harder for their professional team to safeguard their interests).

    Expect Success!

    • Karen R. says:

      Great post and very timely. It is imperative that women develop and use the gift of femininity that we have been given. It is amazing how men will go out of their way to assist a woman who is feminine and who carries herself like a lady.

      In business, the late Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, talked about how women should not try to emulate men in the business world, rather we should use our feminine virtues. Her autobiography -Miracles Happen- is a must read. One practical example is that she always counseled women to wear skirted suits or dresses, especially in business. She saw the folly of women in the business world especially attempting to emulate the mannerisms of men in their demeanor and in their dress. Men reject this and often resist or at worst sabotage. It is almost instinctual for a man to help a woman whom he perceives as feminine!!! His reaction will be to assist and offer help. The implications for this are huge, especially for those of us who may wish to have a mentor. If a known leader in our area of entrepreneurial interest is male, we are WAY ahead of the game. This has been true in my own life as ALL of my business-related mentors are male and they also all happen to be white…but that is another post!!! LOL

      In the dating realm, my best friend told me to always wear a skirt on dates. She reminded me that a man on a date doesn’t want the lady to be dressed like a guy. If he did, he would have gone out to dinner with one of his friends. Prior to her advice I would wear jeans or other pants. When I took her advice, I noticed that when I went on a date, (in the 90’s) the man would seem a little more chivalrous.

      Related to Ms. Dickerson, I have to believe that there is more to this story, Harvard Law Degree notwithstanding. My apple cart is really upset because I would like to believe that someone in her tier would have friends or family to whom she could turn to for support or at the very least, I would think that she has social contacts that could offer some sort of employment or barter, i.e. Her situation is troubling and I pray that she would soon recover.

      • ak says:

        Dating is one thing I suppose. I remember someone in my high school in the US saying that her grandmother worked as a receptionist or secretary in an office (I’m assuming that this was have been back in the 40s or 50s) and that her grandmother’s butt was often pinched by her boss. You’re talking about a time when any woman working in an office was definitely in skirts and dresses only. That time was also a ‘honey’, ‘doll’, and ‘toots’ kind of time to live in. No wonder ‘Mad Men’ is already here highlighting that sort of period.

        As Khadija pointed out with the saying that ‘The past is a foreign country’.

  5. Karen says:

    Dear Ladies,

    Marrying well is and remains a fundamental way to improve one’s life and the life of future children. HOWEVER, there must always be a ‘PLAN B’. Speaking from personal experience, having a Plan B can mean the difference from having a roof over your head or ending up in a shelter. In my case, I never had to be confronted with the shelter option.

    Plan B needs to include being able to earn a living, having REAL FRIENDS or relatives that will be there for you and making sure that you have SEPARATE financial reserves. Especially if the situation arises where a divorce is the final solution, then it should be carefully planned (even more so if children are involved).

    We will never know the full circumstances to Ms. Dickerson’s situation but it does serve as a cautionary tale.

    I wish Ms. Dickerson the very best.

  6. KarenR.,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

    Hmmm…that’s very interesting about the Mary Kay founder. I’ll have to check out her autobiography. Thanks for mentioning it.
    ______________________________________________

    Karen,

    I co-sign 100%. It’s best to not put all of one’s eggs into any one basket. I see how easy it is to become complacent. So many women figure that they’ve got it made once they get married. I’ve seen people make that same dangerous assumption once they land a “good job.” It’s always best to have multiple reserves. And I’m a firm believer in having (at least) one secret reserve.

    Expect Success!

    • truth p. says:

      Khadija this was a very good post.Noone likes to be kicked while they’re down.My prayers are with Ms.Dickerson and her children.

      I do think that Ms.Dickerson’s life can be a lesson to us however.

      Lesson 1:Know your real family and friends.
      Always have the support of others outside of your husband or significant other.I’d even say that it’s extremely important for women to have really good friends before marriage.Friends that are only your husbands friend because he’s your hubby, that way if something happens between you and your hubby you’ll have good friends on your side who won’t have to question or care if helping you out will cause a rift between they and your hubby’s friendship.

      Lesson 2:DBR’s come in all colors and are from all socioeconomic backgrounds.We must learn to properly screen all men.I’m sorry but something is up if a man would allow the mother of his children to be homeless.There is alot to the story we don’t know.

      Lesson 3:I defitnetly think when women marry they should always be prepared for a “just in case situation”.Have a personal stash set a side just in case hubby loses his job,gets ran over etc.

      Lesson 4: Have a business mind when it comes to marriage.Never be so in love you don’t get a pre-nup.They can be good for both parties involved.Couples financial counseling would be good.Know what you both are working with before marriage assets,debt etc.

      This brings me to lesson 5:Study and seek relationship counseling before marriage!Study the marriages of people in long lasting successful marriages before you get married.Of course this can help to keep your marriage solid and intact AND study the divorces of people,preferably the divorces of women that ended in them and their children being well taken care of, >before< you get married so you can know what to do in case of your own divorce.

      I have also found that many people,in my family, that are well off don't have lawyers.I find that odd.If you have a year round accountant why not have a lawyer you can call at anytime,before something bad happens?

  7. Lisa99 says:

    I completely agree with a “Plan B,” and I definitely plan to build up my reserves in case Plan A goes terribly awry. (And I do like the secret reserve plan as well.)

    I feel for Mrs. Dickerson and her children. Like everyone else, I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story, but whatever might have happened, this story can provide a good lesson to all of us.

  8. Joyousnerd says:

    In regard to Karen R.’s comment that one would expect someone in such a high class tier to have friends and associates willing to pitch in… I believe that the opposite is more often true. How many of us know black women who are financially struggling and leading truly precarious lives, yet they are constantly digging deep to help out a down-on-his/her-luck relative or friend? It happens frequently. However, in my personal experience, I have found that people in the higher class tiers do NOT do this. If someone can’t handle their own affairs then they are left to suffer the consequences alone.

    It is truly a sad and scary situation to ponder. I hope Ms. Dickerson is able to recover from this setback quickly. This conversation has reaffirmed for me the importance of not only having multiple irons in the fire but also keeping your own counsel about what those irons might be.

  9. Lisa99,

    You said, “I feel for Mrs. Dickerson and her children. Like everyone else, I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story, but whatever might have happened, this story can provide a good lesson to all of us.”

    I agree that this is a cautionary tale on many different levels.
    ______________________________________________

    JoyousNerd,

    You said, “It is truly a sad and scary situation to ponder.”

    Indeed. The other thing about this horror story is the fallacy of “good jobs.” LOTS of industries are changing, shrinking, and in some cases going away—never to return. In particular, AA writers need to wake up. Along those lines, I read this interesting conversation that Ishmael Reed had with Terry McMillan in his online magazine Konch. Now, I’m NOT endorsing or necessarily supporting the views expressed by either Ishmael Reed or Ms. McMillan. I just think that the points they raised are very interesting, and worth considering.

    I laughed out loud (I know—I was wrong for that) when I read this part:

    “Ishmael Reed: What? Which Black actor would perform in such a movie? Who wants to see such a movie?

    Terry McMillan: You’ll see. Anybody who is behind in their mortgage.”
    _____________________________________________

    TruthP.,

    You said, “Always have the support of others outside of your husband or significant other.I’d even say that it’s extremely important for women to have really good friends before marriage.Friends that are only your husbands friend because he’s your hubby, that way if something happens between you and your hubby you’ll have good friends on your side who won’t have to question or care if helping you out will cause a rift between they and your hubby’s friendship.”

    ITA. Too many women have the habit of dumping their friends as soon as they get a man. It’s an unwise behavior pattern. Meanwhile, men generally don’t totally drop their male friends just because they get involved with a woman.

    Expect Success!

  10. Faith says:

    While we have the Dickerson situation to speculate about to an extent (as to how black women need to be prepared as we are the most vulnerable) we see the contrast with Elin Woods who’s now demanding a $750M divorce/child support settlement.

    I personally have no problem with her taking ALL of Tiger’s money – after all he can still earn more. He put her life in danger with his nonsense. Yet aside from the public complaining of one black male (educated, supposedly “good” brother) on a social networking site in particular, most people have enough common sense or good enough sense to keep their thoughts to themselves.

    Perhaps other white males have complained but I haven’t seen anything.

    As I pointed out to this person (who has a somewhat high profile job working for a social networking company) PUBLICLY declaring he was upset about Elin getting “so much” when it was none of his business (it isn’t his marriage, his divorce or his money) was misogynistic (and STUPID but I didn’t say that). Yet, he insisted on behaving foolishly for (his white male bosses) and all the world to see by declaring his opinion was a FACT.

    I only mention this to reiterate yet again how out of step blacks can be compared to the dominant group. I only responded to him to declare that in a patriarchal society those men that partake of its benefits so eagerly must also be prepared to accept its responsiblities.

    It’s becoming more difficult for me to look at random black males without immediately thinking they’re wholly inadequate and simply expect the shoe to drop because I have to socialize and network. Or for black women to not seek to position themselves better. There’s a difference between not knowing and willful ignorance.

    The search for “something more” was what lead many of us to these forums as blog hosts and participants after all.

    I want to evaluate people as individuals. I also suppose it has to do with living in a city tied to political power that I will have to navigate various social circles.

    It’s just that I see the average black person as not being part of a larger infrastructure (which brings me back to Dickerson) that can sustain anyone and it’s frustrating to me. It seems the only way to deal with this is to not talk about it (as a means of protecting future potential endeavors) but how does that assist in disengaging?

    This is my quandry right now…

  11. pioneervalleywoman says:

    Khadija:

    I see how easy it is to become complacent. So many women figure that they’ve got it made once they get married.

    My reply:

    It is easy for spouses to become complacent, but it is quite clear that complacency hurts more the women who get stars in their eyes once they pursue the wealthy husband strategy and win. They believe they have nothing to worry about anymore, because “he will take care of me…”

    A certain type of man WILL take advantage of a woman’s complacency, so women need to look out for their interests.

    Who knows why they got divorced, but when a woman becomes complacent, it is easier for a man who is trying to get over, to do so, because he knows she is in less of a bargaining position, ie., she is overly dependent upon him, etc., and many women in that position know this, so they will “go along to get along.”

    Another saying from my old folks: “when the monkey is making pants, he better know where he is going to put his tail!”

    So if she was going to sue for divorce, she needed to think about all the contingencies, the costs of the battle, in all its aspects. This might have saved her from racking up what she described as $100,000 in attorney’s fees!

  12. Faith,

    You said, “I only mention this to reiterate yet again how out of step blacks can be compared to the dominant group. I only responded to him to declare that in a patriarchal society those men that partake of its benefits so eagerly must also be prepared to accept its responsiblities.”

    BM like the fool that you’re describing are utterly powerless. . . what they think about anything does not matter at all. The only people they have any impact on are those BW and children who are unfortunate enough to be around them. For me, what any such individuals are thinking or saying is a non-issue at this point.

    The only thing that matters is that AA women who want to survive and thrive need to position themselves better.

    You said, “It’s just that I see the average black person as not being part of a larger infrastructure (which brings me back to Dickerson) that can sustain anyone and it’s frustrating to me.”

    It’s hard being a pioneer. You’re absolutely right. AAs don’t have anything of our own that can sustain anybody. And most of us haven’t attached ourselves in any significantly beneficial way to other folks’ infrastructures. Those handful of AAs who survive and thrive will have to do both. We have to build our own infrastructures while simultaneously attaching ourselves to the larger, functioning infrastructures created by other groups. [Which is yet another reason for AA women to drop that “fighting White hegemony” crazy talk—crazy talk that NOBODY else, including BM and other types of BW, is engaging in.]

    While looking at the professional blogger sites that I’ve mentioned in various posts, I’ve been struck by how these other folks (Whites) have built new infrastructures that mutually support each other’s internet businesses.

    Unlike AAs who are engaged in mostly idle, mostly non-beneficial chatter on various blogs and other social media sites, these White bloggers are effectively using their stuff to make money and build viable businesses. THEIR blog- and social media-networks are creating new businesses. And thereby freeing folks from being dependent on “good jobs.”

    I’m working on some “3.0” and “next phase” projects. In the future, I hope to imitate the best things about the White professional bloggers and their sites.

    You said, “It seems the only way to deal with this is to not talk about it (as a means of protecting future potential endeavors) but how does that assist in disengaging?”

    I don’t understand what you mean by this particular statement. Could you speak a bit more about it?
    ____________________________________________

    PioneerValleyWoman,

    You said, “It is easy for spouses to become complacent, but it is quite clear that complacency hurts more the women who get stars in their eyes once they pursue the wealthy husband strategy and win. They believe they have nothing to worry about anymore, because “he will take care of me…”

    A certain type of man WILL take advantage of a woman’s complacency, so women need to look out for their interests.”

    I agree. Complacency hurts women more across the board. Among other things that happen, time passes while they slowly lose their “youth card,” and become more easily replaced by other, younger women.

    Expect Success!

    • Faith says:

      Was I beign vague. I’m trying to keep my responses general for a larger conversation so I may have skipped over certain specifics.

      I’m trying to figure out a vetting process for finding other like-minded or supportive individuals for my endeavors beyond immediate family (who may not be adequate to begin with) in real life.

      This is something I have to play catch up with because I need to actively build contacts and social circles. Where I think this impacts individual black women is how some of us have previously focused on uplifting various family members or community-at-large with no active reciprocal networks in place.

      In meeting other blacks (in particular since I’ve moved from an area with a 3% population to ten times that amount) and it’s post-indoctrination time I do sometimes feel a bit wary of this entire process. I’m trying to figure out a way to quickly identify those who are not beneficial, those who are useless and those potentially harmful.

      Regardless, you have no idea how all of this ties in to my other future ventures I’m working on. It becomes more and more obvious in any number of ways every day.

      • Faith,

        Oh, I understand better now.

        Instead of trying to weed out the multitudes of “I can’t quite tell on face value what they’re about” folks who most likely don’t mesh with my goals, I focus on finding and connecting with those people who are already doing the things I want to do. [As you mentioned, it’s not wise to randomly share one’s goals/plans with the multitudes—more than a few of them would try to sabotage it.]

        Expect Success!

  13. Karen says:

    “Another saying from my old folks: “when the monkey is making pants, he better know where he is going to put his tail!”

    So if she was going to sue for divorce, she needed to think about all the contingencies, the costs of the battle, in all its aspects. This might have saved her from racking up what she described as $100,000 in attorney’s fees!”

    Sorry to be blunt, but this sounds like there was absolutely “NO STEALTH and NO PREPARATION” used at all… Speaking again from experience, it is critical to use stealth to make sure all your ducks are in a row BEFORE you engage in battle.

    There are very few “amicable” divorces and those that are, are usually where the assets were separate before marriage and remain separate after (and no children are involved).

    I know of WW who planned for YEARS in preparation for their divorce to make sure that they were prepared for battle (financially, emotionally and physically).

    If the above number is correct concerning the attorney fees, then either there are serious assets involved or the parties are more focused on drawing blood (i.e. only communicating through their lawyers). It is a very tragic situation indeed.

  14. Karen,

    I 100% co-sign your observations.

    You said, “There are very few “amicable” divorces and those that are, are usually where the assets were separate before marriage and remain separate after (and no children are involved).”

    This is the same pattern that I’ve observed. And it’s correct to put the word amicable in quotation marks. There are very, very, VERY few “amicable” divorces. I believe that women need to get that phrase out of their minds, because the odds of things working out in an “amicable” fashion are extremely low.

    And as you have noted, the few divorces that work out that way are typically ones in which there’s very few tangible things to fight over (such as significant assets or children). Also, the lack of significant assets or children (to fight over) usually correlates to a marriage that didn’t last very long. The more years that people invest into a marriage, the angrier they tend to be when that marriage unravels.

    In the real world, what typically happens is that ex-spouses are the people who hate you THE MOST. Unfortunately, they’re also the people who know: (1) the most about you; and (2) how best to hurt you—emotionally and materially. This is why when somebody is murdered, ex-spouses are among the first people the police look at as potential suspects.

    Again, women need to forget about that “amicable divorce” nonsense. It’s better when it works out that way, but nobody should expect that. Or God forbid, count on things working out “amicably.” Instead, women should use stealth to plan for a divorce as if it’s a potentially LIFE-THREATENING experience. Which it can be.

    You said, “I know of WW who planned for YEARS in preparation for their divorce to make sure that they were prepared for battle (financially, emotionally and physically).”

    The WW you described understood what time it was. Good for them.

    Expect Success!

  15. While I’m thinking about it, let me mention another real-world observation about stealth preparations for divorce.

    With married couples, one of the ways you can tell that somebody is either: (1) cheating on their spouse, (2) looking to cheat on their spouse, (3) and/or planning on getting a divorce is when they start taking serious care of their personal appearance. When the person makes a significant effort to get closer back to their pre-marriage appearance. Incidentally, this pattern applies to both men and women.

    One married partner starts working out, loses weight, gets into better shape, buys new, flattering clothes, starts taking better care of their haircuts, and so on.

    Now, this isn’t the case 100% of the time. Nothing is. But—a sudden makeover or marked improvement in personal grooming IS one major warning sign that your spouse is about to replace you. Either immediately, because they’re cheating and they already have a replacement lined up. Or, they’re getting their self-presentation together so they can replace you after they divorce you.

    Expect Success!

  16. Magenta says:

    I feel terrible for Ms. Dickerson. I find some of her views, um, “interesting”, but like you said it is not the time to discuss that. I hope she can rebound and rebuild.

    I do believe we can learn a great deal from her plight. Cases like hers are not that rare anymore (Huffpo was doing a series of “recession stories” that showed people from the upper middle class being reduced to nothing) it shows just how dire the economic situation is. People who went to “good schools” and got “good jobs” are feeling the crunch. So many attorneys have told me that their firms are laying folks off. People with Ivy League credentials are finding a hard time finding work.

    What I find amazing is that folks are continuing to minimize the seriousness of this and are not making the necessary preparations. I know several people who have been unemployed for months, some for as long as over a year or more because they “can’t find something in their field.” Are you kidding me? I am not sure how they are supporting themselves, I am assuming it is with unemployment benefits, credit cards, parents or a combination of the three. What are they going to do when that runs out? Don;t they realize that some of these jobs they are pining away for may NEVER COME BACK??? People are still thinking with the “good job” model.

    One of this things about Ms. Dickerson’s case that stuck out was when she mentioned being offered “peanuts” for some editing work so she did not take the job. While I do not expect any worker to enter into an exploitative arrangement, her tone reminded me of the “this is not in my field” folks who have not had a job in two years. I am not sure what other jobs she has been offered, but she may have to take a pay cut for a time being just to keep a roof over her head. There is also the very real possibility that she may never get paid the amount of money she used to. I don’t want to judge, but we can’t let pride get in the way of doing what needs to be done.

    I am glad we are discussing the importance of not developing a complacent “I’s married now!!!” attitude. I think many women are so relieved to have found Mr. Right that they just kick their feet up and believe that they never have to worry about anything ever again. They pay no attention to their finances (when asked, they just wave their hand and dismissively say “my husband handles all of that!!!), they do not “keep themselves up” physically, they do not maintain their relationships with family or friends, they ignore signs that the husband is one foot out the door (change in appearance like you mentioned, moving or hiding assets, not wearing his wedding ring, etc. ) I can actually do a whole nutha segment with this no wedding ring nonsense, LOL.

    Then when the divorce happens, the woman is completely w/o a pot to you know what in. Women, especially BW need to be more strategic about these things. At least the avg. WW has family or some other support network. NOBODY HAS OUR BACK!!! I get accused of being cynical or “not trusting men” when I bring up these concerns. Ha!

    • Karen R. says:

      I totally agree that the “find a good job” model is not the ticket. We will never create true and lasting wealth working for someone else.

  17. Magenta,

    You said, “What I find amazing is that folks are continuing to minimize the seriousness of this and are not making the necessary preparations.”

    Unfortunately, I also see plenty of folks doing this. Fantasy Island is really crowded these days. They’re going to have to annex some more land on the island for new cabanas.

    You said, “Don;t they realize that some of these jobs they are pining away for may NEVER COME BACK??? People are still thinking with the “good job” model.”

    ITA. That 20th century “good job” with “good benefits” model is OVER. And it won’t be coming back.

    You said, “One of this things about Ms. Dickerson’s case that stuck out was when she mentioned being offered “peanuts” for some editing work so she did not take the job. While I do not expect any worker to enter into an exploitative arrangement, her tone reminded me of the “this is not in my field” folks who have not had a job in two years.”

    The tone of those sorts of statements lets you know that a person is “tripping.” Like you said, I don’t expect or want any worker to allow themselves to be exploited. Not only is that bad for that particular individual, but it messes things up for other workers when people accept exploitation. However, the “peanuts”-type of remarks don’t give off the vibe of the job seeker having carefully weighed the variables. Instead it gives off the “this is beneath me” vibe. That attitude is a form of “tripping” when one has limited options AND children to feed.

    You said, “I can actually do a whole nutha segment with this no wedding ring nonsense, LOL.”

    I could too. I don’t understand the women who are married to men who OPENLY don’t wear their wedding rings. That’s the sort of thing one should have to sneak to do.

    You said, “Women, especially BW need to be more strategic about these things. At least the avg. WW has family or some other support network. NOBODY HAS OUR BACK!!! I get accused of being cynical or “not trusting men” when I bring up these concerns. Ha!”

    Yep. We’ve got a lot of dishonest conversations among our group. There are lots of cabanas on Fantasy Island. And more being built everyday—despite what’s going on all around people. The human mind’s capacity for denial and self-delusion is amazing.

    Expect Success!

  18. NijaG says:

    If there is one thing growing up as a female in a Third World country taught me at a very early age was that when it comes to marriage and rlsps (romantic and family) women have to have strong boundaries in order not to be taken advantage of. Not only that, but it is very important for women to use their HEAD not HEART when it comes to choosing life partners, at least at a ratio of 70:30.

    While things are improving gradually, there are still major inequalities in certain areas of life when it comes to how society treats issues that affect women. I totally agree about Black (AA) women needing to build and nurture QUALITY family (biological or adopted), friends, and social networks apart from that they might have with their husbands.

    I could tell you ladies some stories from when I was growing up. This is how most women back home survive if things head south in their marriages for whatever reason.

    I also have the second the advice of women having their own income and resources. Make sure that you know and understand what is going on with the finances and investments. Be involved, ask questions. If you really have negative feeling about a decision your hubby is going to make financially, speak up and veto it. Or don’t add you name to it. Frankly, I think that if you start noticing some suspect behavior from your husband regarding finances, start investigating (quietly) and make Alternate Plan A, B, C, D, E and F.

    Back home many financial issues are also complicated due to certain traditional customs, especially because of extended family and inheritance laws.

    In America and the West it is much easier for women to have more say in the financial matters without too much of a hassle.

    My attitude is that my husband’s money is “Our” money and my money belongs to me. My contribution should be optional and light (no more than 30%) if necessary.

    We have a saying back home, “A woman really only needs two things in life, GOD and MONEY, MONEY and GOD”. Everything after that really icing on the cake.

  19. DeStouet says:

    Hi Guys-

    Interestedly enough, I was one of those women who immediately became complacent after marriage. As a child my only desire was to get out of my community. That was all I ever wanted, so I had no other plans or goals for myself beyond that. And to be honest, I was absolutely content for a while.

    But not any longer…I have several plans, all of which I’m actively working on at the present.

    Speaking of true femininity AND Madam C.J. Walker, I’ve recently decided to legally changing my name to Camilla Marie. In the last 2/3 years, I’ve undergone a major transformation, and a name change will legally seal the deal. Not only is the name feminine but it will appeal to a wider audience once I’m published as a writer.

    Gina, if you are reading this, I commend you on the way you handled Debra’s situation. Very classy and lady-like.

    Expecting success,

    Latasha

    • camille says:

      Congrants on your name change and transformation.. My name is camille and I have had men comment on how beautiful and feminine it is. Camilla Marie is a beautiful combination. I too only focoused on marriage but now I realize I want more out of life

    • Gina says:

      Thank you DeStouet. I’ve been there. I know what its like to have a closet full of credentials and having to sleep on a relative’s couch. I know what long-term under employment feels like as well. Ironically, what I went through almost 10 years ago caused me to retrofit my life in ways that are advantageous now.

    • Magenta says:

      Congrats!!! I love the name as well.

    • musicalle says:

      Congratulations on your name change! I’m so glad this came up. The whole area of names and their effect is an interesting one. I have also been wanting to do this, but haven’t come up with the right name yet. I really feel more black women should seriously consider this option if they’ve been given a name that they feel might hinder their success or even if they just don’t like their name.

      Something interesting: I heard an interview with a woman who’d been a school teacher and noticed similar behavior trends/patterns in children with various names. So she researched and found out about nameology. It’s a form of numerology. from her website:

      “As the first name is said, written, used and thought over and over every day, the vibrational energy of the name’s frequency will affect the formation and expression of a personality, encouraging certain traits and downplaying others. Choice of friends and mates, career preferences, financial habits and health tendencies are all impacted by the first name. Everyone has an innate personality… with the first name providing many of the finishing touches!”

      Now if you ask me if I believe in this I’d say “no” resoundingly- it doesn’t sense. But I had her do my name and I had to admit that most of it was pretty accurate( some things stunningly so)…As were the (shortened) descriptions for my family in her book called- Namepower101.
      But whether it’s for this or some other reason, I do feel that there is more to naming than first meets the eye.

      For anyone with a metaphysical bent her website is:
      http://www.namestructures.com/name_anatomy.php
      another groups that does the same type of work:
      http://www.kabalarians.com/

  20. NijaG says:

    Another point is this issue of divorce and children. This is my own personal opinion just from my life observations and experience.

    Unless it turns out that my instincts, perceptions, and ability to judge character is totally jacked up, I plan on giving primary custody of my children (unless they are really young) to my future husband if the worse happens. I have various reason for this, but the important ones are the following:

    1) I personally think that after a certain stage in a child’s life, that having a good father in your life becomes a little bit more important than even having a good mother.

    2) The other main reason is purely logical and mercenary. Most men once divorce can tend to have an almost “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when there all these custody issues/battles over their kids. I’ve seen too many cases where the man remarries and either has more kids or step-children and becomes more emotionally and financially invested in them. The reason for this is usually because they are in his sight and vicinity much more constantly than his biological children may be.

    I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that their father’s resources don’t flow out some other woman’s children. Especially not years was invested in that relationship. My children are staying with their father.

    3) Sometimes as a woman you just need time to regroup. Divorce is never easy. It is much easier and faster to get yourself together when you don’t have to worry and carry majority of the burden of taking care of kids financially and emotionally at the early stages of after the divorce.

    I know it may sound cold, but what I’ve seen in life has burnt into my brain the mantra of looking out for myself first and foremost. In doing so, I’m actually in a better place to now give to others if I want to.

    • ZooPath says:

      ITA! Preach! My husband knows that if we part ways, God forbid, that *he* gets custody of the children and can look forward to being a single parent. I’ll pay the child support, that’s a way better deal financially than full custody. If you marry a halfway decent man, he may have the audacity to mess over you but most won’t mess over their kids. I’ll be the one breezing in for weekend visits with gifts and my new love interest.

  21. NijaG,

    You said, “My attitude is that my husband’s money is “Our” money and my money belongs to me. My contribution should be optional and light (no more than 30%) if necessary.”

    What’s interesting is that this was the attitude of many “old-school” AA men from previous eras. Men like my grandfather did NOT want their wives working outside the home. He would have preferred to have my grandmother living just like the WW that she worked as a maid for. It was a source of quiet shame to most old-school AA husbands that they couldn’t afford “to bring their wives back home” (which is how I’ve heard having a stay-at-home wife described by a number of older, old-school AA men). And this phrase of “bring my wife back home” is usually said in a wistful tone of voice. It was also shameful that they needed their wives’ income to help in supporting their household.

    Many AAs romanticize this “struggling together as a couple” stuff as if it’s somehow the ideal. [And I have to wonder—what’s that about? Why in the world would anybody romanticize scuffling?] But that’s NOT what many old-school AA men from previous generations wanted for their wives. They wanted to provide for their wives the same way many WM were providing for their wives.

    You said, “We have a saying back home, “A woman really only needs two things in life, GOD and MONEY, MONEY and GOD”. Everything after that really icing on the cake.”

    {chuckling} I find it quite telling that most women I’ve met from the global south (aka 3rd world countries) know what time it is! They generally don’t have the delusions that western women have.

    You said, “Unless it turns out that my instincts, perceptions, and ability to judge character is totally jacked up, I plan on giving primary custody of my children (unless they are really young) to my future husband if the worse happens.”

    Of the various categories of BM, I can see how that would have a good chance of working right with an African ex-husband. But that sort of strategy would most likely NOT work properly with many AA men.

    What many AA men will do is dump their children off on the paternal grandmother. This is what large numbers of the AA male clients I’ve fought for to get increased and summer visitation actually do with their visitation. They pick their children up from the ex-wife’s home and drop them off at the paternal grandmother’s house for the duration of the “visit.” {shaking my head in disgust}
    _____________________________________________

    DeStouet,

    I’m so happy for you!!!!! YES!!!!

    {happy dance}

    Expect Success!

    • ak says:

      Khadija:

      Many AAs romanticize this “struggling together as a couple” stuff as if it’s somehow the ideal. [And I have to wonder—what’s that about? Why in the world would anybody romanticize scuffling?]

      THANK YOU Khadija my dear, thank you. Because I don’t see why they see things that way either. Just to let you know some non-AA blacks that are living in the us feel the same way as some AAs do regarding that *shrugs shoulders* .

  22. Joyousnerd says:

    NijaG, I share your view about giving the ex husband primary custody! Children are at less risk of mistreatment when their biological father is present versus a stepfather. Plus, men are so weak. Once they hook up with the NEW missus, she will be able to manipulate and tangle his mind and put a wedge between him and his noncustodial children very easily. If those kids are in the home with him, though, that risk is totally averted.

    I agree with Khadija that most AA men would just dump the children somewhere, but I did not and would never consider a man like that for a mate anyway! I married an Asian-American man who would actually probably consider taking them back to his mother’s country before he’d let another man raise them. He’s the most involved father I’ve ever seen. If our marriage does end in divorce, I would absolutely give him primary custody feeling safe in the knowledge that he would continue to do an excellent job rearing the kids.