R&B superstar Ciara ignited a Twitter firestorm when she retweeted a meme featuring a clip of Pastor John Gray’s 2016 message to single women about why marriage is elusive for them. In this message, he insinuated that if a man hasn’t put a ring on it yet, it’s because you’re walking in the “spirit of girlfriend,” instead of acting like a wife. He said:
“Here’s what the scripture says. He that finds a wife finds a good thing. It didn’t say he that finds a woman that he’s attracted to, that he then begins to date, who he then calls a girlfriend, who he then buys a ring, proposes, and makes her his fiancé, who he then marries later, who becomes his wife. You’re not a wife when I marry you, you’re a wife when I find you. You become my wife when I marry you. But a wife is not the presence of a ring, it’s the presence of your character. Ask the Lord to deliver you from that spirit, and carry yourself like you are already taken. And I promise you when you carry yourself like a wife, a husband will find you.”
Ciara’s retweet of this message, along with the hashtag, #LevelUp, made many sisters feel she had forgotten her own messy relationship struggles with Future and was pointing to her public (and celibate) courtship and marriage to NFL star Russell Wilson as a sign she was on another level of worthiness as a woman. And while Ciara clarified her post, saying #LevelUp was about learning to love herself, sisters weren’t buying it because they’ve been inundated with this message that marriage is a reward from God for their “good behavior” as a woman.
— Ciara (@ciara) January 20, 2018
As a dating coach, relationship expert for successful, smart sisters (and a happily married woman of 11 years), I’d like to drop a truth bomb about why you’re still single that has nothing to do with Pastor John Gray’s “spirit of girlfriend” (which to me sounds like the church-approved way of saying “you can’t turn a ho into a housewife”). If you sit with the paradigm-shifting concept I’m going to share with you and let it sink in, it might set you free!
No matter the level of success a sister has created, by the time she reaches out to me for expert guidance on attracting a mate, she inevitably asks me, “What’s wrong with me, Dr. Aesha? Why am I still single?” Since Black women are considered one of the most religious groups in the nation, chances are she learned to blame herself for her perceived failure to find a husband from her spiritual leaders. Can you relate?
It’s not like you haven’t tried to #LevelUp. You’ve read books, attended conferences, and worked on yourself, trying to discover the “missing piece” that would finally bring your mate to you You’ve tried to change your personality, act more submissive, learn to cook, downplay your financial success, abstain from sex, serve your communities and avoid dating altogether, all so you could embody the “character of wife” Pastor John Gray talks about.
There’s nothing wrong with investing in your personal development. But if you believe that marriage is a reward for your faithfulness, you’ll feel disillusioned when your efforts don’t produce a life partner. Jealousy, comparison, competition, and self-blame are all cousins to the disappointment you feel as you wonder why your best friend got married and she wasn’t even celibate! In fact, her love story looked more like Cardi B’s than Ciara’s, and you can’t figure out why you’re still single.
Truth Bomb: There’s Nothing Wrong With You If You’re Still Single
Your single status doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. You don’t have to fix anything to be worthy of love. However, you may need to unlearn some things, such as the belief that there’s such a thing as “wife material” (in my expert opinion, the intention and desire to be married makes you wife material), or that the dating process of going from attraction to girlfriend, to fiancé, to wife, is wrong; or that getting the ring is a reward for being a quality woman; or that there’s only one perfect match out there for you and if you don’t get it right, you could miss out on getting married.
In fact, Dr. John Grey–not to be confused with Pastor Gray–is a world-renowned relationship expert and author of the bestselling book, Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars. He suggests that the search for your one true love, aka your soulmate, can keep you “stuck in singlehood.” He continues:
“The truth is that you come to a relationship — all relationships — as a full and complete person. Instead of completing a missing part of yourself, what soul mate relationships do is give you an opportunity to experience the parts of yourself that come alive inside of a relationship, parts that don’t have a reason or purpose to exist without this relationship.”
Dr. Grey explains that having a child awakens the parent in you. You wouldn’t need to develop parenting skills until the child came along. And, you wouldn’t walk like a parent so that God would send you a child, would you? So by extension, you won’t know what it means to be a wife until you actually get married! Let that sink in.
There’s no real way to act like a wife until you actually become one.
If you look at relationships from Dr. Grey’s perspective instead of Pastor Gray’s preaching, you may have peace about your own journey. Dating becomes a spiritual and personal growth process where you discover which person best awakens those areas of your soul that are aligned with who you want to be, and the life you want to live. You’ll stop trying so hard to fix yourself and the fear of missing out on the perfect person will leave you. You might even have fun dating and meeting new people and your hope that love is possible for you will come alive again.
Watch me talk about Pastor John Gray’s original sermon here:
Tell me: What did you think about Ciara reposting John Gray’s message? Do you believe a woman has to prove she is “wife material” in order to get married?