10 reasons why black women are to blame for the high black divorce rate – by Jennifer

The black woman who makes more money than her husband on account of her higher levels of education can quickly find herself on online dating sites looking for a new husband.

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Are black women to blame for the high failure rate of black marriages? By Jennifer Adams-Jones

We all know the grim statistics: Most black women are single and have never married but of the few who end up tying the knot at some point, 70 percent will be divorced in less than a decade. What is going on? Here are 10 reasons why black women may fail at marriage in such high numbers:

1. Their off the charts ambitions

Socially, black women may not be at the apex of societal pecking orders, but they are becoming increasingly ambitious  everything from their quest for higher education degrees, to starting businesses and to advancing in their careers whether as school principals, teachers, nurses, pastors or public servants (and in many other professions as well). This shouldn’t be a problem normally but somehow, in black marriages, this creates a type of imbalance when husbands feel they can’t keep up. The solution is obviously not for black women to scale back to their traditional places in society and in relationships, but they need to consider that somehow their men are unable to handle all that ambition and if they want to stay married, they have to find a way to address this issue.

2. They are getting skinnier

It is not that black men prefer chunky girls, but traditionally, a “beautiful” black woman has been chunkier than a lot of black women are today. There is still a lot of obesity in the black population but there is a subset of black women who are hitting the gym, getting weight reduction plastic surgery and dieting their way to a butt-busting size six. This does not seem to fit well with a lot of black men for some strange reason. They cannot relate to the skinny black woman. They want more meat and so are more apt to go out looking if their wives are skin and bones….food for thought?


3. They are getting too educated and thus making too much money

The black woman who makes more money than her husband on account of her higher levels of education can quickly find herself on online dating sites looking for a new husband. Making more than your husband is problematic no matter what the race but in the black family, it really just doesn’t seem to work. What is the solution? Hard to say. Obviously quitting her job is not the answer but if her husband feels inadequate because he is not the main breadwinner, the marriage is not going to work.

4. They can’t seem to hold their tongues

A lot of black women seem to prefer candor to hypocrisy and this is a problem in marriage because a lot of times her husband will view this tendency as “nagging” and he will either get violent to shut her up (which ultimately leads to divorce) or he will just leave. The solution is to practice a bit more diplomacy but for many black women, this is a type of hypocrisy to which they are allergic. What can anybody do?

5. Their girlfriends are single or divorced

Most black women are single and so this is normative in black circles. A married woman therefore is going to have a lot of single or divorced girlfriends giving her “marriage advice.”How can this ever work? It cannot. Because some of that advice is tinged with projecting their own issues onto this marriage; some of it is tinged with jealousy; and some of it is tinged with incompetence (the person is not successfully married so how can they really give you marriage advice that is objective and efficacious?) The solution then would be for married black women to dump all her single and divorced friends but this obviously is impracticable, hence the problem we face.


6. They were single too long

Most black women get married years later than their non-black counterparts. The average age for first marriage for black females is probably deep into the thirties. By that time, she is set in her ways and has become very independent. She never learned to “depend” on a man for her sustenance. She never learned how to “need” a man. The downside of this is that her husband does not feel needed, and he needs to feel needed so he leaves to find a woman who needs him. The solution? Act more needy.

7. Her expectations are too high

Black women are trying to pull themselves up in a society that has historically not made it easy to be who and what they are. And as noted, there is a lot of progress that is being made. However, black men are struggling to keep up with these strides as society still is harder on black men than on other populations. This does not stop black women from demanding more of their spouse. She wants him more educated, she wants more money, a better standard of living. And he is sitting there on the couch looking at her like, “don’t you understand the pressures I am under as a black man in society?” And she is like “dude, I am a black woman in the same society and I am doing what I need to do and I need you to step up. I need you to get it together.” And so there is this struggle. Because they are both black but they cannot really relate to each other’s experience. Not really. So the marriage cracks up as a result.

8. They were never really defined by their marriages

Because of historical factors, black women were probably less inclined to be “defined” by their marriages like other groups of women because there was never certainty or stability in these relationships. A man could be snatched away at any time for any reason whether premature demise, incarceration or other reasons, like the “other woman.” Going even further back, during the days of slavery, he could be snatched away by a master who sold him to the highest bidder. So it was dangerous to become too “we” oriented for the black woman. Thus, she is very “me” and “I” oriented. This does not augur well for a long term marriage; but it is that, or her sanity, and she prefers to err on the side of her sanity than give her emotional all to the marriage.

9. They are thinking too much about the examples they set for their kids

Black women want better for their kids than they have. This is no different from women of other demographics but for the black woman it is an urgent, almost desperate need and desire. They do believe in marriage and happily ever after but if it is not working, she is going to end it for the sake of her kids as much as for herself. The notion of staying married for the kids just does not exist in her psyche. It makes more sense to get out of the bad marriage to save the children than to stay married for the children. The solution? It really depends on how she interprets her situation. Some marriages obviously should end but sometimes, maybe hanging in there  a little longer could yield change for the better. Who knows?

10.  Oprah

Oprah is the ultimate symbol of the powerful, successful black woman and she has never married. She did not need a man to achieve her success and she disdains bad relationships. So for a lot of black women, if being single is good enough for Oprah, it is good enough for them. Thus, the second things are not going well in the marriage, they pull the plug.



Read more about black marriages and divorce: why is the divorce rate among blacks so high

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Author: Jennifer Adams Jones

I am a researcher interested in Black Studies and African American history.

22 thoughts on “10 reasons why black women are to blame for the high black divorce rate – by Jennifer”

  1. This can’t be serious. In fact, I know it’s not. I don’t know what bitter, morally lacking, intellectually disadvantaged person wrote this. If you say different please show me the research that backs this bile!

      1. You. just. can’t. handle. the. truth. “My brother.” And isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black with that “overly opinionated dummie” line? Black women are on the rise. This has both good and unintended consequences in their personal lives. They are more educated, getting skinner and more financially independent than ever before. Sometimes, it is tough on a marriage. These are the facts. DEAL WITH IT.

        ….and I strongly doubt you are a “brother.” So stop lying.

        1. Women in general get more advantages in life from the government and in society in general. So as a Black man I can tell you we dont livr in the same society and we dont face the same issues. If If I lose a job The government wont give me a house and money for a child. If i lose a my job a man women wont be waiting to take care of me for the rest of my life in fact she’ll judge me call me uneducated and say im not good enuf destroying my self worth as a human being just like my black mom did to my dad and myself. You mame are forgetting that sex sell which is also a key aspect as to why women get hired at a greater scale not to mention affirmative action.you honestly cant tell me that women arent getting degrees in less needed fields like psychological majors or nursing. Yes women are creating business but hair stores and clothing lines aren’t important to the rest of society. Where are the waves of black female brain surgeons. My point is your over exaggerating female accomplishments because none of it is possible without the same white government officials that pay us unreasonable wages

          1. ?!?
            This almost needs a line by line response. Where do I begin? First of all, where does “the government give black women a house and money for a child when when they lose their job?” Which state or municipality does that? Is this a special perk for Black women that I am not privy to? Are you talking about welfare? Because I am not sure that it works that way or that only women get it or that only black people get it. I think the stats show that the majority of welfare recipients in America are not black and they are certainly not black women. If it is another program you are referring to, I would love to hear it.

            But the point of this article (and it is really important that you try to wrap your head around this) is the anti stereotype black woman who is making her way, working, educated, healthy, and trying to sustain a healthy marriage. She is definitely not on the welfare rolls and probably never will be. So at the outset, we seem to be on different planets on this.

            You went on to say “sex sells” and you mention “affirmative action.” Again, while black women get the credit for affirmative action, if you actually look behind the screen, they are by far not the main recipients of this benefit. Ironically, it is white women who benefit more from this program and others too such as Asian women and Hispanic women, Indian women and men too, from all these groups (including black men of course) In fact the only people who don’t overtly benefit from affirmative action might be white men. Although we can’t ever be absolutely sure about these things. But admittedly nobody ever discusses the truth about affirmative action. They turn it into something dirty and throw it at black people. Which, to me, has always been bizarre. But fine. Whatever you say and believe you say and believe. But I should once again point out that your point is outside the scope of this post. We are talking about black women’s marriages. Not how they did or did not achieve their educational success.

            Then you go on to diss black women’s success by saying that “you can’t tell me that black women aren’t getting less needed fields like nursing.” I was like, whaaat? What does the field and the “lesserness” of the degree have to do with black women’s marriage? First of all? But to diss the accomplishments of these people in this way is very poor sportsmanship, sir. Everybody has to start somewhere and whatever her degree, at least she’s got one. Have you got a degree, sir? And what did you get it in? Brain surgery?

            Which brings me to the last point about your line, admittedly a lengthy quote:

            “Yes women are creating business but hair stores and clothing lines aren’t important to the rest of society. Where are the waves of black female brain surgeons. My point is your over exaggerating female accomplishments because none of it is possible without the same white government officials that pay us unreasonable wages”

            My response? Well, I don’t know where the wave of black female brain surgeons are. Where are the wave of white female brain surgeons? What about Vietnamese female brain surgeons? What about hispanic female brain surgeons? What about men? Where are all the waves of brain surgeons found? Why are you picking on black women with a point like this? Are you a fucking brain surgeon yourself? And don’t excuse my french. I meant to say it. Are you?

            Furthermore, whether the hair stores are important to the rest of society, once again, is irrelevant to the point of this post. Nobody is talking about how relevant to society these women’s businesses are. We are talking about how their financial success impacts their marriage if their husbands happen to be less financially successful (which is not always the case. There are many successful black men – that is another post!) But to insinuate that hair stores owned by black women are not important to society is heresy as far as I am concerned. What the heck is more important in society than a black woman’s hair? I mean, seriously?

  2. Omg then only point that may have some truth is #6, everything else is just so stupid, racist, and stereotyping black woman as vain, obnoxious, and competitive with black males. I much better, rational article may have been to point on things in black culture (media, upbringing, education) that may be anti marriage. And compare and contrast it to other races. Many people just aren’t getting married these days. Common law is a viable option for many people . And those getting married are getting married later in life. Stats also show white man black woman has a 72% chance of a successful marriage. So……

    1. My intention was certainly not to stereotype. In fact, I disagree on that point. There is very little in this article that can objectively be considered a “stereotype” of black women. I think we can all agree that there are many stereotypes of black women – I suspect the author of a few comments on this thread holds some of these stereotypes in their minds which is why the article seems to have hit such a nerve, and in one case it actually seems to have frustrated the reader who described it as “bile.” Things are changing for this demographic is all I am saying and this affects the dynamics in some of their marriages. I am not sure what you mean by “black culture.” I do not subscribe to this monolithic notion which leads to stereotypes. But your point about media, upbringing, etc is well taken.

      As for the stupid part, you obviously are talking about yourself. And I submit that you sound like a raging racist as well. So why don’t you try stop being so judgemental and open your mind a little bit?

      1. Jen, I see you jumped in here and that is good. Suddenly this article is generating comments! Good but I also think the readers have taken a negative view of your viewpoint on this one. Not sure why because I think I see your point and I know you so I know you are not one to steretype and last week this guy said you had written a bunch of “bile” which we all thought was so funny. Because he sounded so angry and this was just not the point, was it? I think reasonable people can have different opinions but I definitely don’t think we should approve comments that are calling people “stupid” and stuff like that going forward. There is no reason for that and they can find a whole bunch of places on the internet where they can do that but we won’t approve these types of comments going forward, ok? I mean, really if they find it so stupid why not just move on to the next blog that is bound to be more intelligent and call it a day? I mean, do you waste your time commenting on stuff you find “stupid”?

  3. I just read your article… thank you! This is so true. I am divorced for some of these reasons for the second time with both divorces ending in my twenties. I am forty seven now and struggled with why my marriages didn’t work. I never thought about trying again. I feel better knowing these are concrete reasons I and several black women I know have gone through. Thank you so much! I would like to know of any books you have written.

  4. Um..the reason Oprah is not married is because she is a lesbian. Now that gay marriage has been legalized maybe we can expect her and Gayle to tie the knot one day.

  5. #2 lol. About 70 percent of black women are overweight by medical standards.About 50 percent is overweight by my standards,hey but i like em thick anyway.

  6. You forgot that Black women cheat more than any other married women. I think there was an Ebony Article that stated 30% of Black women have cheated on their husbands.

    If your married Black wife is hanging out a lot with her single friends. She will cheat on you. She thinks the grass is greener and has no qualms about cheating.

  7. What are we doing wrong when this article shows up as # 2 in a Google search when I type in black divorce rate? How do we change that?

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