sheila was right

Sheila & Nate on their wedding day. They agreed to a blind arranged marriage.

This season of Married First Sight, like every season is fascinating. Two people who want to be married badly enough to agree to a legally binding marriage to a stranger? A must watch.

But this season’s mismatch between Sheila, who is 30 and Nate, who is 25, has me writing out loud.

Sheila is an incredible woman, as far as I’m concerned. We are very different women, but I recognize majesty when I see it. She is kind and gracious, fun-loving, mature, and self-aware. Repeat after me: self-aware. There are precious few folk who have self-awareness. I could use that as an excuse for why so few women, women of color, black women, have deep inner worlds in TV and film. But I won’t. I will simply state that she is conscious of her Self, what she needs and wants, and how she makes her way through the world as human. She likes to lay back, be within herself, just be. That’s what I’ve gathered.

She expressed frustration when her man-child husband (whose embarrassing attempts at seduction and hotep ideas of love is a different musing) became venomous during a simple game of ping pong. He was amped up, vicious, angry. He had to win. Afterwards, she told him that it wasn’t fun because he took it so seriously. Because he was a sore loser. He, too, is sensitive, and this set him off. Later, he tries to take her hand, although the conflict is far from resolved. She pulls away. She doesn’t want to be touched. We are very different women, but I know this sentiment; not wanting to be touched. Nate says he feels rejected by this and aims to punish Sheila.

Off camera, he tells her he doesn’t want to be married to her anymore. This is the “worst” thing you can say to Sheila. She tearfully calls the pastor, who advises her that marriage is about dealing with hurt. Tuh. She is distraught and even further within herself. She is losing hope. They reconvene for dinner and the conversation picks up on the argument. Sheila’s short monologue should be written into a modern series on dating as a black woman. She is deeply saddened, can barely get her words out, but she states that she too recognizes her majesty:

“I spent most of my twenties trying to convince men that they wanted this and that I was worth it…(begins to cry)… “I’m at a point where I will not convince my husband that I am worth it. I get it, I have not been….easy this honeymoon. I’m trying (voice breaks)… I’m trying, and when you wake up and you’re fighting to feel like yourself, and I’m fighting to feel normal. I’m trying to express those things to you and you don’t care because you just want to have fun. And I get it — when I’m easy to love, I’m easy to love and that’s awesome. And I’ve never had someone love me when I wasn’t easy to love.”

That was it. Whether it was meant to be a premonition or not, this marriage will not last. If they have not already filed for divorce by today, I will be shocked. I am convinced of this because Sheila speaks from a singular pain of knowing that despite being beautiful and flawed and beautifully flawed, she is overlooked. This is something that many women can relate to. You will be overlooked and you will cleave to those who overlook you.

To be a black woman is to be accused of being not easy. You are simply not easy. The deeper your melanin, the coil-ier the hair, the broader the body shape and facial features, the less compatible you become with preordained, idealized white femininity. You are one eye roll from being called angry, one twist out away from nappy, and one witty retort from uppity. In Sheila’s case, you are one tear away from being called uptight and crazy.

The skin we have been blessed with is weaponized against us. And malice and cruelty are weapons, make no mistake. When Nate said he did not want to be married to with her, he was cruel to her. He wanted to hurt her — and this was the way to hurt her the most.

Too often writers make sweeping generalizations that leave the group they mention feeling at odds with their own experience. So I won’t say that all black women feel the easy to love burden. I will say that I connected deeply to Sheila’s words: be easy to love or be alone. Don’t ever complain, don’t have a conflict, just smile, put your head up, go with the flow. Don’t you want this? I belong deeply to myself and I would rather be alone than prove to someone that I am worthy. Because I can’t carry his burden and my own.

To Sheila and all my sisters out there, hold on to the possibility that you are enough despite your flaws. It is a true and dangerous thing to believe. And your belief in that will draw to you someone willing and able to carry the weight.

Side note: Please stop stop stop stop matching black women, Married at First Sight producers. Use your “they only want black men” excuse. 
Side side note: Not ONE, repeat after me, one couple, that fights during the honeymoon stays married. There are three couples total of 5 seasons who are still married. 
Side side side note: Good relationships feel good most of the time. You may struggle through issues, but you don’t suffer. And you are not punished by your partner.