“When you really take the energy to pay attention to your relationship. And really put your all into that relationship and love him in a way that your mama didn’t teach you how to love a man.… Sistas listen…treat him like a king if you want to be treated like a queen—it works. ”
~Monique (the comedienne)
A few days ago, I watched Monique’s interview where she talked about a variety of topics including her dramatic weight loss, the cancellation of her late night talk show on BET, love and relationships etc. Her comment above is in response to the interviewers questions about her “open” marriage. The open relationship was her idea because she was constantly on the road, but it backfired when “she realized the king she had at home” and decided to preserve her marriage.
The part that intrigued me the most is when she spoke about learning to love a man the way your mother didn’t teach you. It resonated with me because what I know about love didn’t necessarily come from my mother. She gave me advice on how to deal with men and carry myself around them, but there wasn’t anything in particular that I learned from her about how to love a man. Do parents have a responsibility to teach us how to love a man or woman?
I think parents do more modeling (observational) than teaching (intentional) when it pertains to love (or lack thereof). In many ways, what is modeled before us is inherently teaching us about love (both positive and negative). Sometimes there is a clear line of distinction. For instance, I do not look to my parents’ marriage as a healthy model for love (what they modeled). However, my expectations about how I am supposed to be treated by a man come from the standards that have been set by my father (what he taught me).
I think it’s definitely possible to learn about the nature of love from your parents, but learning how to love a man or woman is unique to the individual. It requires navigating through relationships and realizing what works or doesn’t work. It means not viewing love through the lens of the broken relationships that abound in families. It means not looking to society’s distorted view of love as the standard. It requires some soul searching to discover the ways you experience love, and in turn, show love to others. All those factors combined with putting in the work and energy that Monique was referring to influences how you love a man or woman.