“I’m not trying to be that kind of wife.”
These are words I’ve uttered to my husband, not once, not twice, but possibly a few times in our almost 5 years of marriage. Some notable moments have played into how I’ve crafted my identity as a wife – the purposeful word choices in our wedding vows, becoming a mother, absorbing research that shows marriage is much more beneficial for the husband than the wife, and encountering some of the rocky moments that have come our way since August 1st, 2011. With each and every life experience, I’ve consciously and subconsciously shaped the framework of what kind of wife I want to be – what she accepts, what she doesn’t. What she gives, what she requires. What she sacrifices, what she deserves.
Watching Beyoncé’s Lemonade film and listening to the full album the night of its release forced me to revisit the nooks and crannies of my own marriage. Though Lemonade encompasses so much more than just fodder for deconstructing the possibility of infidelity in the Carter relationship, the complex themes within the evolution of a relationship – and the people in it – hit me hard.
There is a LOT that differs between Beyoncé and I – my bank account is chuckling right now – but being a Black woman in my early 30s, a new mom, and married to a man I’ve loved for years, I’ve felt a new kinship with her especially since her self-titled album back in 2013. Back then I related to both the bliss of “Drunk In Love” and the “I’m not feeling like myself since the baby/Are we gonna even make it?” line in “Mine.” I didn’t expect her to delve as deeply into the vulnerability of love, loss, and hope as she did in Lemonade, but I am so glad she went there.
Marriage ain’t easy. In my experience, it’s a set of consistent and deliberate decisions to stand together day after day. Some days, that decision is the easiest one to make. Other days, you have to dig deep and remind yourself that the moment may be difficult, but trouble don’t last always. I’ve experienced unimaginable highs in my marriage, but have also been through lows that made me question everything I thought I believed about love, my partner, and myself. I’ve screamed “Who the fuck do you think I is?” I’ve walked out of arguments and straight into the club with my girls. I’ve been hurt and done some hurting myself, knowingly and unknowingly. I’ve reconciled. I’ve fallen deeper in love. I’ve learned that betrayal can come in many forms, but so can forgiveness. I’ve remembered why I said “I do” and made the decision, again and again, to keep standing together.
Lemonade gave me a soundtrack to the growth I’ve gone through as my husband’s wife and as my own woman – and though reliving some of that growth was painful, it was cleansing, too. Being a wife is an identity that carries particular responsibility and emotion; one that I’ve defined by myself, for myself, and for my relationship. Lemonade put the sweet and sharp moments of this identity into musical form, and reinforced how powerful hard truths and unrelenting vulnerability can be. So, from one wife to another – thank you, Beyoncé.