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They Don’t Know About This Here…How We Backseat Judge Relationships

Relationships are fascinating.

That’s probably why as a larger society we can’t get enough of learning about the love lives and pairings of our favorite celebrities and then trying to decide how or why people are together, if we’ve already made up our minds they don’t fit.

And we’re pretty judgey about it. We are very matchy, matchy about it, knowing full darn well, we have probably dated folks who were very different from us ourselves for a variety of reasons. The number one being, we actually liked them. We liked spending time with them, they were good people. They had an ability to give us something we wanted and needed and we liked it.

We simplify this and say good looking people should be with other good looking people. Smart people should be with other smart people. We put folks in various leagues and when our faves end up with folks we didn’t expect, we actually go in on them pretty hard and we judge harshly.

Just google Birdman and Toni Braxton. Look at the hell Jesse Williams’ wife, Aryn went through being called “average” or “regular” while that man openly begs to differ and adores her as the queen she is. She was with him before he became a sex symbol and was just a regular teacher, before hitting it big on television.

We adore the power couple of President Barack Obama and his stunner and intelligent wife Michelle, and we not only love their collective impressive ass smarts, and their super gorgeous offspring, we love how they are both attractive and how their affection for each other seems really genuine and natural.

They look at each other as if the entire world literally isn’t watching. They’ve gotten used to it. It’s their world, we are just watching. They are playful with each other, they compliment and encourage, and they even make jokes about their flaws or small annoying habits.

Those two are easy to love together. And we co-sign enthusiastically.

But other relationships, be it political or even when it comes to music or movie stars, we somehow are the experts on which relationships work and which ones don’t. We somehow become invested in a very personal choice between two people. We got some nerve.

And who knows what the psychology is around that? But we don’t just limit this to folks we don’t know. We do it in our everyday lives. We size up the partners of our friends and family all of the time.

We wonder how an overweight cousin has found love with someone who we think is attractive.

We speculate how a quiet co-worker captures and keeps the attention of a partner who is confident, charismatic and charming.

We wonder how that loud ass chick with the bad sew-in, and broke down flip-flops in the grocery store has a wedding band on her finger.

We just can’t nail it down.

This week’s biggest example of how we scrutinize relationships and don’t really know the depth of people’s relationships from the outside had to be President Bill Clinton. This week we witnessed him send up a heartfelt endorsement of his wife former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philly.

He went into this speech knowing that the whole world knew about him getting sloppy toppy in the Oval Office from Monica Lewinsky, making Hillary the modern poster child for “standing by her man.” Hell, those actions nearly got him thrown out of office. So while it was a huge purple elephant in the room, we all knew the story. It was 20 years ago. There was no need to rehash. This was finally the moment he knew Hillary deserved.

He knew this. He knew of all of the criticisms and wild accusations about her character. He knew that her sticking with him through the years in some eyes made her seem weak, but he spoke of her inner strength, and confidence in herself that began way before they ever met, and how it was those traits along with her intelligence, and her passion for people and her ability to make things happen is what kept attracting him to her in law school.

I’m glad he gave that kind of speech that said, let it be known, she’s the catch. She’s been the catch day one. And for all the unnecessary shit you give her, and the free passes you give to me off of my charm, I have a deep respect for her. Maybe my penis didn’t a time or two, but I admire her, I’m proud of her. You’ve pulled a part her looks, questioned her womanhood, hypermasculinized her, but she is very much a woman.

I’m glad he pulled out all of the receipts to show the world his wife, the woman he chose and he chased (he had to ask her three times) was not only qualified to be president because he sat in the seat, but that her love was worth earning, and he was willing to earn it over and over from the start of their relationship even through today.

Will we see Bill and Hill share an affection that’s as sexy as Barack and Michelle’s? It may be awkward to watch at this point, and most of us wouldn’t be interested.

But their love is a love no less. It may be hard to understand, because like Sade said, “This is no ordinary love.” But unlike John Legend’s song, Bill and Hill aren’t “Ordinary People.”

There are practical lovers in this world, who operate in the mundane and the hard work of loving someone for a long time and living in true partnership and forgiveness and recognition of that special thing the rest of the world may not see. And honestly, it’s not for the rest of the world to consume.

That’s the thing about love and marriage, its between two people, to be hammered out daily, to morph and change and grow. It’s made of rules that are revised and updated and ratified. It is recovery from defeats and failures. It is the transparency that it’s not always perfect. It’s flexible, while being rooted. It can bend, but it won’t break.

R and B singer Jon B. said it best in his hit song, “They Don’t Know.”

“Don’t listen to what people say

They don’t know about, bout you and me

Put it out your mind, cuz it’s jealousy

They don’t know about this here.”

We don’t have a clue about Barack and Michelle and what they go through, we don’t have a clue about Bill and Hillary, but while there are a lot of contrast in those relationships, there are similarities too.

We’ve balked at Bobby and Whitney, Mariah and Nick, Kim and Kanye, Beyonce and Jay. And we tripped about how fine-ass Janet Jackson even considered messing with an impish Jermaine Dupri. We’ve elevated Will and Jada, and Courtney and Angela and Pauletta and Denzel but for every couple that we admire, the ones that made us say WTF, were no less real, no less honest and no less human.

We really don’t know.

Bonus Post: Depression-Era Grandmothers Can Fix the Economy

I was reading a very interesting article today in the Huffington Post’s Women’s section.

I was initially interested in it because the headline hinted at the amazing Meryl Streep one day playing the role of the also amazing U.S. Secretary of State, former Democratic Presidential candidate, and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That’s not really going to happen in the immediate future, but that was the running joke at a recent event both ladies participated in at the Women in the World summit.

All of these powerful females gathered from all parts of the world to discuss progress and leadership and all of that great stuff. They also discussed the national uproar over birth control (which is really pissing me off for a number of reasons, and I’ll save that for another post- in short, controlling our own reproductive organs is best for everyone in the end). The timing of this gathering of about 2,000 global female powerhouses is fitting as March is Women’s History Month.

The one quote that stuck out above all others to me was one from the International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. “She suggested that the financial crisis might have been averted, or at least been much less serious, if more women had been at the helm of financial institutions.”

“If Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters … we would not have had the degree of tragedy that we had as a result of what happened,” Lagarde said.

She added that recent studies have shown “what the level of testosterone in a given room can produce when you do trading.”

As one of my boys would declare upon hearing something profound, “That’s a headcrack.”

It is. What would it have been like if more women were a major part of the final decision-making in these financial institutions?

I do think anyone and everyone has the capacity to be greedy and underhanded under the right circumstances, but I do think women have an advantage over men in terms of getting the bills paid and prioritizing on behalf of others.

Yes, we will splurge, but we are going to handle the important stuff, somehow, someway.

Here’s my theory.

Men are historically and genetically hunters and gatherers, while women organize and distribute. Women have to plan and make sure that whatever is hunted and gathered is going to last and will be enough for everyone to survive. She figures out how to store the extra, recycle the extra into something useful, or sell it or give it to someone else for use.

Ask anyone’s grandmother who was a pretty young thang during the Great Depression, and they are going to tell you what miracles they worked for a family of five with just nickles.

I’m not knocking men. I know guys who are far better budgeters than some women I know, but overall, in countless households, I see it over and over. Women handle the day-to-day bill payment and household organization, while the men don’t give it much thought. They hand over their share and it all just gets done.

Would the financial crisis have been averted if women were at the helm? I’m not too sure of that, but I do agree that things could have possibly not been as disastrous.

I think women do think about the future more than men, I think women also think more deeply about the effects of their decisions on the greater good and try to deliver the lightest blow possible if there is a negative result.

Send Depression-Era grannies to Congress to work on our budget. We all may be eating cabbage soup everyday and wearing patches in our clothes and shoes for the next five years, but I bet you we’d have a surplus by the end.

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