“Man, I’ve been married most of my life,” Louis said as we sat down in the sunroom overlooking the lake. We were just underneath the house where all the windows reached from the floor to the ceiling. There was a pool table, a few plants, a small mini bar and a TV playing basketball highlights. All the young boys came in and out listening to the grown folks talk. “Lemme tell you, it's one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. My wife will say the same thing. She said being married is harder than having children, that’s what she’ll say. I was lucky enough to grow up with her. We had that foundation and we just knew. We already knew we would be together.”
“You don’t think you rushed into it?” Piru asked as he took a pull on his blunt before passing it to Junie.
“It's only rushed when you’re with the wrong person,” Lou shrugged. “I’m not saying we’re perfect by any means. I slipped up a few times and maybe it's knowing that we won’t ever get a divorce that allowed me to stray for a minute---”
“No divorce?” Junie asked.
“We don’t believe in that,” Tory replied as he grabbed a chair to sit down, “when you choose the woman you’re gonna be with, it's for life. You want to be with somebody else, it's only one way out, and not too many people choose that route. I don’t care what happens, my wife isn’t going anywhere. No matter what.”
“What do you mean, it's only one way out?” Piru questioned as Lou smiled.
“One way out bruh. Our divorce is simple, you would have to start over because there’s no way you will live in this life, on this earth with me and we’re no longer married. It doesn’t work like that. My cousin’s wife wanted out. She was miserable and I’ll admit, he was messing around on her to the point where she started to do the same… She eventually wanted out. So they gave her a way out and he was made to watch. She committed suicide right there in front of him and her children. Left them all behind for a chance to start over again.”
“What happened with him?” I asked.
“Oh he hasn’t been the same,” shaking his head as he looked towards his cousins for confirmation, “he’s remarried now but he hasn’t been the same since his first wife died. He treats this one good, better than he did the last one but you can tell she’s not his soulmate.”
“So the wife was cheating too?” Junie asked.
“Yeah but it's different. I know it's fucked up to think about it like that, but it's looked at a certain way if a wife openly cheats on her husband. She won’t be respected, she won’t be looked at in a favorable light. Nobody is going to want to deal with her, invite her anywhere or be around her. Men, we do it… we’re being men. As long as we don’t get sloppy about it, and embarrass her, what’s the harm, right? No woman wants to be embarrassed. Now my sister is of that age and she’s not with it,” Lou laughed. “She’s filling my wife’s head up with hesitation and I’m more conservative about our culture than my wife. She’s starting to spread out a little more, that’s why she brought yall here… She wants friends outside of our circle that have nothing to do with this...whatever to get as far away from everything she’s ever known. Suddenly, she’s too good for it. You know how it is,” nudging towards me as I nodded.
“We don’t believe in divorce either,” I nodded. “That has nothing to do with what I am, but everything to do with how I was raised. Family man first and always.”
“That’s right,” Lou nodded as he took a swig of his beer before leaning forward on his knees, “my wife took on a mother role for my sister after my parents passed away. Family means everything to me. After a while, you let the cheating go and realize none of that can replace coming home to a happy wife, children who love you and just a place to call yours with people who love you.”
“The fact that you get to fuck around and still remain married is crazy bruh,” Junie laughed. “My wife would drop me, take the kids and get the fuck on.”
“Sheeit, not me,” one of the men said as they glanced at their phone. Full blown wedding band on their hand as they spoke about going to see a girl tonight before heading back home to their wives.
“Take it from me, sometimes it's not worth it.”
“I feel ya,” Piru nodded. “My wife means everything to me so I can’t even imagine a day without her.”
“That’s why when we choose our mates, we make sure we have it right the first time. We take that seriously. A woman who will be with us through it all. No matter what. I knew my wife was mine the moment I laid eyes on her. She was born specifically for me. That’s our belief. You are born to be with one person. One soul in this lifetime before moving on to another in the next lifetime. My wife, although she’s mad at me right now…”
His voice trailed off as Nubia walked into the room with a trash bag to sit out in the corner. She was still wearing her robe with a trace of her body showing in between and even I had to admit, if I was single...I would have tried her. I don’t think no man in this room was stupid enough not to try and get at her or any of the women here. It made sense why Lou was territorial and trying to check everybody that lingered around her for too long. He was insecure because of his wrongdoings in their marriage.
“Nu?” Tory called out, “we were just asking what everybody thinks about being married so young. How you feel about being married to this nigga? Man loves you like no other and you’ve been doing him wrong all damn day with yo attitude.”
“Let it go Tory,” Lou warned but his eyes remained on his wife who started to clean up around us.
“Nah, I wanna know. How you feel about being married? We all agreed it's one of the hardest things to do, and you did it at 16. You kept with traditions and married young, so how you feel now that you’re in your thirties?”
She reached across the pool table to grab empty bottles of beer only to dump in the trash bag.
“I feel like I’m trapped and I’m looking for a way out,” was all she said as my mouth dropped.
“Ohh gah damn,” Junie gasped, looking from a hurt Lou to a no nonsense wife tie up the bag. None of the men said a word.
“We’re going inside with the babies, watch out for the rest of them in the water,” she said in a monotone before looking at me, “and Pia said she’s getting ready to leave now.”