'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America

By Frances Smith Foster | Go to book overview

ONE
ADAM AND EVE,
ANTONEY AND ISABELLA

THE AMERICAN DREAM OF ASPIRING ADULTS, LIKE THE “First comes love,” chant of children, assumes a nuclear, heterosexual, monogamous family. Dad, Mom, Dick, Jane, and Spot may have given up their white picket fenced home, bought an SUV, and moved to the suburbs. John and Mary may have chosen to have 2.3 children, home school them, and arrange play dates with others who live in their condo or gated community complex. But, even when knowing what they have learned about difficulties of love and the chances of a long, happy marriage, postmodern people still assert, that as much as possible, first comes love, then marriage, and then parenthood. They speak and dream of one love, one life, lived happily ever after. Such beliefs derive, in part, from the story of Adam and Eve whose relationship Jews, Christians, and some others believe to be marriage’s prototype. Whether we believe literally or metaphorically, we tend to accept John Milton’s affirmation of them as “our Grand Parents.”

The origin stories in Genesis upon which we based these beliefs are vague on the details, but we readily fill them in. Genesis 1:27–28 says that God created humans, “male and female he created them.” Then “God blessed them, and God said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”1 Obviously, God’s blessing was the first marriage ceremony. Clearly, the couple was supposed to and did have children. Indeed, quoting Milton again, Eve is “The Mother of Mankind” for most Christians and Jews. Islam and other religions may not use the names “Adam” and

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