Ask Demetria: Separate Bedrooms at Mom's House: A Black Thing?

Rootsnapshot"My girlfriend and I are planning to visit my mother. She's upset because my mother has told us we'll have to sleep in separate rooms, since we are not married. My girlfriend says I let my mother push me around too much, but my mother has always had these rules. My girlfriend is now suggesting that this is being done because she is white. Help!" --U.H.  Maybe you do have a habit of letting your mother push you around too much. I have no clue. But on the issue of separate rooms, there's not much you can do, and you don't have much of a leg to stand on. You and your lady are traveling to your mother's home, and since Mama pays the mortgage, she gets to create whatever rules she sees fit for her house. It's a dictatorship, not a democracy.   And this rule, about unmarried young adults not sharing a room, is pretty common for black households. I'm sure there's at least one set of random black parents who are like, "Sure! Sleep together!" but I haven't met them or heard of them yet.

The stories I do hear illustrate what extremes many black families take with this rule. For instance, after reading your query, I joked with my mother that my fiance and I should be able to share a room this Thanksgiving, since, you know, we're getting married. Her response: "Was there a wedding ceremony that I didn't attend?" Bottom line: A "ring on it" isn't good enough to share a bed in her home; only a marriage license grants permission.

I mentioned your story to a friend, who responded with a story about how her mother once told her own 60-something brother who was visiting with his live-in girlfriend that they had to sleep in separate rooms. Being an unquestionably grown man and all, who wanted to sleep next to his woman, he wasn't happy about that. But it was either abide by his sister's rules for her home, don't visit or pay for a hotel. He went with his sister's rules.


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