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For whatever reason, Destiny’s Child’s song “Cater 2 U” has been stuck in my head for days.

 It was possibly brought on by something said at the Singles’ Ministry meeting this past week about marriage. Either way, I began to deconstruct this song and analyze what it means to cater to your  man. The questions I asked Destiny’s Child abounded: Can you cater to just any man? How do you cater to him? Why do you cater to him? Is this an everyday type of thing, or once a year, on a special occasions type of situation? Using the lyrics of the song (and things people have told me), I came up with the following article:

“Let Me Cater to You”: The Destiny’s Child School of Male Appreciation for Relationship Sustainment 

*Yes I know it’s a mouthful. I couldn’t help it; the English major in me just jumped right out.

The Nature of the Man

Every man should not be catered to. Every man should be respected and treated as a human being, but there are certain things you just only do for your husband (in my opinion, not even “your man” deserves all they are doing in this song; I need a demonstrated commitment before I do ALL of these things.). Destiny’s Child’s song explicitly states what type of man they are lavishing this attention and care upon.

There are four main reasons given in this song to explain why this man “deserves” this level of care and consideration. The first lines of this song tell us this is a hard-working man whom this woman wants to show appreciation. Kelly mentions she’s happy he’s home–which both denotes he hasn’t been sitting on his rear all day, and that she enjoys being with him when he is there. Michelle loves the fact he has a pure heart * his love shines through him. There’s a fourth reason given which will be discussed later.

This man is also a partner. He both inspires and challenges Beyoncé to be better. Kelly acknowledges she has a part to play in her relationship. Michelle relates that it’s a team effort to get through “the darkness.”  She feels invested in the success of this relationship. When he succeeds, she succeeds, and vice versa. We can infer he feels the same way, since he is inspiring & challenging her to improve herself.

So we have an employed, hardworking, loving, supportive life partner who we want to show appreciation for, someone we are committed to and invested in. Now that we’ve established the nature of the man and some major reasons DC posits as to why we should cater to him, let’s briefly explore when we should do so.

The song asserts “this is your day’; does this mean this is a once a year, special occasions only deal? I don’t think so. You shouldn’t just show your appreciation one day a year, right? Besides, Kelly’s verse promises future catering–maintenance, if you will (we will discuss this more fully later).  “Through the good, the bad, the ups & the downs” covers all time. Besides, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been told whatever you do to get a man you have to continue to do to keep him.

Now that we know why & when, how do we cater to our man? What do we do?

  • Show Appreciation. I almost missed this one, I was so focused on the others, but this is an important one. Seeing & acknowledging that your man works hard to provide for the family shows that he is appreciated. Verbalize your admiration of the man he is. Tell him what you love about him. No one likes to do things for an ungrateful person, and we all like compliments. No one wants to hear only what they’ve done wrong. By showing you appreciate what he does, you make it less of a chore to do it and more of a pleasure; he may even be inspired to do more for you. WARNING: don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
  • Domestic Support & Service/Relaxation. A person’s home should be their safe haven. Being out in the business sphere stresses you out; if peace is to be found anywhere, it should be in your home. When Kelly’s man gets home, she wants to hold him and take his stress away. Beyoncé helps her man get comfortable & makes him a meal. No one is greeting their man at the door with a litany of things he needs to do, forgot to do, or made the mistake of doing; they allow him time to unwind. After a hard day, I would love the things they outlined–who wouldn’t want someone to run them a bath and give them a foot rub? At the least, I can park him in front of the game & whip up a little dinner.
  • In addition to finding relaxation, he also finds support at home. There’s a woman ready to do her part, saying she’s here for you and whatever it is, we’ll get through it. Be a help to lift him up rather than an albatross around his neck, dragging him down. He can do bad all by himself. If he can count on no one else to believe in him, he should be able to count on you. A considerable amount of what a good man does is done for his wife & family; it’s going to benefit you anyway. Help him help you.
  • Visual Stimulation Men are visual creatures. We hear that all the time. I also talked about in “Are You A Liability” how some middle class Black men feel we get a man then let ourselves go. Why should we be concerned with “keeping ourselves up” for our men? This is the fourth reason given for catering to your man: “whatever I’m not fulfilling, another woman is willing.”  Kelly promises to keep herself up. What does this entail? “I’ll keep it tight, keep my figure right. I’ll keep my hair fixed, keep rockin’ the hottest outfits.” But Kelly doesn’t stop there. She promises to always be sexually available when her man is in the mood. Even the Bible says not to keep yourself from your husband (believe me, I checked! LOL).

Now, there are a few issues I have with the song. One is the fact that Beyoncé reassures her man her life would be “purposeless” without him. Really?! I don’t think anyone’s life would be purposeless without anyone but Jesus. Your life should not be all about your mate. We are to live our lives for God, and not for a man. Even if you don’t believe you need to live for God, don’t live for a man.

Also, I don’t think anyone can remain the same, or should, for that matter. We are all constantly growing and changing. You shouldn’t want to be with a partner who limits your growth. I know, she was talking about keeping her shape and continuing to look good, but just in case somebody else missed it, you will change,  & that’s OK. (Just try to change for the better).

So what do you think? Do you cater to your man a la Destiny’s Child? Why or why not? What do you do to show your man appreciation? Is this the special occasion treatment in your household, or do you do this all the time? Any other thoughts, suggestions, comments, & opinions are welcome!