Everything Is Love Taught Us About Marriage… Their Marriage

Lemonade made its message pretty clear: Boy, bye. So did 4:44: I apologize. It’s been riveting—Beyoncé’s rage, Jay-Z’s remorse, the near-dissolution and reformation of a celebrity marriage. All of it performed, packaged, and maximized for profit, of course. The whole thing would make you cynical if it didn’t feel so honest.

But it does. And so does Everything Is Love, the surprise, casually joyful album released last Saturday by the Carters. And what is its message? Forgive and forget? Triumphantly endure? Pull on pastel suits and take a victory lap around the Louvre? This trilogy of records and the accompanying, jaw-dropping visuals have made the Carters the domestic sages of our era. The married among us can’t help but listen closely—for advice, for wisdom, for lessons on, I don’t know, conspicuous consumption. I’ll speak for myself: This new record has taught me, a husband of 11 years, the following.

Don’t worry so much about sand.

Makeup sex is best experienced, apparently, on a beach. (See: “Summer.”)

Don’t just apologize. Buy stuff.

“I got expensive fabrics / I got expensive habits,” raps Beyoncé on “Apeshit.” “Shut down Colette / Philippe Patek.” The Carters don’t have much to say about those who can’t afford this stuff, but the point couldn’t be clearer. Jay-Z didn’t get to where he is just by saying sorry.

Oh, and be quiet.

“Apeshit” is a banger for the ages, the anthem that we’ll be listening to for a long time. And for almost all of it, Jay just sits there. He flexes on the Grammys for shutting him out, true, but in the video he gives her his last line—and just smiles. Because she’s the bigger star. And he knows it. And he’s cool with it. The lesson: Pipe down; get out of her way.

Tell the story of how you met.

In “713,” an homage to Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston, Texas, Jay-Z recounts their early days. “You kept me up on the phone while you were away / You came back, I let you set the date, Nobu on the plate.” He remembers their trip to St.-Tropez: “My first time in the ocean went exactly as you’d expect / Meanwhile you goin’ hard, jumpin’ off the top deck.” Self-mythology serves a purpose. It sanctifies a couple’s origin story, elevates the marital bond. It’s why people renew their vows.

Tear up the prenup.

Easy for them to say, I guess, since they’re both multibillionaires. But Jay’s verse on “Lovehappy”: “I let my wife write the will / I pray my children outlive me” is one more example of the Carters’ special brand of confidence. Extravagance is liberation. This amounts to a kind of religious faith, and it frees them of suspicion. Money is joy, is freedom.

Her crew is better than yours.

Beyoncé’s makes this point pretty clear on “Friends.” Her circle is loyal, supportive, affirming. His is more . . . complicated. These two lines are thought to be about the couple skipping Kanye West’s wedding: “I Ain’t goin’ to nobody nothin’ when me and my wife beefin’ / I don’t care if the house on fire, I’m dyin’, nigga, I ain’t leavin’.” Definitely don’t worry about Kanye’s feelings during a marriage crisis. Noted!

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