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Know Your Role

I absolutely hate that phrase 'know your role,' just typing it makes my blood boil or as Ralexwin likes to say--it makes my "feminist roar."

My sister and I were having a conversation recently about how we differ so significantly in our marriages. She is very much a 'take care of the kids and let him take care of the money' sort of girl (did I get that right dear?). I'm not... at all. In fact I'm so much not that it tends to bother me when I hear about husbands who go off all day and leave their wives to deal with screaming, vomiting, bloodied (or otherwise ailed) children.

So after my chat with her I got to thinking about this. Was I a bad wife for expecting Ralexwin to come home from work/school when all four children are screaming and the dinner is burning on the stove? If my reason is I'm not sure I can go another minute without beating some one's bum, does that make me weak? Why is it that my sister seems to be able to handle the role of wife/mother so much better than I can? Am I putting to much on Ralexwin? Does he resent me for expecting so much? (I'm pretty good at working myself into a state about these things)

Then of course I got pretty p.o.'d, why on earth should I feel bad because I think my husband needs to be involved with his children? It's his job too, isn't it?

Now, for a little back story my mother and father's relationship was VERY, VERY much of this type. There were things I hated about it as a child, like how my mother was in charge of the money and oozed financially insecurity. By the time I was 10 I'd sworn off ever being in charge of the money in my own marriage. My mother also had a tendency to lay out her burdens onto me... to vent her anxieties on me. I was an incredibly stressed out child at 8 I had an ulcer, I spent several years as an adolescent with my neck muscles so tight that I couldn't turn my neck to my shoulder (much to the doctors dismay).

You can imagine how this affected my perception of a woman's responsibilities in a marriage. It infuriates me to hear women casually throw away their freedoms for the role of mother and spouse. It makes my 'feminist roar' to hear when men expect this.

This is all going through my mind a few weeks ago as I was trying to cope with the idea that my perceptions were putting to much onto my husbands shoulders.

Then something in my brain clicked and I made a very fascinating realization.

It's this:

Most people break marriage into two categories: the husband's duties and the wife's duties (a fact which, as I've said bugs the heck out of me). I don't see marriage this way (poor Ralexwin).

I see marriage broken into two different categories: the duties to stability and the duties to family.

Stability is the shelter, food, money, clothes. Those sorts of things that keep you, well, alive. This isn't just the husband's job! It's my job as well, I do the grocery shopping, the cooking, some of the cleaning ;). So I help him keep the finances stable. I in turn expect him to help me keep the house clean and the kids bathed & fed. Within this job we are 50/50 partners.

Familial duties are the welfare and upbringing of our children and the welfare and continuity of our marriage. It is in no way the sole duty of a wife to supply these things. No one, man or woman should expect this. What I expect is help, I expect him to be as much a partner in this aspect of our lives as in the other, and so should he.

I really do think that the expectations of "traditional" roles is divisive, it separates us and causes resentment from both sides. When I start to define my life and marital relationship into these two new categories I feel less guilt, less pressure to be the 'perfect wife' for him. I begin to see that marriage is very much a partnership between two people who want to make their 'business' work. Marriage doesn't become a division but a unity with all the roles merging and blending into a future full of hope.

I rather like my little discovery.


Lisa said…
I do know my role. So does Jared.

He does the laundry, dishes, bathes the kids, bathroom, and any other thing that I need help with.

That's how it should be in my opinion.

We think alike you and I. To heck with all those other girls stuck in the 50's. I would be miserable.
Wes and Lindsay said…
"In these sacred responsibilities,
fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
The Family, Proclamation to the World

I think that sums it for you and your sister. I agree with you on this issue too. Wes is very good to help me with what I need. And I hope I do the same for him.

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