Let me start this stream of conscious by saying, I just don’t know how single parents do it all…
Anyway, everyone knows what the old stereotypical heterosexual gender roles are for a marriage. Men are breadwinners and women do the household chores.
Most of my generation today would probably say they are equals with their partner and gender roles don’t exist in their relationship.
I’ll probably anger some people by saying this, but I just think that no matter what, there is a breadwinner and with that, inequality (in one form or another) can easily seep in.
I absolutely understand all those articles and rants from women who are stay at home moms or more dependent on their husband’s salary and when the husband walks in the door, they don’t understand why he can’t just hang up his coat, put his shoes away, and help at home.
But I also understand the man who works hard all day, doesn’t get to see his kids as often, pays all the bills, and comes home and thinks, why can’t the wife just make dinner, enjoy this time and not nag me?
The truth is I’m the so-called breadwinner in my relationship. I make twice the salary of my husband. And you know what?
I really wish I didn’t.
The financials of my relationship aren’t even close to equal.
I actually think it’s hard to be on either side – breadwinner or bread(lesser?), and realistically, most couples have a bit of disparity in their compensation so I’m sure many deal with this in one way or another.
I take on those traditional male roles. I make more money. I handle all of the bills and I create our budget and savings plan.
My Husband is the cook. He spends far more time in the kitchen than I ever have or will ever want to.
The other night I watched as he made homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs to dip chicken into to make healthier baked chicken parmesan. Just watching the time and effort it took to make that dinner made me want to call the nearest Italian restaurant for takeout. But he actually enjoys doing it. I think it would be a horrific test of my patience to try such a thing.
But I’ll gladly eat it!
And then after this delicious dinner? Somehow more often than not, he’s the one cleaning up and loading up the dishwasher.
It took a lot of time to accept our so-called “roles” in our relationship, and there were definitely moments where our pride or our notions of the traditional norms got the best of us. There were times on both sides where we felt things were unfair, or we felt unappreciated and we’d fight or nag each other.
Just the other night the Husband joked that he’d make a better housewife than I ever would.
He’s 100% right.
Not because he’s less of a stereotypical man by any means (hello hot man in a uniform obsessed with football), but because he’s far more patient and has a much bigger desire to cook, clean, take the garbage out and keep things organized and running smoothly at home.
And if I left the bills to him? We’d have debt collection agencies calling us daily.
We’ve slowly divvied it all up – where he lacks in paying the bills – I lack in cooking and cleaning. When he makes me feel physically safe, I make him feel emotionally safe. When he creates restaurant quality dinners, I do loads of laundry and clean the bathrooms…
Most importantly, whether I make more money or not, we’re a team. And we make a point to appreciate each other, out loud. We’ve slowly chosen the chores or responsibilities that we’re each good at and willing to do. No one is forced to do one thing or the other on their own.
If I’m in the kitchen staring at a full garbage can, I will take it out. If the dishwasher is clean and I’m just watching TV, I’ll unload it.
If I just ate the most delicious chicken parmesan that took 2 hours and every dish in the cabinet to make – I am sure as hell going to “mmm and ahh” while eating it and tell my family and friends all about his master kitchen skills while he’s sitting there listening.
When I come home after getting another raise at work, he high-fives me and starts talking about the future beach-house we’ll be getting. (Dream big Husband.)
One of the most important things I have learned is that as a team you just do things for each other. Not so I can say a week later – oh but I took the trash out and that’s your job – but because it’s a nice thing to do.
Right now, we’re at a real sweet spot. The part where we’ve realized we’re no longer two separate people with two separate roles and incomes. We’re two people together making one hell of a team that’s working with each other and for each other. And that makes us equal.