Hear that? It’s the sound of an old school feminists fainting.
Here is the thing. While getting my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy I learned a lot about feminism, gender and power dynamics. And when my husband went through the same education, we were able to have some very honest conversations about our relationship’s rules and roles. There was even a eight month period of time between Michael starting school and leaving the Army where I was working 50 hours a week to complete my degree and he was home. We planned that during this time, Michael would take care of the laundry, dishes, housekeeping, grocery shopping, and cooking.
The conclusion from this period of time was …. Michael is an excellent cook… which frequently left me juggling the rest of household duties. It lead to so many conversations and sometimes arguments. We tried all sorts of systems, lists, reminders, whatever to make this role reversal work. And it just didn’t.
I don’t believe this is due to some sort of incompetence on Michael’s part. I watched him try and try again. But it was never fulfilling to him and was so forced. It made me realize a piece left out of feminism was to also change the way in which we raise children. I was raised with a stay at home mom that taught me all about how to make a house a home. I can not only do all of those tasks in my sleep, I get a lot of joy out of having a house that feels like home.
So we made a choice. Instead of arguing for the rest of our marriage about who’s turn it was to do the dishes or the laundry, we would accept each other. He accepts me and the way I like the house kept and I accept that he prefers to work outside the home and cook awesome food.
It has left me with a new understanding of feminism. A reminder that women fought long and hard to have the choice to work outside the home. Somehow our culture has made it feel mandatory or worse, that keeping a home, making time for a marriage, and raising children is menial work. Which to me, especially as a family therapist, is a tragedy.
I am happy the arguments about who does what are behind us and each day as I flex my schedule or take a day off during the week to catch up on the house, I feel appreciated for all I do.