But since then I've sometimes gazed longingly at our Old Order Mennonite neighbours who have their roles so clearly cut. I wondered what it would be like to just know what your jobs are and do them. As simple as that. But I wanted more than that too. Something a bit more complicated.
We're nearing our 12th year anniversary, and I've come to believe that equality - or this 50/50 kind of equality - is over-rated. That if I dare to keep score, that's when things start to go sour. And it's so much work - that keeping track.
I've done more than my share of storming around the house, giving cold shoulders and silent treatments as my way of communicating my displeasure with the state of the house. And that takes a lot of energy, all that stomping and storming and silence. But here's one thing that I've found works, and I'll share my little secret with you: if I ask nicely, my husband is more than willing to help. "Would you mind vacuuming sometime today?" gets a very positive response. Whereas "this place looks like a trailer park in a tornado" doesn't. Politeness and civility really work!
We share the cooking and the parenting and the goal setting/dreaming - not in 50/50 ways, but in ways where we're trying not to keep score anymore. We're trying to support each other as we both work, play, parent, set new goals, and show love.
We've discovered that there are things that we are each good at. I'll describe it using a body metaphor: I am the eyes, looking for signs of dirt in the house. Then I am the mouth, asking for assistance. Then he is the hands and feet, vacuuming the house. Truly wonderful. Eyes are not equal to hands or feet, but all can work together quite well.
Yes, there are times when I wish that someone else could be the eyes, looking out for what needs to be done around our home. But I'm sure that there are times when my husband wishes that my eyes notice when taxes are due or when gas needs to be put in the car. Then he's the eyes, and I'm the not-always-willing-to-help-hands-and-feet.
Yes, there are tasks where neither of us is willing to claim giftedness or even feign interest. But the dishes do have to get done.
I'm the best packer in the house, so when we're going away or camping I now see this as one of my roles in our family: to organize and pack. When I embrace this task, I don't get mad when I don't see him joining in because I think "Well, I'm good at this and he's...well...ungifted in this area." I am the chief of packing in the house. He is the chief of packing the car. And we try not to mess with each other. And that mostly works.
|definitely not us|
There are some things I'm vigilant about making sure they're exactly equal. Like when we're sharing a plate of sushi, anything made with chocolate, or mango bubble tea. Then it MUST be 50/50.
We usually don't meet in the middle, or even measure to see where that middle might be. We just meet and try to work together the best we know how. And that kind of equality feels ok. Even liberating in a weird and wonderful way.