Less than two generations ago, the gender roles in a marriage and in parenting were pretty clearly defined. Dads went to work. Moms stayed at home. Wives may have worked prior to marriage, but typically they stayed home when children came. They spent a great deal of time in volunteer work and parent chaperoning.
Today’s married couples and gender roles are less defined and while that lack of definition provides an immutable freedom in choices and options. This potpourri of roles and options is the catalyst for many problems, but it can also provide the solutions to those very problems. Among the different scenarios there are:
- The husband works outside the home
- The husband works inside the home
- The wife works out of the home
- The wife works outside the home
- The wife stays at home and cares for the children
- The husband stays at home and cares for the children
- The couple works together in a joint business venture
These are only a sampling of the scenarios that exist and within that sampling there are many stereotypes, that although shattered do still remain in many places. In many instances where the husband and wife both work and have limited leisure time, it’s entirely possible that the wife will spend more of her leisure time handling the housework such as cooking, cleaning and more.
More and more, married couples are overhauling the gender roles in their relationships and homes in order to rebalance and spread responsibility out in an equitable arrangement. From joint cleaning duties to swapping cooking duties from night to night – to redistributing those duties when children become involved.
Marriage communication is about more than just interfacing with each other on a romantic level, but also on a practical and responsible one. It’s important to recognize that there are challenges in every relationship and that every problem has a solution. If you are worried about the distribution of labor and responsibility in the relationship – talk about it.
My husband and I have spent the last five years rebalancing our duties on an almost month-to-month basis. When I have been overwhelmed with work, he’s taken the lead on the household, when the shoe is on the other foot – I’ve done it. As it is, on average – we split our duties around the house. He can throw a load of laundry in the morning that I’ll finish and fold during the day while working here and he’ll put it away at night.
We do our best to make sure neither one of us is left holding the bag on everything. We remain as flexible as we can to accept the fact that there will be nights when one or both of us may have to work late, where one or both of us may become ill or whether our daughter has needs or demands that supersede our household duties – flexibility, communication, patience and lots of love are the ingredients for making this work.
How do you and your spouse handle the distribution labor, gender roles and other responsibilities both within and without the home?