Tonight I left Chris at home to feed, play with and put August to bed while I drove out to Oakland to help some friends pack their apartment. I came home to a kitchen that was cleaned (even the stove top sparkled!), bills that were a bit more organized, and some laundry still unfolded in the basket. (He’s wonderful but not perfect.)
Last year a friend of mine interviewed us as a couple about our “roles” for one of her classes. As I answered her questions, I was embarrassed at how traditional my marriage appeared on paper. How much to I clean versus Chris? 85/15. How much time do I spend in child care compared to Chris? 90/10. Who earns all the money? Christopher. Who drives when we’re both in the car? Christopher. I could go on and on with every cliched women’s role that I accept and man’s role that he accepts, with the exception of his tendency to cook on days when he can get home early enough.
The truth is, we’ve made our decisions based on practicality. Does Chris notice when the toilet is dirty? No. Does he clean it to my specifications? No. Do I like to drive? Ever? No. Is the SAHM life perfectly suited to my personality? Yes (most of the time). Does Chris get home too late to cook August a healthy meal? Usually.
So there it is. We are not as 50/50 as we wish and I’ve had plenty of conversations with girlfriends who feel the same way, despite their full time job or belief in equality. At the end of the day, sometimes it’s just easier to have control of how your child is dressed or how often the shower is scrubbed.
Today I came across this article in Slate considering a recent survey that found dads fudging a little on their commitment to equal sharing of child rearing. Though many claimed equality in the parenting demands they shared with their spouse, further research showed that the men were a little more hopeful than honest.
The article, “Why Do Dads Lie on Surveys About Fatherhood?” stresses that men as a subculture are still in a transitional period of coming to grips with what it means to work and care for children. Interestingly enough, that sounds very similar to the struggle women have wrestled with for a few decades. It also describes a tendency in women to “encourage men to take on a task–dressing the kids, for example–but then criticize the way he does it. And when both partners are responsible for children and the household, they both want a say in every family decision–providing many more opportunities for conflict.”
What do you think? Is the sharing of tasks in your household resulting in more conflict? Are you struggling to give your spouse free reign in dressing your kid or keeping the bathroom clean? What does your marriage look like on paper and how do you feel about it?