Balancing The Scales of The Household


I’m confident that most people with blogs chose to dedicate their first blog of the year to a retrospective of the year passed. Well, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my year already (and wrote about it), so I figured I’d just start anew without looking behind me.

Today began like any other Saturday:

  • I get up before my husband, start the coffee brewing, and then retreat to my office to start working on something related to writing.
  • My husband gets up
  • I make breakfast
  • I return to my office to write my blog, and my husband begins yet-another repair/reno job.

Our Saturdays and Sundays only differ from Monday to Friday in one way—I make breakfast. My husband is in charge of that on weekdays, so I try to spoil him with making our house smell like a restaurant on the weekends. It’s the least I can do for everything he does for me.

So today, I chose to reflect upon relationship imbalance.

For the past two years, my husband has been doing the lion’s share of things while I focus on my writing career. What makes our imbalance different from other households is that I am completely aware of what I’m not doing. I live with guilt almost every day. What I also do almost every day, is voice my appreciation of his efforts. I don’t think many couples do that.

Most couples have unspoken lists of “his and hers” tasks. More often though, there is an imbalance which is not recognized. Here’s an example of one of the biggest complaints in society: no—mater

  • Her responsibilities: full-time job, prepare all meals, grocery shopping, anything child related (baths, lunches, activities, homework), laundry, clean the house
  • His responsibilities: full-time job, minor home repairs, mow the lawn/shovel the snow, take out the garbage

I was in two marriages where the imbalance wasn’t at all as listed above. In addition to the “her” list, I was responsible for the repairs, mowing or shoveling, and taking out the garbage. Yes, all my first two husbands had to do was work a full-time job. But you know what? I had to find the jobs for them first.

Wow. When I actually say that aloud, I feel so much shame knowing that I permitted so many footprints on my back. Therefore, if it happened to me, I’m sure there are many other women (or men) who are in very imbalanced relationships.

Do you feel there is a gross imbalance in your life?

Have you discussed it with your partner, or do you just bitch about it to your friends?

My friend Roxanne has four kids, and I need a nap just hearing about her day-to-day. I honestly don’t know how the woman does it. How does she not snap? I assume it’s because she silently lives with the philosophy I always preach, “Take it one contraction at a time.” She’s had four kids, so she knows if she just makes it through that “contraction,” she’ll be closer to the reward. Her “now” struggles and burdens are mainly associated with having four very small children.

After one particularly exhausting chapter of her life (which involved multiple rounds of vomit, diarrhea, tears, and an ER visit, she commented that she didn’t know how her mother did it. Her mom had five kids, and even sewed most of their clothing. I had one question for her:

“Was she a stay-at-home mom?”

Nothing more needed to be said, and we could gently remove her mother from the pedestal Roxanne had put her on. As a mother of four, with a full-time job, Roxanne is the one who should be on a pedestal. (If for no other reason than to allow her kids not to be able to reach her for just five minutes of peace and no responsibilities.)

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I am in awe of her daily. I know she’s reading this, so I’ll say it again—I am in awe of you, my friend.

Although our basement bathroom renovation has dragged on longer than expected, I promised her that, once the jetted soaker tub is installed, she would get an invitation to come and soak in peace and quiet. Mind you, I’m sure I’ll have to come up with some dramatic excuse for her to be released from the clutches of her motherly duties for a couple hours. I better practice my whooping cough now—I’ll need to be convincing.

With multiple children, Roxanne will have to be very patient during each phase of her young family’s life. What she, and others, don’t need to accept is a severe imbalance with their partners. In my eyes, Roxy’s husband is a team player. There is an imbalance in their life, but I am confident that it’s because of circumstance, and not his lack of desire to help out. One day, Roxy will be able to carve out some time for herself again, but that day won’t be tomorrow. One day, she’ll get to have the luxury of a full night’s sleep—just not right now.

So, although Roxanne, has an imbalanced road ahead of her, she is fully aware of it. The question is, are you and your partner aware of it?

If you are crying in your chardonnay to your BFF about the louse you live with, then it’s time to discuss it with the offending party. You might also be shocked to discover that your partner feels as though you are dropping the ball as well.

We live in a very fast-pasted, dual-income world. Although not extinct, the June Cleavers of the world (the ones who get to stay at home all day, bake pies, and sew pinafores) are very few and far between.

Don’t be afraid to communicate with your partner. Your martyrdom may not be necessary after all.

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