“So, how’s married life? Is your husband well-fed and cared for?”
A friend said this to me, congenially, when I saw him this afternoon.
“Fed? Oh, no, he does all the cooking.”
This is my generic response to this question – this friend was not the first to pose it to me; in fact, I’ve lost count of how many who have – and it is not untrue. My husband loves to cook. He would love it if I cooked more … and I’m working on it. I got a fancy stainless steel oval crockpot – with a timer!!! – and an even fancier cast iron Le Creuset Dutch oven, and am looking forward to making stews, chilis, and casseroles with these new appliances as the winter months come upon us. However, really? All of a sudden, we’re married, and that means Life As We Know It should change? Whatever for? Our new legal status really makes it different for everyone else, not for us.
Women generally do the cooking, therefore, I should be cooking for my new husband. Never mind that he’s the better cook, and he actually likes it. I do the dishes … I don’t really like that, either, but I generally prefer it to cooking. It’s relatively benign, and easily squashed, however it is simply a symptom of a larger problem: 21st century married couples are redefining what being a “husband and wife” means to them, in order to suit their lifestyles. This is how it should be – as society evolves, the institutions within a society either evolve along with it, or they phase out. The evolution is still in it’s infancy, however, and doing things a bit differently from how “traditional couples” operate is often met with confusion and, sometimes, hostility.
A not-so-benign example: I’m the “breadwinner” in our household, at least for right now. When the economy improves, we’ll likely go back to being a DINK household (that is, Double Income, No Kids). As it is right now, it’s not bad – he has some money, and I make a good salary. We’re not struggling financially. Yet, it seems, that people seem to think it’s a worse situation than it actually is. It’s not terribly uncommon, in 2010, for a wife to make more money than her husband, so why is it still viewed as so taboo? If the tables were turned – as in, my industry was decimated by the economy and he had a stable job – no one would think anything of it. Of COURSE your husband should take care of you during tough times! But with this role reversal? People are still baffled by it.
Today, I got scolded for not having a prenuptial agreement. I know they are important for some people, but for goodness sake I’m not Caroline Kennedy! Not only do I have major personal issues with the whole idea behind them, but I also don’t trust them. (I’ll wax poetic about this on another day, in another post.) Again, though, if the tables were turned, I’m sure that the idea of a pre-nup seems more gauche than practical. But, since it’s SO RARE for a woman to have assets, she should PROTECT them from that EVIL MAN WHO DOESN’T EVEN MAKE AS MUCH AS SHE DOES. I mean, what man is worth his salt if his wife makes more money?
It’s worth noting that this conversation was with a self-identified feminist. Even the enlightened are not immune to damaging perceptions and preconceived notions about gender roles.
Really, though, these preconceptions are as insulting, if not more so, to men. Sure, it’s a bit grating to suggest that a woman can’t make more money than a man; but it’s far more demoralizing to view him as less because he doesn’t make at least the same amount of money as her, and to suggest that she should be weary of a partnership with him as a result.
My husband is intelligent, loyal, supportive, and deeply caring. We share many of the same interests, and we take joy in the simple pleasure of each other’s company. This isn’t something that can be bought.
Oh, yeah, and he’s also a Really Good Cook. 🙂