In my day..
In the good old days, life was better. Men worked and women stayed home, kept the house, looked after the kids and wore frilly aprons over pretty dresses.
Everyone knew their place and life was simple and modern issues of career vs career and whose turn it is to race from work early to pick the kids up from day care were non-existent. Something like that anyway.
Oh no! Here comes feminism!
Along came feminism and we fought to get away from the sink and into the classroom and boardroom. We did such an awesome job at proving women can and should do anything (more like everything) you could say the choice has almost disappeared in the opposite direction.
If we accept the reality that for many modern relationships, two incomes are required and desired, life becomes a bit tricky. Particularly when you consider there is often little or no functional difference between partners in income and the level of commitment to career (and education).
- So who picks up the kids from day-care when you're both slaving in the office at 7pm in the pursuit for a corner office with a view?
- Who takes the bin out before going to the gym before work?
- Who washes the floor while muttering into a dictaphone on a Sunday afternoon?
The division of labour is all messed up - and with that comes serious risk of conflict of a relationship-killing kind.
People have been harping on about equality for quite a while now. If large corporates and the government can't get it right in the boardroom, what chance have we got in the home, where relationships are under even more pressure?
The Seesaw theory
Now this may well be unpopular, but my view of equality in the home does not involve an equal division of labour.
You can waste a lot of time thinking (often out loud, usually brought up at a completely unrelated moment) that cooking dinner is harder than putting the dishes away. It doesn't matter. It may well be. Arguing about equality achieves absolutely stuff all.
The reality is that in a successful partnership, sometimes one partner will do more. Sometimes the other partner does more. It balances out.
Think of it like a seesaw, if you each push up and down, you're both on the seesaw and sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down. It takes a damn lot of effort to hold the seesaw at even height without one or both falling off.
Could it work?
The way it works in my relationship, and, I suggest might work in yours. Start by working out expectations:
- What does clean mean to each of you?
- What constitutes a weeknight dinner?
Sort out a friendly middle ground. Then each do what you're good at/don't hate too much and outsource whatever is left over.
If you approach it with an open mind it is not that hard to manage. I promise. Be flexible and pick up the slack when the other person has a crazy deadline or is sick or is just sick of it.
If you've got a good partner they'll do the same for you and keep you both on the seesaw.
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