There was a time in our marriage when I was determined to become more independent.
How on earth do single women do this? I would think to myself. In a twisted form of guilt, I thought that surely if there were single mothers out there, it was selfish of me to always rely on my husband to hang pictures straight for me or take out the trash every Thursday night. I bought myself a ridiculous book called, The Handyman Woman, and vowed that I would start doing more stuff around the house. Every dripping faucet, broken toilet paper roll holder, or lightbulb-out-of-my-reach would be no match for my resolve as a handy woman wife!
My resolve lasted about a one very frustration-filled week.
And then? I decided to just start saying “thank you” to the man I married.
I admit that I went into marriage with the idea that we would be totally equal partners. I would wear an apron occasionally in the kitchen, but mostly just because it would be sexy, and my husband darn well would know how to run a vacuum, and cooking together wouldn’t be a chore because we were a team.
But somewhere along the line, all that teamwork got a little difficult.
It became clear that each of us had different skills in the marital ring. I, for instance, got a secret thrill out of making spreadsheets and running our finances, my husband genuinely enjoyed mowing our lawn (I still don’t really understand that one…), and no matter what, the man can’t seem to pick up his own dirty socks, kind of like the worst marriage cliché ever, really.
And as I re-read the chapter on how to re-wire a broken lamp for the tenth time, I finally threw in the towel. I am not a handy woman wife. I get lost whenever I go more than 10 minutes from home and will always call my husband for directions, no matter how great Google Maps is. I would rather that he kill the monstrous spider lurking in the corner than me, and I automatically hop in the passenger side of the car whenever we are going anywhere together.
Our marriage, after almost seven years, has settled into comfortable roles and I’ve let go of my strange, unfounded guilt about relying on my husband. I think, in a way, some of my guilt came from some of my feminist preaching, because how fair did it seem that I demand that I get to do it all and he “help” me with the babies, but not “help” him with “his” work?
I finally realized that there is no such thing as “his” and “hers” work in any marriage, but there is such a thing as what works for us.
I am the one who keeps the pantry stocked and an overflowing supply of toilet paper in the closet.
He is the one who takes out the garbage, without fail, every Thursday night.
I am the one who will handle all of the paperwork of life.
He is the one who will handle all of the hands-on work of life.
I am the one who will stay home with the babies.
He is the one who will come home to the babies.
I no longer have any guilt about what I do or don’t do in my marriage. Instead, I have learned to just say “thank you” to the man that I can rely on to fix the broken toilet paper roll holder, the man who will always run to the store for me when I ask him to, the man who can build anything I can dream up on Pinterest.
Because it’s really the little things that matter in a marriage.
And who knows? Maybe this Thursday, I’ll just surprise him by taking out the garbage first.
Image via j&j brusie photography