For the longest time, I fought against the idea of needing a man, much less being dependent on him. This made me very defensive when I started dating. I was especially ungracious when I was offered material gifts by guys I was dating. I was so scared of developing an appetite for things I could not otherwise afford. And becoming subject to the whims and caprices of the givers.
The Role of the Man
As I began to mature and put things in their perspective, I learned to accept gifts graciously. And even ask for my partner’s help. But I also realised I had been reacting subconsciously to the idea that a the role of a man as a primary provider. With my leaning towards fairness, I also knew that it meant I would feel the need to hold up my end of the bargain and possibly struggle to fit into a more domesticated role than I could naturally tolerate.
Interestingly, I am the home manager in my marriage now. But I do this with the help of a domestic assistant. This is because I am incredibly averse to the mundane aspects of running a home from day to day. I neither have the inclination nor the physical energy. I’m more inclined to doing the mental work of planning and organising our finances, meals, and household routines. And that only because I’m better suited to the job by nature, not by gender.
An Involved Partner
However, my partner is just as involved in caring for our child as I am, especially now that he’s much older and no longer dependent on my breastfeeding. Financially, we both put in 100% and then allocate funds to the individual and collective needs of every family member. Emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise, I expect a united front, and the ability to hold the fort for and lift up each other when either of us is low on such resources.
It’s not perfect yet as my man and I are both work in progress. But at the end of the day, we are both committed to growing into our best selves and ignoring the constraints of society’s enforced roles. We both agree that it’s okay for him to attend to our toddler while I attend to my work. And it’s okay for either of us to pick up the tab on an outing. When it comes to these things really, who’s says one is a woman’s and another a man’s job?
While I can acknowledge the roles that nature has thrust upon us, such as the woman being the child bearer and monthly period sufferer, *rolling my eyes*, there are other roles that are just artificially constructed and imposed. Assigning full responsibility for financial provision to a man who is more naturally inclined to nurture than he is to being financially or professionally driven, is inefficient and will probably lead to ineffectiveness. This is often compounded by the fact that such a man is more likely to be attracted to, and/or in a relationship with, a partner who is naturally ambitious and gifted in money-making, but who is actually chafing under the burden of a home management role she detests. It does no one any good and unnecessarily complicates the relationship.
The partner who is a wiz at finances should handle the books, regardless ofhis/her gender. The partner who’s better with the kids should be the primary caregiver, even if it’s the man. Gender roles can hurt the whole family when partners are forced to fit into roles they are not naturally suited to.
Regardless of gender, everyone has something to bring to the table. And everyone should be given the space to contribute authentically and joyfully. In the end, we must make a conscious effort to simplify our relationships. Put in the work from positions of strength. And we must endeavour to teach our children to do the same. Life is really not that hard.