In your relationship, who is in charge of getting gas for the car?
Between ourselves, my wife and I joke about being in a Butch/Femme marriage but when anyone asks about stereotypical heterosexual roles we explain, “Whoever gets up first makes the coffee, last one up makes the bed. We take care of each other.”
There are many chores we do together. We take turns cooking, filling and emptying the dishwasher, helping each other when we can, and we always make financial decisions together. However, that said, after twenty years together some ‘household chores’ have become habitual to the point of expectation. I do the indoor stuff while she takes care of the outdoors.
I am not fulfilling some gender destiny, or cultural compulsion to exemplify femininity. Over the years we’ve discovered that I hate gardening. There’s something about bees, dirt under my fingernails, mosquitos, the smell of moldering leaves and weeds, the getting down, getting up again, down, up, and the wasps…well, it’s just not my thing. I found myself avoiding those chores when they needed doing, leaving them to Traf.
But I can’t sit around while she works so I took over the inside cleaning. I love the people who use our bathroom, so I clean it thoroughly to keep them protected. I’m careful when dusting all the treasures accumulated over decades. I move furniture when vacuuming, to get at the cat fur and dust that accumulate in hidden places. And I sort, wash, and dry the laundry keeping everyone in clean clothes, linens, and towels. Turns out, I feel much happier and fulfilled as things around me get straightened, sorted, put away. I love watching my labors produce cleanliness.
All of which makes me grateful my wife loves to get down and dirty, because I surely do not. It pleases Traf to grow a dazzling garden filled with fresh, healthy veggies every summer, delighting both taste buds and our wallets. Her careful lawn care and border of tiger and day lilies delight the neighborhood for weeks, even prompting strangers to stop and take photos. She also keeps the outdoor machines; cars, lawnmower, snow-blower, garage door, and all lamps/lights in good working order.
In relationships there’s a tit for tat, I give you this and expect that from you. If she starts to irritate me or I’m feeling underappreciated, I remind myself of what she does for me, or for us as a couple, that I have taken for granted before. I own it, after all these years we’ve both forgotten to be grateful and hurt each other, and we’ve learned from experience.
But, um, yep, I expect my wife to keep my car filled with gas.
If she starts feeling miffed about it, I hope she thinks of me cleaning the toilet following an episode of unfortunate digestive issues. In the same way, whenever I get pissy about sneezing from dust motes atop bookcases and fur-mice under couches, I think gratefully of Traf mowing the lawn on a hot summer day and up to her knees shoveling snow in winter.
I remind myself who I’m doing it FOR, my wife and family.
It is a privilege to take care of the woman I love.
Merry New Year, everyone!