Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fit Bits, Submission and Gender Roles

When I was down visiting my mother in Louisiana I had lunch with my friend Kay. She and I worked together for some years before I got married and moved to Europe. She was my maid of honor at my wedding.

We were giggling over crawfish etouffee about how strange life has turned out. We're both traditional wives, traditional in the sense that we do all the cleaning, cooking, domestic things and fulfill the 'female' roles in our marriages.

I don't know how it happened, but it did. She seemed to think it was more unusual for me be a traditional 'wife' because of the fact that I had been something of a free spirit in my unmarried days, someone that was open to many things, experimented and didn't have many boundaries. Sometimes when I am down home people that knew me from all those years ago refer to me as 'The Wild Girl', now I'm more 'The Mild Girl (Woman)'

One of the most touching parts of that lunch was revisiting where we both used to work and discovered there were still a handful of people working there we both knew from our time there. A guy named Joe we knew gave us both the sweetest of welcomes and so many hugs, as we reminisced about those days nearly thirty years ago.

Many of my old friends down home are surprised that I'm still married to Jim, saying he was always sort of 'old man-ish', to my wild child. Guess none of them picked up on the fact that his old man side had a craving for wild girl while my wild side wanted security and stability, unconditional love Whatever it is, it still works and works well.

Our various traditional roles we've sort of fallen into have led to some interesting wrinkles. Laura knows I pick out and buy all Christmas presents. I put the tree, decorate the house, cook the food, bake the cookies and hang the outside lights. Jim doesn't help. It's just not his thing and I have never minded. I would rather have things done my way the first time than trying to shepherd or guide someone else into meeting my own creative ideas or standards.

This year Laura is insisting that Jim pick out and purchase one of her Christmas gifts. She sent her dad a link to it on Amazon and told him which stores in our area sell this item, bands for her Fit Bit, but it's done no good. Jim is still confused about it, not sure what it is he's supposed to get.

He's the guy slaying the mastodon and I'm the one out there gathering the herbs and wild onions to cook it with.

I took pity on him and violated Laura's request. Was out shopping at one of the few places in this tiny town that sells Fit Bit bands and bought the last set. I know Laura is feeling like her dad doesn't put any thought or care into her presents, but she doesn't get it that it's something that has always made him feel overwhelmed, it has nothing to do with any lack of love, or not knowing her likes and dislikes. Plus, he's a guy. If she had requested floor mats for her car, or a special NFL jersey he would have been the go-to guy. But, Fit Bits? Not so much.

Neither of us are going to tell her that I am the one that picked up the item. He's going to wrap and present it to her. If this is what she needs to think to feel extra loved so be it. We're not going to bust that bubble. But at the same time I know it's better to step in and do those things for Jim that stress him out. It's a two hour commute one way into Washington DC and his office Monday thru Friday, and many nights he comes home, has dinner and quickly falls asleep. I do what I can to make his life as stress free as possible, I always have. I love him deeply.

But, Suzanne, I hear some of my detractors say, I thought you were against traditional gender roles and the submission of women? There's a big difference between mutually doing what each person can where their talents lie as a couple to make a home and life run smoothly. I hire the plumber, decide when things need to happen like having the roof replaced, which is my next big project. Jim doesn't expect me to consult him on those things, he just expects it to happen.

In a home where Christian submission of women happens no women would dare to plan vacations, buy airline tickets/hotel rooms, pick out a tradesman to do the work around the house, budget for it, write the check, deal with the accountant or the IRS or make big investment decisions. I do all of those things without a second thought because I'm good at them and it takes some of the load off Jim. He knows that these things are things I do well he doesn't do as well.

He does do a great many things well. Just a few: Jim washes the dishes. I hate doing that and he's good at it. He also does the vacuuming due to my asthma. None of that makes him any less masculine or has a damn thing to do with submission.

In my eyes it is way more 'Christian' to do things out of love for the other partner that you can spare them without stupid things like submission or gender roles.

No comments: