Because Handsome and I have designed our life around some pretty distinct roles, some traditional and some not so much, we definitely encounter noticeable differences in opportunity, advantage, responsibility, credit, freedom, etc, etc. Score-keeping folks might immediately raise those red flags and say "Whoa, sister, check yourself," either in my defense or his, depending on your perspective.
He gets to travel more and be out in the world with lots of smart, interesting people, but I get to lounge around more, should I so choose. He has friends through work; I have, well, honestly I have more friends than I know what to do with. PLUS I get a bunch of his friends at work too, so that is awesome.
My man in India, 2009.
He was on a team from our Great State
working to help that country establish
natural gas delivery systems.
I am so proud of him!
I missed him so much.
People seem to give me credit for everything that goes right around the farm, just by default. This is flattering but completely unfair. If we throw a party, I get the compliments. They are appreciated, but the truth is that I could never spend time doing this fun, extra stuff if I had to leave every morning to earn a paycheck. And I could never keep a flower bed if I had to spend my time smoothing, mowing, and weeding acres of grazing space, a job he does really well. The reverse is also true; he works hard constantly in order to provide all of this that we can share with loved ones, so he has little time and energy left to reach for the extras.
For us, freedom ringing all boils down to teamwork.
He knows that I'll make sure all the housework, shopping, miscellaneous errand-running, animal feeding and watering, etc, is always done before he drives home in the afternoon. He also knows I will cook as often as he is hungry or more and that I will entertain three and a half times as much as he asks me to. These are not degree-earned skills, but they are things he values in a home life which I am thrilled to offer to the guy of my dreams.
World's Cutest Rescuer of Turtles
Generally speaking, I take care of stuff around here so that when he is done doing amazing things at the office (I am so not exaggerating) he comes home to hours and hours of free time. Of course, several days a month he still changes out of his suit and works his guts out around here on hard-labor type projects I have no business attempting. Things like mending barbed wire fences, trimming the horses' hooves, bleeding brakes on our cars, squeezing out the wet chamois for me, removing ticks from the dogs, etc.
Oh wait, does the Modern Independent Wife remove animal ticks herself?
Another reason I do not want to be in this club. Because that is grody.
I get to wear cutoff jeans, flip flops and tank tops all day if I want to. He
gets to has to shave his face and layer up in a nice looking suit five days a week. (Shaving my legs is technically optional for me, but I make sure to do it for him, so he will go to bed happy, so he wakes up rested for that suit the next morning, so I can afford to stay home and wear cut offs one more day. It's kind of a pattern.)
Here's a biggie: He has complete control over our finances, and I know very little about them. He has that mammoth burden, too. I might not know every detail, but I also don't have to worry about every detail. Do you need smelling salts? Some people really have a hard time with this one, but I have to say what a relief it is for me. He cares and provides for us in ways I didn't know were even possible. This is just a strength he brings to our little unity table, and I would be foolish to not accept and then build on it. And to calm your Independent Person's fears a little, rest assured that I have more than enough plastic in the back pocket of my cut off jeans to keep me from being a sheltered little Missus.
He likes lots of expensive toys like cars, electronics, etc; I am perfectly happy to scour garage sales for clothes, home decor, and furniture, but I definitely like a roomy grocery budget so we can eat well and be healthy. It's super groovy.
What smacks of imbalance is exactly what gives us each whatever we want most.
I once heard a speaker describing fulfilled marriage using the always popular sports metaphor, this time employing football: He talked about how silly it would be to only fight for the fifty-yard line, never the end zone. He said that rather than diluting your mutual happiness by always compromising (isn't compromise usually celebrated as the best scenario?), which really leaves both people only halfway satisfied (implying you are both also halfway un-satisfied), why not strive to score touchdowns for each other more often? Generously give of yourself until the other person gets everything he or she wants and needs, and chances are the time will soon roll around when your partner does exactly the same loving thing for you.
The application of this football metaphor is crazy hilarious in this house because we are strictly a commercials-watching Super Bowl couple!
What Handsome does frees me up and protects me, just as what I do refreshes and inspires him. This is symbyosis, folks. This is not a purchase of services rendered or an archaic game of dominance; this is two very (very) different human beings caring for each other in the midst of an ever changing world.
Speaking of ever-changing, throw into this mix the unorthodox and unplanned condition that the two beautiful teenaged daughters who used to occupy every day of our life now live with their Dad, and you have a whole new vacuum to fill. Guess who gets the brunt of that pain of rejection? The man who is expected to provide and sacrifice when duty calls. One of the most blatant double standards a person could endure.
With regard to this, of course, we both know that every day is subject to change. At any moment I might get that wonderful text or email or phone call that says "I want to see you!" and the life that's been humming along comes to a happy, screeching, wonderful halt. Handsome and I know how to throw that emergency brake on, allowing life's marrow to flow where it is needed most.
An unexpected day at the farm with my Chickens
May 2011The way we have designed and discovered our life might not work for everybody, but it works like gangbusters for us.
I really believe that double standards work just fine as long as the purposes are loving and nourishing, as long as the uniqueness of each person is fulfilled, and as long as each person is contributing to his or her fullest. Neither person is being taken for granted or abused. I know we are not above complaining once in a while, but overall we are more than just happy. We have hit a stride that I think a lot of people take decades to discover. And this is just our first one.
Happy Tenth Anniversary, Handsome.
I love you Always, Now, and Forever.