Wednesday, June 17, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

You know when you get the feeling someone is trying to tell you something? When certain 'reminders' crop up here, there and every where? Everywhere you turn the same message is written on the wall? Well, that's been happening to me for about 2 months now! It happened here where Expatmum had me in stitches with her take on the Good Wife Guide from the 1950s, as well as in numerous conversations, FWD: emails, on the radio. Everywhere. It all indicates what I am supposed to be doing but not why or how! And let's face it, I've never been good at blindly following rules!

I am a modern woman. Can't help it really, it's just part of who I am and I have recently, for whatever reason, been continually reminded that I am supposed to put my husband first as he is head of the household. Really? Is that still true? What of equal partnerships, women being as important as men and respect for each other?

Now, I have no problem with respecting my husband, I take no umbridge with the role I play in our relationship, I have no issue with seeing his point of view. But surely he must equally see mine? Have equal respect for me, accept and fulfil his role in our relationship? Is the MAN as head of the house not a little archeaic? OK, I am going to bore you now by saying that I am lucky in that the man I married does not see himself as head of our household. He seems to ascribe to my version of coupledom. We are a team. We make decisions together. If our points of view differ we discuss it (sometimes rather loudly, if I am honest) and we choose the RIGHT option in the end. Not mine. Not his. He plays his role and I play mine. If we both tried to do the same thing half the necessary work would be left unattended. If we both tried to do all of it we would suffer nervous breakdowns. We defined our roles and now we fulfil them. Is this not a healthier way of building a marriage? And as far as I am concerned the children come first. For both of us.

Where does it say that a man is superior? Where does it say that a man has better judgement in all circumstances? Where does it say that men and women are not equal? That social labelling was firmly affixed by men. Thousands of years ago. Perhaps because they COULD get out of the home since women were more adept at nurturing than men were. I think that modern marriages would have a better chance of survival if husbands and wives showed equal respect for each other. Just because the man earns the money in a household doesn't mean he does the lions share of the work or has more responsibility. He has a role to play. Just because the woman stays at home (and let's be honest there are not many women who do so anymore with the need for two income households) does not mean she does not play an equal part in the work or the responsibility that makes a family. She has a role to play. Perhaps I have misunderstood the signs? Perhaps there is a flipside to the discussion that says to husbands that they ought to put their wives first? Perhaps by having an equal partnership we put each other first?

Defined roles, teamwork, equal effort and equal R-E-S-P-E-C-T are the cornerstones of a successful, fulfilling and happy modern marriage.

My biggest question in this regard, I think, is does this mean I am supposed to put my husband ahead of my children and if so how? They are completely different relationships. The love for a spouse requires constant work, the love for children is unconditional. The expectations of the relationship are different and the needs of children differ from the needs of husbands. We do not ascribe to the 'because I said so' or 'becuause I am the Mother/Father' rules of parenting. We believe in respecting our children too, believing that this will teach them that respect is earned and not just given.

It seems like it is a moot point bearing in mind that our marriage is already built on an equal footing. But then why the bombardment with the same message? What am I missing here?

1 comment:

Vanessa Davies said...

Here's topic I really can address, even if I don't live it out so well. We are supposed to honour our husbands as the head of the household and put them first no matter what. When we all get to heaven and have to account for our actions, all God will want to know from us is, "did you put your husband first?" Not "did you make ends meet?" or "did you get ahead in your career?". The poor guys get all of those questions and as their loving wives we need to enable them to answer those questions well. The Bible says that husbands are to love their wives and "render unto them due honour" or somehting like that. They need to "dwell with [us] with understanding", which is a full-time job by itself, let's face it. We, on the other hand, need to help them to do so. I don't know how to put a husband before a child in any part of my life, but I do know that this is how my thinking SHOULD be structured. And having done it successfully in the past I also know for a fact that it is the most fool-proof recipe for a healthy marriage.

Let's do coffee some time and chat some more on this.