There has been a fair amount of press recently surrounding a certain celebrity who has been speaking out against abortion laws being proposed in the United States. This is a hot topic that has been debated for decades, but because of the proposed means of protest, it has sparked a lot of response, both good and bad.
Just to be clear from the get-go, my personal and spiritual beliefs are as such that I’m a firm advocate of always hearing both sides of the conflict before rendering my own opinion. That being said, I believe every person has the inherent right to choose what is or isn’t done to their own bodies, regardless of what any government body may be suggesting.
But today’s blog post isn’t about the story in the news or the celebrity who is using her status as a means of garnering attention to “her” cause. Today’s topic is about equality in relationships.
Decades ago, western culture had an expectation that the man would go off to work every morning and earn the money. The woman would stay home, tend house and take care of the children. When the man got home, the expectation was that the house would be tidy, a hot meal would be waiting on the table and he would be greeted at the door by a loving wife. Is anybody else picturing an I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners episode?
Western society as a whole has moved at what can only be described as a slow crawl on matters of marital equality. It’s not the 1950’s anymore, and things have changed significantly, even though many believe it hasn’t. Both parties in the relationship have an equal right and equal capability to accomplish anything required within the household.
The thing that got my hackles up about the article I had read was how the writer referred to being a stay-at-home partner as “unpaid work”. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth.
These days, cost of living expenses generally tend to force both partners to work full time at bringing in enough income to live. But some households still have one partner working outside the home and one partner working within.
Here’s the reality: let’s say that one of the two people in the relationship has a decent job making 100k/year working 40 hours a week outside the household. The other person stays at home, cleans, does dishes and keeps things in order. Both partners are putting in their respective day’s work with the total 100K salary being brought into the home. The tasks being done at home are essential and are part of the overall requirements of modern living. If the at-home partner stops performing these tasks, then the household stability will falter, rendering it more difficult if not impossible for the outside work to be accomplished as well. This means that the work done at home contributes to that 100k salary.
The point is, that income is only possible thanks to efforts from both relationship partners. And it becomes important to acknowledge that the one working outside the home needs to contribute once he or she returns to the residence as well. If you get home and throw your feet up while your partner is still slaving away prepping food and trying to keep the kids in line, shame on you!
My work has often involved longer scheduled days, overtime and shift work. Some days I’ve felt run off my feet, but I’ve still helped to prepare meals. I’ve always used my down time to clean, run errands and perform household chores. How could I not? I live here, too! When my son was born, I took months of parental leave in order to be home and help. I got up multiple times a night, sanitized bottles, changed diapers… the whole nine yards. My wife was not employed outside the house at the time, so I could have kept on working. But it was better for both of us for me to be home to help. None of that makes me a “better” partner than others, this is simply what the standard SHOULD be.
At the end of the day, no one should be claiming that staying at home is “unpaid work”. It absolutely contributes to the household income and is a necessary function for a family household. I’m not referring to people who are convinced to leave a career that is important to them, of course. That’s an entirely different story.
That’s where proper communication and compromise comes in. Both partners needs to verbalize their wants, needs and expectations in order to achieve proper balance. Otherwise, a change may be in order. But if you do chose to stay home, remember that the work you do at home matters. And speaking from experience, everything done within a day at home is a LOT of work! ☯