I've already written about domesticity and how I spent most of my childhood rebelling against "the woman's role" only to later realize that I actually like hosting and cooking for friends and significant others. Well it recently dawned on me that although I'm no longer defending my refusal to cook with my mother or serve Dad his dinner, I'm now fending off disapproving comments from friends when I decide to help A. with his chores instead.
When A. got stuck working during the weekend late last year, I thought I'd be nice and treat him to homemade meals while he slaved away at his computer. "Oh hell no! I'd make him do it," "Does he cook for you?" and "What is he so busy with?" is what I heard from other females and eventually their words seeped in. What started as a sweet gesture turned into anger as I hunched over the sink to wash the dishes and mentally ticked off all the ways he was lazy and inconsiderate - as if he'd been the one who'd put me through any of it.
Yesterday, because his work load had been so stressful as of late, A. completely forgot he had dinner plans with an old friend last night...when he was set to do emergency laundry and spend time with me before his morning flight to Toronto. "You're going to dinner," I said without hesitation. As for laundry, I told him I'd handle it, blog for a bit and be there when he came home. Simple solution, no stress. And despite the "Tsk, tsk," the "I'd never do anyone's laundry" and "Would he do yours?" I didn't care much this time around. A part of me did want to defend my actions, say half his hamper is filled with my clothes and let them know that helping him out won't set the feminist movement back a hundred years, but I refrained.
It did make me wonder about how reluctant we sometimes are to do domestic things for a guy in the name of "girl power" and the connotations it carries. Perhaps it's the fear of being expected to handle all the chores in the future? Does it carry the same weight or meaning when you offer your roommate a hand? Your children? Do guys get the same flack for constantly paying for his girlfriend's meals?
Obviously every relationship is different, but up until recently, expectations were the leading cause of too many months of arguments and frustration in mine. After we stopped demanding things from the other and each did and let the other do things because we truly wanted to instead, the fights just ceased and the relationship immediately improved. (No, really. I'm still boggled by how our issues mysteriously disappeared.) When we do something, it's not because not doing them would make the other mad. It's because it either causes happiness directly or indirectly through the other person's joy.
So I did our laundry. Big whoop and a small hour-and-a-half long sacrifice to ease his day. His gratitude when he came home was enough, but the surprise cupcakes he bought me definitely didn't hurt either.
Do you guys ever deal with inner/outer conflicts about tending to your partner or lending a hand around the house?