Growing up, I learned that there were two types of wives, those that “waited on” their husbands, and those that expected their husbands to “wait on” them. There is no right way to be, but I choose to be the one that attends to my husband.
I know that everyone had their own relationship “dance.” Over lunch with a friend, we had discussed some of the nuances of how we interacted with our husbands and our children as work at home mommies. There are always differences in the specific ways we handled the day to day give and take, but we had one similar trait.
Both of our husbands are the “breadwinners” of the family. We both can stay at home and work as little or as much as we like to some extent, but our kids are our primary job. In order to have such a “luxurious” lifestyle, there are compromises our families must make. The biggest being that our husbands work a lot.
My husband has always wanted to be a “family man.” His greatest joy was becoming a father (each time, he was beside himself with joy being there to attend to our children right as they were born) and he always tells me his family is his driving force to work hard. He wants to provide a good life for us and provide everything we need. This requires him to work long hours, both at work and when he gets home for the day. He spends a lot of his time trying to maximize his schedule and visibility to become more successful. This means he is most often preoccupied with work.
But at the end of the day, he wants nothing more to play with our children and help put them to bed. It makes all of his work worth it. My kids are always beside themselves with happiness to see him and want nothing more to build forts in our bed with sheets and make daddy watch Curious George on TV.
But with the extra work he does, he is usually bone tired when he gets home. He is also useless in the kitchen. He cleans when he is annoyed by something, but not regularly. He does take out the trash and clean up the backyard after our dogs. He keeps an eye on our finances, but now leaves me to the day to day budgeting and spending. In short, the child rearing and home maintenance falls to me.
But in the last few years, I have started to embrace the roles in my family. I try to let my husband sleep in on his days off, entertaining and feeding the kids when they wake up. I am the one who gets up with my teething son in the middle of the night, and makes sure he is taking all of his medications. I am the one handling the laundry for the most part and also making sure everyone has the right clothing at all times.
I also make sure that my husband is always fed. There was a point where he was eating lunch at the cafeteria at work almost every day, but we both decided that it made more sense for me to prepare his lunches. I am in charge of grocery shopping, meal preparation or procuring, and making sure my husband is served first. This morning, I spent what could have been another 15 minutes of sleep sewing closed a hole that had appeared in his seam.
If you told me ten years ago, I would be laughing hysterically. But it just makes sense to me now. My husband takes care of me in his own ways, these are the ways I take care of him. I realize I might spoil him in some respects (I never heard the end of the day that he had to cook his own dinner – boiled hotdogs) but it is how I show I love him.
I know I am overworked too, I know it is hard to put in the extra work after a long day of work and child rearing, but I get a sense of pride that my husband is well taken care of, and I know he appreciates coming home to a clean house after long business trips, to a hot meal every night, and a wife that appreciates what he does.
What things do you do for your significant other?