Happy Relationships - Sharing Responsibilities Fairly
Why Work Against Each Other
In the past, couples had to fulfill their socially arranged responsibilities. We all know the stereotype that men were the hunters and women, the homemakers. At one point in our history, women were not allowed to cast their democratic vote. We cannot imagine that now.
Socially Defined Roles
Many issues, fortunately, have changed for the better. However, we still have unresolved issues, but they are not as clear cut as the democratic right to vote. The issues we have today are of a different nature. In certain relationships within society, we still have unfairness in the fair division of household responsibilities.
Some men, for instance, are still accustomed to the role of breadwinner and are driven to satisfy those requirements. So, when a household's finances falters; some men are more inclined to feel the accountability fall upon their shoulders.
And therefore, do not respond very well to circumstances that lead to issues of a financial nature. For example, if the household finances fall apart, resulting in the house being placed on bankruptcy. The father is more likely held responsible and may likely feel the weight fall upon his shoulders. He may think to himself (negative voice over) that he could not aptly hold on to a position and perhaps he wasn't as outgoing and competitive as he should have been.
There is no reason for one partner to be unaware of the couples retirement plans and investments. God, forbid, if one partner was to unexpectedly pass away, then how would the other handle the financial burden. Let alone the emotional turmoil. Definitely, the family as a whole benefits when both partners bring home the income and are aware of its use.
Speaking of socially defined roles; I am reminded of an acquaintance of mine. Apparently, his spouse was late from work one evening and asked that he tend to the children's needs. Anyhow, when his spouse came home that evening, he shared with her the many tasks that he had completed. She smiled to herself taking note of how simple the tasks were. The husband, apparently, was clueless. He was looking for appreciation. In this situation with the father, recognition should have only been a small part of equation. Its basically a part of being a father. Its not a grand feather in the cap.
Meanwhile, a woman may do all these household chores and even more without a stride. She usually is not expecting much from her spouse. Perhaps a little gesture with flowers is all she needs. Of course, recognition and appreciation make a huge difference, but it should not be the major motivation. We should have already taken ownership for our responsibilities.
In the workforce, we have reversal of roles sometimes. We have female accountants and male cooks. But, those roles sometimes changes when relationships are concerned. For instance, I knew a great male cook who refused to cook at home. He claimed that he did not want to set expectations for his wife and that she would not be inclined to take on her responsibilities at home.
Woman as Mother & Homemaker
Similarly, women sometimes take too much onus on child rearing. For example, If a child grows up to be mischievous and unable to perform well at school. Its definitely an issue to be concerned about. No doubt. But, more often than not, mothers may feel a great deal of that onus placed upon their shoulders.
The issues relating to our children fall under the responsibilities of both parents and perhaps, to a certain extent on the child as well. Parents should be emotionally and physically present. If they are not for any reason; they should take equal responsibility for not doing their share. Its a joint effort and its shameful to point fingers at one another. Its not one parent's sole responsibility to educate and nurture the child. Its truly baffling. Imagine a CEO pass responsibility to the CFO for the outcome of a particular new acquisition.
Why not hold the father equally responsible? Perhaps it may be due to the fact that the father was not there for most of the days or perhaps he was not interested in equally sharing the workload. In some instances, the father may even argue without merit that the mother must not have taken ample care of the child's upbringing. Obviously, this is quite unfair.
On the same token, during work, a female colleague, told me how she was stressed about her responsibilities. She said that her real job starts when she arrives home. She felt she had to cook dinner even though they both arrive at the same time. She longed for her husband to earn enough to handle the finances on his own so she could tend to the needs of her children.
I listened patiently to her, and thought to myself, her husband was not described as being physically inept in lending a hand. As such, her ordeal seemed to be rather unnecessary.
As a society, we should not have so much difficulty sharing workloads fairly, especially now. In a time when both parents work and provide for the household. Why is it that one gender is held responsible while the other not so much? Why does our society create outdated socially defined roles? Why does society sometimes assign certain roles to a father and mother?
Benefits of Shared Responsibility
In life, making compromises are inevitable. We compromise time at work when we are home and likewise. If we were not able to tend to matters at work as efficiently as we should; we are still held responsible for the outcome. Why is it any different than when we are not fully present at home?
We are sometimes wired towards a particular role. Take work, for example; sometimes we are upset when assigned a task that does not fall directly under our job responsibilities. Even though, It may help the organization profit as a whole. There are many situations where we may find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, but we have to manage to complete the task as best we can. We ask for help when necessary. So, why is it so difficult to do this at home?
It is time we start start thinking of our relationships based on the notion that a relationship is a cohesive unit that functions best when we work together. We shouldn't be so concerned about who is responsible for what task, but rather, how are we are going to achieve our goals as a family.
Of course, some of us perform a particular task better than others. Its the law of nature. We complement one another. However, we should be able to perform tasks that do not fall under our expertise. We must strive to work on our strengths in our relationships, but also be able to help one another. For instance, if your wife enjoys cooking and is particular about how the food turns out. Then by reason of her natural interests; she may do most of the cooking. However, if she late from work. Be considerate and cook for her. Although, it may not be as tasteful to the palate. She should be kind enough to appreciate that you cooked for her. We should not always focus on phenomenal results. Its important to appreciate mediocre results as part of the necessity towards building a functional model of relationship sharing. Take work for example, if the company's financial expert is on vacation. We still manage to make the best use of the resources that we do have. It also helps employees understand and appreciate the importance of one and another. And if there was a crisis; the company would be able to move forward without too much down time. Similarly, in marriage, we must make a conscious effort towards moving the relationship forward as one cohesive unit as apposed to a series of disjointed fragments held loosely together by a mutual consent of marriage.
Life is a learning curve.There is no definitive separation when it comes to the division of labour. It should be based upon couples playing on their strengths. Think of it like a specialization, where we do what we do best, but yet we are also able to handle everything.
In essence, relationships should not be so fragmented that the right hand, symbolically, is not aware of what the left hand is doing. Some of us may be left handed or right handed. Yet, we learn to write with both hands when it comes to parenting and sharing responsibilities fairly.
Obviously, we don't have to replicate one another in our responsibilities, but we should be able to complement and rely on one another. Collaborative teamwork is necessary for success in the work place and at home. Its about time some of us adapt a successful mentality by saying no to some socially accepted roles, and yes to roles that help the family move forward as a cohesive functional whole.
It wouldn't be fair to typecast all men and women. There are many families that share their responsibilities fairly based upon what is realistic to them. For instance, a father who arrives home early, cooks the meal and takes care of the household. This would be a much better scenario than having one partner cook dinner; while the other snoozes on the couch.