So…my boyfriend broke up with me or I broke up with him. It doesn’t really matter; it ended amicably.
One of the last conversations we had was probably the most revealing since we’d first met. Without the fear of rejection or misunderstanding affecting our future as a couple, we could expose our true intentions and expectations.
Not only did we discuss the shortcomings of our relationship, but we examined our roles and our contributions. We shared the things we’d been to scared to say and we gave each other advice for future relationships.
In the process, I discovered something I am both ashamed and afraid to admit…
I want to be a wife.
I large part of my being clings to the notion that marriage is NOT overly idealistic
Nor are my expectations unrealistic, I am a healthy, attractive female of marriagable age and status who was in fact I was married before.
Yes it ended in a flaming mess that took a lot of personal strength and composure to wrap up.
But even beyond my ugliest adult experience, I still see beauty in the institution, even while experiencing the reality of it.
Early on, I understood that my recently exed-boyfriend did not want to get married; ever.
I accepted that truth he was honest enough to share with me, and all the goodness that turned out to be the rest of our relationship.
But I also had to accept a truth that I was only honest enough to share with myself– that our relationship would eventually end because I did have a desire to be betrothed again.
I cannot generalize, but despite my past experience and current predicament I feel like I was MADE to be married.
In my weaker moments I wonder:
It is because of an outdated message to female society?
It is a cop-out to invoking a healthy existence of my own?
It is to have a fabulous party, something for my family to get excited about or ‘because it’s been long enough’?
In some instances maybe. But in my case, I’m not the typically conditioned suburban mother either.
I grew up in a family of strong, independent, career oriented women. And no my mother and aunts weren’t man-hating, bitter, scorned spinsters.
They were raised in a two parent home of entrepreneurial and educated (respectively) individuals who were married twice as long as I’ve been on this planet.(Rest in Peace) They had pleasurable moments and trying times. I experienced spousal squabbles AND holiday happiness. I have seen what marriage is, or at least what it can be.
With the recent Atlantic article trending online about why women still can’t have it all
and marriage becoming devalued to more of society in general;
becoming a wife seems at best, foolish; and at worse, a pipe dream.
Like the Anne-Marie Slaughter article aludes, the feminist revolution set us back a bit.
Although it allowed many women to make significant strides in terms of freedoms, choices and responsibility; it also set an improbable standard that forces women to decry and devalue certain aspects of their femininity to progress the movement.
My grandfather’s leadership and my grandmothers example as a college graduate encouraged their daughters to excel academically and all of them went to college. I will note that my grandmother stopped utilizing her degree through employment soon after the child rearing began.
Nevertheless two generations of prior of post-secondary education paved my own path as a 3rd generation college graduate.
I have academic and professional pursuits and have barely begun to pursue my vocational calling, so why is there this desire within me to submit and domesticate?
First of all, the myth of a wholistic-synergistic-work-life balance is just recently being quietly unveiled being as unrealistic as Barbie’s proportions.
Chasing this media-fueled mirage can become damaging to individuals seeking the unattainable image they are presented.
When we say balance in these terms: family, errands, friends, your mate, yourself and your interests, and your career. The fantasy image is that of a scale swaying to statis.
In reality it’s more like balance in the sense of the federal budget, needs keep growing, but SOMETHING’S got to get cut.
The feminist movement was very effective in the promotion of professional progress for females, following the ‘take it like a man’ approach, but as a consequence, this devalued the alternative; thereby constraining choice.
To be ‘domesticated’ carries into modern day a negative stigma that may include
fear of professional incompetence,
lower status and interest, and
societal subjugation, even amongst the varying ranks of females.
To choose being a wife and mother inherently meant NOT promoting professional progress as a female or among females.
Over a generation of females have subconsciously rejected a natural perogative of extreme significance as anti-feminist and anti-progressive thought.
Additionally stay at home mothers and wives are stereotypically understimulated, overworked, underappreciated, and devalued;
by society in general, professional women, and often by the families they devoted to serve.
Furthermore, statistics will show you that men benefit significantly more within a marriage arrangement than when single. And statistics also reveal that there are MORE benefits to marriage for men than women.
So why bother at all ladies?! (My recently heartbroken ego cries out)
The economy is fucked, yall. I’m not just talking about the recent recession.
A family has to work almost twice as many hours, and commute a considerable amount more to afford the overinflated costs of a home and utilities at the very least.
Don’t be a working mother, because your kids need accomodations at the precise times you need to focus enough begin and wrap up your daily work. and a level of intimacy and attention throughout the shifting life phases that detracts from career concentration and can only be supplied by you the mom.
Especially don’t be a working, single mother, because you need two jobs now to basically do anything more than survive and you must work them both in addition to the vocation of motherhood.
Those in my generation felt so smug with our degrees. We thought we had solved the puzzle, we would get careers and get our nurture on!
We would satisfy that primal drive from within the womb by making money as teachers, nurses, social workers and other feminine dominated career-tracks.
We had beat the system!
Until we graduated and the system beat us.
Traditionally female-dominated careers like childcare workers, restaurant servers, and housekeepers, pay significantly less than both male-dominated careers and gender neutral careers, even in college required professions; and that women of all races often get paid less than men for the same or more work or work responsibilities which can place stress on an individual and limits their time and energy to enjoy the family they are serving or supporting with employment.
Even within career success of stable employment, old boys clubs and fancy titles were all it took to circumvent much of the feminist movements professional progress.
No, the sublimation of spousedom and motherhood through employment is not the ideal way to accomplish work-life balance. (Lesson learned for all of us!)
So back to the initial choice;
If you look at it, the question is not really
Have a career or have a family?
why is there this desire within me to submit and domesticate?
These are false choices which subconsciously make me feel like I am lacking in some way. Like there is not enough time or assistance or creativity out there to solve this problem.
I want a family because I’m a woman, it’s in me, I need to love and trust and care and nurture.
AND I have other equally pressing professional aspirations to satisfy my life’s purpose and healthy personal development.
I personally hold hope for marriage because I want a pledge of lasting devotion from a partner who understands how significant both are to me and helps me do both instead of making me choose.
This partner would inherently understand that by him helping me, I can help him and we can model a realistic work-life balance bonded together.
This partner would take a leadership role in parenting, domestic duties like cleaning, cooking and scheduling family events as well as his career. Our choices would be whats best for the children or the family instead of our respective careers; even if the answer to that question varied day to day. (I know you’re out there, email me!)
In turn marriage would end up rewarding him, becoming a reward to him. A lifetime of conscious effort at unconditional love. Like they always say, a happy wife, means a happy life.
The question becomes
How do we limit the messages of false choice; that it is less worthy, submissive, anti-progressive or otherwise negative to domesticate? For men OR for women.
The question is not, can one woman (or man) do it all, but:
How do we collaborate with partners, family and the community to engage full responsibility to the children?
How create a system-wide support system that provides the opportunity to raise your own children AND endeavor your life’s work?