Spouse Swap

It’s obvious to most people that domesticity is changing rapidly in our society. There are seemingly more husbands choosing to stay home and wives returning to work to build their careers. In the last few years, my husband and I have almost completely switched the stereotypical gender roles in our marriage. While on a recent “getaway” weekend we laughed more than once at the expectation versus our reality. At breakfast one morning, my husband ordered tea while I opted for my usual coffee. When a server (other than the one who took our order) brought us our beverages, they automatically assumed the tea was for me. At dinner that night I ordered the Bison Tenderloin, while my husband ordered the lighter chicken meal… and the one that made us both laugh was during lunch I ordered a beer while my husband stuck with water. Once again, a server instinctively gave the beer to him. Isn’t it interesting how these gender roles are somehow ingrained in all of us?My husband recently decided to take a job working from home, while I continue to work downtown and commute Monday to Friday. It’s actually my husband who gets the kids ready and off to daycare in the morning while I head to work. In the afternoon, he picks them up and prepares dinner for when I get home between 5-6pm. Between the two of us, I’m definitely the disciplinarian with our children and make most of the important or large decisions (with input from him, of course). I’m the main source of income for our family and I am charged with ensuring the bills get paid and the big decisions are made. The pressure that is on my shoulders at times is unbearable. While it may not seem fair, I believe everything my husband does is valuable. In fact, although he makes less money, the fact that he is able to pick the kids up from daycare at a reasonable time and have supper ready when I get home makes a real impact on our everyday lives.

I’m often astounded by people’s perception. After we had our second child, we both decided we were done having children. I made an appointment to have a tubal ligation at the earliest available time. A lot of people questioned why my husband wasn’t getting a vasectomy instead. After all, it was faster and easier for him to do that and I did give birth to the babies, so it would only be fair. The truth is, it was irrelevant to me who got “fixed”. We both agreed that we were done having children, my only goal at that point was to make sure it couldn’t happen. My husband struggles with anxiety and the idea of going to a doctor can be seemingly impossible at times. Fact: Life isn’t fair, Marriage isn’t easy. Why does it need to be about what is fair? The foundation of any good marriage is compromise. It is frustrating to me the number of women who have criticised my choice to have surgery to prevent any additional pregnancies instead of demanding my husband get a vasectomy. I love my husband and our marriage works because we don’t make demands of each other. To be clear, he never asked me to have this surgery. It was my choice. Yet, somehow, it’s perceived that he must’ve pressured me into making that decision.

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I will be the first to say, our marriage isn’t perfect and there are days (sometimes weeks) that I feel like I carry the heavier load. But don’t we all at some point inevitably feel this way in our relationships? It’s just part of the ebbs and flows of marriage and the realities associated with parenting.

All I can say is embrace change. I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with the role I carry in my marriage. But it’s mine and I’m learning to navigate it. We all end up in roles that we maybe didn’t envision. Life is funny that way. You can’t always see the forest through the trees but with any luck the path becomes clearer when you embrace the journey.

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