I am extremely disgusted with my wife who wants to have her cake and eat it too. She made a big thing about equality between genders when we were dating, and that she will work and contribute equally financially and that I too should contribute equally in home making post marriage. I agreed wholeheartedly. Today the situation is that she has given up her job and wants to take it easy after working for so many years. Yet she expects me to contribute equally to home chores and foot all our bills as the only earning member. She wants me to be the metrosexual spouse as well as the stereotypical provider husband, while she is neither the stereotypical nurturing wife nor an equal provider. I feel distant and angry and there is no intimacy which is another issue that she throws in my face. I am not attracted at all to this manipulative and demanding person that lives under the same roof. What should I do?
Gender roles are usually a point of great confusion & debate. What must a man do to be a man? What must a woman do to be a woman? The answers to these questions are largely culture specific. An easy discussion can sometimes yield a complicated transition since your keenness for ‘the shared way’ forward may be at odds with your wife’s keenness to maintain the status quo to meet her ‘comforts’.
Genders roles are connected with preconceptions that the generations before us have passed down to us. However, life in a city has many more layers to it. As people crumble & tumble through the many challenges of city life, it is only fair for both parties (male or female) in a relationship to weigh in & chip in for a shared lifestyle to succeed. In order for this to happen, it is fair to expect an equal contribution on the home front & in helping add to the family income for both men & women.
Cities are expensive & expansive. While dreams of a wedding require event planning, the reality of togetherness requires planning to meet the demands of ongoing events that often shake & even break us. Despite everything that we prepare for, social, familial, health & financial pressures exert quite the downforce thus sometimes rendering ‘old plans’ into ‘obsolete plans’. This is where contingencies need to be drawn up so that the couple can focus on both their personal goals & their shared dreams too.
What you or your wife do in your personal & professional lives has less to do with your genders & more to do with your basic personality traits & goal markers.
Let me illustrate this. The more gregarious & socially adept spouse who enjoys the high stakes the rush, rigmarole & cut-throat nature of the corporate or entrepreneurship game may want to step into the role of the financial engine of the household. This has nothing to do with gender. A spouse who prefers a less regimented & more ‘free flowing’ schedule with minimum structures, limited responsibilities, low stakes & less see-sawing may be happier with a non-profit oriented & mainly ‘experience-based’ lifestyle only in support of the financial engine. Who gets to decide who you are & how you wish to live? You as a couple get to decide!
With access to opportunities & fingertip access to information, there is a widespread notion that ‘the good stuff’ can finally make its way to us! Coupled with ‘an entitlement mindset for better things’ I commonly observe many people wanting to ‘upgrade their life’ without ‘compromising on their comforts’. Little do they realize that comfort is conditional. The conditions for long-term comfort are often at the price of sweating it out or working hard – in pre-decided areas. With both sides (male & female) acting as torch bearers of their sex or as ‘purveyors of the right way’, a negotiation becomes hard since both may have valid arguments in favour of personal comforts, needs & agendas.
To directly address your disappointment with your wife in what you see as ‘her lying to you before your marriage about wanting to contribute’ is going to prove challenging. She may feel hurt or judged by you which is why you must learn to be mindful about how you speak to her to understand fully what exactly is happening in her mind. Is her reluctance to work – a byproduct of laziness, a loss of confidence in herself, a loss of market place validity, a loss of a dream that she no longer sees as achievable or a loss of drive based on how well her contemporaries are doing? These are all possibilities that require exploring. What you may perceive as her ‘taking it easy’ may have more layers to it. It’s not fair to pin down people as ‘right or wrong’ till we can understand all the factors that they have considered while serving their thoughts, feelings & behaviour.
Does your wife always feel like she wants or deserves ‘better things’ without having to work for them? If yes, can you prove it to her? The manipulative nature & demandingness that you describe may also be a byproduct of how she was brought up. Is she someone who has trouble hearing the word ‘No’?
If so, maybe it’s time to visit a marriage counsellor to re-negotiate your definitions of ‘shared goals vs individual goals’. Perceptions between spouses are subjective which is why little needs to be left for ‘the imagination’ or ‘open to interpretation’. A consensus is required & a mediation with a counsellor may help you’ll understand each other better so that responsibilities can be distributed in a fair manner with mutual expectations clarified at the outset. Nurturance & support (on negotiated & pre-decided terms) should be extended by both of you’ll for the relationship & communication to succeed.