I would like to say I reject stereotypes. I think most conscientious, free-thinking adults would say they do the same. But those same conscientious, free-thinking adults would also have to admit that sometimes it seems that stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason... which is a cliche, not a stereotype.
Gender roles are a particularly stereotype-laden field of play. Once you add partnership, family and God forbid(!) a sense of call to a vocation in this world things can get really confusing.
I always fought against these stereotypes. I always figured that as long as you had the right balance of qualities needed to make a partnership work, then it will work. For instance my ex, dead m-i-l could never wrap her judgmental, small mind around the division of labor in our household. One time I left her and tdx in the kitchen so that they could talk. I was in our new dining room hanging up a light in the ceiling. She came all the way out of the kitchen to find me up on a ladder, dust raining down on my head as I drilled into the ceiling to ask me where some sort of special cooking utensil was. When I told her I didn't know but tdx was right there in the kitchen and he would surely know she responded:
"A woman doesn't know where things are in her own kitchen?"
I had had enough at this point (there were a lot of these points in our history) and I said, "Don't you get it - I'm the guy, HE'S the girl!"
It seemed witty and smart-ass at the time but now my marriage is over and I can't help but wonder if maybe butting so hard against the stereotype didn't have something to do with it.
The majority of sitcoms portray men as the silly, goofy ones and the women as the hard-ass ones who keep the family running and make the decisions. They treat their husbands like another child. "Just for laughs," I would tell myself as I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond for that very reason. Today a sports radio talk show had the two hosts talking about how their wives make all of the decisions in their household - which they are happy for - further playing up the stereotype.
The husband as another child is a stereotype I rejected. The way I sometimes put it post-divorce is that I gave tdx enough rope to hang himself. He chose not to pursue certain career paths, he chose to stay in the home rather than venturing out, he chose to do other things that I disagreed with but those were his choices. I did not think it was my place to manipulate another human being into doing things the way I wanted to do them simply because society says it is up to me as woman to run the house and everyone in it.
Should I have addressed some things earlier that were impacting our partnership and family life? Absolutely. But I wanted him to be the one that made the decisions... and of course now we know he was/is incapable of that.
Each member of a partnership being equally responsible for decisions that impact the household; sounds good, right?
But stereotypes are that way for a reason.
And I just cannot buy in.
As I contemplate the potential for a future (VERY future), healthy relationship I'm just not sure where all of that leaves me.