It’s 8:15 pm and I’m doing the dishes, and we hear a knock. A little bit unusual because well, we don’t really know anyone in our neighborhood. I open the door and our neighbor comes in, a super nice lady, and she lets us know that water is pouring through her lights in the kitchen. Are we running water? Something is leaking.
We check the washing machine, but no, wait, that doesn’t make sense. Our washing machine is over her living room. It must be the sink. Open up those double doors, and yup, sure enough, a u-pipe (Dylan taught me what it is called) has popped out of its proper place and water is drip, drip, dripping not into the correct pipe, but onto our cabinet floor, and yup into the kitchen below us.
Now this my friends, is not a beautiful problem. In fact it was pretty gross. This problem made me immensely thankful for indoor plumbing – something I do not spend much time thinking about. This little predicament, too, made me immensely thankful for living with a man. Dylan jumped right up, got out the tools, the bucket, cut the pipe and got it fixed – even before our landlord called us back. I quickly became the flash light holder, and we worked through the problem. Team work makes the dream work – as one of my previous co-workers used to say.
Isn’t it incredible how quickly, in a moment of stress, we fell into traditional gender roles here. Dylan’s fixing, I’m helping. I was doing dishes – he knew which tool to use. And this is by no fault of our own. I would say we both strive to have a balance of power in our relationship, an approach of equality, a respect for one another’s strengths. But the simple fact of the matter is – HE KNEW HOW TO FIX THE SINK AND I DIDN’T. AND THAT”S OK!
As the time passed and our evening wound down, I started reading a really interesting book called, “The Meaning of Wife”, written by Anne Kingston, all about the historical implications of being wife, living that title, embracing that role. It’s an intriguing thing to think about, wife, and even though I’m only on chapter two, this author has got my wheels spinning.
As you may know, I studied Sociology and Gender Studies in college, so these topics are right up my alley, and are dear to my heart. I’m excited to delve deeper into the book. I was raised by a strong woman, one who taught me to question my role as one who identifies with this particular gender, challenge patriarchy in respectful ways, not accept the status quo. We frequently chatted about feminism at the dinner table, about reversal of traditional gender roles, and how I can appreciate what women have done for me making great strides in terms of equality. There are not many years that women have been spun in a positive light, and that makes me sad. Really sad. And I’ve struggled a little, if I’m honest, to accept that I’m getting married before a graduate degree. That I’m acquiring the letters MRS. before MBA, or MFA, or MSW. Because I was the one who laughed at those girls who wanted just a MRS degree. But here I am, ten weeks away from the big white dress, and the name change, and the new adventure as life partner. Call it whatever you want, I’m going to be a Mrs in a world that doesn’t favor wives, doesn’t promote equality, and sends so many messages about the right way to perform “wife”. They say men gain while women quite often lose in marriage – lose what? I’m a little afraid to ask.
So where are you going with all of this Katie – you might be thinking? How is a nasty sink and your love of asking questions beautiful? Well, I think, this week, I am finding the beauty in thinking critically. I am an individual who participates in a much larger societal structure – I can’t embrace social problems with a desire to change broad societal trends without crippling anxiety and anger. How do we stand up as women, aim our target at change, and want simple acceptance at the exact same time. Isn’t it all so complicated? Pick an angle – Christian wife, working wife, educated wife, stay at home wife – and there will be a critic from every single lens. And so, as I embark on this new journey, as a woman, I get to think critically and ask how do I want to do it? Be a wife. What do I want to value? What do I want to bring to this new position – because my individual participation in an insitution that demonstrates immense privilege can change things. I get to walk into this new journey and read and learn and ask questions. Oh I love asking questions. But sometimes, this world get’s overwhelming with all of the self-help recommendations, the shoulds, the how-tos. There is so much beauty in saying “Well looky at this – isn’t it funny how quickly we fall into situations because of gender – and how many forces are going against us – and how many critics we may have by choosing to do these things. But when I take the time to sift through all of those voices, I’m left with the ability to think critically – ask questions, and go from there.
What is your experience in being wife? In having a wife? Or maybe, in fixing sinks?
I am SO proud of you and how you are growing in awareness and understanding. And your courage to share it!
(And SO flattered at your description of your mother)
Sent from my iPhone
well my mom is pretty great
I had never heard ‘men gain, women lose’ in marriage…good thing I didn’t know 😉
My experience has been one of constant learning and adjusting. I’m fortunate to be with a spouse that values equality. Sometimes I fully adapt to my husbands way of doing things (introverted hermit at the extreme), other times I remain a social butterfly, and many times I ‘do me’ and I explore my interests as an independent person. It all ebbs and flows.
Constant learning, oh isn’t that life. Thanks for reminding me I don’t have to figured it all out going in.
As someone that got married with one semester left of my undergraduate degree, I have found that being married actually enriched my education. I had someone cheering me on and encouraging me to finish and finish well. I am married to someone that encourages me to dream bigger dreams and to start taking steps toward realizing them. In all honesty, there is a trade off with being married young. You may not be able to pick up and move wherever you want to go to graduate school. Or maybe you will, but the process may just be a little more involved. But I can say that in my experience, the trade off has proven to be in my favor. To have someone by your side that wants the best for you, that works to make your dreams happen- it is totally worth it. And as for that saying that men gain and women lose in marriage….I just have to say that I think that’s complete crap 🙂 You both are supposed to lose- to lose your selfish ways in serving each other and caring for one another…and in doing that, you both win. It’s an “us” and “we” and “our” and not “I” and “you” and “mine”. So excited for you guys! There will be lots of days where you say I’m sorry more than anything else, and you will both get better each day at loving and serving one another well. Some days really stretch me and that’s good- there’s no one else I’d rather be stretched by than my best friend who I know LOVES me and has GRACE for me. Marriage is the best life long learning experience 🙂
Thanks for this perspective Steph. I know you guys are doing great!