Friday, July 3, 2009

Roles We Play

I've always been very proud of being OK bending gender roles. I wear men's clothing. Dwight and I have each done the stay at home parent thing. I know that I don't have a lot of feminine traits, and I'm perfectly fine with men who do.

So why do I get upset when Dwight is so 180 degrees from what my dad was like?

Dad was very mechanically inclined. A problem solver. Could fix anything. I have some of this, but not nearly as much as he had, and not nearly enough to do everything that needs done, it seems. But my mechanical abilities and problem solving skills are still far and away more than Dwight's. I don't say that as a put down, it's just a fact. He's way more tactful than I am. He's tons more socially adept. A far better parent. More calm. More able to function with people. More able to relax. There are plenty of things that he does better.

I know it's irrational. I know it's stupid. In general, we do a good job of complementing each other. Where I lack, he fills in. On some days it feels like the relationship is split 80-20%, with me doing eighty percent, and usually that doesn't bother me. Because I know that on other days it's 80-20, with him carrying me. Then days like today happen, when it infuriates me that he can't do the things I expect of him. That he can't do the things the I can't do; that I need done. That he can't do the things that dad was able to do.

Like assembling Ken's new-to-him trail-a-bike. By his account, he was simply taking his time assessing the situation before tackling the project. I jumped in head first and started doing. That's how I am. Frustration quickly set in. The back bike rack had to go. The seat needed taken off. The bushing wasn't the right size. This needed tightened. Something else needed loosened. None of the tools were where I put them. UGH!

During all this, what was Dwight doing? I'm still not sure. Nothing helpful at the moment, and that's what I noticed most. It was putting together a bike. And I had all together too much difficulty doing so. I'm not sure whether I'm more embarrassed that I couldn't do it, or that a part of me really hoped Dwight would do it. He's the one more into bikes anyway.

But the fact that I fell into stereotypical gender roles tears me apart. I can only hope he accepts my apology for this infraction.


  1. yeah, i got one of those too. the closest we ever came to splitting up was trying to put a desk together with each other. lesson learned, we don't do that anymore. i think it is more of just getting frustrated that you are always the one to do something.

  2. My husband and I were having arguements when we remodeled our basement. Why couldn't he even just paint? He calmly reminded me that I should remember the guy that I married. Oh yeah, he loves shopping. I hate the mall. LOL
    I think our society slowly allows these roles to creep into our life when we're not paying attention.

  3. I have found that if there is ever a job that I would like Joseph to do I never never jump in and give it a shot first (after I've already asked him to do it). That will seal the deal on him throwing up his hands. If I ask him to do it, I let it sit there undone until he does it.
    Our relationship is very much about gender roles, I suppose. I think the fact that I expect him to know certain things empowers him. If he doesn't know how to fix a bike, he better figure it out because I am not going to do it.

  4. The fact that my husband isn't even a tiny bit handy has always been a thorn. Yes, I don't like the gender role enforcement, but at the same time.... dammit. I want someone who wants to build new shelving. I want the shelving, I know how to paint and design it. I just need someone to put it together. But not a little bit handy, at all, my husband. So we have a lot of half assed do-it-myself stuff around the house because I fumble and figure out things on my own. The upcoming home purchase and the inevitable construction/deconstruction that will happen is a wee bit scary. I know there are things I'll want my home to have. And I know I'm going to have to figure out how to do them ( or figure out the funds to pay someone else to do them) and it bugs me. I want hardwood floors. My brother in law installed theirs in a weekend. I'll have to figure out how to install them myself ( while also figuring out childcare for said project) or hire someone to do it for me. And that sucks. But I can't blame the ol' DH for being who he is. Not handy. Just like he can't blame me for being who I am... the disgruntled wife of someone who isn't handy.