I’ve been streaming a few 90s sitcoms lately. I love the nostalgia that comes with watching Everybody Loves Raymond and Home Improvement! The shows are exactly as I remember them growing up. However, I am different. As a kid, I laughed right along with the laugh tracks when Ray Barone lied to his wife about playing golf and left her stuck with the kids. I cracked up whenever Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor completely missed the mark on whatever wisdom Wilson was imparting from over the fence. While I still laugh out loud during these same moments now, I also roll my eyes. Where did they get this idea of the role of a husband and father? Because my husband is neither Ray Barone nor Tim Taylor. And thank God for that.
My husband is intelligent. He is capable. He is responsible. He is innovative. He can coach football and do dishes. He can do arts and crafts, and he can discipline. He manages a full-time career while also being a full-time parent, just as I do. We are partners. We split our duties 50/50. It blows my mind when I’m out somewhere sans kids and someone asks me, “Who has the kids tonight?” as if to imply that I am the sole custodian of my children. Their dad has them, and no, he’s not “babysitting” them. They are his children. He and I bear equal responsibility for them. We both played a role in making our kids, so we both do our parts in taking care of them.
We both live in this house, so we both take responsibility for it. He’s not my helper or my assistant. He’s a doer. If I cook, he does dishes. If he folds, I put away. If I vacuum, he sweeps. Remember those mandatory group projects back in school? I hated those because usually, one person would get stuck doing more work or more difficult tasks. I would go along with the assignment and bottle that resentment just long enough to keep the peace and earn a good grade. That was a short-term situation though. I have friends who treat their marriage this way. They do it all and then vent about their husbands who don’t participate as equal partners. My marriage isn’t like that; my marriage can’t be like that. It wouldn’t survive. I don’t want my partner in life to harbor resentment because I’m not pulling my weight. I don’t want to suffer in silence because he’s not doing his share. That’s a dangerous road to travel.
We’re not perfect, and neither is our marriage, not by any means. But, we’ve got our system of shared responsibility down. We both acknowledge that one person literally cannot do everything it takes to run our home. We know our roles and our limitations, and because of that, the expectations are clear, and there is no resentment. We signed up for this marriage together. We brought our kids into this world together. We work together.
I love Ray and Tim, but I’m glad I’m not married to them.