Before we begin… isn’t it funny when your last blog post mentions how you’re going to start blogging more and there’s going to be new posts each week and suddenly that was last December and you haven’t written a single post? Ha, yeah.
Anyways, I’ve been a married woman for a little over five months now, and while not much has changed, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of being a wife married to a wife. It feels convenient and comfortable living with someone who grew up with similar experiences as mine, who has the same biological features as me. This of course includes natural perks like my wife’s patience and understanding of my time of the month, as they have a time of the month too, and that fact that my closet has automatically doubled with options since we are similar sizes, but I feel like there’s a greater emotional understanding that only comes with both being wives and coming from a similar background of being raised as girls.
We are both conscious of the societal hardships women have faced and can both appreciate how far women have come historically — and there’s a strength we both feel in this, directly and fully. We are both conscious of the societal influences that have told women for years what they can and cannot do, who they are and who they are not — and there is more power between the two of us to fight these influences and find our own ways to live. We are immediately part of a group, with complete understanding of this group, both politically and personally, even during those times when the group is comprised of just the two of us.
Am I thinking irrational thoughts about my body image and how I am perceived? My wife knows where this comes from and can more appropriately console me. Do I not feel qualified enough to apply for a job that I’d be great at? My wife knows where this comes from and can more appropriately help me pull together a resume that works (it can’t hurt that they’re also an employment consultant…). It’s like we are equipped with a similar tool belt in understanding each other’s insecurities and reactions.
And when it comes to navigating unfamiliar situations or perspectives, there’s an immediate comfortability in learning together as alike beings, from alike backgrounds. It creates a basic understanding, a home base of knowledge, even if it all diverges from there. Through all this mumbo jumbo, I mean to say that when I find myself in a place of insecurity or ignorance, it’s nice to know that I at least have that first stepping stone to help me toward knowledge and awareness, and that is my partner.
I was reading an article the other day that came hand in hand with a comic by Emma, in which the artist portrays an overworked mother being met with criticism by her husband when everything comes crashing down (a pot overflowing, their children misbehaving, etc) — “You should’ve asked! I would’ve helped!” the husband says, throwing his hands into the air. Emma goes on to explain the concept of the mental load, or, the burden of singly remembering every task that must get done in order to keep a household running.
I’m not saying that only heterosexual couples deal with the unequal responsibility of this mental load, but I am saying that straight couples are more likely to run into these issues. It’s no one’s fault besides society’s (so, I guess, everyone’s fault?), because it all goes back to the way we are conditioned by the societal expectations of gender. As Emma puts it, “we are born into a society… in which we see our mothers in charge of household management, while our fathers only execute the instructions.”
Going back to the example that starts Emma’s comic off, the mother attempts to balance dinner and grocery shopping and laundry and school projects and bedtime and finding a caretaker and setting the table and feeding the baby and, and, and. When everything inevitably begins to collapse, the father enters asking, “What can I do to help? All you need to do is ask.” And the mother is assigned with yet another task of assigning her husband with tasks, instead of him simply knowing what to do for their household and doing it rather than asking her for the assignment.
I’m beginning to spiral off into a tangent, so let me rope everything back in. The points Emma discusses in her comic don’t just stop at household chores. I think it honestly just applies to the everyday flow of living with another human. Being in touch with each other’s needs and feelings, often without needing to ask.
It is so relieving to live with someone, I hate to say it, who was conditioned in the same ways I was. Why? It makes the path to transformation a hell of a lot easier. A nicer way of putting this is, we immediately understand why we do the things we do, whether those things describe pinching our love handles in front of the mirror, or needing to check in emotionally because we feel disconnected and out of tune. With both of us being raised the way we were raised, we don’t have a hard time checking in and making our emotions a priority. We are able to scrutinize and explore these things that we do or need, to continue the transformative journey of becoming more complete individuals, living together.
We are not held down by gender roles . I do most of the cooking for the household and washing the dishes, which seem to be more “feminine” roles, but I also have litterbox duty and take out the trash and recycling weekly. My wife, on the other hand, manages the deep cleaning/scrubbing sessions every couple of weeks, including cleaning the bathrooms (!!) and vacuuming. You’ll also find them doing car maintenance, constructing IKEA furniture, and performing handywork around the apartment. We are not constricted by the archaic gender roles which tell us who needs to do what. We can be feminine and masculine simultaneously, equally, and freely, which is the way the world should go round (we’re getting there, slowly but surely!).
A lot of the benefits of living with a wife are better described as living with Kelsey, my wife, of course. Whenever Kelsey goes out to eat with their friends, they always bring me back a little snack. They bake me fresh challah from scratch on Sabbath. Whenever I’m up earlier than Kelsey, I always make sure to wake them up gently, and have coffee brewed and waiting for them. At the end of the day, it is these things that portray the everyday beauty of living with my wife.