Thursday, July 02, 2009

In defense of a 'traditional' marriage

At my uncle's funeral, my aunt spoke about her relationship with Gary and her love for him. It was always very evident that my Uncle loved my aunt deeply. I think it was wonderful for my aunt to openly share her love for him. Listening to her made me realize that I need to make sure that the people I love know just how much I love them. You can never say it enough.

At the beginning of her talk, my aunt made it very clear that she is a classic type A personality, to nearly a magnified degree. Her husband was very laid back and easy going.

Hmmmm, sounds vaguely similar to another married couple I know.

The Mister and I have a very "traditional" marriage by societal definitions. I'm proud of our marriage and not ashamed. The Mister works outside the home in the "public sphere" (a term I remember from a feminism course in college), and we're very fortunate that he has a great job and provides a very comfortable life for us. He is as every bit driven in his job as he is laid back at home. I think when people see the Mister at work, in action, they are always a bit surprised by his intensity and focus. At home, he is "Island Time, All the Time." But his work role is on a completely different intensity spectrum.

My role is in the "private sphere." I believe that children and a spouse are a gift, and so I gladly care for our children and home. I do have a job/business, but even that exists largely in the private sphere due to the nature of the business. And I set it aside when my family duties need to take precedence. When I was a single mom, I was head of both the private and public spheres in my life, which was fine. But I gladly handed the reins over to the Mister once we were married. I love being a homemaker and wife, and the private sphere is where I will gladly reside.

The Mister does his job very well. I like to think that most days, I do my job pretty well too. I don't tell the Mister how to do his job; he doesn't tell me how to do mine. We trust that each is the expert in their own job.

But, we work well as a team and have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. He often asks me for opinions about work situations, and I do the same. Of course, there are things I am bossy about, like furniture placement or wall color, but in the end, he trusts that I know what I'm doing and acquiesces. And really, I don't think he truly cares if I paint the walls white, black or neon elephant peanut candy orange (a color he liked, by the way, which contributes to my unwillingness to allow his opinion on wall color.)

Often times, some friend or family member, typically male, will ask Cliff to do something and then make a wise ass crack like "Oh, if your boss lets you" or something of that nature, because they know that inevitably, the Mister will not schedule anything without checking with me first. They'll make cracks about who wears the pants in the family and so forth. The Mister, with his ever present laid back nature, lets it roll of his back, which I think leads people to further think it's true.

I often wonder though if people think I'm some sort of bossy, overbearing wife. The Mister can do as he wishes, and he knows that. But, our family is important to him, and family events are important to him, and he has always been the type to defer his own activities to family activities (which is how he grew up--Chamorro homes always put family first. Always.)

At the end of the day, the Mister is the head of our household. It's a Biblical principle I strongly believe in, although it's certainly not en vogue or highly regarded by today's standards. Being head of the household doesn't mean that he's a dictator or he has to lord over every decision and standard in our home. He doesn't.

But just because he leaves the private sphere to me, doesn't mean that he isn't the head of household. I've struggled for some time now, trying to figure out how to best explain it to people.

The best way to describe it is this: when the moment the Mister came home from work yesterday and his vacation began, I felt instant relief. He's here to help where needed, to step in and direct the children, to be the strong one when I began to crumble from the stress of the adoption nigthmare. The relief stems from the fact I have someone holding me up, being my safety net if I fall. And fortunately for me, he's always so close that I never fall far before he catches me.

I don't mean for this to be a saccharine sweet post. Our marriage is certainly far from perfect, and we have had problems that I wouldn't dream of blogging about on a blog read by people in our real life. But I do blog for my family. This blog is a journal for my children and grandchildren to read long after we are gone.

My grandparents' marriage is a love affair that is legendary in our family, even while they are still alive. Everyone knows and can see just how in love they are with each other. It doesn't mean that they haven't had their share of trails and tribulations. It's just that they made the decision to share and celebrate their love for each other, above everything else. I would never, never want any of my descendants to doubt for one second just how much I love my Mister.

Thank you, Mister, for all that you are to us. I love you.


bbbunch said...

:) This is also why we love you guys so much! I also think this is why our husbands get along so well. Beau is also the laid back, mellow to my And don't even GET me started on his opinions on paint color!!! I adore him and feel relief when he is home with us, and there is no place he would rather be. I am proud of our "traditional" marriage and our home. I grew up in a traditional household, and though far from perfect, there was never a doubt how much my parents loved each other, and us. I would never want to be in a marriage (again) that lacked communication and family time. There is nothing I value more :)

By the way...I miss you!!!

The Bunch

Anonymous said...

First, you have to check out this link, the infamous man song:

I don't mind what others think. I only care ultimately about our family. We don't have a perfect marriage (something more elusive than a purple unicorn) but what we have is wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
This includes being the stay-at-home, which is a much harder job. I'll take three "social sphere" or whatever they are jobs vs. being the homemaker. I've babysat, whoops, I mean parented for a weekend and its tough. Mr. Mom barely scrapes the surface! Thank you for doing the tougher job and letting me dilly-dally outside the home, where I can make mistakes without marring our children, much :)


small town girl said...

I love this post, and I am only sad that you feel you have to defend traditional marriage. It's a wonderful thing. Keep up the great work!

Lisa said...

I too enjoyed this post. I am envious of those that find the strength to do what they feel is the very best fit for their family and not what society says we should or need to do. I enjoy my work, am proud of the contributions I make to society as a teacher, and to my family financially. I would though trade those "small" contributions in a heartbeat if we too could make this work for our family. Even as my oldest two are know out of school, the thought of being home and 100% available to my youngest two, my husband and home would be amazing and in my opinion the best contribution any mother can make!

ania said...

Fantastic post.

I'd typed up something much longer, but decided to go with that!