If you’ve ever read the Gottman book, “And Baby Makes Three”, you’ve read the study that shows that one of the most important ways to maintain marital satisfaction after having a baby is for the father to take on a more traditionally ‘feminine’ role by participating more in childcare. It’s very typical for marital satisfaction to take a dive after becoming parents for the first time — but this is one way to mitigate that. If you think about it, it’s kind of obvious. Of course your marriage is going to be happier if you’re both sharing the burden of childcare together, rather than putting the majority of that burden on one partner!
While it might seem obvious, it’s not something that comes easily to most couples. We instinctively, often subconsciously, follow the gender roles we observed in our own parents and other parents around us. This means that traditional roles, roles that have been around a while, can easily continue if we don’t take a minute to stop and examine them.
Many traditional roles can work really well for some couples. Many, however, simply don’t fit. All three of my sons care WAY more about fashion than their wives do! It’s become a running joke in our family that we all need the boys’ advice when we get new outfits.
Take a look at your own relationship. Are you making any assumption about who ‘should’ do certain chores, or which one of you ‘should’ know more about certain topics? Making these assumptions can work sometimes — but if they don’t fit, they can often put undue pressure on one or both partners. If you take time to self-reflect and analyze which roles you’ve taken on without meaning to, you might discover new ways to be intentional about sharing various burdens (like we talked about last week). And if you allow yourself to branch out of the gender roles you’re used to, you might find a few joyful surprises.
As they say, just because something has always been done a certain way is not really a reason to keep doing it. Be intentional and find what works best for you and your partner, even if it’s new.