Time Paradox

"What do you mean, I have to work full-time too?"

My lovely husband and I have been married for over six years now. I know just about all I can know about this man, for better or for worse. One thing that really buttons my butt about him is a long-standing argument that we’ve been having since the dawn of our marriage- he is suffering from a time paradox.

I don’t mean this in the literal sense of course. I mean this strictly in the same way that old men irritate you when they talk about how cheap everything was in the 40’s. The kind of thing that makes you want to scream, “OKAY JUST DIE ALREADY IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE FUTURE!”

See, through fate and mishap, my husband is a cool 16 years my elder. I didn’t understand the seriousness of this until I witnessed my first family gathering of his family.

When we showed up, the fathers and children were out in the front yard enjoying a lively game of tag football. They all waved as we passed, and his kids ran off to join them. We came inside and more men were sitting in the living room, enjoying a game and chatting about work. Where are the women? I wondered as we finally made our way into the kitchen.

And there they were, six women bustling about setting tables, cooking green beans, washing dishes, chatting about children. They cheerfully hung the wash rags and wiped the stove. They walked between each other in harmony. It was like something out of the Stepford Wives movie.

Dinner was finally finished an hour later (where I passed the waiting time NOT being a woman and joined the kiddies) and the whole family joined in to say grace. Afterwards, I was sure the chaos would ensue with 25 people waiting to eat. Instead, the men and children dutifully sat down at their respective tables, and the women started asking for orders. I didn’t understand what was going on; my family had always done things buffet-style. I proceeded to make a plate for myself, and the rest of the family proceeded to hate me.

Fast forward 5 years and I too join the women in the kitchen and serve my children and then my husband before fixing my own plate. I do it more to keep the peace, and also because the “head wife” (the woman I consider the ring leader of the wives) is getting a divorce from our family, so the help is needed. However, this self-less act of mine has confused my husband. Let me explain why.

My husband is suffering from a time paradox- a place where he wants some things to be like the past, and he wants to enjoy some of the new social rules of the future. Like the old man in the example, he wants his 10-cent gasoline and his brand new prius, but in a different respect. He wants me to be a woman of the past and the future.

In my husband’s day, the wife tended the children and the house full time. She cooked dinner each evening and picked up the living room. She had time to sew up torn clothing and bake cookies for the neighborhood while maintaining fabulous hair. She did 100% of the duties that were not considered “work”. And the husband worked lots of hours, drank beer with his buddies after work, and had no responsibility over dirty diapers and PTA meetings.

Fast forward to the present. Women are a strong and powerful force. They maintain high-powered careers while popping out babies in between serving in Iraq. They are the decision-makers now, and strive for nothing less than equality. They work full-time, raise children without fathers, and still manage to get weekly pedicures. They are awesome!

This is where the time paradox comes in. He wants me to be the woman he knows and loves from the fifties (house-cleaning, tending the children 100% of the time) and he wants me to be the amazing woman of the future (working full-time and taking charge on the decision-making front). We recently had to sit down so I could explain to him that God did not bless me with ten hands and an insomnia problem: I can not be both of those women at the same time. I told him that he either needed to be the man of the past (maintains the house financially 100%) or the man of the future (splits responsibilities down the middle and does more than just take out the trash) in order for me to be one or the other.

I think that my husband is not the only modern man stuck in this dilemma. The economy and womens’ growing rights have set the stage for a confused and frightened man in 2011. How is a man supposed to know what he’s up for when looking for a wife whe n there are such extremes in expectations? What is a fair division of housework versus work outside of the home? Is it safe for a woman to live the lifestyle of the fifties, when divorce is growing in alarming numbers and our economy is on the verge of collapsing?  What is a man’s role in the household now that women are matching and exceeding their work hours?

As for the time paradox he is suffering, my husband is coming around. Undoing 38 years of learned behavior is a hard task for anyone, and it just takes time.

Meanwhile, he spends his time arguing about how he can’t fold clothes and that he thought the furniture dusted itself.

One Response to “Time Paradox”
  1. t todd says:

    i agree with you 100 percent, you todd side was never that. your great grandpa weliever while alive did in russes world would be called the womans work and the mans world. all reunoins on our side the men and women r equal in dities and chores and to this date no man on my side has had the wife make the plate. in my opinion the ways you talked of above in blog are bogus and sexist. i agree with, i hope for your sake that changes can be made. for that matter when you and your sister were young you both saw me cook clean do laundry whatever it took. i was taught marriage is a joint venture. i the times ive over heard you say i have to fix there plates ive wondered why they cant fix there own plates. in this day and age that old fashion thinking does cause divorce and bad feelings

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