Do You Experience Equality at Home? by Glaucia Martin-Porath

In any relationship, regardless of the sex of the couples, I have noticed that people have a tendency to fall into to the traditional men and women roles (where women are responsible for most of the household work and childcare and men focus solely on their work and “help” some in the house). I would like to challenge these traditional roles and ask you to check where you fit into this picture.

When I pose this simple question to some friends or acquaintances, “how does your partner do in sharing the household and relationship responsibilities?” – I hear the following:

  • “Ah he/she does great. He/she cooks, but he/she hates cleaning up, so I clean up, I do the laundry, I do the finances, I organize the kid’s schedule, I do the shopping and all the rest.”
  • “Ah yes he/she shares, but he/she can’t do the rest because he/she doesn’t do a good job or he/she forgets, or he/she does it once and doesn’t do it consistently, so I end up doing it myself.”
  • “Ah, he/she cleans the bathroom and brags about after he/she is done. But I clean all the rest of the house and don’t say a word about it.”
  • “He/she can’t manage a freaking calendar, even though we have shared calendars on Google. He/she asks me to make a list for him/her, even though I am not hired as his/her personal assistant.”

I have NEVER heard from ONE SINGLE PERSON that their significant other shares the household, family and relationship responsibilities exactly 50/50. I am aware that this is not an easy task. I myself am still learning on how to make things more equal at my house. Growing up in a very macho Latino household where my mother was always serving my father set a very strong behavior pattern in my life.

What I do hear is people taking some drastic actions in order to change the situation like – threatening to get a divorce- crying their eyes out on the couch and pleading for help because they can’t do it all anymore. The most amazing story, I heard from a brilliant friend of mine was that she had to decide: either break down with physical exhaustion and illness or sent it all to hell (a good hell). So, she stopped cooking dinner because asking to share the dinner load didn’t work (brilliant!!). When the kids got hungry, she deferred to her husband – “go ask your father for dinner.”  And do you know what happened? He is the one who cooks in the house now.

I hear all this from brilliant powerful, kick-ass people who are not waiting for their faith to happen, but are out there in the world kicking ass to make it happen. So if we all have the power to make it happen why we still don’t have relationships that are completely equal? And why do we have to take drastic actions in order for behaviors to change?

Then I think, well, we are in 2016, right? Women’s rights, gay rights have been established, things are not equal but they are getting slowly better. And why we accept, they are getting slowly better?

The word slowly really bugs me, and it makes me think, why it has to be so SLOW so the world really becomes equal- at least in our households. What are the forces that are contributing to the slow down of REAL equality?

Another thing that really bugs me is that most of the people I talked to, when they declared that their partners help, there was a feeling that they are kind of grateful and proud that their significant others helps some, but not all.

But what helping really means? Why your partner should be “helping you”? In a real equal partnership: we share. An equal partnership does not give anyone the right or entitlement to be doing less than the other. So, there is no “helping,” but instead fully participating.

When I finally ask, does your partner actually do half of the work in the relationship, the answer is always NO.

THIS IS NOT OK AND IT IS TIME THAT WE ALL LEARN HOW TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY. DO IT DIFFERENTLY TOGETHER AND NOT ALONE.

My point here is not to point fingers or to say that partners are this or that. No, I am here to take full responsibility for this issue, which means bringing awareness to all involved and making choices that are empowering for both sides. Here are some questions to stir up in your own mind about this situation:

  • Why we pick up our partner’s slack all the time?
  • What makes us do that?
  • What can we do to stop ourselves from doing it?
  • What type of honest conversation should I have with my partner? Who can support me?
  • If you had that conversation, how did you do it? What can you tell us and how can you help us?
  • What is next? What can we do to educate our significant others on how some behaviors are depleting our partnership of passion and the desire to continue being together?
  • I want to hear from you- tell me your story- why is this happening, which part do you play in it- How can we change? Let us be honest here.

I am planning a course at Women’s Plaza called, “How to get your partner updated on year 2016 relationship rights.” Because this is a relationship rights issue. It is everyone’s issue.

And we better get on this one quickly if we want to model for the next generations, because guess what? KIDS DO WHAT THEY SEE, NOT WHAT THEY HEAR IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. THEN THEY GROW UP AND BEHAVE EXACTLY LIKE THEIR PARENTS. IT HAPPENED TO ME. DID IT HAPPEN TO YOU?

So let us move on with equality for now or never. Who is with me?

To better illustrate my blog post this month I found this video that describes perfectly the type of traditional relationship I am mentioning in this article. The funny thing is that this video is a laundry detergent advertisement, but if awareness has to come this way, let it come and let us bring awareness and start the change in our own household.