Responsibility

IMG_1059I owe my friend Sharon an apology. She asked about my new car, probably because black is notorious for being difficult to keep clean. Sharon wanted to know if washing the car was my husband’s job and I replied “my car, my responsibility” …

Yeah, but. It wasn’t always. This marriage has been pretty traditional for almost thirty years. Then everything went sideways about a year ago. Husband hated yard work and so moved us into a condo. I was okay with it because I was okay with everything. That was my role, to be okay with whatever he wanted because he was the boss and we got along better when I said yes. 

So Sharon, he chose the cars, he washed the cars, he kept gas in the cars. If he wanted to drive my car, and leave me with his old rusted out truck for a weekend, he didn’t ask, he just took my car. Photo above is the interior of the car. I chose this car. First time ever. The color of the leather is called “linen.” Husband and his brother are going up north to visit his dad in a few weeks. I already said “You can’t take my car. It’s too clean for three guys. I’m sorry.” Also, I want my own car. I want to always be in the drivers’ seat.

I have a job, and I’m a writer, too, but before this change of marriage roles, none of that counted, my real job was to make dinner. And clean the kitchen. And grocery shop. And vacuum, dust, wash, fold, iron laundry, keep a tidy home, and just in general agree with his opinions, wants, and desires.

So, when we moved, it seemed normal that he bought everything he liked and I just smiled and said “that’s nice” wishing I could have had what I really wanted. Even the Jeepster. It was a great vehicle, but when he bought it, I was still saying “that’s nice” and he was still washing it (I needed a ladder to get into it let alone wash the roof) and putting gas in it. That was his job, the cars. The money. The bathrooms. Hell yes he’s a liberated man!

So Sharon, little by little all of this stuff started to occur to me. Little by little, like with the bathrooms (my idea!) I started to assert an opinion here and there. Not warmly received, let me just say. I demur pretty quickly, even now. But I want a more equal relationship. So after the crash, I said I wanted to choose my own car. First time in the history of car ownership here at this house. Earlier this summer,  I wanted to choose my own new laptop. (Electronics were his responsibility). And I did. I chose the laptop and the car.

So he was not happy with my choices but he’s living with them. He’s not helping me learn anything on the Mac, which is fine, I bought classes for a year and I am a good student and these people don’t yell at me, say they don’t have time, or otherwise put me off when I need something done that I have no idea how to do because it is a man job. I’m finding out about man jobs because I’m doing everything for myself now.

It’s not that much different. But I will be running my car through the cash wash from now on. Just wanted to tell you and maybe some other women (hey, men too) who might be thinking about re-defining their marriage roles. It’s not easy being equal.

17 Comments on “Responsibility

  1. Wow, all that from just me asking who washes the car? I’m very proud of you for giving such a special gift to yourself – equality. Obviously, your husband has many wonderful qualities or he wouldn’t be your husband anymore, but it’s still good for you to be more involved with decisions. I’m thrilled you got the car of your dreams. I like having my own car too because changing the driver seat is a pain. LOL Enjoy your new toy. Have you named it?

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    • Yeah, Sharon, you sparked something there for sure. It is really difficult to change after being passive for soooo long. I take responsibility for that too. My husband is a good guy, he really is, he just doesn’t like me changing things up. At all:) I have not named this car. I never named a car before the Jeepster and maybe I never will again. It’s just a car. But I really like it, lol.

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      • I started name our cars when a childhood friend told me her dad’s car was named Charlie Brown. Naturally, I named my mom’s car Lucy and my dad’s Linus. I’ve named all my cars since. The Maxwell was my first, followed by Aragorn (1978 well before the movies), Maurice, Mackey, Hans, Duncan and finally Lazer, but I usually call him Mr. Beem – get it, ‘lazer beem? LOL The pick-up truck was never named, nor is our SUV. Not sure why. LOL

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  2. Changing how you behave after doing something for years and years is always difficult and awkward. But the more you assert yourself, the easier it will get and the more natural it will feel. I love that you’re taking a stand and finally speaking up about what you want. I guess you just weren’t destined to be with the Jeepster for long!

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    • Marla, what an uphill battle. I still catch myself all the time running to anticipate his every desire. Well, not EVERY one of them, lol. But stupid stuff like making sure his pepper mill is full and that he has enough shirts for work. I think there would be a revolt if I stopped doing all my chores, but little by little I’m claiming a more personal space & it feels good.

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  3. If you’ve been checking the pepper mill every day for thirty years, of course it will take some time to feel comfortable about letting it run empty! Maybe it would help to make a list of all the chores you do to figure out what you don’t mind doing and what you’d prefer not to do? When you have a better idea of what feels like a drain, you could discuss it with Al. This is a transition for him too, so I’m sure it will take a while before he’s completely okay with it, but that doesn’t mean the change can’t be good for everyone in the long run. Who knows, maybe he controls some things over which he would also rather share responsibility.

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  4. no, it’s not easy to be equal. I don’t want to be equal anyway. Why demote yourself just to be on a par with men. No point, in my opinion, but I digress. Any kind of relationship should be fair and honest, and unfortunately that is hardly ever the case, more’s the pity…
    I salute you and wish more power to your elbow (or whatever!) in the future…

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    • Jenanita, lol, I agree you should not demote yourself. In the marriages and partnerships I see, most every time one person runs things, gets their way all the time, and in general is treated as a princess–or a king. I know wives who don’t show their husbands the credit card bills and I know husbands who make plans with their buddies without bothering to inform their wives. I know guys who do all the housework and hold down a job while the wife dabbles in poetry. So, I see both sides. I wanna be a princess-poetry-dabbler:) Since that’ll never happen, I’ll be content to feel equal and respected.

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  5. Hubby and I met when we were both 19, but even then, I had in mind to find me a man that was cool with pretty much a 50/50 split when it came to house stuff. Over the years, we’ve figured out what each does best (or more aptly minds doing the least). I do the laundry or else it would take five days for him to wash five loads. He swiffers the floors and vacuums since I don’t like doing either. As for the yard, I’m the perpetual weeder and waterer, and now that he travels for work all the time, we’ve hired someone to do the mowing. Plus, he is a much better cook so I do the dishes.

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  6. Jeri, I have a friend who once said “start out as you intend to continue” and that is so cool you actually did it! 19 and so wise:) When I married, I wanted most to be a wife and mom. That was it. I embraced every domestic thing that went with it. But now I’m entering into a new phase of this life of mine, and I tell ya, re-negotiating the terms of staying together is not easy. That’s putting it lightly:) I have faith that all will be well in the end, though.

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