“I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.”
― Gloria Steinem
Let me explain.
I’ve seen young women and old women get married (and I’m usually their bridesmaid). I’ve seen conservative and liberal women get married. I’ve seen skinny and chubby women get married. It’s not like I’m a marriage leper. It’s not like no man has ever wanted me. It’s not like I haven’t gotten offers. I have. And I’ve thought long and hard about those offers. I’ve almost accepted two of them. I was very, very close. I almost had myself talked into the idea that this was finally the man for me.
I could be married right now you guys! Right now! And then I’d never hear the darned question again. (Never hearing the question again is almost reason enough for me to go get married!) I could have believed past lovers’ promises to split the work 50/50. I could have swooned (ok, I did swoon, a lot) when one of them told me how much he longed to be a father and that he would do more of the changing of the diapers and the late night feedings than me, he would. He promised. He would take off work to pick them up from school. He would do it all with me. 50/50.
I desperately grasped onto the lovely phrase of the man who told me that he loved my feminism and that he would always support my career as equal to his. That if it came to the point where I had to relocate for work, he would relocate with me. It wouldn’t always be me forced to relocate or adhere to what his job was offering
BEGINTANGENT This brings up another question women and men ask me, “Why do you like to work?” and they shudder a little when they say it. Call me crazy, but I chose to follow my passions in life and my job reflects that. I LOVE what I do. I can’t imagine not ever doing it. ENDTANGENT
We would make the best decisions for our family and those decisions would not always land in his favor because he was the man. And also, he would cook and clean. We could do it. We were educated. We were committed. We could make it work. And our love would see us through any of the technicalities. These men have been rare, but they have been.
Of course, there have been more of the other kind of guy too. These are the men who wonder why I have to “ruin an afternoon” by bringing up feminism. Or the ones who expect me to cook most of the meals. Or the ones who just assume that I would not mind “being supported” and “not having to work” if we had a kid. Or the ones who wanted me to not be as smart as they were. Or who thought we should vote the same (aka, I should vote just as he would because we should always be united on that). And most of all, the ones who look at me blankly when I say “My last name is way cooler than yours, why don’t you take my name on?” (I’m actually not kidding about this, though most people think I am).
Even with the best of intentions on either side of the marriage, I have seen, again and again, how things change once the marriage happens. As a friend said to me, “it’s like gravity, you just get pulled into the gender roles, no matter how hard you try not to, they just suck you in.” Wives do just end up taking care of the kids more. Wives do end up cleaning the house more. Wives do end up sacrificing their careers more in favor of the husbands. Wives do end up not following through on their dreams for many, many reasons. For the most part, wives do more of the things that I don’t want to do.
And that is why I am nobody’s wife.