A Woman’s View: Marriage

“I recently was married this past year for the first time and while I find there are some good things about it, I also feel like I am raising a toddler,” said an anonymous NEast resident. “It’s not that I don’t love my husband, it’s just that I feel more like a mom than a wife sometimes having to always clean up or take care of my hubby, which I didn’t sign on for.”

In today’s world, women are less likely to become doting wives than in the era of our parents or grandparents. The reasons behind this movement suggest liberation and that more women are independent with a “take care of myself” attitude. The marriage rate has dropped over the past decades, and the increase in divorce has soared. In 2008, the divorce rate jumped to 45 percent.

Marriage has many positive aspects and can be a wonderful joint partnership when there is mutual understanding and consideration from both sides. The antiquated theory of “women’s work,” which involves all house duties after work hours has dwindled over the past years. Women are working, many times, more than forty-hour workweeks and suggest a shared amount of housework, which seldom gets acknowledged.

“I come home at 7 in the night after working from 7 in the morning, and you think dinner is even started? No, my husband is sitting on the couch with his feet and asks ‘what ya making?’ as soon as I walk in,” said NEast resident Sally McCarthy. “I mean how hard is it to run a washer – the washer does the work for you, but still I have to hear, ‘oh I don’t know how to work it.’ He’s a mechanic for crying out loud.” Many women will be laughing at this statement and shaking their heads saying, “too true,” but the fact of the matter is that small things like these can pile up and cause large arguments.

Many new wives begin their marriage years trying to be the so-called perfect wife by catering to their husbands in an attempt to keep a peaceful marriage.

“Let me tell you all that stops about the age of 40,” McCarthy said. “You stop caring so much about him and realize I am killing myself and why, because you can’t open a hamper, flush a toilet, wash a dish, put on clean clothes and Lord forbid he make himself a sandwich,” she continued. “I swear men act just like toddlers. They demand your attention, don’t care about anything that goes on with you, they want you to be a mom/maid for 24/7, they can’t feed themselves and when you correct them, they get mad and sulk because you said something.”

This is not to say that all men act the same way. To give credit where credit is due, there are some men who will help their wives and are self-sufficient.

“I can’t really complain about my husband. He has been great and helps me all the time. Especially once you have kids, you need the help,” said NEast resident Ella. “I think I have his mom to thank for that because she always taught him how to do things for himself, unlike some moms who want to keep their baby boys even when they are grown men.”

The women of the NEast have spoken, and a surprising 19 out of 20 women interviewed said they felt it was the mothers’ fault for “babying” their sons that they get used to someone always picking up after them and catering to their needs.

“Look how many moms spoil their sons. I am guilty too; my 29-year-old son still comes over for dinner and to drop off his wash. Honestly though, as a mom, it is hard to say no,” said Charlotte, a NEast mother.

“My husband never did a thing for himself when he was younger and still doesn’t. He was raised with a mother who would jump up and go get whatever he wanted – always cleaned up and washed things for him – and I have never broken him out of the habit in the 19 years of marriage we’ve had,” McCarthy said.

According to a poll taken of 20 NEast women, 18 out of 20 said they were married to a “toddler”. All 18 ladies are working women who still run their houses – completing “women’s work”, even though they are considered antiquated ideas.

Not all marriages that end are due to the above rationale, but one woman from the NEast said it led to the slow decay of her marriage.

“I worked 60 hours a week, took care of two sick parents and still never received help from my ex-husband with household chores. It got to the point where I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and I told him things had to change, but they never did. I had no other choice. It got to be ridiculous.” Said a rather emotional, anonymous NEast resident. “If a woman is working so hard and she is still doing housework alone, at the very least, just don’t make it harder on her by giving her more to do. It sounds crazy, but the little things just add up”

To avoid the pitfalls that come with some ideas of gender role play, before entering into marriage, communication regarding feelings and work should be open and frequent. When entering into a commitment like marriage, there needs to be a mutual respect and understanding that many people, both male and female, take for granted. Many well-accredited marriage counselors state that keeping the communication lines open regardless of the situation can do wonders to save a marriage and prevent arguments.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEastPhilly columns here.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal