Today is our seventh year anniversary. Seven years of marriage. Seven years of shared experiences, dreams and plans. Seven years of getting to know each other. Seven years of a life together.
When we met over seven years ago, both of us were poor. I was a full-time student, working full-time, my spending problems were in full gear, debt piling up. Beaker was living with his friend, driving a beat up car, and bouncing checks after our third or fourth date. The first time he told me that he bounced a check after one of our dates, I said that we should start cooking at home instead of going out. By then he already knew that I feel miserable in the kitchen, and produce awful meals. He took over all the cooking, and to this day he is the one who cooks in our family.
Somehow, from the very beginning of our relationship, we knew that I will be the one making more money. After all I had two Master’s degrees, one of them was in accounting. He was a college drop-out who worked in a warehouse. Ironically, from the financial perspective, besides a much larger paycheck, I was bringing into our marriage much more debt and a shopping addiction. Beaker, on the other hand, was contributing a stable, though smaller paycheck, frugal habits and a little debt.
Eventually we eased into a certain family dynamic: I took over all family finances, Beaker took over taking care of the house.
I am a born workaholic who lives in the fast lane, staying busy all the time. I am one of those people who have to work and stay busy all the time. Otherwise I get bored, feel unaccomplished, and unimportant. Beaker lives at a much slower pace, savors his time in front of the TV, and knows the art of relaxation. He showed me that vacations can be relaxing, and that weekends do not need to be a marathon of chores.
Most of us have a very traditional mind set when it comes to marriage. The majority of people view these major life transitions, such as marriage, as an assignment of certain social roles: women are homemakers, mothers, cooks, and men are the breadwinners.
The traditional roles of marriage that are usually presumed by society are completely reversed in our case. Beaker never tried to change me, mold me into a mother of two kids, a cook, or a homemaker. I work long hours, my schedule is fast-paced, and my check is much larger than his. I don’t do chores around the house because I simply don’t have time.
Most of the house work is on Beaker. He walks the dog, cooks, cleans, and plans our menu for the week. It does not bother him that his wife is the one who handles all finances. It takes quite a bit of bravery and courage to hand your paycheck along with your retirement plan into the hands of a spendacholic. That trust he has in me, prevents some of my spending binges, and promotes buyer’s remorse outbursts along with more conscious spending.
The fact that I am the top earner has not changed our family dynamics. We are perfectly comfortable in the way our marriage works: I make money, handle finances, and he cooks and takes care of the house.
Has a resentment built up in Beaker due to the fact that he is the man who takes care of the house chores and not the finances? Does he question his own value as a man? I honestly don’t think he does. Believe me, I’ve been watching closely, especially having the bitter experience of my first marriage.
It takes a strong man to be proud of his wife and let her be herself. It takes a lot of self-confidence to admit that his wife is the bread-winner, and he is the homemaker.
Not everyone could or would ever consider to live like us. Not every man can handle a woman like me, a self-proclaimed feminist, a workaholic and a spender. Not every woman would be content with a man bringing home less money than she does.
Beaker and I unintentionally reclaimed and remade the traditional institution of marriage, and shaped it into something that works for us. Nothing else matters.
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