>This should piss you off…

Men feel awful for not financially ‘providing’ in a down economy, and women despair over damage to their family from often unexpected changes, (generally speaking.) Rather than looking at how their “jobs” in the relationship might change in order to fit new situations, couples plow forward, with the idea that men should be the primary provider and women should be responsible for harmony in the home. Both tend to shut down in their own way in order to “…keep on keeping on…”. It’s not fair to anyone. What pisses me off about patriarchy is that it discourages growth of men and women; i.e. your relationship. Yup. Y’heard me.

Jake and June* are married 15 years and have school-aged children. When Jake’s job was downsized to commission-only last year, June took on extra work, but both expected that she would still cook dinner and pick up the kids from after-school activities on her way home. Since June’s promotion that increased her income above his, Jake has become increasingly depressed and doesn’t see an end. June has become resentful, and she often falls into an exhausted sleep, while Jake despairs about her loss of interest in him. They’ve stopped having sex and their conversations are limited; bickering has become their new language.

Both Jake and June are playing out traditional gender roles that dictate what they should be doing – to the detriment of the relationship. Jake thinks he should be able to figure it out on his own, so he shuts off from June and becomes depressed. June feels like she should know how to reach him, but becomes resentful and shuts down. Both are cut off from the strength of each other; neither can lean on the other because they’re so cut off!  Wouldn’t it be great if they could share how hard this is, lean on each other, and make a plan so that Jake could recoup some of that self-esteem by participating more in raising the children, and June could enjoy time with Jake and her family after work, because she comes home to dinner on the table? As it is, both feel like they’d be doing something wrong because of rigid roles that no longer work in the face of major shifts in circumstance, (i.e.; the current economy).

Where is your relationship suffering from ideas that no longer work; and how many of those were inherited as a result of outside pressure? Try discussing how you can incorporate strongly-held values into a new plan for how your family runs on a daily basis. Remember that your relationship is a living entity that is fed by what you put into it. If you have no time or energy to have actual conversations with your partner, the space between you will dry out and feel hostile. The goal is feeding your relationship; now, make a plan to get you there.

*names and circumstances changed to protect confidentiality



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