I would say that just about every person who commits to marriage brings expectations into the relationship. These expectations range from sexual preference to daily chores around the house. It’s like a mental list of “Their Part” and “My Part” including who is responsible for certain things in the marriage.
It is important to note that flexibility and compromise with these lists are crucial to having a successful marriage.
When I got married and even still to this day, there are a few expectations I have based on what I consider gender role responsibilities. For example, I have no problem (for the most part) being the designated dishwasher, bathroom cleaner, and kitchen cleaner. To be honest, my husband is more than capable of doing these tasks, and occasionally helps me out with them, but I think I do a more thorough job of them. On the other side of the spectrum are a few tasks that I expect my husband to complete, including taking the trash out, filling the car with gas, and getting oil changes. In my opinion, these are “guy” chores, and I have carried very high expectations that these are my husband’s responsibility in our marriage.
However, there are times when my husband is unavailable to complete these chores, usually due to work, and I am left to do them. The tasks do get done, usually with quite a lot of complaining and arguing from my expectations not being met. I cannot count on two hands how many fights that have been sparked because of unmet expectations, specifically regarding these few tasks…it has happened too many times. Although, over the years I have learned that it is vital to be flexible in marriage. My response towards my husband when I find out that I am responsible for doing these “guy” tasks has eased a bit and continued to get better.
I have had to let go of some of the gender role expectations I had, compromising with my husband on our to-do lists. We do have an understanding of what each of us is responsible for, but we also are aware that sometimes one or both of us will need help with our tasks, and if we seek to be unselfish lovers, we must help with positive attitudes. I am still learning to be flexible. The sigh I let out when I realize I must do what I feel should be a “guy” task is not as extravagant as it was in the beginning! And… now that I am pregnant, and my body is a little under the weather, it has been a blessing to have help from my husband, especially with washing the dishes. If he were to give me any kind of a poor attitude about it, our marriage would feel the strain.
You may ask “How can I let go of my expectations, help my spouse with a positive attitude, and do what needs to be done?”
You can try what I have learned to do to work through unmet expectations of gender responsibilities in marriage:
-Take a deep breath.
-Ask God to help you be unselfish and for the strength to complete the task.
-Smile while doing it. (You don’t necessarily need to smile… but definitely stay away from frustrated facial expressions. Our husbands can read our body language, and it needs to match our actions if we want them to know we are sincere.)
-Remind yourself that you are loving your spouse by helping your spouse.
I would like to note that the tasks that you and your husband agree upon when delegating are 100% up to the both of you! I want to make it clear that the examples I used in this article are personal to my own marriage. Every marriage is unique.
So to sum things up… be flexible in your marriage. Don’t let unmet expectations of gender role responsibilities be an excuse for a bad attitude. Work with your spouse unselfishly and reap the benefits of a harmonious marriage!