the anatomy of a modern relationship

My biggest challenge in life these days is a two fold that goes hand in hand.

Trust and patience.

I see it playing out at every turn of my every day and while I know I need to relax and trust I have such a hard time feeling impatient. This leads to anxiety which leads to irritation toward those around me (ahem, husband) which leads to me being irritated at myself for not just relaxing which leads to me getting in an Epsom Salt bath with Lavender in my infuser and just crying about how hard it is these days to just…Let. Go.

I have mom brain already and not in the usual “oh I’m so spacey I put my wallet in the freezer” kind of brain. More like everything I do and Jonathan does in our day to day that I find to be unhealthy I instantly wonder if I or he or both of us will be lousy parents. This I know to be false…in my rational brain. My normal, rational brain tells me that as long as we love the kid, teach the kid, nurture and feed the kid, it’s more than likely the kid will turn out alright. I know there’s no perfect parent so I refuse to hold myself to stupid high standards that I’ll in turn punish myself for not meeting.

I suppose this irrational anxiety is just a hint at what parenthood will be like and I should just embrace it.

I find my irrational brain is always fighting against my rational brain. I guess I’ve always been this way, maybe everyone is. A big place I see it play out is in my romantic relationships, both past and present. It’s why sometimes I feel like I’m just not cut out for it and I’d be happier single. I know this isn’t so because if I were single I’d want to be in a relationship, that’s the way of human nature.

I suppose the most frustrating aspect of being in a relationship in this era is that the dynamics of a modern relationship are still on a cusp. Women no longer stay home to tend to the house and children while the men work the fields, or the offices. Now women work as much as men. Throw in a child or two and a house, and maybe some pets. Now sprinkle in the male misogyny that is still lingering in the DNA of modern men from their fathers and grandfathers and you have a woman who is working full time, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, raising the children, and taking care of the pets, on top of paying the bills and running the errands. The husband works full time and offers to help but he lacks the understanding of how important these things are and the timely manner that they need to get done, it’s not their fault tho, they just aren’t wired in the same way women are.

One cannot expect a man or woman to let go of centuries upon centuries of ingrained social and monogamous behaviors overnight. While we’ve made large strides toward a more equal existence in the past 100+ years it’s far too soon for us to be there yet when you look at the grand scheme of things…such as…you know…evolution.

It’s simply not natural for men to see the same messes at home that women see because men traditionally only come home to eat and sleep. And it’s simply not natural for a woman to get off work and go spend the evening with her pals getting drunk watching TV because women are acutely aware of all the things that must get done at home and thus wouldn’t be able to relax until those things are taken care of. It’s natural for a man to get off work and go hang with his pals to “unwind” without a single thought of the piles of dishes, laundry, and errands that need to get done, not to mention the dogs that need to get let out or the kids that need to get fed.

Men that are good at coming straight home to take care of household chores are good at it because they have made a conscious effort over and over to be good at it.

Women don’t generally need to make a conscious effort to remember to go home after work to tend to these things because it’s ingrained in our DNA. We just know to do it and it gets done. On the other hand, women have to make the conscious effort to take time out for themselves, for friend time, to “unwind”, because these things do not come naturally to women as they do to men.

In short, this is why relationships are so irritating in this era. And this is also why I go crazy in them from time to time. I know my partner and I are wired differently and while he needs to be reminded over and over to help with this or that “chore” I need to be reminded over and over by him to pause and relax. But at the same time it’s so frustrating and exhausting being a modern woman with a modern mind wrapped up in centuries old DNA. Sometimes, when I have to ask my partner to help with dishes 8 times in a single evening I just want to scream at the top of my lungs “I WORK FULL TIME TOO! I OWN MY OWN START UP BUSINESS ON TOP OF THAT ALSO! I PAY ALL THE BILLS AND RUN ALL THE ERRANDS AND COOK ALL THE MEALS AND DO ALL THE VACUUMING AND MOPPING AND FEED THE ANIMALS! WHILE PREGNANT! HOW HARD IS IT TO JUST WASH A LOAD OF DISHES FOR ME THE FIRST TIME I ASK YOU TO!?”

The hardest thing of all for me is to let go and accept that a relationship is never equal on all accounts. I have to consciously make an effort every single effing day to remind myself that while yes, I do more than he does to maintain the household (this includes errands and bills and meals) he does more than I do in other aspects, such as being tender and patient and loving toward me (which is not my strong suit toward him and something I am acutely aware every day that I need to improve). We both have our strengths and our weaknesses in relationships. A healthy relationship is not a game of checks and balances. It can’t be because someone will always come up short.

Perhaps in another 100+ years a woman won’t have to ask her husband 8 times to help with dishes and a man won’t have to tell his wife 8 times to sit and relax for a minute. In the meantime, us women just have to learn to let go and remember that we really are just wired differently.

 

(Cover image courtesy of https://theidealinthehousewife.wordpress.com/)

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