Marital Roles


When I was growing up I had this fantasy of marrying my prince charming.  He would be tall, strong, handsome, compassionate, and fun.  As a wife I would take care of the house and kids.  This really wasn’t my fantasy about marriage at all. This however, was societies fantasy about marriage.  When I got married it was the early 1980’s and women in the workplace did not yet out number men.  Today women in the workplace more than out number men!  Are our views of marriage still in the 19th century? Do women still have these traditional roles to fulfill in the marriage?

Roles and Responsibilities

I leaned back in my office chair this morning and asked my husband if he believed traditional roles and responsibilities for men and women still exist in a marriage. I was also curious what his thoughts were on having specific roles and responsibilities in the marriage.  His answers at first took me for a loop.  He said he felt there should be someone “in charge.”  I asked what he meant by ‘in charge.”  It sounded like a parent/child relationship rather than a spousal relationship.  He said, “For example: I feel one person should oversee the finances, but both need to agree on major expenditures and purchase decisions. Or, the best person should manage the household and social calendar. It doesn’t matter who it is.”  I was still somewhat shocked by his answer that for a moment I had a difficult time thinking clearly.

This answer seemed so traditional and outdated.  I then thought for a moment and understood what he was really trying to say.  I then said, “If I’m hearing this correctly you are telling me that the more organized person should deal with the money and social calendar issues and then consult with the spouse.  After consulting on the issue at hand then an agreement between both parties has to be reached.”  He again said, “Someone needs to be in charge.”  “I think in charge is a strong statement.” I said.  I still wondered who was the one to be in charge.  After all the traditional role of the man was to take care of the finances.  But if he is irresponsible with finances how is he to allow his wife to manage them if he feels embarrassed or a failure?

I honestly don’t think that roles in a marriage work.  I don’t think a man is always the leader or financial manager, nor the wife is the one who cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids.  In the 21st century dividing and conquering assigning the person who is the best at these chores creates an honest, open, and happy relationship.  It allows people to be whom and what they are.  No one should ever take control over another just because they were born a male or female.  Not all men were created to handle finances or take a lead, and not all women were created to cook, clean, and take care of kids.

Strong communication is key and who has the ability to do what needs to be done is going to determine the best way to handle the household.  How the couple can maturely discuss issues of the household without trying to control the situation or other person will reduce a lot of arguments, hurt, and dissatisfaction in the relationship.  Listening to your partner is key!  It’s not about a woman’s role or a man’s role; it’s about a marriage commitment.  Doing it together, forever.