When you think about what a wife should do, how a wife should act, what a wife should be … I pretty much fail at it all. Rachel and I have been together for a little over 7 years now, and have lived together pretty much the entire time. You know how lesbians do it, U-Haul style on the second date and all. Anyway, I've never been in a relationship where I gave a shit to make the other person happy, so I didn't have any practice being a good partner when Rachel and I got together. I knew I needed to get it together, but it took way too long and I regret not vowing to be a better partner sooner.
I didn't have much of an example of what a wife should do while I was growing up, because my Mom was a single mom and working two jobs so there was nobody for me to learn from. We lived off of Hot Pockets and Spaghetti O's, and the house was always a mess. When I became a single mom of 3 kids, I was so overwhelmed that cleaning was the least of my concern. I know I should've cared about it more, but I've always been a slob so cleaning to pushed to the bottom of the list (which means it never got done, because I was too busy working and taking care of kids).
Rachel is a clean freak, so our styles clashed from the get-go. She also had never been a mother, so the learning curve for both of us was huge. Our parenting styles are just as opposite as our cleaning styles. We've done well together over the past 7 years, but towards the end of last year, I realized I wanted to work harder at being a better wife and parent. I didn't tell Rachel, but I did tell my Mom because I knew she'd keep me on my toes. Mom has no problem reminding me of how much I suck at being a wife. :)
Wife Failure #1
I don't clean. My side of the room is a disaster area, while hers is perfectly clean. I have a pile of dirty clothes at the end of the bed, even though there is a laundry basket in the closet. I don't notice that the kitchen floor needs to be swept and mopped, literally until my feet start sticking to the floor. Then, whether I actually sweep and mop or not really depends on my mood.
How I am fixing it: When I made a goal to be a better wife, I started cleaning once a week. No, I'm not cleaning like most people clean, but I have cleaned the kitchen a few times … I've cleaned the bathroom … and I make sure that the kids clean the house up before Rachel gets home from work because I know a mess stresses her out. My side of the bed is still ridiculous, but I do clean it up once a week. It might not sound like much but this is HUGE for me. And making sure the girls clean their messes up is also a big step in the right direction, I think.
Wife Failure #2
I don't do laundry. I can count on one hand how many times I've done a load of laundry in the past year. Rachel has always done it. Probably because I'd let it pile up to the ceiling if she didn't. Who knows.
How I am fixing it: All of our girls know how to do laundry, but I have to make sure I stay on top of them to get it done. I have done a few loads of laundry as well, but mostly I just focus on making sure it gets done so Rachel doesn't have to do it.
Wife Failure #3
I don't cook. I love to cook but Rachel does too, so I've kind of taken a step back over the years and let her take over. That means I've also gotten lazy. When she comes home from work, she'd love to have dinner ready, but it rarely is.
How I am fixing it: I have learned to use my Crock Pot. Dinner is ready by the time she gets home from work, almost every day. It's true that it's always chicken, and it's true that I haven't gotten terribly creative with the dishes yet, but dinner is served.
Instead of making this a post entirely about my failures, I will give myself props as well. I don't fail at life completely! ;)
I pay the bills. I work hard to provide for our family. I pay the majority of the bills, buy most of the food, and pay for any extracurricular activities we do. Rachel works as well, but most of her jobs have been part-time and her pay is less, so she is just responsible for adding to our savings account (which is a huge help!). Not only do I make sure the bills are paid, I don't bother her with what they are, how much they are, when they're due, etc. She doesn't like to have anything to do with the process, which means the stress of the bills mostly falls on my shoulders – and that's okay.
I am romantic. Honestly, by nature, I'm not a romantic at all. But I love Rachel, and she loves romance. Any time she wants something, I try to buy it for her. I know they say you “can't buy love”, but she really appreciates gifts so I go out of my way every chance I get to give them to her. I love to take her on dates, and I try to pay (though sometimes she won't let me) so she doesn't have the stress of affording dinner or whatever. I visit her at work to bring her a coffee, or really just to give her a hug. Things she's always done for me (like little surprises), I'm learning to do for her.
I take care of the kids. Well, obviously we both do, but I've worked harder on being a better parent. The amount of yelling I do has decreased a lot! I don't text Rachel as much when I'm stressed out, and I try not to complain about how they behaved while she was at work. I give her the Cliff's Notes version and just let her know if they were good or bad, rather than completely unloading on her when she walks in the door.
I make the decisions. Planning stuff stresses her out, so I know that I need to do it. We are taking a road trip this summer, and she literally won't have to worry about a single thing. I will save for the trip, plan it out, book the hotels, get the rental car, etc. She knows she won't ever have to worry about planning anything because I do it for us.
I support her. Anything she wants to do, I try to make it happen! I support her art, her side business, anything she wants to get into. She does the same for me.
I appreciate her. I tell Rachel every single day how much I love and appreciate her. This isn't a tangible thing, but I know a lot of people don't do it or maybe they forget to do it, so I make sure she knows how much I appreciate the hard work she does around the house and at her actual job as well.
I guess what it comes down to is we are both trying to make things easier on each other, and it's working well. We've been taught traditional gender roles all of our lives, but that doesn't exactly work in a lesbian relationship – or necessarily in a traditional relationship, either! Learning to fall into our own roles rather than the “wife” or “husband” role has improved our relationship and reduced stress in the whole household.
If you know you're slacking in the wife department, or maybe you're just unhappy with how things are going, make a plan to improve your end of the relationship. Your partner will notice, and they should follow suit as well! I know for us, it's definitely worked that way. Rachel is still shocked when I clean the kitchen, and she thanks me a million times when I do a load of laundry. Because I've stepped up my game, she's done the same. Even though our relationship has mostly been good, I think this has improved it on a very personal level. There's nothing sexier than seeing your partner try really hard to make you happy – and you returning the favor.
How do things work in your house? Do you split things evenly? Do you suck at being a wife like I do? Let me know in the comments!