Gender Roles in the Home: Then and Now

What is the #1 key to marital bliss?  I don’t know… yet.  The usual suspects are honesty, trust-worthiness, open communication, blah, blah, blah.  However, when you talk to couples like my wife’s grandparents who recently celebrated 65 years, they themselves are truly themselves when around one another.  They still enjoy their company, and enjoy the moments they share.

You will usually find grandma in the kitchen, or taking care of grandpa, making family get-together plans, etc.  On the other hand, grandpa is usually fixing things (broken or not), doing yard work, household repairs, golfing, etc.  These gender roles seem barbaric to me… a MODERN DAD!  What do these old people know about marital bliss?  They lived in an era where you just didn’t get a divorce.

Roles in the Real World:

I will admit that I worked for Nordstrom and I sold women’s’ shoes for two summers.  Working in a department store, like Nordstrom, where everyone works on commission, collaboration is good.  People buying shoes may be prompted to look at a top or jeans in another department, spend more money, and keep everyone happy.  I may even refer a customer to a particular person in a certain department, and they may refer people down to me; this is also known as “Go ask your mother!”

However, this creates problems when you’re asked for something outside of your department, or role.  The customer is then forced to wait to continue their shopping experience; this is referred to as “Wait until your father gets home!”  This is also why Nordstrom says that in order to be truly successful, one would need to be unrestricted from selling in only ONE department, or unrestricted by gender roles.

Gender Roles in Today’s Homes:

There is a reason the WWII generation is known as The Greatest Generation.  This is the generation that defeated the Nazis, they came back from Pearl Harbor to beat Japan back to their own archipelago, the created the Baby Boom generation, and they stayed married!  But why?  I could go into any number of immeasurable factors and be fairly convincing, but I want to mention only one: they just did it!

There is a mindset that I hope we can get from this little recession that the Great Depression Era generation acquired: Just do what needs to be done!  I look at my wife’s grandparents and I don’t see a generation trapped in gender roles, I don’t see buried resentment, or a life left un-lived.  What I do see, are two people who found one another in a trying time in American history, and have continued to love one another through kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.  We should be so lucky!

On to my point.  In my own home, my wife and I do not have gender roles, but we do have things we are good at, and/or things that we are able to handle better than the other.  To our children we are Mom and Dad, and that can mean any given thing at any given moment whether we are both a home at the time or not.  Our styles may be different, but we are not left waiting for the other to return for our family life to continue.  We both cook, we both discipline, we both play, we both clean and do laundry.  What she starts, I can finish, and vice versa.

That is the best way I can describe being unrestricted by gender roles… you just do it!

How is your home organized?



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  1. We do not have gender roles in our house either.  I think it is something that is sort of dying among Gen Y or Millennials.

    • Jacqui says:

      My ex husband and I didn’t either. Like you say, we each had things we were better at, and we used it to get things done.

      My current partner and I compliment each other much better, and we don’t have a gender role issue either. We plan and communicate a bit better, but maybe that’s a function of children that are a bit more independent now. We actually have te to talk and plan!

      The difference between my two relationships I think is respect. Respect for the abilities of each partner and respect for the value in the roles we play in the relationship.

      • I like that… Respect your partner and what they bring to the table in a relationship. THAT should be what we base the roles we play on, and not just our sex organs.

This is what I think...