Something someone said to me, at the beginning of this year stuck in my mind. Advice that I’m not entirely sure didn’t have a slight tinge of bitterness and malice. However it was given, the advice was to the effect that I should never let myself become dependent on a man.
Because – what happens if things go pear-shaped with that man – and suddenly you’re left with nothing. I assume that’s the reason. And I assume that ‘being dependent on a man’ is a euphemism for “don’t let yourself be some man’s housewife, and then get fucked over and left with nothing, a decade down the line because all you were was a housewife, you made no valid contribution to the household”.
That bothers me very much, now that I’m in a long-term, serious relationship. In fact, long-term/serious doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is the man I’m going to marry, and spend the rest of my life with, and if I go into it thinking these sorts of what ifs, I’ll only be spending my life doubting my commitment.
Let me explain. I’ve always been a very independent person, and would far rather try to solve a problem on my own, with what I have, than ask for help. Stubborn, yes. Even if I know I’m bound to get it wrong, I want to make my own mistakes, and I don’t want someone else telling me how I should do things. Asking for help, and not being able to do it alone – a sign of weakness – the way I saw it. If you had to ask someone to do something for you – not cool.
I didn’t need anyone besides me, and I was enough for myself. I managed. I might have managed things in completely the wrong way, but I did what I could. Until I met the man I was to have a son with. And he was different. He was the total opposite of what I was, and it surprised me when he made demands on my time, and didn’t accept me brushing him off, if I felt I had something better to do. It surprised me that he did things for me, without having to be asked. It surprised me when he took my bullshit in his stride and didn’t gap it first chance he got.
It surprised me when he gave up his dreams of being in film and television and took on the responsibility of the family business, when I told him he was going to be a father. It surprised me that he changed his entire life plan, for me. Within two months of knowing me. That he bought a house, organised medical aid, filled the house with furniture and set up the nursery. That he set up house with me. That he loves me and adores his son.
It was no surprise when he asked me to marry him. What did surprise me, was how I felt. And how he’d changed me. How being a mother changed me. Yes, I am dependent on a man in that I am no longer a full-time employee and he earns more than me – but we’re building a life together. And building a life together has meant that I’ve had to learn to ask for help. Because I don’t, in actual fact, know everything and sometimes someone else (read: he) knows better than I do. And yes, I am a housewife. I cook three meals a day for my family, and attempt to keep the house tidy(ish) and I do things like gardening and grocery shopping and laundry – and I’m happy with it. It’s a peaceful life and my priorities have changed. I’m happy with the idea of marriage, and being someone’s wife (read: his wife) and I’m happy with being dependent on him for certain things – because if you don’t need someone, why bother having them around at all?
I always thought I’d go into marriage with a heavy ante-nuptial, if I ever went that way at all. That I’d have all my ducks in a row, and a clear vision of the EXIT sign, in the event that an emergency evacuation was required. Now I get that what I’ve said might sound naive, and I’m totally aware of this. But if commitment is based on need, and you don’t need each other, then why even go there in the first place?
I say go into it with no doubts and no reservations. All or nothing. No conditions, no compromises – it’s together and it’s toward the same goal – start as you mean to go on, and all that. Enter into marriage as equals.
Or did I miss something important??