This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StrengthHasNoGender #CollectiveBias
When I heard that Brawny was going to be putting a woman on their packaging in lieu of The Brawny® Man for Women’s History Month, I was like “YES, BRAWNY®!” This year, I’m in charge of taking my own strength back in a physical way, and for the first time in my life, I am so excited to have a strong, sturdy body. I’ve never been lithe, I’m just not built that way. Even at my most fit, the best thing you could say is that I’m sturdy. Probably a little stout. And very strong. I’m learning to appreciate the fact that women can be strong AND sexy, and the Strength Has No Gender™ campaign by Brawny® really added fuel to my fire. Exclusive to Walmart, the limited-edition Strength Has No Gender™ pack is bringing light to how Brawny® is highlighting inspirational stories of women across the country who have been breaking down barriers in male dominated industries while empowering other women to do the same. My story is different, and I wanted to share it with you all in an attempt to show how gender roles in marriage almost ended my relationship with my husband, then repaired it.
My marriage is not a conventional one. From the outside looking in, some people might think that Kyle’s got the wrong end of the stick, that I’m lazy, or that I’m a princess. Some people might even think he’s the only one who works really hard inside and outside of the house. Some people might think I’m the luckiest girl in the world, and they wouldn’t be too far off base. A loft in NYC might seal THAT deal, but for now, if nothing else, I’m the luckiest girl in Freeport, FL; and not because I’m lazy or because Kyle does everything and I do nothing. It’s because in nearly eight years of marriage, we have learned to foster one another’s strengths and to buck gender roles in relationships, because it wasn’t working for us.
When I became a stay at home mom, I was super depressed about it. I know so many moms who felt so fortunate to be able to stay home with their children, but I wasn’t one of them. I actually spent many hours on my butt in my recliner networking and trying to figure out how to make this blogging thing a career. Looking in my window day in and day out with the piles of cloth diapers growing larger, and wrinkled infant clothing stacked on the love seat, you’d probably think I was the laziest mom on the block. But what you wouldn’t see from that limited view was my discomfort with life and the way things were. It was never my dream to be a mommy and to lovingly raise my children as my job, shuffling them from playdate to preschool and home again. That just was never something I wanted. So when that became my reality, I kind of accepted it, but then I did something about it.
And you know, maybe I’m not the most attentive mother or the very best housekeeper, but I did what I had to do to keep myself happy and my family functioning. If nothing else, at least they had freshly baked goodies and a homemade dinner every night.
Kyle and I struggled through that period for a couple of years, trying to figure out what our roles were in our relationship, in the family, and in life in general. I’m a strong personality and an overwhelmingly independent woman, so being in a submissive or traditional marriage isn’t natural, or enjoyable for me. It’s stifling. I promise you, there is no judgment from me towards women who choose and love that path, it just isn’t for me, and knowing your strengths is more than half the battle when you’re talking about living a happy life.
When we moved to Raleigh, the battle raged on but I willingly took on more of the traditional female role in our household. I did my best at keeping things clean and kept, (my best is not Better Homes & Gardens, y’all. It just isn’t) but my career path stalled. I was angry a lot so I took my frustrations out at the gym and on the kids. I felt like I was never going to go anywhere on a personal and emotional level. I felt stunted and stuck. I didn’t like it.
Once we moved to Florida and got moving along in a life that wasn’t fulfilling to me, the effects of trying to fit into a box that I didn’t fit into really began to wear on our relationship. Kyle couldn’t make me happy, I couldn’t make him happy, and the seven year itch began to have its toll on our marriage. It almost broke.
We did that thing called marriage counseling and pretty quickly figured out ways to make our marriage work for us, and there’s really nothing traditional or conventional about it.
Now Kyle wakes up in the morning and gets the kids ready for school and makes breakfast for me, which he personally delivers to me in bed every. single. morning. He takes the kids to school. He straightens up the downstairs while I’m at the gym and then gets ready for work. Sometimes, when he knows I have a busy day of activities with the kids, he’ll make dinner and put it in the refrigerator so all I have to do is heat it up when we get home. When he gets to work, he works his butt off – that’s what restaurant managers do. He gets home generally after the kids have gone to bed, but if he gets home when they are still awake, he spends more time putting them to bed than I do. Not because he’s a better parent than me or because I’m not doing my job. He does it because that’s what he does – that’s his style. He loves to spend time in their room rubbing backs and talking about their days, while I like to hug and kiss them good night after reading books to them and quickly say goodnight so I can get back to whatever work I have left to do that night.
My day looks different than his because it IS different. We work in very different industries and we have very different strengths and weaknesses.
When I get home from the gym, I immediately get to work. Sometimes from the comfort of the sofa, sometimes from my desk. I network and respond to emails and have video chats with friends that I’m working on projects with. I work towards my deadlines, I cut work short so I can go pick the kids up from school and then I shuttle them to their activities, then come home, prepare dinner, make sure the kids have their homework done, get baths, get read to, and then get in bed. No, I’m not as attentive as he is, and my housekeeping skills are not nearly as good as his, but I hustle too.
I make sure the kids are stimulated and active, that they get where they need to be, and that they’re happy. My role looks a lot more like the traditional male role in a family unit, but nobody bats an eye when mom works and does most of the housekeeping. Why is it that when mom AND dad work but dad does most of the housekeeping that mom gets called lazy? He brings the structure, I bring the fun, and it works for us.
My #MCM goes out to this guy who is not the same man I married. He’s not even the same man he was in December. He’s a much better version of himself, a man I love being with and spending time with. A man who joyfully cares for his family and mourns time missed. He’s a man I look forward to spending the rest of my days with, and one I’m proud to call my husband and happy to be doing life with.
I promise you, I make sure my husband is taken care of, and the crazy thing is that since our roles have reversed, I am more successful, we are both significantly happier, and our family unit functions like a well-oiled machine. And thanks to continued marriage counseling, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if Kyle were UNhappy with the way things are, he’d tell me in a kind, loving way, but he’s not unhappy. He has a servant’s heart and he is so good at serving our family and the people in his job. My strengths are people and making sure our kids are growing on a personal, functional level.
Don’t let other people or gender norms determine how your family functions. Do what feels right to you. As long as both partners are happy, that’s the right thing for your family.
Support Brawny® and their seriously awesome initiative by visiting Walmart to purchase the Strength Has No Gender™ Brawny® Pick-a-Size 8 Giant Plus. Brawny® Paper towels offer more sheets on every roll (vs. leading national brand comparable roll and sheet size) and help you clean up whatever life throws down, except a messy marriage. You’ve gotta get that under control yourself, perhaps by taking a long, hard look at your own unconventional role in that marriage.