The Art of Gentle Brainwashing
I am in what you would call an 'equal relationship', meaning not one of us has more chores/ duties/ emotions/ problems/ bills then the other. We truly are a team when it comes to this relationship. Now believe me, I am not delusional in thinking that absolutely everything is split down the middle, but for the most part we do a good job in helping one another out when it's needed, or stepping back when that is needed as well.
Now, I am not saying this because I think our relationship is the shit. I am saying it because you have no idea the internal struggle it takes every day to believe that this kind of thing is ok. WTF, you say? I will explain.
I grew up seeing my mother do EVERYTHING. She worked two jobs and would come home and cook for her husband and children and not bat an eyelash. I learned in school that to be a demure, caring woman to your family, that is just what you do. A woman is meant to sacrifice their happiness/ comfort in order to please everyone else. I also watched my grandmother dote on my dad and brother every second of the day, even when she was too tired or sore to do so. I made a PACT with myself that I would never be with a man who expected this from me.
And I have been very successful in holding myself to this pact. I have been smart/ lucky enough to be with men who are a little more sensitive and who WANT to help out when it comes to household chores, but believe me when I say this does not come easy for me.
Here is where the brainwashing part comes in: I have to fight with myself that I DESERVE this. I have incredible feelings of guilt when Dave picks up the vacuum, or when he does the dishes after dinner, or when he cleans up cat barf. Because I have always been taught that that is MY job. Thank god I am on the dying end of a generation who was taught these dated rules to live by. Or are girls still gently brainwashed to feel bad when someone does something nice for them?
It has been a long journey to get to where I am today. And I am always working on it. Dave laughs at me when I tell him I feel this way, but it really is something that I have to contend with. On a funnier note, I remember the first time my mom made me feel like I should do more to be a good host to some friends that were over. She said, "You are a terrible host. Ask your friends if you can get them anything". My response? "Yeah right. They know where the fridge is".