The Art of Gentle Brainwashing

by - January 21, 2011

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".

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