Would you rather be a husband or a wife?

This is a lighthearted question meant to open up discussion about unique dynamics within a marriage. I would really appreciate it if everyone could refrain from dragging in gay marriage/transgenderism/any other hot-button issue that isn’t directly related to this. It always turns ugly and I want this to be fun, not contentious.

Anyway, my question is, based on your experience in your marriage, what you’ve witnessed in those around you, or even just your personal beliefs about romantic relationships and marriage, would you rather be a husband or a wife?

Obviously, I’m a woman and I love being a woman, but even that aside, in my marriage, I am very happy to have the wifely role. My husband and I are by every measure a very modern couple. We both work outside the home, are educated, both have big responsibilities, and both of us have jobs that require us to be strong, stubborn, and bullheaded. When we get home after a long day, we prepare dinner together. But our dynamic is much more traditional than our “modern liberal lifestyle” would indicate. I do allow him to lead, and unless I have a very good reason that he refuses to see, I usually let him have the final say in decisions. He likes being more of a leader, it gives him a self-esteem boost, and he’s a very thoughtful, generous man who loves and respect his wife and her intelligence, so I never feel trampled, ignored, or minimized. He definitely believes that being given this extra responsibility and trust requires that he be more self-sacrificial.

This arrangement works for us. I feel like a lot of the pressure is taken off of me and he feels good. It was never a conscious decision, it’s just the dynamic and roles that we fell into as our relationship got serious.

Hubby and I went on a long car ride yesterday, and we talked about this dynamic. We laughed at how naturally it happened and how no one would guess by meeting us. I asked him, given our marriage, whether he would rather be a husband or a wife-all freaky genital and sex stuff aside. He said that in our day-to-day lives, he would rather be a husband. (I’m the one that plans our social life, keeps track of the little things, plans travel, and just generally keeps things functioning). But, that when things get rough, he’s happy to be a husband, but that he thinks being a wife is easier. I couldn’t really disagree with him-but I would always rather be the wife. I like the feeling of taking care of him and our home, and I like the feeling I get when the big tough brave man takes care of problems.

So…all rambling aside, what about you? Given the dynamic of your relationship, do you think one spouse has it “easier”, or that one person in your marriage has a more “fun”, or less stressful role? Would you want to switch these roles, even temporarily?

Of course this is so subjective. For all I’ve said about traditional roles in my marriage, the year that he spent with cancer all of that was out the window-I did it all. And if I ever went through something like chemo, the reverse would be true as well. So given that every person, every marriage, and every circumstance is different, let’s remember to keep this charitable and not pass judgement on one another.

For me, a lot of the “wife stuff” is wrapped up with “mom stuff,” so that affects my answer. :slight_smile:

I think I do more of the work, at least as regards maintaining our household and family life. But, the fact that I do that frees up my husband to do more of the providing work. I can get resentful of that dynamic from time to time, but most of the time I don’t mind it because then I get more say over how we run things. I honestly don’t think my husband cares about most of those details, so it’s nice that he gives me pretty much free rein to manage all that how I want to. On the few occasions when he’s been in charge of those things (pregnancy/childbirth, other illness) I’ve had to work really, REALLY hard at appreciating that he was making the effort while not at all enjoying the results. :stuck_out_tongue:

I do sometimes envy that he can just go somewhere else for a large portion of the day and basically forget about what is happening here. He seems to have an easier time “compartmentalizing” - work is at work, and home is at home. For me, home and work are the same (and even though I have paid employment, I work from home, and my work is childcare, so it’s basically more of the same.) It can feel like that old saying, “Men’s work is done at set of sun, but women’s work is never done.”

I wonder how this dynamic would be different if we did not have children, or if we both worked conventional jobs outside of the home. I expect I would still do more of the traditional feminine work, just because I care about that stuff more than he does.

Edit: I guess I should actually answer your question. :wink: Despite the above complaints, I do prefer my role. I don’t think I COULD compartmentalize the way he does. I think we are both suited to what we do. I may ask him what he thinks about your question, though. Now I’m curious!

I’m not a believer in androgynism, which in my mind is the belief that one person can encompass all it is to be male and all it is to be female. When that is tried, the possibility of the complementarity of the sexes is lost.

I’m the woman, and I like being the wife. I believe what that means in any particular marriage is subject to the particular complementarity of a particular man married to a particular woman. They find their particular way of being complementary and of acknowledging his way of being a man–and therefore his way of being a husband–and her way of being a woman and, therefore, of being a wife. As they grow as human beings, they will also grow in their understanding of how they complement each other in their marriage.

IOW, I don’t see the role of husband and wife as being externally imposed “roles” in the theatric sense, but real and substantial “roles” in the biological sense of each finding their niche in their shared symbiosis, in the one life which they took on because neither could individually be his or her all.

This is a little hard to answer without getting into a “Grass is greener” kind of argument.

There are days that I leave home and think it would be wonderful to be at home with the kids. But, I can see that my wife sometimes wishes she could leave it all behind for a few hours.

While our house is traditional in the sense that my wife is a stay-at-home-mom - I spend a great deal of time with the kids. We got married later than most. I have more flexibility in my work schedule than many. And I enjoy spending as much time as I can with the kids.

And this week, our youngest went to full-day K5. My wife is a little sad that there are no longer any babies around the house. With four in elementary school, we have our hands-full. My wife does organize all of the activities of the household (It was impossible to have us both have a hand in that!). But, I do appreciate that she keeps our house running.

I can’t think of any big decisions we made that we didn’t make together.

I think I would enjoy being able to switch roles with her from time-to-time - but not permanently. (And I’d bet she’d say the same).

Men and women naturally fall into certain “roles” because we simply are that way. Whether one believes God ordained it or evolution drove it makes no difference in that it is what it is. Men are going to naturally feel their duty is to protect and provide and women are naturally going to extend what their bodies produce–children, into child care and the environment in which the family lives. Of course, individual families may vary, but this is the norm because it is natural for it to be this way.

Before I got married I was quite independent, although not worldly successful. I never wanted to be a great success at business or a “career.” There was nothing that challenged my abilities that attracted me to it except writing. And even there I never had any ambition to write the great American novel or “significant” articles or essays meant to influence others. Still, I was basically content except that I couldn’t find a niche for my talents/desires.

After I got married I had to unlearn a lot of nonsense I’d let my head be filled with about men and what it means to be a “modern” woman. It took time for me to relax and just let us be a couple instead of trying to find the “meaning” of it all. I let my husband be a husband and I let myself be a wife and I finally found contentment of a kind I’d not known existed. I sometimes feel guilty that I am so contented. I have no angst over being “denied” my “full potential” or that I was held back by being married. Rather, I found freedom to be myself and to do the things I really wanted to do without the hassle of having to earn a living at the same time. We aren’t rich and sometimes we’ve had to scrap pennies (I always found some kind of work if we really needed the money). We are happy being naturally who we are–husband and wife, each being what we naturally are. :slight_smile:

We have very traditional gender roles, which developed when we were not practicing Christians, but considered ourselves to be pagans or secular people. We continued those roles rather easily when we converted to the Catholic faith together.

I think that I have the more physically demanding role, but I think that my husband has the more stressful role. I think we both have our fair share of fun; or rather, neither one of us gets left out of opportunities for fun and we each work to make sure the other has time for friendship and hobbies and social groups.

I would never ever want to be a man or have the role of a husband. I really like being a woman and a wife and a mother. I am accepting of the fact that pregnancy, childbirth and nursing and dealing with little children all day is very physically demanding and at times, painful. But I am a fortunate woman in that my husband is willing to take care of me when I get run down or achy or tired or sick. His sympathy and his appreciation for what I do makes it so worth it, as does the presence of the children for whom I make all those sacrifices. :slight_smile:

I think there is a reason why there is a decided life expectancy difference between men and women and that difference would directly inform my answer… :wink:

I am happy to be the wife, and especially the mother. I think that the relationship between a mother and the child is fundamentally different than any other. Even between father and child.
But I have to say that being a late baby boomer, my life as a wife has not been all it might have been. Squeezed between the modern working ideal, and the stay at home ideal. I’ve done both, and stayed at home until my son was 12, and then I went to work. I loved both.
I would never trade my experience as a stay at home mom for working, but I have to say that now that I am an empty nester, AND not working at the same time…I’m going crazy doing nothing all davy. I want to go back to work, but circumstances forbid it.

So yes, I’m happy to be a woman, but it has not all been a bed of roses. I love the nurturing, and taking care and being head of the home life. But I hate being dependent, and having to do what the husband says even if it hurts. I don’t like not having a say in my life and how I live it.

I have been a wife for so long that just thinking about this is fun! However, in the end, I think being the wife which lead me to mom and now grandma would still be my favorite role. The grandchildren run to me first the majority of the time and I could never imagine missing out on those sweet sounds…Grannnnndmaaaaa, I want cookies:shrug:

I think that’s one of my favorite parts of being a wife. I come from a long line of good, loving, devoted wives and mothers. (My mom and grandma are both tops!:smiley: And the stories about my great grandmother have always inspired me.) I really love the feeling I get when I get to share one of their favorite recipes with my husband, or when I get to knit, sew, or crochet something for him or his side of the family. I feel like I’m paying forward all of the wonderful things that the women in my family did for me and the rest of the family. Of course, my husband feels the same way every time I ask him to check for intruders, fix my computer, or move furniture.

I think a big part of it is that we grow up connected to people who we admire, and we want to someday be that person to someone else.

I really thin it has less to do with who does what (breadwinning, chores, childcare etc.) and more about how each person views their responsibilities to the other. There have been times where my husband was unemployed, and handling the cleaning and cooking while he looked for work. I LOVED that arrangement. But he was never any less protective, strong, self-sacrificing, or any less of a leader because of it. I didn’t do any less doting, worrying, or planning than usual. The way we interacted and treated each other stayed the same.

The whole premise of the question is flawed. ‘Husband’ and ‘wife’ aren’t “roles” we play, they are who we are as a married man or married woman. It is more like asking “would you rather be a girl or boy?” (a nonsensical question) than asking “would you rather be a pilot or a gardener?” As such, it really can’t be answered. I’m a husband. I prefer being a husband than being single. I prefer being a father than not being a father. But I don’t prefer being a father to being a mother.

I meant within the context of your marriage. Every wife is different, just as every husband is different. There are some very happy, healthy marriages where the woman is the natural leader. There are other marriages where there really isn’t a leader. Any arrangement can be happy or miserable, depending on the people in it and whether it’s what they want.

But I think that in the context of my marriage, if someone listed two general job descriptions (my role and my husband’s), I would objectively want the one labeled ‘wife’. Just as when my husband was asked the question, he said that he would objectively rather be a husband on a day-to-day basis, but that it would be really nice to be the wife in a crisis. But in all reality, he loves me, and what he does as my husband, and he wouldn’t trade. If for no other reason than if one of us has to be driving across the state at 2 in the morning, his pride wouldn’t let it be me;)

As one husband quipped: In our marriage, I make all the major decisions, and she decides all the minor stuff. So far, we’ve been lucky, because in 50 years, nothing major has ever come up!

I think this is a very interesting thread. Personally I think I am happy with the wife role but I also, as someone else said, I think it goes by and in hand with being a mom and I really like being a mom. However I had to say my husband and I do not have a very traditional marriage in the sense that I am the one who has the big time job that requires a lot of hours and has little flexibily while he has more of a flexible schedule more like mom’s hours. Now despite that, despite that when it comes to financial matters my husband has the last word and he is fully in charge of every financial decision. We decided on that because he is very very good in finances and handling money and I am not a fan of it so basically to us it came downto who can do it better. He is better than me on that so on that area I am extremely happy to be the wife that allows him to take financial decisions. To me that takes a huge stress from me as I get really stressed with finances so I am very happy to just make the big money and let him handle it Lol. I don’t know if my being so content with him being in financial control has to do with the fact that we do tend to agree a lot and I mean a lot, so maybe that makes it easier?? I don’t know. Also it is not that he takes unilateral decisions. He talks to me about everything and he keeps me well informed and never does anything without telling me first. But to me having him in charge of finances is a great relief.

Now when it comes to parenting I have the last word. He always gives mW his opinion and I listen to it but I make the final decisions. Again I love being a mom and despite my heavy work schedule when I am home I am home, I am spending time with the family and being a mom so I really like that part.

As to other areas we tend to take decisions together. Again here it may play into the situation the fact that we do agree a lot on everything (he jokes that I am his female version Lol) so for us is easy to agree on things. With regard to chores, again our division is based on who can do abtask better. He does the ironing and most of the cooking (I am awful at ironing and cooking is not a skill of me) but I do most of the cleaning and laundry. So I think we are not that traditional on some points but on the areas of finance and parenting it seems that we do fall into the traditional roles and I like to be like that so because of that I guess I like to be the wife.

I see what you are trying to say, but you don’t have the “role” of “wife” any more than you have the “role” of person. You are a person and you are a wife. It makes as much sense to ask me if I’d rather have the “role” of “wife” as it would to ask if I’d rather have the “role” of “family dog”. Your making a category mistake.

At 3:45 on a Friday about 50 hours into the workweek and 3 contractor’s PO’d at me, I’m pretty sure I can’t give a level-headed answer. Mom duty is looking pretty good right now. Of course, Dad duty probably looked pretty good that first day I headed back to work when baby #3 was one week old (explosive liquid poop), kids 1 and 2 were tearing up the house and mom still had trouble walking…

It probably comes out in the wash in the end!

I am a person, but I decided to be a wife. Now, I do have a role to fulfill as a wife. Just like I am a person, but I chose to go into law. Right now, my role is a student and a low-ranking intern who sometimes gets to venture into court with the big dogs:D. I will someday have a role as a lawyer.

If I decided tomorrow that I no longer have a role as a wife, my husband would not only be devastated emotionally, but he would be let down in many ways. I have a lot of obligations to my husband and to my family, as do you. These obligations are a good thing, and we took them on freely. But we still have them.

I am willing to admit that in my marriage, my husband does take more than his share of the difficult, painful, and unpleasant things onto himself. He makes most of the decisions and he puts himself last. I am so grateful for what he does for me, and I know that those qualities will make him an excellent father.

But he does have a role. This isn’t to say that roles can’t or shouldn’t change. If he came to me and told me that he was feeling overwhelmed, things would definitely change. If I went to him and told him that was starting to feel like I didn’t have enough of a voice, things would change. But one of us cannot unilaterally change our responsibilities and roles without discussion. Doing so would lead to anger, confusion, resentment, and ultimately the person who was blindsided would be let down because they were counting on the other person to do certain things.

You could take it that way–that is, you could mean “role” as something you put on, like the part of Juliet or Romeo–or you could take the OP to mean something else, as you imply in the latter part of the answer–would you rather be the husband or be the wife? For instance, within a lichen, the fungus has a role to play and the photosynthetic partner has a role. The latter aren’t artificial roles, of the sort written by a playwright, but roles that come from the nature of how the relationship works.

I like her way of posing the question because it is more open-ended. How people decide to take the question is a good fraction of their answer!

Interesting. I’m not sure I see your perspective of “role of wife” to be the way I see it. Voice, decisions, protection, organizing, etc seem to be things that we do, which varies from person to person. I see being a wife and mother as who I am. I Could never change that nor would I want to. My husband does what he is best at, I do what I can do well. I see being a wife as to be more about my heart and vocation. I’m good with where I am and with what I do. My husband can go and deal with all those lawyers and paralegals. I’ll stick with kids, moms, schools, doctors, etc, etc.

Really? Everyone else here was happily going along with the thread and this is what you felt the need to say? :shrug:

I am happy being a wife. It is what feels natural to me. It is what I do best. It is what my family prefers for us as well.

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