My partner and I don’t have what most would define as a “conventional relationship”.
I was raised on a little farm in a very poor 3 woman household where there was always work to be done and we simply didn’t have the money to hire it out. We learned quickly how to fend for ourselves and take care/repair anything that needed attention. My partner was raised in the city where landlords, albeit slowly, maintained every property he had ever lived in.
I was 10 the first time I drove a vehicle (from one end of our property to the other) and took my driver’s test as soon as I was able. The first time my partner drove a car was a year and a half ago and doesn’t currently have his license because anywhere he ever needed to go was always accessible by public transit.
My partner was raised by loving but ill older parents, who fostered 4 of his nieces and nephews and relied on him to maintain the household when they were unable to do so. I was raised in a hostile home and spent as much time as I could outside of it.
In summary, we are opposites.
However, he is the Ying to my Yang, and together we raise 3 young children (2, 4 and 6) which is no easy feat on its own.
Now here is the role reversal...
I have a decent paying job and so I pay the bills. My partner is a stay at home dad. He worked nights until I had an opportunity to advance in my career. Agreeing that we didn’t want strangers watching the kids, he took on the full-time dad position.
He cleans, cooks, does dishes, laundry, baths, homework, and everything that a stay at home parent does. I do yard maintenance, fix plumbing and electrical problems, build tree houses and decks, wash the car and renovate the basement and I even do the BBQing.
He plays hide and seek. I play pass me the pliers.
He teaches them the ABC’s. I teach them how to “measure twice, cut once”.
He doctors' skinned knees. I tar holes in the roof.
He is the nurturer and I am the provider.
We are well aware that the way we live is unorthodox, and we like to joke with each other about it (even so, happens that I have a first name that is more commonly male, where he has one that can be both but is spelled the female way).
No, life isn’t perfect and some days are better than others. I can understand how emasculating it must be for him and how important it is for a man to feel like a man. I also know he feels like he brings nothing to the table which is a crushing blow for any man who is raised in a society that states he must be the provider above all things. On the worst days, we fight and he tells me he feels useless and how he thinks I would be better off without him. But thankfully we always end up talking it through, because I think it is so important for him to understand how, despite what he thinks, I couldn’t do anything without him.
He is the gas in my engine.
The battery to my drill.
But more importantly, he is the heart in our home.
He brings love into our home and that is more important than anything I can do.
So at the end of each day, even though my partner and I may swap the conventional gender roles in our house, there is one way that I always make sure to remind him that he is the man…
and damn if he doesn’t make me feel like a woman when I do.