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Why We Should Stop Thinking That Being A 'Good Wife' Means Picking Up After The Husband

Should traditional gender roles cease to exist?
Is Being A 'Good Wife' Means Picking Up After The Husband?
PHOTO: Pexels

My parents were of an era when traditional gender roles were strictly definedmen worked to provide for the family, and women stayed home to care for kids. While both did an awesome job raising us, these archaic notions affected my mother more than my father.

My father enjoyed a long and successful career in a private company until his retirement, while my mother had to give up hers. She had a high-powered job that she had to put on hold to care for my sibling who then always got sick. After everything settled down and she thought of going back to work, her decision was questioned by people (at times, including my dad, unfortunately) who thought that it was better for her to just give up her career altogether. They would ask her, “What if they got sick again? Who will take care of the kids?” Oddly, these were never asked of my father.

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And so she gave up everything for us. She was often praised for this, and yes, as a child I enjoyed her constant attentionbut I wish that she didn’t have to become a martyr to become a model mother. While she never regretted spending time with us, I saw her discontent build as I grew older. The discontent turned into bitterness. For a time, she was depressed. It took years before she came to terms with her decisions, which were based on what people then thought was the measure of what a “good” mother is.

This is why that post that went viral on Facebook gave me a lot of ~feelings~. It’s a husband’s reply to his wife when she told him she didn’t feel that she had any personal achievements. “'Wag mo sabihin ‘yan,” he wrote. “Yung achievement ko, achievement mo. Kasi hindi ko naman magagawa ng wala ka eh.” He added that he could work because he knew she took care of their children, and enumerated the rest of the things she did for him: picking up discarded clothes and towels, flushing the toilet, making him coffee, cooking his meals, and others he barely noticed because he knew his wife would be there to handle them.

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At dahil nandiyan ka, I’m free to reach higher.”

A lot of people called the husband out, saying that instead of addressing her concern, he made it about himself. Others branded him a misogynist, invalidating her wife’s dreams and pushing her to believe that as long as he’s successful, she also is. 

In the end, his wife defended his post, saying that people have been “quick to judge”, that their “inside joke” of not flushing toilets had been taken literally, and that every person has a different measure of success.

I believe that everyone is free to their own definition of success and contentment. It’s all about having the power to act on an informed choice. Some women are happy pursuing careers while raising a family, while some enjoy being homemakers. There always is contentment when a decision is based on what a person really wants to do in life, no strings attached. 

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Personally, I’m glad that the poster’s wife finds joy in being her husband’s support. Based on my experience, there are few things more gratifying than watching someone you love reach great heights. What worries me though is that while she talks about success, she also says, “Na-downgrade ko sarili ko.” I couldn’t help but remember my mom who sacrificed herself and her dreams to build oursa woman who knew she did the right thing but is now left forever questioning if she could have done something more for herself. 

I hope that compromise doesn’t reach the extreme end of self-sacrifice. Marriage is a partnership. Every couple has to figure out their own rhythm, but it should be based on mutual respectthat includes respecting each other enough to mind the little things such as placing dirty clothes in the laundry hamper. It also means acknowledging each other’s issues and working on them together, and continuously pulling each other up.

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Ladies, don’t belittle your feelings and concerns or just attribute them to hormones during your period. They are valid. Setting them aside can cause a chip in your heart which can grow into a gaping hole over time. I’ve seen it happen. Whether you’re an on-site career mom, a work-from-home mom, or a full-time homemaker, remember that these are wonderful and amazing roles that you’ve awesomely taken on, but never lose yourself in any of them because doing so means you’ll eventually end up pouring from an empty cup. And that’s something that you can’t do. 

Remember that no matter what role you play, you’re still your own undiminished woman, and that’s more than okay.


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