Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not stuck in a role

One of the reasons I was so reluctant to even consider a relationship for a long time was due to the fact that people kept reminding me of "women's roles." I'd hear it from the more traditional crowd who believed women should marry young, have their kids, and let their husband provide. I'd hear it from the liberal crowd who'd say, "Screw it, have your life, your travel and your fun before you settle into that." Of course, my main question was, why can't I have both?

Obviously, marriage and children require sacrifices, sacrifices I can't think of making till I have a steady source of income. Hence, God willing this goes well, I'm putting such a huge decision off for a good couple of years. This will allow me to make sure I'm making a good decision, give me time to really see my companion for who he is and vice versa, and give us time to get on our feet and do things we want to do, like travel. Even if we decide in two or three years that it is something we want, engagement lasts six months to a year in the Catholic Church and, far from simply planning a wedding, it's a time of greater discernment, to ensure that you're making the right choice. My faith doesn't approve of divorce, thus our leaders aren't really big fans of shotgun weddings anymore (which is probably why the American Church is giving so many annulments--to correct for past mistakes).

At the same time, these sacrifices don't have to require either party to fit into gender roles. I made it clear from the beginning that I would never date a man who didn't believe in gender equity. That means, he couldn't assume I'd automatically stay home with the kids, should support me in my career goals as well as other aspects, had to believe women deserved equal pay and had a place in political office, and could not turn up his nose at the idea of a father having a more flexible career (sometimes, you would not believe how hard this is to find in devout Catholic circles). This doesn't mean I never stay at home, as that could depend on whose career is more lucrative vs. whose is more flexible. Yet I have options that my mother probably would not have had. I could work at home. One of us could go part time. Offices are becoming more amenable to things like paid maternity leave and day care (especially for the types of things I'm interested in). Work places are becoming more friendly to breastfeeding moms and to fathers who want to take an active role in their children's lives (whether going home to see a sick child or to take time to attend school plays, sports games, and music performances). I know women who have traveling careers and still have minor children at home. I know Catholic and other Christian couples who have made these choices.

Finally, if anything, I've learned you can never plan surprises. I have liberal friends who declared they would not marry till their mid-thirties, when they had good careers

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