I was at a fascinating talk on Monday night which has got me thinking on a number of areas. That plus a couple of recent conversations has gotten me thinking about gender roles in romantic relationships.
The specific area I want to talk about now where I cause myself problems is that I seem to have internalised a view that says it is my job as a woman to hold things together, to make sure that I provide the glue to keep the relationship going. It's something I see reflected back at me all the time from all around. Women tend to do most of the child care, have jobs that are easier to be flexible with, are described as the centre of families etc etc.
I believe in none of that and yet I've realised that I have developed a habit in my relationship that very much reflects the above. I haven't been doing some of my interests as much so as to keep more time for my SO - mostly because he is very busy and he doesn't like to make plans in advance so I've been in the habit of keeping time spare just in case he finds himself free. (because his things are bound to be more important than my things - I can hear my mum in my head telling me that!)
And I sometimes find myself nagging my SO or getting upset with him for not getting back to me quickly. I might ask him on Monday what he wants to do at the weekend. And then he'll let me know on Saturday afternoon. Rather than just organising my own stuff, I've been keeping time free and then getting annoyed with him if he doesn't also find free time.
Yuck - I hate that shit and find it worrying that it has been so easy for me to subconsciously slip into that role and habit after being back in a romantic relationship for just a few years. How awful - I'm kind of pissed off with myself.
Having said that - I do want to be in a close, romantic relationship with somebody I share lots of time with and lots of day to day stuff. Just being around each other while doing our own thing is grand. I just don't want it to be my sole responsibility to keep that together.
So - having realised what has been going on, I have decided that what I'm going to do is pick up on the interests that I haven't been so involved in recently and do them more regularly.
Also, that I'm not going to wait around for my SO to let me know when he can fit in time for us. If he doesn't get back to me in good time and I plan something else - that's too bad for us.
I have let him know that I worry about us not spending enough quality time together and that his tendency to want to arrange things as late as possible can make time together more difficult (unless I wait around which I'm going to make a conscious effort not to do).
I have also let him know that I'll revisit my feelings on our relationship in a few months - I'm thinking September. It may be by then that I find we are making more of an equal effort at finding time and being close with each other. Or I may find that I feel we've drifted into being more like friends than partners - in which case, we may need to think about making some changes in how we think and talk about our relationship.
I have told him that I'm not going to chase him or get upset with him if there isn't time for us any longer - he needs to make his own choices and we need to see where we are in a few months.
My SO is very committed to our relationship so I'm thinking that it should be okay.