Emasculation – Literally meaning “to castrate” but informally meaning “to put down/to weaken”
In my self imposed convalescence (yes, I have taken full advantage of pregnancy!) I have had a lot of time to reflect on my relationship with my husband and our future plans. With my child due in about 2 months time, I have found myself contemplating on the development of my life – physically, emotionally and spiritually – more frequently. A reoccurring thought kept popping back to me; a year ago I had a high flying career, I traveled 75% of the time, I was financially more secure and I had a lot of fun whilst doing it. But now, when I am not working at all, have much less disposable income, worries about my work/life balance after my baby is born and a lot more responsibility on the way – why am I happier?
What makes us happy? And how much do we really care about what other people think should make us happy?
Lets be clear – I was never the girl who dreamed of a large family, cooking for my husband, visiting relatives and generally being a happy homemaker. I grew up in an environment where this was, perhaps not verbally, definitely frowned upon and those who went down this path were certainly considered “weaker” or “wasting their lives”. Sad, but true, that this is an issue that I am sure many women who grow up in more developed countries face. Therefore, I always had great ambitions for a life beyond this and I wasted no time realising my dreams. I am lucky enough, at a relativity young age, to have traveled to some of the most beautiful places in the world and to have had a great time while doing it, especially as much of it was for work reasons.
When I met my husband we were working together and while some of this travel involved us both, the majority of it was individually, with most of his time spent on the ground in Dubai. For the first year of our relationship (as I have mentioned in previous posts) we had very little focus on family life or religion, and we certainly never gave a seconds thought to the impact that all the distance might have on our relationship. It is only now that I am firmly rooted at home (in bed for the most part, who said morning sickness was only during the first trimester??) that I have really reviewed the change in our relationship. Despite him coming from a more traditional background, I still didn’t think even once about whether or not he was happy with me travelling alone most of the time. To have considered this would have definitely raised cries of “you’re a modern woman why should he stop you” and “this is your life, you do what you want” from some of my social circle at the time. To admit that I would consider reducing my travel time was almost like a defeat and I would have felt a degree of pressure among the more feminist of my friends and family. While he never once mentioned this or showed any signs of being unhappy, I do now realise that it was during this phase in our relationship (pre-marriage) that he didn’t take us as seriously as perhaps I thought he did, and it is now that I really feel the depth of his feelings, more than before. Having grown up in a very family oriented and religious environment, he must have found it a little unnerving how independent I was, and still am although I am now far more considerate of him, and how much responsibility I had in my career. I look back on times when, on brief trips back to Dubai, he would kindly ask how my day was or did I want to do something outside, and I would be so tense with work stress that I would put him down or respond negatively while emailing or texting someone from work.
In this instance, I have to ask – where is the line between independence as a woman, and emasculating our spouse? On reflection, because I never gave him the chance to say anything, or to even mention to me that he might like me to be at home more, I pushed him away emotionally during this time. I have asked him about it recently and he does admit that now he feels happier because he is the main provider and can take care of me now. This may be a slightly archaic view to some of you, but those from traditional backgrounds I am sure can fully understand this. While I may be from the other end of the spectrum from my husband geographically, if I assume such a level of first world arrogance that I refuse to compromise, what will be the outcome? I do think that however the modern world develops, to some degree most men simply want to provide for their family and take care of them. While the expectation in my community may be that I have a high flying successful career, in my husbands community I am definitely the exception and not the rule!
I know that should I go back to my career after a few years, I would need to renegotiate on what terms I went back on, and I will certainly never consider this to be defeatist. While ‘stay at home mum’ is not a tag I ever thought I would be proud to wear, it is one that I am proud to wear for now. It takes all sorts to make this world go round. Whatever your choice, do it with conviction and pride, and don’t have any regrets.
Some interesting links below:
A little light humour for the SAHM’s out there – no judgement please, yes the woman is drinking, and no I don’t drink. I am allowed to laugh though!
Very interesting video on stay at home dads and career mums:
Career moms vs SAHM’s debate: