Today’s Equally Yoked post is from Anne Garrido. You’d think that a whip-smart Frenchwoman marrying a passionate Spaniard wouldn’t exactly be a recipe for a mutually-submissive marriage. But as Anne explains, you’d think wrong.
You could say we didn’t start in the best conditions. I was raised in a traditional patriarchal family with a stay-at-home mum and I didn’t know anything else. As for my husband, he comes from a Spanish home where it was ten times worse. For me the most shocking thing was that he has three brothers and one sister and that the sister was expected to do everything in the house with her mother, including make her brothers’ beds, while they were not to lift a finger. So I was really pleased when we got married and my husband spontaneously started to do the dishes after meals or to mop floors. I was even more delighted when he changed nappies without ever complaining or when he asked me not to bathe our baby in the morning because he wanted to do it when he came home from work in the evenings (he’s got a thing for babies, my husband). Now that we have been married for 20 years, where do we stand? I must admit he doesn’t always take part in the housework as enthusiastically as when we first got married; sometimes because of his education he thinks he is doing me a favour rather than something normal when he cleans the house so he doesn’t feel guilty about not doing it, but on the whole he does his share (slightly less than when we first got married, but that’s because the children are old enough to do their bit now). Why does he do it? Because he knows I don’t enjoy doing it – something his mother never expressed. Even today, she scolds him if he tries to help when we are invited because to her it is simply not a man’s job. Fortunately, he feels perfectly manly even when doing housework at home, although he sometimes jokingly pretends otherwise.
People generally consider us to be a happy couple and we are, so what’s our secret? Well, there are several but I think one of them is to do with the balance we have struck as far as gender issues are concerned. My husband and I are very different people and this is one of the reasons we were attracted to each other in the first place. In many ways, we fit traditional patterns: he likes to find out how things work, I couldn’t care less as long as they do, he likes Bruce Willis films, I prefer Jane Austen, etc, etc. But there are also some very unusual things about us. I’ve mentioned one of them already: my husband dotes on small babies (if there is one in the room, you can be sure it’ll be in his arms within minutes) whereas I prefer children once they start to speak. He’s the intuitive one and I’m the rational one: he sometimes annoys me when we argue because he won’t be convinced by reason, but I value his advice on dealing with people because he can feel things I simply don’t. And yet we both feel at ease with who we are as man and woman.
Another thing is that neither of us is in command. Sometimes, because I’m a university teacher and because I preach in church, people who don’t know us very well have assumed I’m the one who leads in the couple. Sometimes, because my husband is of Spanish origin (Southern men are supposed to be bossy and his father certainly is) and because he can get very passionate, not to say stormy, other people (who don’t know us either) have assumed I just have to shut my mouth and do as he says. The truth is that we really share “authority”. I’ve got a good head for figures and I’m very organised, whereas my husband is simply not interested so I’m the one who is in charge of the budget. On the other hand I like the mountains and my husband prefers the sea, but we always holiday by the seaside and I don’t mind, because I want to please him (we tried the mountains and he didn’t enjoy it). In every day life I make a lot of decisions, but when it comes to anything important we decide together. If we don’t agree on an issue, we discuss it until we do. If we can’t come to an agreement, we don’t go any further with whatever the question was. Usually one of us gives in if he/ she realises it is really important to the other. I’m glad to say it’s not always the same partner!
So is everything rosy? No, but we really love each other and we want to make things work. I suppose what helps is that we see each other first and foremost as two human beings trying to live according to Christian principles. And of course, when you “in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2, 3), it makes things a lot easier.
Anne Garrido is French and teaches English literature and translation at a university in Northern France. Although she is happy to share her experience, she values her privacy and prefers to use a pen name so that her students can’t read this page by googling her!
Next week’s Equally Yoked post is from Jonathan Aigner.
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