Friday, November 9, 2012
Keeping the List
I went to a conference recently, and a female judge was talking about her egalitarian marriage and her feminist husband, and then she said, "but somehow, I always kept the list."
And there it was. There was a three word term for the issues I've been having lately. I've been feeling really frustrated - I'm finally working, my husband is finally not working so much, things are good, and yet, something feels unbalanced. Not like I'm doing more than my fare share, but like I'm the cruise director around here. So there it is, with a name. I keep the list.
Around the room, other women nodded. So I'm not the only partner out there who is somehow responsible for meal planning and grocery planning and perhaps grocery shopping and knowing what we are eating for dinner on what night. I'm not the only one who is getting tired of being asked, "so do we have plans this weekend?" I'm not the only one who keeps track of the plans, who is making a list of what needs to be done and who needs to do it. I'm not the only one who is driving the relationship bus and is experiencing some serious road fatigue.
Once you name it, you can talk about it. Because as soon as I said to my husband, "I keep the list", he nodded. "You do, and I'm sorry," he said. Once we named it, we started working to fix it. That weekend, we sat down and wrote the meal plan together, and then he went grocery shopping. He chopped peppers and I chopped onions for the week. The next weekend, he made chili and I made banana bread and roasted beets. Last weekend he grocery shopped and chopped onions so that it would be easier to put meals together.
Sometimes changing who keeps the list is as simple as admitting that you can't do it all. In the spring when he was working all the time and I was working full time for the first time, I came home and admitted that we couldn't lead the organic, totally healthy, not from a box, meal planned and prepared lifestyle we wanted to - that I didn't have the energy, and I couldn't do it alone. So we started to loosen our grip on the lifestyle we wanted - we bought more convenience foods, and I forgave myself for throwing together a quick dinner. Every once in awhile, I have a crappy day, and he's still at work, and I call him and tell him I'm not cooking, and we go out or we get takeout. Those days are still pretty far apart, but the possibility of neither of us having to cook is there.
One of the other big things that has been helpful for us is to use technology - we use an app called "our groceries" so that whoever is able to go grocery shopping has the list, and we use gmail and google docs to recipe plan - each week, we (try to) email back and forth a list with the menu plan and all of the recipes that we are using. That way, we are on the same page with dinner and a meal plan. I'm still making the meal plan and I'm still doing most of the cooking. He's doing the laundry and more of the housework. It's getting better though, and I'm getting better about asking for help or admitting when I'm feeling cranky and too "list-keepy".
Do you keep the list? Does your partner? If you actually split responsibilities, how do you do it and how do you make it work?