Saturday, February 07, 2009

One life ...


man cooking, originally uploaded by - di.

Then quite suddenly a young woman, if she marries, has to diverge completely from this way of life, while her husband simply goes on toward the goals set in college. She is expected to cope not with ideas, but with cooking food, washing dishes, doing laundry, and if she insists on keeping at a job, she needs both a lot of energy and the ability to organise her time. If she has an infant to care for, the jump from the intellectual life to that of being a nurse must be immense. "The work" she may long to do has been replaced by various kinds of labour for which she has been totally unprepared. She has longed for children, let us say, she is deeply in love, she has what she thought she wanted, so she suffers guilt and dismay to feel so disoriented.

Husbands these days can and do help with the chores and, far more important, are aware of the problem and will talk anxiously about it - anxiously because a wife's conflict affects their peace of mind. But the fact remains that, in marrying, the wife has suffered an earthquake and the husband has not. His goals have not been radically changed; his mode of being has not been radically changed.

Extracted from 'A Journal of a Solitude', by May Sarton.

This appealed to me not only because May was writing of the fates of two of her best and most talented writing students but because it tapped into my past.

I will never forget my ex-husband telling me that I wasn't entitled to half of the proceeds from the house because he had earned the money over the years, as we followed his career from city to town.

Women often fail, or are not encouraged, to think about what will happen if a marriage comes to end. Obviously there are many men who also lose everything except their pants in a divorce but it's so important to be careful with educating our selves to survive alone in the world. I'm not sure that there is anything more important ...

Note: no men were harmed in the creation of this photograph however it was Gert who was doing the baking. I found a good man.

8 comments:

paris parfait said...

Great post and photo - and yes, Gert is a good man! :)

Di Mackey said...

Thanks Tara. :)

V-Grrrl said...

You did find a good man.

What struck me most is how women suffer and earthquake when they get married, and men carry on.

The hardest part for me is living under the shadow of society's (and sometimes my family's) expectations of What I Should Do and What SHOULD Make Me Happy.

Sometimes a Grrrl wants to shout, "Yes, I love ALL of you, but that doesn't mean I'm happy to wash your underwear!!!"

Di Mackey said...

Amen to that, Ms V!!!!

You made everyone laugh here. Underwear, dishes, floors, windows ...

donna said...

My husband and I used to have the biggest fights when I was taking care of the kids and going back to school and would complain about him not doing enough at home, and his response was, "But I work!".

I would usually go on strike for a couple of weeks and let him deal with it all until he appreciated me properly again.

And as soon as the boys were old enough, everyone did their own laundry and still do. Husband has had to do his own ever since he tried to pull that lame excuse on me. And the dishes.

Lydia said...

This was a powerful post, worthy of reprinting in a magazine as is!
Last week I had lunch with a friend and she was urging me to stuff money aside. When I told her I have a (small) savings account, she said that's not enough, there must be a quiet stash of cash hidden. I'm not sure I agree with her, but it did make me think of my own vulnerability if my conditions changed. yikes.

Di Mackey said...

It's the only way to survive sometimes, isn't it Donna. Congratulations on working it out.

Thanks Lydia but you know, your friend is right. I went from something like 75,000nz as a married woman raising a child and working part-time when I could (we lived in small country towns sometimes) to being on government benefit of something like 13,000 per year while studying at university and working part-time.

It was a big shock and one I was completely unprepared for.

Deadlyjelly said...

I hope you kicked your ex-husband's arse, I got really angry reading about his claim to the proceeds of your house. If I see him around, I will run him over on my bike

x