Our Untraditional Marriage: My Husband Cooks And I Watch Sports

Photo: Josep Suria / Shutterstock
happy couple cooking

Tonight I got off work and did a bit of grocery shopping with the family.

Since we have an untraditional marriage, we came home and I proceeded to sit on the couch, eat bean dip and watch the Heat play while my husband made dinner.  My husband isn't a big sports fan, but he's starting to develop an interest in basketball.

Is it a little bit of role reversal? Maybe. But the thing is, in our house and in our marriage, traditional gender roles — mom and dad, man and woman — mean almost nothing. My husband does a lot of the housework, he does most of the cooking and he takes care of our son when I'm at meetings or working late.

We are remarkably happy with this arrangement. And it seems there are a growing number of families that are just like us.

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It appears that when mothers work more outside the house, they are happier when they get home.

One theory is that when moms take on more work, dads pick up the extra slack at home, taking some of the domestic pressures away from the women in their lives.

Interestingly, when dads work more, satisfaction for couples declines.

When both parents work, though, satisfaction for both increases, provided they like their jobs. (When there are no kids involved, it doesn't seem to hurt the relationship when a man works more.) 

I know that in my marriage, we function best when my husband is home for the family during the usual after-work hours. When he was working a job that involved a lot of later nights, well, we had issues.

Part of the problem was that it wasn't a job he loved, part of it was that I was starting to feel overburdened. It wasn't good for us as a couple, and it wasn't good for the little one.

We were lucky enough to have the chance to change things up when my husband was able to find a job with regular day hours. (Granted, this was pre-recession, back when pickings were a little less slim. These days, this would be far more difficult to do.)

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Since then, I typically take the majority of the late-night and early-morning work-related tasks and he does stuff like getting the boy's lunch packed and make sure there's a healthy dinner at night. It works out well for us.

I think it's good for our son to see our dynamic and to know that in life he will be expected to cook, clean, and care not only for himself but for his family alongside his wife if he chooses to have that type of life someday.

Our son needs to see that it's not solely the job of the wife to ensure dinner is on the table on time, and that it's alright if she occasionally wants to kick back and watch the game after a long day at work. (His father often instructs him not to pester me during the playoffs, dear man that he is. The boy has never even batted an eye at that.) 

We hope to show him that ability and desire define roles in a relationship, not some archaic definition of men's and women's jobs.

We don't mimic what romantic comedies and sitcoms portray marriage to be.

He doesn't need to see a wife nagging her husband to get off the couch, he needs to see a man and a woman working together for their family. He needs real-life role models who aren't playing into a stereotype.

He needs to know that some women are happier when they work hard outside the home, while some men are happier to take on domestic roles like cooking.

I do find it somewhat affirming to see that other couples have experienced similar to ours, and I love seeing studies being published about it.

It's nice to know that for a lot of families, stepping away from the norm can allow everyone involved a chance to feel fulfilled.

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Amber Copeland is a cynical optimist and a hopeless romantic. She's a product of the 90s, rife with riot grrl angst and a sense that she should be part of the solution, not the problem.