Shortly after I was married, seven years ago (and don't lecture me about the seven-year itch, either) I was told to beware the giant undersucking archetype that would transform me from a Person to a Wife. Not having been married, I answered politely. But now I see.

Similar to the way that a single human brain will trample down comfortable neural pathways and stick to them, the collective consciousness has been getting married for a long time. Women, in particular, have been handed off very much like cattle, to be properly penned and bred. We may think, here in enlightened modern America, that we're approaching things differently, but overall you'd be wrong. We mean well, and everything. But it's hard to rise above a genetic pathway that has grooved itself into a canyon.

What the hell am I talking about? you might ask. This. In my own household, it is the woman (that would be me) who is ultimately responsible for the children, the cooking, clean clothes, made beds, doctor appointments, and watering the plants. The man (you know who) can approach these tasks as a luxury. If he does them, he's doing me a favor. He does do them, but often with an off-handed joke about how I owe him for the chore. Seriously. He's not being a jerk; he's just being the Husband.

If you haven't considered this, just remember that a "husband" in the English language is someone who manages lifestock.

But I digress. In my own home, we are modern thinkers. Therefore I am busy with my own projects and our home is often in total disarray, proving for sure that I am not quite the Wife of whom the collective would approve. But lately we have reached a crossroads where my path and the path of wifedom are really beginning to diverge.

I am following my path of becoming an energy healer, you see, which requires a lot of schooling, time and money. These resources are tapping the family needs and lately it's gotten to the point where my little fling is just no longer funny. I am now lining up my ducks to go to massage school, and then graduate school. Scott has responded--perfectly reasonably when you consider he is the Husband--that all my shenanigans are getting him stressed.

Of course he's stressed. The cow is out wandering the pastures. The fence is all trampled and who will watch the calves?

Anyway. You may well ask what's in it for me, then? this marriage thing. And I will tell you the honest truth. Yesterday I was playing with my wedding ring and I became aware of what a sense of security it offers me. Being married makes me feel grounded (or fenced). It makes me feel safe, as if without it I would become untethered and wander the world without aim. As if I would float away, were it not for the anchoring ring.

I know that at least in my own marriage we both want to express equality. But I also know that down here in the marital muddy trenches, it's all messier than it might seem. The pushing and pulling between union and separation, man and woman, freedom and security is quite a tussle.

As for me, I've jumped the fences. But I still wear the bell.


PocketCT said...

Marriage has genetic memory, huge social pressure to conform and big archetypes that are hard to rebel against. I just had a new revelation that women were prized property because they were powerful breadwinners in hunter gatherer communities. Doesn't make me want to sign up to be owned but it makes it clearer why the cow wandering around is such a big deal. Bells are better than fences. Stuff it to people who tell you to live your marriage the way they want to, but maybe that shouldn't count your guy.

Suzanne Blakeney said...

You are amazing! Love the candor and the wit and especially the belly laugh over the meaning of the word husband. Keep breathing, keep following your dream, keep running around in the mud and writing about it. I'll keep reading.