Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rules, Guilt and Mad Men

First, I must apologize for breaking one of the primary rules of blogging: keep up with a consistent posting schedule. Not only has this past summer been packed with weekend travels, twice the amount of family get-togethers and other “real world” activities. And I must admit, we’ve also been busy watching episode after episode of the Golden Globe and Emmy award winning series, Mad Men.

The critical acclaim buzz, our mutual interest in marketing and advertising, and the fact that at a soon-to-close video store in our neighborhood was practically giving away the DVDs, gave this show wide appeal over others. After two episodes we were hooked. After the completion of the first season, I had a realization. We aren’t just breaking the rules of blogging, we are breaking the rules of gender roles of marriage every day.

After a full day of work, Mr. I gets home and prepares a dinner that is typically ready when I walk through the door. He is the one who stops by the grocery store and picks up milk or whatever else we need for the week’s meals. While I am out at the gym working out or staying downtown for drinks with a friend after work, it’s Mr. I who dusts or vacuums around our apartment. And more often than not, he is the one who gets our laundry started.

And you have no idea how guilty this makes me feel (and typing it all out just now makes me feel even more guilty). Do any other wives out there feel guilty when their hubby does housework? I feel like I’m not playing my part as the wife or like I’m letting down our team in the rookie season. Compared to how wives of the 1960’s are portrayed, I am a far cry from what Betty Draper (the wife of the main character in Mad Men) and June Cleaver would consider a suitable wife by any means. Often, I worry Mr. I might feel the same way.

Then, one evening a miracle happened. We watched a scene where Don Draper reprimands his wife for not having enough dinner for himself and his boss, who dropped by unexpectedly. After a second or two of shock, almost simultaneously we BOTH laughed at how ludicrous and unwarranted his anger would be now, acknowledging how much gender roles in marriage have changed in the past 50 years. It was comforting to know not only did I believe the traditional pressures of a housewife were a bit demanding, but so did my modern-day husband.

But still my guilt remains. Am I simply less of a wife then those women of generations past? I refuse to believe I am. Although it seems like I am failing as a wife at times, I have to remind myself of how much the dynamics of relationships have changed since then. Sure, I probably would fail a housekeeping test in the 1960’s, but today it would be a whole different exam.

I have to remind myself of what I DO contribute to the team. I clean the bathroom, do the dishes, send cards and packages to families and friends, decorate our apartment and plan our vacations (and of course, my ever-cheerful, sparkling personality has got to fit in there somewhere). I have to believe that this counts as something.

What I do believe is that men, Mr. I in particular, are more of a husband and equal partner then they have been in previous generation. Mr. I willingly (for the most part) does the chores around the house so that we have time to spend together instead of doing housework. And he is the one who enjoys cooking so he is the one who makes dinner.

Maybe we aren’t actually breaking the rules. We are simply redefining them to fit our relationship, our generation and our life together.


  1. O Mrs.I, how complex you are ;), and also how kind. I would think that you should feel lucky and honored that Mr. I is involved in the housework and helps take some load off of you after a long day. The only time I think it would be appropriate to feel guilty is if either Mr. I is miserable having to do this housework, or if you were not helping with anything -- and I am sure that neither of these are the case! I think it's good you are talking about your feelings, and that you are both handling the modern marriage like champs.

    So no worrying :)

    Love you both

  2. I would just like to point out that Betty Draper has a housekeeper who not only does a lot of the cooking and cleaning but ALSO watches the children. She really has no room to talk.


  3. Kate,
    Oh so true. Betty does like to whine quite a bit, and it does drive me crazy. But what ELSE does she have to do all day other than make a big deal out of petty things? :) Take care.


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