Know Your Role; Live by it and Redefine it as Needed


Husband-Carrying-WifeMy husband and I banter back and forth jokingly using certain expressions.  We frequently use the phrase, “know your role,” when we want to prompt the other person to complete an action.
For example, as I’m clearing off the dinner table, I might say these words to him, “I cooked dinner so you can do the dishes.  Know your role.”
As foreplay is happening, my husband may say playfully to me, “Take your clothes off and come over here next to me.  Know your role.”
If I am correcting my oldest daughter (age six) who interrupts me while I’m on an important phone call, I may tell her, “Be quiet, I’m on the phone.  Know your role.”
In these incidents described above, we say these phrases in jest.  However I realize that in all seriousness, my husband and I do each play an important “role” and those roles are defined and very important to the success of our marriage.
I play a role as a wife and as a mother.  I take on certain duties that help us thrive.  For instance, I serve as the primary cook for our family.  Since my husband was eating take-out and frozen dinners when I met him, I took on the responsibility of cooking and preparing meals for us.  Over time, my husband has gained cooking skills and has helped out in the kitchen more but I am better at planning meals and doing prep work.  I enjoy looking up recipes and researching healthy meal options.  That is the understood expectation between us.
My husband takes on the role as our financial planner and budget manager. He likes staying on top of every dollar we spend and how we spend it. He enjoys it and he’s more engaged in the bottom line than I am. My husband is also great at finding coupons and deals that help us keep costs down. That is his role and I gratefully encourage him to lead that duty for our family.
When it comes to our children, we both take on certain roles.
My husband helps them complete homework assignments. He will often do household projects with the kids or take them to a local hardware store for the community children’s craft projects.
I serve as the clothing and accessory guru since we have two daughters. I pick out their clothes and hair bows. I like it whereas my husband prefers not to look for matching colors or sets.
My spouse is great when it comes to researching new products for our family. From buying a minivan to a ceiling fan, he has great consumer reporting knowledge and I am thankful he plays that role.
I serve as our event coordinator. I am the one who finds family-fun activities for us to do on weekends. I often plan our trips and vacations. My husband gladly permits me to be the executive officer of fun for our household.
These are just a few examples of the various roles each of us play. They may change over time or when we need them to do so. We always communicate our roles and our expectations of each other. This makes everything run smoother in our home.
Because of our open discussions, we are not second-guessing who is going to take out the trash and who is going to switch out the winter wardrobe for the spring clothing. We know who the person will be and we are fine with that choice.
Then as time and special circumstances arise, we will redefine our duties.
For instance, if one of us is off on a vacation day while the other is working, then the person at home will typically take on more of the household chores and cooking duties. If the children are home too, then being a caretaker for them is the primary focus. With changing work schedules or other things that come up, my husband and I will change the roles and switch around as needed.
I don’t believe there are set roles for a husband or a wife. I know many couples who have the wife working as the primary person while the dad stays home. I know a partnership where the husband performs all the cooking but his wife does most of the cleaning.
Every couple is different and what works best for one will be completely different for another. There is no right or wrong way of doing what comes best for your family; the key is to talk about the roles and agree upon those roles; then support each other in those decisions.
The most important communications tip I can offer other married couples is to know your role; live by it (with gratitude) and redefine it as you need to in each situation. Marriages will thrive by practicing this concept on a daily basis.