In starting this blog I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I'm just whiny or if there is a larger issue with non-traditional spouse relationships in the larger world of medicine. I fear the whiny label because frankly that's how a lot of the younger wives sound to me when they complain about their doctor husbands not paying enough attention to them.
Enter Chas Smith's recent Fatherly piece (picked up and hyped by Huffington Post today on their Facebook feed). The comments on the repost of the piece are pretty harsh, but I think there need to be more voices like Smith's (his writing is actually pretty witty, which seems to go right by some of the commenters). I want to applaud Smith for being so authentic about how his wife makes 10 times what he makes and still she is a better parent. I question if that's really true or not; I suspect most stay at home parents always assume the parent who isn't at home all the time is better at it than they are, but he's still pretty brave for putting it out there.
I've seen this sort of danger zone pop up with heterosexual couples I've known in the past; Smith's discomfort with his situation may not make rational sense, but it's pretty common. If we think about the way that we are all indoctrinated to think about men as the breadwinner and how we look down on women as "just" the caregivers, we can start to understand how this sort of ego-dilemma is so common. Sexism runs both ways, in other words. The fact that women have been damaged by the whole wife image means that men have been damaged by the husband/breadwinner image.
I know this is not rocket-science, but you might think it was given some of the comments on his reposted essay. One woman told him to stop focusing on the numbers and that it is ridiculous how he focuses on that idea of "manliness"--he didn't create that image for himself, however.
And we shouldn't encourage women to shirk off the label of "just" being a wife and mother if that's what they choose in the same breath that we tell a guy to "get over" the programming he's been subjected to his entire life. For all of the commenters who are talking about how disgusting he is for suggesting he capitalize on his daughter's desire to model, are you also commenting ruthlessly on stay at home mom's blogs who want their kids to go into pageants and what not? Probably not. After all, wanting to be a stage mom is a wonderful thing that shows your kid is the apple of your eye while this guy just wants to pay for his vodka, right?
Ruts in thinking and behavior are by their very nature difficult and scary to get out of.
This blog is written from the perspective of an older medical spouse who happens to be childless by choice. I hope that husbands, older spouses, those childless by choice, and others will find this entertaining and occasionally useful.