9.30.2008

Fascinating Womanhood

A few years after my sister Christina married, she recommended a book to both my mother and me.

"It has changed my outlook on what it means to be a good wife and improved my marriage," she exclaimed.

My mother showed interest, but when I saw the title, Fascinating Womanhood, I couldn't help but cringe. It reminded me of one of those corny, what's-happening-to-my-body videos that every prepubescent girl was forced to sit through in health class.

Having witnessed the reaction, Christina tried to persuade me.

"It discusses practical things--like how a woman should plan what kind of meals she is going to serve her husband, how she should spend a few extra minutes getting dressed before he comes home from work, and how a relationship is improved if a woman keeps her house clean," she said.

"What kind of crap is this?" I asked snarkily. "The June Cleaver Theory of Relationships? When was it written? 1953 or something?"

"No, more like 1963," she answered, resolute in her evaluation of the book's worthiness.

I passed on reading Fascinating Womanhood because it offended my 20-something sensibilities and felt demeaning somehow. Back then, I worked as many, if not more, hours than my husband of the time. I questioned why I should be solely responsible for the meals and housework. I also wondered why should I feel compelled to put lipstick on for my husband everyday, when he would rarely wear an ironed shirt. Fifteen years later, I still think these questions are fair.

So when a blogger recently asked me how I spent my days here in Germany, my answer surprised me as I uttered the words.

"I see my job as this: making life as easy for my husband as possible. He works so hard--12 hour days or more--here in Germany. My role is to make his life outside work comfortble. What's good for him, is good for both of us."

Egads!!! Fascinating Womanhood? Hardly. Even though the book is still in existence and in its 6th edition, it is was something else--something I like to call Fascinating Manhood-- that triggered my change of heart. What I mean is my husband makes it easy for me to aspire to be a modern-day June Cleaver.

Max does everything to please me and asks nothing in return. For instance, even though Max wakes up in the wee hours every weekday morning, he jumps out of bed on the weekends to walk Charlie and bring me coffee in bed. He's the guy who not only brings home the bacon, but will also pitch in and cook it as well. I am certainly one lucky gal.

So it feels natural to, in all my hausfrau ways, go about my daily routine with Max in mind, striving to do my best for him. But with all of this said, please don't think I have changed my ways and started dressing like June Cleaver. Now *that* would be a Fasicnating Transformation, indeed!

12 comments:

ian in hamburg said...

Hey! I was across the table when you said that. :-) I think it's healthy and wise for you to be taking a break and doing things for the man you love. What better reason to do things is there?

So glad to meet you, and I agree with what Mausi said - you two are one great-looking couple!

kenju said...

I have been introduced to books like that in the past and I always gave them a wide berth, too.

It's ironic, though, how we can change without really changing...LOL
My son said very nearly the same thing yesterday.

Simple Answer said...

I was a little worried there. I sent my SP out to the kitchen to get me more coffee. I was worried what he would read over my shoulder. Phew. I don't think there is one thing wrong with spoiling and respecting one another. Two-way street though, two-way street.

And I do wear an apron. Makes me feel very June. But in fact, it is because I'm a wreck in the kitchen. Total disaster!

sassy said...

I agree - my hubby and I both work, but when I see (especially comparedto the average French male) how much he does to help, it makes me want to do more !

Andrea said...

Dressing like June Cleaver - that would be egads for sure :)
You are a lucky one. My hubby (especially lately) has been pretty much responsible for the laundry and a lot of dishes while I've been busy. Max sounds like a sweetheart. I think we've snagged some rare men!

Connie said...

As a mom to small kids, and more picky about housework and organization, with both of us working long hours, I felt resentful of the extra work I had to put in at home too. There simply were NOT enough hours in the day to get needed things done AND have fun time together as family. I quit. Fired the housekeeper and everything - less money in, less out. I do it all now... even the (ick) ironing. I love it and we all feel balanced. Hubby works his job. I work mine (only one now). It has really made things better for all of our family.

You aren't going to catch me in dresses and heels, with pipe and slippers, waiting at the door. But I do believe in getting fully 'dressed' - outdoor ready. And I expect hubby to handle some household things I can't (lightbulbs 5 feet over my head, etc.) Kids were out of school today, so while I didn't have to do much this morning. I still felt it was my 'job' to get up, make coffee, and be with my hubby as he got ready for work (which I like to do anyway). Nothing wrong with acting like a professional - even if you work at home... as a homemaker.

gemma said...

I remember being told, many years ago, that you give to people what you want them to give to you. You are seeing the truth in action. Sounds like you two are a wonderful team.

Shelly said...

After two + decades of racing off to various jobs, I'm loving the chance to stay home and "play"...at least that's what it feels like...it sounds like you're enjoying yourself too ;)

LZ Blogger said...

So when is Max's new book "Fascinating Manhood" coming out? But seriously it does sound like you have both decided that what ever it takes to keep the other one happy can also make you happy too! So... now I guess I'll go write my new book "Fascinating People"! ^wink^ ~ jb///

Charlotte said...

Hmmmm ... I'd say you're both working on Max's career--fine, his name is on the paycheck, but you make sure that he has the environment that energizes him to be the successful businessman that he is. So, you *are*, in fact, working, honey.

*this note generated by the evil pinko-commie feminist empire*

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Oh, I don't know...pearls can make for a great accessory :)

(I hear ya...I'm right there with ya...)

Paige Jennifer said...

That's called love, not 1950's, Stepford Wives, whacko bullshit. Personally, I see no reason for you to defend it. Just don't write a book about the best way to iron your man's underwear, okay?