Good question Thad and no offense taken by it at all. Right around the time that all of this was taking place several years ago, James got laid off from his job because a new CEO came in and wanted to pick his own team. Even though James immediately got another job to tide him over until another similar position became available, he went through a crisis of feeling like he wasn't doing his job as a provider, etc. He was overly identified with his job and all of this at the same time as the marriage stuff forced him to re-evaluate not only our relationship to each other but also his relationship to himself. It was a tough year, to say the least, but he came out of it realizing that he was more than the patriarchal role he'd been sold, and that his value to me and to our family was more than that. We both became more fully individuals through that, although it still took him longer to fully embrace all of this.

My elderly mom has just moved in with us in the past few months and it takes a lot to care for her, which means I've had to step back from a lot of the things I still used to do as the main homemaker. He now does all the cooking and grocery shopping, and most of the kitchen clean-up. He's learning to see what needs to be done rather than asking if I need any help. This kind of things helps to more fully re-write those old scripts.

This is a long answer to your question, but husband implies provider (I now make the most money), leader of the family (we now share that) and that other than those things, I take care of him, which is no longer the case. We take care of each other in a much more balanced way. I think he pretty much sees me as partner now as well. Falling in love with Tamara also helped to further dismantle that sense of ownership. I tell him about when I'm having trouble with my other partner Nat, and he supports and advises me on that, although mostly he just listens. That kind of respect for my life that is separate from him, along with the other components, pretty much dismantles the traditional "husband" paradigm. As I said, we still use those term because it's simplest, but I no longer have to remind him that I'm not his wife so I think he's pretty on-board with thinking of us a partners too.

One of the big things that happens when you stop plugging into someone else’s relationship paradigms and start having to actually co-create your own is that you have to be vulnerable to each other in new ways; you have to communicate on a much deeper level and this leads to greater connection and intimacy. Even though it was not always easy, a part of James really wanted all of this as well. If he hadn’t, it never would have ended up with such a good result. We are both happier now both as individuals and as a couple from going through this reevaluation of how we relate to each other. It still takes work and there are places that are still evolving, but there’s nothing to resent because we’ve both gained a lot.

Here’s something I wrote a while back that may further help you to understand why that is.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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