The Equitable Relationship

Andy went back to work a week after Caroline was born. When he returned home each evening, I'd be sitting in my jammies with dirty eye glasses and spit up on my shoulder. Maybe Caroline would be sleeping in her bassinett and maybe I'd be lucky enough to be folding some laundry. Our front door leads directly into the living room, so we are usually able to greet one another before taking our boots off. He'd open the door. I'd look up at him. He'd say, "Did you have a productive day?" I'd respond, "You're kid isn't dead. I'd call that a pretty productive day." This went on for the length of my maternity leave and I was relieved to go back to work and have to answer to my boss and not my husband.

Do you remember the story about the divorcee and stay-at-home mom who sued her husband for all the things she provided him during their marriage? The list included chores, caring for the children and sex. The amount of money was significant and I can't remember if she won but the story was pretty funny and brings up a great argument about equity in a marriage.

Andy and I argue daily about who does the most work in the relationship. We have unspokenly settled into our individual tasks. So, which tasks have the most value and who is doing the most? I thought I'd try to lay it all out and assign a monetary value to each task, per month.

Andy: mowing/snow blowing $50 general car care $10
kitty litter pans $20 pellet stove $20
garbage $10 mail $3
bills $50 cooking/groceries $10 (only periodically)
Caroline care $20 (only periodically)
Total: $193

Melissa: laundry $50 cooking/groceries $50
feed pets $10 cleaning house $50
make bed $3 Caroline care $75
Total: $238

I'm sure Andy would have his own opinion about this list and it could be revised here and there to more or less even things out. So, why can't we just call a truce and say, "Hey, we are in this together and we each play an important role in this family"? Can you place a price on a marriage? Can you place a value on being a good spouse and parent?

Making the bed each day: $3. Feeding the pets: $10. Loving your family and doing your share to make life run smoothly: Priceless.

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