The Life Skills Weekly blog is shifting from general life skills to look at a very specific topic: how women can navigate their various roles within a traditional marriage.
Women’s roles and possibilities have expanded drastically in the last 100 years. It is no longer a given that women will be in a subservient role in marriage, or even expected to marry or stay in a marriage. Women are no longer entirely dependent on their husbands to work outside the home and provide the living for the family. They can pursue careers, control their own finances, and decide when to have children. Women have more possibilities open to them than ever for what paths they can pursue in life. They can be CEO of a large corporation, a sports star, or run their own business. Women have filled such roles as attorney general of the United States, been nominated to the presidency, and elected vice-president. Women have lived in space. They can serve in combat roles in the military.
Yet research shows that Americans still place a high value on romantic love and traditional lifelong marriage. At the same time, Americans also embrace the ideal of individual freedom, and about half of those who marry will later choose to leave the marriage (Hull, 2010).
Is it possible for women to lead fulfilling lives, take advantage of the opportunities available to them, and be happy in a traditional marriage at the same time? Does a fulfilling marriage require that a woman be in a subservient role, or dedicated solely to the marriage while giving up any aspirations of her own? Is it possible to value and maintain a lifelong marriage, while being self-fulfilled and self-sufficient? Is it possible to juggle all the roles that might be involved, without becoming overwhelmed and worn out? We think so. But we also think it takes more than just rationalizing or navigating through the expectations of society, situations, and relationships. We also need to navigate who we are inside, as well as the three entities in a marriage—you, me, and us. And along with society’s shifting norms, we need to also navigate our own inner growth and changes in our values.
We hope to explore in the coming weeks how this “role navigation” can be successful, and we hope you will join us!
Hull, K. E., Meier, A., & Ortyl, T. (2010). The Changing Landscape of Love and Marriage. Contexts (Berkeley, Calif.), 9(2), 32–37. https://doi.org/10.1525/ctx.2010.9.2.32