Lean In Chapter Eight, Make your partner a real partner

Partnership is truly a gift from God.  it amazes me how God prefers that we don’t work alone.  He provides partnership in ministry, in friendship, in vocation and perhaps the most beautiful manifestation of partnership is in husband and wife.

Here’s a picture of my favorite partner and me, back when we were young and fun.

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Sheryl Sandberg arrives at a necessary place in this chapter, calling attention to the obvious fact that if women are going to be more devoted outside of the home; support structures, home management and spousal agreements will inevitably need to be altered.

As women must be more empowered at work, men must be more empowered at home

Going off studies that report how in households where both the mother and father work full time, women are still doing 30% more childcare and 40% more housework, Sandberg builds a case for how husbands and wives need to be highly intentional to be successful at creating a more equal division of labor in the home.

As I mentioned in my recap of the previous chapter, I think that to a degree women are designed to care for the home, which includes raising children, planning and scheduling, and yes even cooking and cleaning.  So even if a woman is working outside of the home, she is still inevitably going to come home to her other full time job and have full ownership over that role.

This paragraph sort of encapsulates that idea:

The U.S. Census Bureau considers mothers the ‘designated parent’, even when both parents are in the home.  When mothers care for their children it’s called ‘parenting’, but when fathers care for their children, the government deems it a ‘childcare arrangement’.  I have even heard a few men say that they are heading home to ‘babysit’ for their children.  I have never heard a woman refer to taking care of her own children as babysitting.

Although there were the usual disagreements between Sheryl and me on how and why women and men are the way we are, I appreciated her sentiment, her advice and her applications.

Right now the Phillips arrangement is pretty traditional in that I am only working a small amount of hours/week (from home) and Jon works full time, therefor the majority of the house work, child rearing and home management falls on my shoulders.  Although these days of yoga pants, laundry and little children are loooooong, it has actually been a really beautiful and peaceful season of my life and in our home.

But even in our current arrangement where I am the little wifey in the kitchen and Jon is bringing home the bacon, we have a true partnership that brings so much life and joy to my heart and our marriage.  We acknowledge that we are both called to be Kingdom Workers and we have some shared spheres of influence (mostly our delightful preschoolers) as well as some spheres of influence that are independent of the other person or the home.  I am thankful for a partner who understands that my calling, while primarily used at home and taken up quite a bit as a wife and mom, is not limited to the home and will make every effort to support me.

As a summary of the chapter, here is a DO and DON’T list , that I think is pretty helpful in navigating work/home life for men and women:

DO communicate in advance of having children how it will work, what your goals are and what your expectations of each other are.

DO persevere, but be flexible!  If you are challenging the ‘norm’ or tradition or trying something new it is vital that you are committed, but flexible in how that looks!  Work situations change, passions change, seasons change.  and people change.  If you and your spouse are truly devoted to partnership, weathering these things will be much more manageable.

DO treat your partner as an equally capable partner.  This is mostly for women who want to micromanage the way their husbands cook, clean and put diapers on the baby.  (I was totally convicted by this one!)

DO take into account preferences and giftings when it comes to who will cook, clean, schedule, manage finances, etc…  Just as you would in a church or workplace, the home is no different.

DON’T forget that Stay at Home moms (or dads!) work full time, too.  Even if one spouse works out of the home and the other doesn’t, partnership is still needed because it provides the framework for good communication, mutual respect and ownership over the family life.

DON’T cling to tradition for the sake of tradition, only to end up miserable.  According to her research “When husbands do more housework, wives are less depressed, marital conflicts decrease, and satisfaction rises”.

DON’T perpetuate negative stereotypes of men who participate at home in child rearing and household duties.  It’s possible that a man can change diapers, grocery shop, cook dinner and watch kids during the day and STILL be a man!  Who knew?!?!

And now, in the spirit of true partnership, I shall share this blog post with MY partner in crime holy matrimony, Jon.  He was kind enough to respond to my questions while our kids watched Cars for the 3rd time this week 🙂

Kirsten:  What did we ‘get right’ when I was working more hours.  What could we improve upon, especially if I go back to working more outside the home?

Jon:  Things we got right:  I like that we had clearly defined ‘chore list’, especially before kids when we were both working full time.  But I also like that there were some unspoken agreements that we had, where I would just step in and help.  That was more about us working together and me serving you than checking things off a list.  I also like that we were creative with childcare and schedules.

Things to improve upon:  Designated time, not just designated tasks, to work on the house would be helpful.

2.  Kirsten:  What are your favorite and least favorite household chores?

Jon:  I don’t have favorites.    Alright fine, folding laundry. My least favorite are wiping down kitchen counters, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming.

3. Kirsten:  I joke about how if you die prematurely, I’ll spend the insurance money to hire a ‘manny’ to help me with the kids, the house and of course beat up intruders.  But really, as Sheryl Sandberg points out in this chapter, there is no replacement for YOU.  What do you bring to our home as husband and Daddy that no babysitter, housekeeper, security gaurd ever could?  Don’t be modest.

Jon:  No one cares for you and the home like I do.  A hired hand doesn’t love you and the kids like I do.  A partner isn’t a paid position, it just isn’t.

4.  Kirsten:  What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of our partnership?

Jon:  Strengths:  Emotional support, stepping in when the other is stumbling and struggling.  Knowing each others’ strengths and weaknesses as individuals and workers.  I utilize your input in planning things for students and ministry work.  You pick my brain for your own work inside and outside the home.  We’re good tag-team partners.

Weakness:  Neither of us is terribly motivated or intentional to move out of the ‘status quo’.  We will address problems instead of proactively bringing vision to reality in our home and family life.  We handle problems well, but parenting and Kingdom work are more than solving problems.  (I love this quote, good one hubby!)

 Kirsten:  When are you planning on cutting your hair?

Jon:  No comment

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Genesis 1

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