Is Your Relationship Role Right For You?

_DSC6301I never thought of myself as a “housewife” or “housewife material” but lo and behold, here I am with a basket full of clean laundry that needs to be folded, a dishwasher that needs emptying, a bathroom that needs to be cleaned and dinner that needs addressing.

So, basically, this makes me a housewife. Doesn’t it?

Housewife. It’s not a relationship role I’d actually planned on.

It feels weird to say it out loud. I remember, clearly, the first time I said it. I was on the phone with my mother, and I distinctly said it, “This housewife shit is exhausting.”

Somewhere along the way my entire life went from a simple daily routine that consisted of the whole work-life balance thing.

I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t that hard. Getting up at 6am, getting myself ready for work, feeding my cats, doing the half hour commute to my office, putting in 9 hours, coming home, ordering a pizza, watching TV, meeting up with friends, having a few drinks, and heading home to bed to start over the next day. I had it down.

My place was never messy, I saw my family regularly, I was always up for anything with friends, my cats were happy little buggers and I did a good job at work.

I dated around, was in and out of relationships- some longer than others. I’ve always been cautious and careful with my steps. I wouldn’t ever use the word “adventurous” to describe myself, nor am I a risk taker by any nature. I didn’t even have a passport until 2009.

Didn’t see that coming

Then it happened. I met the love of my life and everything changed. Gradually. But, heavily. It’s still one of those things that I look back on and think, “How did this even happen without me screaming in protest?” Ahhh, it’s because it was so gradual. My wife lived in Australia when we first met and I was in South Florida. That’s about as long as you can get for a long distance relationship. After a year or so we started looking for ways to get her here to the States- green card applications, work visa programs, but with no luck.

It felt hopeless to me, probably because I never ever considered moving anywhere, let alone to another country. I’m a creature of habit, I’ve never been one to embrace change, I’m a terrible traveler, even local weekend getaways were considered a pain in the ass- and something as simple as camping? Oh, don’t get me started. Then my wife moved to London, England because she has dual citizenship and she got a job in the U.K. which made things easier as far as the travel went, but still didn’t get us to “happy coupledom” yet.

So, when my wife proposed to me (with a doodle of a wedding ring and a question mark in a video chat, something we’re both accustomed to by now), she explained that we could be legally married and I could move there, with her….in England. Instinctively, I said yes to the immediate question, not really understanding all the details (and I probably still don’t, to this day!) but it was a new light on how we could be together. Things spun into action rather quickly after that, we were legally married, I quit my job of 17 years, packed up my clothes, rented out my condo, re-homed my cats with my best friend, and said my good-byes to family….and everything I’ve known for the last 25 years and moved to England. I was going to be a writer, a podcaster, I would emerge myself in the lesbian community, grow my show, focus on my creative goals and start a whole new life with my wife. I wasn’t even scared, really.

Sometimes a fresh start can be too fresh

That’s how it started. I didn’t feel it at first. Probably because I was numb from the culture shock. We traveled extensively my first year. My wife was bent on making me see how easy it was to hop a short flight to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, then Ireland, and Spain. It was dizzying and wonderful and she was right. It was easy.

We were renting space in a friend’s big house just outside of London, and we’d hop a train into town for dinner or to the West End for a show. I had fallen into a routine of doing laundry just about everyday because I was home and she had to go into work, I would keep our bathroom clean, and tidy up every day. I focused on my goals as much as I could but in the back of my mind, it was looming- “What’s happening here? My self worth is kind of slipping away….with every basket of perfectly folded linen!”

Then, we bought a house and it got way worse. Being a Virgo, I’ll admit, at first I was in heaven being able to use the Dyson every day, keep the kitchen immaculate, have everything neat & clean, just the way I need it to be in order to focus on anything else. But, that’s when I noticed it. I had become a housewife.

Never mind how it happened- the question was: how was I going to be okay with this? My wife was earning the bucks, traveling, marching up the corporate ladder, and I was home folding panties, and vacuuming cat fuzz! We hadn’t ever really talked about the fact that I wasn’t bringing in much money. My wife had always said she trusted in my writing talent and wanted me to able to unleash my creativity after being chained to a cubicle for more than a decade and she’s never wavered from that. It was me. I had to get a handle on the balance again. What was happening was that once I realized I was a housewife, I had to be THE BEST HOUSEWIFE EVER!

The fridge had to be stocked at all times, dinners planned, house clean, yard work finished, laundry done, bathrooms scrubbed, kitchen perfect, floors crumb-less, plants watered, shirts ironed, beds made, windows cleaned, and whoa, Whoa, WHOA! What happened to wanting to write that incredible novel? Wanting to write a script for a web series, wanting to do amazing interviews for my fledgling podcast? It seemed damn near impossible because apparently, I had it in my head that because I’m home all day, every day- ALL the house things had to be done. Had to. Had to. Otherwise, I was afraid I might hear, “What did you do all day? “– not that my wife has ever even asked that question. She’s Australian, nothing bothers her. Certainly not a dirty dish in the sink, or clutter all over the living room. Looking back I can see that from the minute I moved, this fresh start was a little TOO fresh. I was trying too hard to embrace it, and I didn’t need to. Yeah, it was different, but it was going just fine. I didn’t need to work so hard at it.

It sounds funny bu you can learn from yourself

I was putting an insane amount of stress on myself because there was some underlying guilt about not having a legitimate 9 to 5 job anymore and that guilt was coming from myself, not my wife or friends, or family. I suppose if my wife was as fussy as me, this could end very differently, but seeing as how she’s so extremely laid back, I had to understand this was all on me and I had to do something about it.

So, I’ve decided that yeah, maybe I am a housewife, but I don’t have to be the best one ever. I can leave a coffee mug out, I can just order a pizza for dinner once in a while, we can run out of milk every now & then, it’s not the end of the world or the end of my relationship. I can prioritise a bit better and make myself and my writing more important. Once the balance shifted, I felt a bit less housewife-y, and more like a writer.

But, I did learn some valuable things: maintaining a home is hard work, asking for help once in a while is a must, and it’s really okay to ease up on yourself every now & then. But it’s not okay to run out of clean panties.

About Denise Warner-Gregory

Denise Warner-Gregory hosts the successful, funny podcast “The
Lesbian Lounge” on iTunes & Podbean. At the age of 45, she's lived in
NY, FL and now resides happily in London with her wife, Jemma. Denise
contributes regularly to many popular LGBT blogs, websites & resources
and hosts live events in both the US and the UK.