The current, commonly agreed on plan for a marriage is an equal sharing of chores and other duties; but this plan is not followed now any more than it has been in the past. Despite the division of labour between the sexes, there are changing social expectations, which are reflected in different gender roles at different times.
Growing up, most of us knew that our dad’s role was to work and provide for the family and even though our mothers could also work but their role was mainly to take care of the home and raise children. Men have always been the ones to take care of mechanical things around the house. They fix broken pipes, fix doors and such things. Women, on the other hand, have always been the ones cooking, cleaning, going to the market and taking care of children when they are sick. This, however, has been changing gradually over the years.
Society has over the years changed the role of men and women in marriage. The roles which were adapted in the old days by our ancestors are no longer relevant in this age. This has given way to adaptations and adoption of a different kind of mindset.
These days, it’s not a surprise to find women working jobs that were specified for men in the past and vice versa. We have women working in all sectors these days and men also stepping up to take care of their families when the women are working. But men who do such are met with extreme criticism from other men who still hold on to their traditional values.
However, many women tend to face a lot of reluctance from their in-laws when they get married because of the different expectations they both have in marriage. More often than not, women are expected to handle all house chores by themselves and their in-laws expect the couple to have a child within the first year of marriage. This has led to women who fail to live by the expectations of the families they married into being criticized a lot for failing to do abide by these expectations.
With the times changing, we have seen society change rules to roles that are more friendly and acceptable by all. But the question is, do these changes only work for whites and Europeans? Has Africa refused to embrace change in what society? Unlike the United States where one could choose whether to carry her own children or to use a surrogate and get full support of her husband and her family, such things are unspeakable in Africa.
No matter how much we try to embrace the western culture, our mindsets are still the same. We are still wrapped up in the old traditions that were very patriarchal. Many men in our society still expect that women should not get an education and neither should they have jobs. They still believe that women should stay at home and take care of the family which leads to many women being sent home to the villages to take care of an extended family because that is how the man believes it should be.
Men have also had their fair share of trouble. Unlike the west where if the man doesn’t have a job, they can stay at home and get supported by the wife and even their family until he gets a job. Here, men do not have a choice but to get something to do no matter how little it is because, without this, the wife’s family hurls insults at him, telling him that he only married their daughter for the money.
In the recent past, however, we have seen society change these behaviors. Society has become more open to the idea of women being in leadership positions. Even though we still have to keep the traditional roles of women and men, there has been a reasonable balance in the role both sexes play in marriage depending on the couple. Many spouses have learned to be open with each other and come to agreements about who should do what and what should be done about this and that.
Many women have come out to say they cannot cook, and it is okay by societal standards to say that. Men have been given the role of completely taking care of women, even if you are still dating. This has however raised a lot controversy with men saying that women should take care of themselves and not completely depend on men to take care of them.
The big question today is, what is the role of men and women in a marriage? Who is supposed to do what, who is supposed to manage the finances and who is supposed to take care of the children? Is it okays to have a house help and in our African society, do women have a choice of using surrogates or not? Just what are the societal expectations of men and women in a marriage?