Why Persist with the Dream?
I'd like to pickup where the Chicago Tribune left off today in a fine piece on how the division of household labor hasn't changed much over the last century. Alexa Aguilar correctly points out that many of us want something different but often slip right back into the culturally gendered roles laid out for us instead. Her comparisons to ESP are right on the mark and she even references us as role models for this lifestyle.
However, I expect many readers may be asking, "why bother with any particular split of chores?" In fact, if the goal is to reach any particular percentage of work done by each spouse, the result is destined to fail. Worse still, if you're at X% and Y% and your goal is (X-1)% and (Y+1)% (using any measure you wish) there is a possibility for bean-counting, resentment, and frustration.
ESP is so much more than "who does what." Essentially all the couples we interviewed for our book are driven by the dream of a true partnership where each parent gets equal access to all the joys and responsibilities of raising a family. Not a single couple told us how proud they were to have reached a perfect split. These are real parents with messy lives just like the rest of us. We know things don't work this way. Who would want them to? Instead, they bask in the delight of walking in each others shoes on a daily basis. No need to get frustrated that our spouse doesn't understand the pressures of maintaining a viable career, no need to worry that our spouse might never feed the children if we weren't around, and no need to feel alone in our narrowly defined roles.
ESP holds out for Equality in the broader sense. Grab your partner's hand, shake off the gender expectations, and build the life of your dreams. No spreadsheets, scorecards, or tally marks needed. Sure, there will need to be some interesting discussions to make it happen but isn't that a requirement for any healthy relationship, regardless of the model chosen?