I had the most sickening realisation yesterday. After writing my blog, which mentioned the time Husband and I appeared on 60 Minutes, I decided to take a look back at the transcript of the interview. And I saw that the cracks in our marriage were already appearing all those years ago.
It was quite the epiphany.
At the time I thought we had the healthiest of the three marriages that were explored in the story, which focussed on stay-at-home dads. It’s funny the subtexts you don’t see.
Take a look …
PETER OVERTON When I was growing up, this was Mum’s work — the cleaning, the cooking, running the house, caring for the kids. But now there’s a changing of the guard taking place in the Australian home.
HUSBAND: I was joking that this particular story was the dickless dad story. That this was the story about dads not having their — you know — not being fully intact because they were looking after the kid at home.
PETER OVERTON: Since the beginning of time men have been the hunters, women the nurturers, keeping the home and raising the kids. I’m sorry, but for thousands of years that did form the basis of much of our society. So what happens when you turn that whole concept inside-out? And for the men in particular, sensitive souls that we are, what happens to our sense of masculinity when we’re no longer the bread-winner?
HUSBAND: I’m not hooked up on the idea that oh, my God, my place in the home is no longer the place it was because she earns more money than me. Um, I’m quite happy to live off her.
PETER OVERTON: Are you a house husband?
HUSBAND: House husband fits the bill pretty well.
PETER OVERTON: Are you comfortable telling someone, if they say to you, “What do you do?”
HUSBAND: That’s something I have had difficulties with. You suddenly feel like … well, you have come from a very … you’ve come from a career. You’ve felt a lot of, um, enjoyment in that career. And then to suddenly turn around and say, “What I do is, I mind the bub.” Society doesn’t rate that as well. Ah, society just looks at that…
ME: Women get excited about it, though. Like, lots of women will say, “Oh, yeah, you’ve got to get him to talk to my husband — I’d love that to be the way it works for us,” so…
HUSBAND: But it doesn’t kind of rate very well down at the pub.
PETER OVERTON: Alana is the editor of Woman’s Day. It’s a high-pressure, high-profile job. And like many modern executives, she often brings her work home.
HUSBAND: That will be your phone — the most annoying ring in the world.
ME: He has at times been resentful of those calls intruding on our time together. And, for example, if he’s…
HUSBAND: …cooked a very nice meal. I’ve cooked a nice meal, she takes a work phone call. I mean, what am I supposed to do?
PETER OVERTON: As in all relationships, the challenge for our couples is to maintain an equal partnership. Yet the politics of gender is a delicate flower. Particularly when the male ego comes into play.
ME: I write an editor’s column each week in my magazine, and one week I wrote one in which I called him hubby and said how great it was that I went home to a cooked meal and a washed, clean, fed baby, and, ah, his comment was, ah, “Why don’t you just hang my balls on the letterbox so everybody knows I don’t have any.” And he was probably only half-joking.
HUSBAND: Yeah, no, no, I don’t think I was joking at all.
PETER OVERTON: One of the big issues for a man is his self-esteem. Have you had any moments where you’ve questioned that?
HUSBAND: There was one moment where I went to a business conference with Alana, and I was the person trailing around with the baby. And that was where I realised I’m the wife in this situation, and that was…
ME: And you didn’t enjoy it that much.
HUSBAND: I didn’t enjoy it at all. That was really confronting.
PETER OVERTON: What, you felt like you were the handbag?
HUSBAND: I did feel like I was the handbag …
Well of course he’s never coming back. He’s been angry at me for a very, very long time.
Song of the day: No Doubt “It’s my life”