Contributed by: Sumayya Tobah, Freelance journalist
Story from: Washington DC, USA
Who does the cooking?
I really couldn’t tell you why, but the past couple of weeks I’ve only been able to watch documentaries.
I recently watched one called “RBG” on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female supreme court justice and the litigator who truly broke through sex discrimination in the United States.
Her work cannot be diminished in this day and age.
Being a journalist in Washington DC and an avid scholar of the women’s rights movement in the United States, I was very familiar with her work in the courtroom.
What came as a total surprise to me was the more personal aspect of Justice Ginsberg’s life. Her relationship with her home, her husband and her children.
Ruth Bader met Marty Ginsburg when she was seventeen. She said of her then eighteen year old husband, “he was the first boy I had ever met who cared I had a brain.” Ruth would marry Marty while they were both pursuing undergraduate degrees at Cornell University and when she started studying law at Harvard, she had a fourteen month old baby and Marty was diagnosed with cancer.
She found a way to:
study law and
be at the top of her class while also
raising her daughter and
caring for her husband.
And when Marty thankfully recovered and was hired at a New York firm, she completed her degree at Columbia University.
In the documentary, Ruth speaks at length about how her home life offered a kind of sanctuary from her hectic life in law school and how it was a natural decision to follow her husband to New York. Later, when she would be offered a job as a judge in the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia. Marty made it clear that Ruth had carried the brunt of the house work while he was sick, and now it was his turn to be supportive of his wife’s career.
And even though this happened in 1993, it struck me how progressive this was, and how naturally Marty Ginsburg came to that conclusion.
Even though I’m a millennial and I was raised by an incredibly empowered mother and empowering father, I still felt the pressure to succumb to certain gender norms when I got married. When I announced my engagement, everyone assumed I would be moving up to Canada, where my husband was working at the time. And when it became clear he would be making the move down to Washington DC, I had girls who I had never traded two words with message me for my secret: how did you get your husband to move down for you?
And while I knew these type of comments didn’t have an impact on my then fiance, after the sixth or seventh conversation, I started to wonder, was I doing marriage wrong?
It became clear incredibly fast that gender norms had no place in the home we created together.
My husband was practically raised in a restaurant and has been around food all his life. He loves it, nothing makes him happier. On top of that, he has an iron-clad relationship with his grandmother, who’s instagram would make Gordon Ramsay froth at the mouth. Her food has a reputation for being the best without fail. So when we got married and it became clear I didn’t know my pizza from my manousheh, it became just another way we differed from a typical relationship. And it took me a long time to be comfortable with that. There are still days I watch my husband work away in the kitchen and I wonder, am I a bad wife?
So when I was watching the documentary on Justice Ginsburg over the weekend, a particular sound bite really hit home.
Marty Ginsburg and Justice Ginsburg were sitting together at a panel event, being peppered with questions from fans and someone asked, “how much advice do you give each other?”
The couple looked at each other, holding in laughter and Marty said, “as a general rule, my wife does not give me any advice on cooking, and I do not give her any advice about the law. This seems to work quite well on both sides.” The audience bursts with laughter. And in that moment, I saw something from my relationship reflected not only in another marriage, but in one of the most celebrated relationships in American political history.
It made my heart full in a way I can’t begin to describe.
There is no one way to have a marriage.
My husband did not follow me. He’s not a puppy. I did not have to negotiate our living situation. Marriage is a give and take and at this moment, my career required that I stay in DC. My husband supported me and was open to the challenge of living in a new city. He supports me, and in the future, should he need my support, he would have it without asking.
I have heard practically from the day we got engaged how unusual and atypical my relationship is. It used to chip away at the security I once felt but now, I understand a simple truth. There is no one way to have a successful marriage. There is no one way to have a successful relationship. If your relationship is accepting, and loving and safe, why should it matter who does the cooking?
This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love <3
First, a big thank you to the inspiring woman Sumayya for sharing her story. It was such a beautiful reminder of the need to take a step back to assess the gender norms and pressures we put on our relationships.
Second a big thank you to YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 341 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!
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With Lots of Love,