Our grandmothers were doting wives to their husbands as a result of their upbringing and what the world was like at the time. In contrast, wives of today, while we still tend to put our husbands first, we expect an equal level of dedication and energy from our spouses. Gone are the days of women giving until they were depleted and worn out. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from our mothers and grandmothers, turned it on its tail, and demanded that our needs and desires be met.
Simultaneously, we are forging ahead with a renewed sense of self. We demand to be seen by society, by our partners and are paving the way for our own daughters and grandaughters to change the narrative as to how the world works and how women are portrayed. In this post, we’ll take a look at how our grandmothers were brought up and how their experiences shaped the way they cared for their families.
What Was Dating Like for Our Grandmothers
After World War II men and women fell back into traditional roles. Men were returning from the war while some women were leaving the workforce they were forced into after the absence of men in those roles. The focus again returned to leaving home with an emphasis on ‘going steady’ and dating one person rather than in dating multiple people or entertaining suitors as generations had in the future.
For our black grandmothers in the 1940’s, it was likely that 60 percent of women who did work outside the home, were employed in a domestic capacity for white families. These women were raising white children, ironing clothes and cleaning homes for white families. While they did this their own families were at home. Older black children were charged with taking care of the younger ones and getting dinner started before their mother arrived back home for the evening.
Marital Expectations for Our Grandmothers
The mindset for our grandparents changed and ultimately the focus became settling down and starting a family. Likely spurred by the uncertainties of the world after the war and the results of The Great Migration of African Americans after the war, couples married young and started families right away.
Our grandmothers were likely in the home, raising children and taking care of the home. Many still continued to work outside the home and, much like today, pulled double-duty in balancing work and home. The societal roles of women during that time dictated that women be everything to everyone. This set up a subsection of women who were losing themselves in their families.
It is this lack of connection to self that has often not served women well. Many of us grew up with mothers who, as a result of how they were raised, instilled in us the importance of being there for everyone else. This left some of us, who are now in our mid-forties, with a large gap to fill. That space where finding balance means actually putting ourselves and our needs first before we jump in to take care of everything our families may need or want. Some of us are better at this than others and many of us still haven’t quite learned it.
Wives Expect More From Their Spouses Today
Wives today are wholly dedicated to their spouses but at the same time, expect a partner who is available emotionally, active in the lives of the children, and is supportive of our endeavors and goals. Anything less or a lackluster attitude toward our success is often not tolerated.
While many of us have a tendency to ‘do too much.’ We let our own self-care and happiness go by the wayside. While this is true, we are slowly waking up to the fact that we too, need to be cared for. We need to take time for ourselves and create a healthy space and mindset. Not only are we wives, mothers, and professionals, but at the heart of everything is that we were truly an individual with goals and dreams even before we became wives and mothers. Tapping into what it is we truly seek in life and seeking out a partner or spouse, whether the first time around or after a long-term relationship ends, is a luxury that our grandmothers didn’t often have.
What We Are Teaching Our Daughters
As women who are wholly and fully dedicated to our own sense of self and well-being, we are setting the stage for our daughters, grandchildren, and nieces. We’re letting them know that while we can and should have it all, we do not need to let our desire to care for our family outweigh our need to pursue our own desires and dreams.
As women who are wholly and fully dedicated to our own sense of self and well-being, we demand more from our partners.
Our grandmothers felt a sense of duty to their husbands and families. It is this sense of duty that shaped how we as daughters and grandaughters moved forward into adulthood. We knew that we didn’t want to ‘ask permission’ but rather, collaborate with our husbands. We vowed after watching many aloof fathers and grandfathers, that we would expect more from our own partners. These expectations are what will propel our own daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to seek only the best for themselves and expect nothing short of equality and respect.
This is not to say our grandmothers were wrong. They were the product of a different time period both historically and socially. Opportunities for women, and especially black women, continue to expand and while it is slow in coming, we have the strength and dedication of our grandmothers lifting us up to break societal norms and let our voices be heard. Our grandmothers would be proud of the women we are becoming today.