Blessed be He who did not make me my wife, writes Maj.-Gen. Uzi Dayan.
By UZI DAYAN
On the eve of International Women's Day, I was reminded of a role switch of some 20 years back. Not with just anyone - but with my wife. It occurred in August 1988, the day after our second child, Aya, was born. My wife Tamar was completing her doctorate, and I happened to be on a three-month leave from the army, in between command postings.
I announced to Tamar that I was taking upon myself the running of the household and child care so she could finish writing her doctorate. I felt quite noble and estimated the price wouldn't be too high - don't we men know how to do everything? It's just for reasons of convenience that we evade most household chores; moreover, we've even succeeded in convincing the female sex (it wasn't even "gender" at that time) that we men can develop computers and send manned spaceships to the moon. But to prepare a sandwich or load a washing machine - that's beyond our capacity.
How difficult can it be to be a housewife? Well, very. It's hard to describe the experience chalked up in three months of being a full-time "househusband."
IT'S NOT THE COOKING, cleaning and laundry, but rather coordinating everything so that the family unit functions.
The day is long and filled with hundreds of activities and worries which seem simple yet require coordination, professionalism and time. At the end of the day (although there is no end to the homemaker's day), you feel exhausted, certain of not having accomplished enough. But most galling is the feeling of not being extended the appreciation you deserve.
As a field commander who crossed the lines into the kitchen, I quickly realized my new status - one of inferiority. In our phone conversations, my wife would try to disguise her impatience with "minor problems" and "successes of no interest" in the domestic arena, her only desire being to politely bring the call to an end.
I shall never forget the Friday my wife came home with a flower bouquet, saying: "I'm sorry, I had a problem at work and didn't have a chance to tell you I'm coming home late."
She of course claimed the flowers were for the house - but I knew the truth. I was only too familiar with the guilt feelings when you feel you've neglected your spouse and family for "work."
I highly recommend such a role reversal - for a short while, of course. There's nothing like such a three-month period to clear your conscience for several decades while getting yourself crowned the ideal husband for life by your wife's friends.
Besides revealing the wonderful world within the house you thought you knew, the experience will open your eyes to the need for equal opportunity. By not providing equal opportunity for women, a society eliminates half of its potential and the innate contribution of diversity.
After such a role switch, not only will you love your wife, you'll be amazed by her capabilities and personality. In this case I recommend the following persuasive statement: "Look, dear, how smart I was to marry you; and whom did you choose? Me!"
The writer is a reserve major-general and former head of the National Security Council.
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