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A man had a heated discussion with his girlfriend when he broke the news that his family had “traditional” gender roles. He tried to explain that she would have to cook temporarily to avoid bad treatment from his family. However, she refused, and now their relationship is on the line.
Navigating Gender Roles and Expectations
The original poster (OP), James, has a large family that he’s close with. A few times per year, they get together for large family dinners at his great-grandfather’s estate.
A Challenging Family Tradition
Here, James’s family eats together and has a great time, keeping their family tradition alive. However, his family’s tradition is now the source of his relationship problems.
When Tradition Meets Modernity
During these family get-togethers, the women cook, and the men patiently wait until their food is ready. James knows this tradition isn’t fair by today’s standards, but he still enjoys the time.
Traditional vs. Modern Values
According to James, even if he were to protest, being one of the youngest in his family means his opinion is valued less. There have been instances where women have protested and chosen not to cook, which was met with rudeness and shunning.
Gender Dynamics at Family Dinner
The few lucky women not required to cook during these family events are long-term girlfriends who have established relationships with James’s family.
A few weeks before James’s family dinner, he asked his girlfriend, Emma, if she would attend. Initially, she agreed, but she quickly regretted her decision.
James and Emma’s Clash of Values
James was excited to bring Emma to his family’s dinner so they could start becoming familiar with her. However, Emma became bothered when James explained his family’s dinner tradition.
Cultural Expectations and Relationship Pressures
James tried to empathize with Emma, letting her know he understood where “she was coming from” but insisting it was best if she just “played along.” Emma was furious.
Breaking Bread and Barriers
Despite James’s reassurances that Emma having to cook during family dinners wouldn’t be permanent, she still found it unacceptable. James felt he was trying to help Emma avoid bad treatment from his family, but Emma wouldn’t budge.
Between Love and Tradition
Emma made it clear to James that she wasn’t going to cook for his family and that if this was the tradition at his family’s dinner, she would not attend. Emma felt that if James supported this type of behavior from his family, he was just as bad as the rest.
“So, I’m a woman and my family is like this. When my boyfriend (now husband) started coming around, it drove him crazy.”
How Do You Really Feel?
“So you disagree with it, but are you in the kitchen in the meantime? Have you ever tried to go in there and help provide the labor?”
Participation and Gender Roles
“I think it would be rude for a couple to come and not contribute, but there is no reason it has to be your gf. You could make some of the food.”
Final Decision and Its Implications
James is left with mixed feelings. Deep down, he agrees with Emma but appears scared to speak up. He hoped Emma would make “a good first impression” at his family’s dinner, but now more is at stake.
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