Date of this Version
Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol. 5, No. 4-October 2007 ISSN: 1541-6224
It was the towels that did them in. I sat across from my new clients and probed a bit further. "The towels, you say?" The husband shared a story of how he had wanted to do something nice for his wife, who was studying. So he folded a load of towels and put them away. ''And then?" I continued, not quite sure of how this act of kindness had led to their request for an appointment in our counseling center. "I re-folded them," his wife interjected. "You what?" I asked, breaking the cardinal rule of good counselors who never ask a rhetorical question. "I re-folded them. He had them folded in half and they don't fit right in the linen closet that way. They need to be in thirds." This story has served me well as I speak to engaged couples. I talk about the need for focusing on the "big stuff' in marriages and overlooking lots of small annoyances. I talk about personality differences and how couples can learn to balance, not change one another. I even talk about Berne's theory of Transactional Analysis and the common development of parent-child relationships in marriage instead of adult-adult relationships. But I had never thought of this story in relation to my role as an educator and a professional woman. Until now. Now I know too much. I have immersed myself in feminist psychology and social role theory. I have studied theories of leadership and explored gender influences in power. I know statistics about how women of influence are viewed and how they view themselves. I've explored the bold, ground-breaking work of early feminists and those who opposed them. I've considered how my life would be different if I weren't allowed a college education or my father hadn't invited me to help fix the car. And I have shuddered at the reality that, born in a different time, my husband would not be sharing in the care of our children while I pursue graduate work and joyfully engage in my profession.