The balancing act between pursuing dreams and raising a family is a testament to the natural strength of women
A number of men, including some married to Vietnamese women, shared their thoughts on women and their role in the family with Tuoi Tre News on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8.
Women are to be cherished and loved
My Vietnamese wife and I have been married for 3 years. In my opinion, the wife plays an equally important role in the family as her husband. She provides a soft loving touch while the husband generally handles the more physically demanding work and major issues such as property and finance. My eleven-month-old baby cries for my wife when he's hungry or not feeling well. He comes to me when he wants to play. This shows me that babies also know the roles of their parents.
I believe that women should be treated equally to men. They should be free to pursue their interest and goals. Why should a very capable woman be confined to her house? With better education, job opportunities, and greater financial freedom, the role of Asian women is beginning to change. They're no longer the "maid" of the family.
House chores are the responsibility of both the husband and wife. My wife and I share the housework. She does most of the cooking and dishwashing while I keep the floor clean and wash the clothes. Sometimes, when she's really tired, I help her with the dishes. She feeds the baby while I bathe the baby and change his diaper. I respect her as an equal partner in building our loving and healthy family. I believe that this is the best education for our children – showing them that we have to treat both sexes equally.
Women should enjoy their life. They are humans, too. They have dreams and aspirations and they should be free to pursue them. The old concept of the male controlling the female has to go. We are all equal. Men can help change the current narrative by treating women as their equals. We need to cherish them and spend time with them to understand their needs. Then we can actually act on that understanding in order to make sure their needs are met.
A woman pursuing her dreams doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care for her family. On the contrary, the ability to juggle a job and a family proves otherwise. The love and care of a wife for her husband and her children is an amazing thing. I don't know how they get the strength to do so much for their family. Every woman gives according to what she's capable of giving. I'm always in awe of a mother's love for her baby. The other day, my wife used her mouth to suck out the phlegm from our son's nose when he was too weak to expel it. It looked terrible to me but she was fine with it.
Women are here to be cherished and loved. They are not here for us to look down on and abuse. I wish all women a wonderful "Women's Day "!
John Lim, Singaporean
Love, truth, faith
I’ve been married to my wife, Hang, for 5 years. She is my fulltime partner in every respect - we run my consultancy together and we share in most tasks, but there are some things that I do and others that she handles. My wife is great at staying organized, so she manages our business strips, cares for our finances, and gets things done around the house.
I am not so young anymore. I’ll be 68 this year and I cannot share in the more physically straining jobs, so we have to hire maids to clean and do our laundry. Easier housework tasks are shared by both of us. I believe it is wrong to make a wife do the ‘dirty jobs’ while the husband just wipes his mouth after a good meal – that attitude can make partners angry and lead to feelings of degradation. It also leads to bad vibes in the relationship. Good faith and fair sharing need to be accepted by men and women alike.
Some women are too much tangled in organizing the family every day and do lose their personal insight and also often the contact with the world outside the home. This is not good.
When I was growing up in the 1950s in Germany, housewives were viewed similarly to how housewives are viewed in Vietnam today. Now, however, women are treated equally in most aspects of German life and the image of a typical German housewife is (nearly) gone. The same will eventually happen in Vietnam. Women will become more self-supporting and begin to take on more elevated positions within society, politics, and business. They will soon share equal respect with men.
I also think it is essential for the intellectual and mental well-being of women to have lives outside of their married or family lives. Also, there is no good argument for jealousy within a relationship. If you have to be jealous of your wife – which many Vietnamese men are – you have the wrong relation and the fault is with you, not your partner.
To give women an easier life, I think the first thing men can do is love, the second thing is trust, and the third is faith. If you do not have this in a relation with your wife, you have made a mistake or you married the wrong woman. This has to be kept above all other principles at all times.
Herby Neubacher, German
Wife as a partner
In most cultures in my country, India, women are considered as the caretakers of their home. However, there are some cultures where women lead the household (although these cultures are a minority).
I think the tradition, or stereotype, that women have to be the sole caretakers of the housework to the point that it is considered their “duty” and “responsibility” was created to bring many advantages for males. However in modern societies, where actual physical strength does not matter as much, there are less and less reasons to follow such traditions.
In the society we are living today, I think it is ideal when men and women should share all the household chores equally. A very practical reason is that if the household chores are shared, the couple will have more free time for leisure.
I see the wife as a partner, not just in our family life, but also as an intellectual partner who can teach and inspire.
It is important that every individual find some solitude and some time with their own friends or for their personal hobbies. This helps them develop as a person and in turn they can inspire their spouse and children. I can understand the need to save money and dedicate all time to the kids (especially in the case of single mothers) but I will still urge the women to keep some time for themselves for travel or for learning new things. These activities will help the women gain confidence, discover newer opportunities, and make them become more creative in their work and in the way they teach and inspire children.
To create an environment for women to enjoy equal rights and treatment in family life in a country where it is not vastly applicable, I think the easiest thing we can do is have open communication. Often we end up with increased responsibilities as we fail to talk to each other and prioritize tasks. I would also encourage kids to be independent from an early age - if they can take care of their own household tasks, the mother will have more time.
Preem Ray, Indian
Who says women are happy to do housework?
Recently, the role of men and women is beginning to change in my country. We practice less tradition. Women neither do all the homework nor stay home taking care of the children. They still do those things to some degree, but not under pressure. Instead, they share these responsibilities with other family members.
In my family, we are equal. We help each other to ensure everyone is happy and not in a troubled situation. Nobody is happy if they don’t have the choice to do what they want to do. Who says women are happy to do housework? It’s important that each and every person help with small or big things, which will strengthen the family connection. Support from other family members is the simplest way to show appreciation for women. It would be wonderful if men could help without being asked to do so.
However, in Thailand, we still expect women to be the key person to look after the baby. She still needs to take on some traditional roles, but there is no need to be as strict as before.
We all need to recharge when losing power. If a woman is not happy with her family life, she should speak out or walk away from the situation. Meaningful conversation with a spouse enhances understanding and helps ease bad moods.
Women should not be forced to do housework and be unhappy. They should not do everyone else’s duties. And they should always feel comfortable to ask for help.
Saengsawang Saehang, Thai