I normally don't watch TV shows like "Wife Swap." As most of you should know, or will know, as more of these media-related blogs come out, I usually watch things involving swords, spaceships, soldiers, or superheroes, but I was surfing through the channels after the News Hour on PBS and I saw a woman in a room filled with swords, dragons, and other fantasy things.
It turned out that this was an episode of "Wife Swap," (http://abc.go.com/primetime/wifeswap/index?pn=index) which actually did a recruitment drive at the Big Apple Convention last November. They toook a "perfect wife" from Kentucky and swapped her with a professional woman with a family of ghost hunters in Illinois. The Kentuckian lived in a family where she did all the work around the house while the husband went hunting and the daughters did whatever they wanted, and the stepdaughter did not get along with the dad. The Illinoisian went to work every day and her husband stayed at home and did everything around the house. For a week each wife had to live as the other wife had.
In both cases the women could not stand it. The Kentucky family expected the wife to do everything, cooking, cleaning, picking up dicarded cloithes, getting the kids ready for school, etc. The Illinois dad insisted on doing all the cooking and cleaning, even selecting the wife's clothes before she went to work in the office. The Illinois family was also vastly more educated than the Kentucky wife, and claimed to be psychic, and she felt very ignorant, even intimidated, in their presence.
By the end of the week both wives had had enough. When it was their turn to set the rules of the house, they insisted that things go the exact opposite. The Illinois husband would go to work, using his psychic abilities to help detectives solve crimes, and she would insist that they use no big words, like "inclusive." The Kentucky family would pick up after themselves, do their own laundry, and the husband would wash the dishes.
These rules met with mixed success. Then the second parts of the "changes" kicked in. The Illinois son, who had actually called the Kentucky wife "unintelligent," was sent on a blind date with a simple country girl. The Kentucky husband and his stepdaughter (who had much unreconciled hostility, had to role-play being each other to see what it was like.
The boy actually had a good time and thought the girl was an interesting person, but found out that he had hurt her feelings by being so insensitively smarter than her. The psychic dad found immediate success and fulfillment in work with a detective agency. The dad and stepdaughter realized how much they were hurting each other and how much they actually loved each other. The Kentucky family started helping the wife with the tasks they had always let her do.
In the end, the wives returned to their families and the two couples met and post-mortemed their experiences. In both cases, the couples were brought to tears. The Illinois dad realized how much he missed being appeciated and fulfilled the way work at the detective agency made him feel that way. The Illinois wife realized that her family needed her at home helping around the house and showing affection to her loved ones. The Kentucky dad realized how much hard work it is to do what he had always considered "women's work," and becaused he loved his wife, would be a better husband, and a better man, by helping, and not taking it for granted. The Kentucky wife realized that she should not let the family let her do all the work, and that it was actually better to stand up for therself, because she loved them.
My god, that was so frickin' perfect. Why can't all the relationship imbalances in our lives be resolved like this?