Teresa Díez: «‘Work or Family’ is a False Dichotomy That Makes Women Nervous»

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On Thursday, 19 February 2015, Alfonso Basallo and Teresa Díez, the husband-and-wife team behind the bestseller Pijama para dos (Pyjama for Two), presented their new book Manzana para dos (Apple for Two) at the UIC. Humorous and incisive, Manzana gives voice to Eden’s serpent, who describes the tricks he continues to play on present-day Adams and Eves. The authors explained to an audience of over 100, “Marriage is the perfect formula for loving and being loved”, despite the pressure to think that hell is the other person.

Teresa Díez: «‘Work or Family’ is a False Dichotomy That Makes Women Nervous»

The authors’ points included concepts such as seeing motherhood as a treasure rather than an obstacle, the fact that the sexes are different but complement each other, and a focus on the body as a means of reciprocal giving and taking. According to the couple, these messages are part of a broader call to give up one’s life for the other and support the notions of femininity and motherhood.

At the conference, which included numerous presentations and questions from the audience, the speakers stripped the mystique from some of modern society’s burning issues, such as the work-family balance. “It’s not about the link between family and work”, said Díez, “but the link between husband and wife. If they can balance each other, if they really love each other, the marriage will move forward”. The couple emphasized that it was not a question of equally dividing domestic and professional responsibilities, because that can result in the couple living two unconnected parallel lives with children under a shared roof. “This choice between work and family is a false dichotomy that makes women nervous”, Díez said.

Alfonso Basallo mentioned the importance of the parental role. “The first thing you’ve got to ask of a man is that he be a real man, the head of the family and a source of strength, balance, authority. Being the head of the family doesn’t mean giving orders. It means suffering the most, giving the most, taking on the most responsibility, bringing the most balance to the home, calming things down, giving affection and courtesy when they’re needed, preparing the kids to go out into the world. Being a real man today means a lot more than just knowing how to load the dishwasher.”

Díez and Basallo already swam against the current with Pijama para dos, which has been published in seven editions and translated into English, Italian and Portuguese. With this book, they take the perspective of the devil revealing the ways he tricks married couples. “This gave us the chance”, explained Basallo, “to tell the dark side of the story and expose a number of contradictions: the battle of the sexes as opposed to their complementarity; a professional career held back by motherhood; personal fulfilment in contrast with mutual dedication”.

The conference was one of several events held at the UIC and organized by the Vice Rector for the University Community and the Institute of Advanced Family Studies (IESF) to commemorate the International Year of the Family declared by the United Nations in 1989.