“Being married is hard work isn’t it?” I get asked this a lot and it never ceases to amaze me how taken aback I am by such a statement. A lovely twitter user today sent me a tweet about what the hardest part about being a wife is and for her it’s the expectation of women trying to fit into some traditional role of wife. She told me she wasn’t aware that some people think it’s a role to be played and for me she hit the nail on the head. Societal expectations of what it means for us chicks to become a ‘wife’ has me feeling a little fired up.
In the months leading up to our wedding I was really looking forward to graciously accepting this new wife role. I was eager to throw on a pretty apron and get into the kitchen using only the finest of Bed, Bath and Beyond products, stopping at nothing to please my hard working husband like we’re we something straight from the set of a 1980’s sitcom. It was the ring on my finger, the commitment my husband would be making to me, the perks of being married; these things which all signified that I was worthy enough to be given such a role and so as not to take advantage of such a privilege I wold need to do my very best to oblige by these set standards.
I was raised by parents who placed a lot of emphasis on love, respect, individuality, hard work, sacrifice, success and happiness. Never was I sat down either at home or in a place of worship to be told that being a wife meant you had duties and responsibilities you were expected to adhere to. Any connotation of the wife role that I have, were personally shaped and created strictly out of the things I have witnessed, read, seen or heard rather than what I have been taught. And for me being a wife, means being an important half to the team that Andrew and I have become. We are first and foremost a team, meaning we work together to bring out the best in one another and we work together to create a happy, fulfilling and prosperous life for ourselves as professional individuals and ourselves together as friends, lovers and partners. We love one another equally, so we do what we can to live and support one another the exact same way.
Husband comes home from work many times, and I look up from my computer only to find myself saying sorry a bazillion times because, I haven’t fixed dinner, I forgot to make the bed and me? Well I myself look like a hot mess because I’ve been staring at my inbox since 9:00 am. On nights when I’m frivolously typing away trying to play catch up at my desk and my husband is pushing the vacuum around my work station, I cringe a little bit because I think I’ve failed at my role. And he’s working overtime to fill in the holes.
But you know what, being married really is hard work. I’m only seven months deep into this new relationship status and I know things can be hard or messy or tough or confrontational. We’re trying to figure out where we’re going to live next, if we can afford a new couch and if we’ll ever decide we want to have kids. At worst, we fight, we cry, we disagree. But last time I checked, I remember those five years I spent as my husbands friend, girlfriend, and fiance before becoming his wife were also really hard. And the same things that are hard now during my journey as a wife, were just as tough when I was a girlfriend or a fiance or even, gasp, when I was single (i.e. my studies, my health, my finances, my relationships, my image of myself, and so forth. Remember high school? Just finding an acceptable outfit everyday was hard work). Being a wife doesn’t define my existence or my purpose in life so naturally there are other things I encounter in my life that are “hard work”. Deciding whose role it is to cook dinner and kill the spiders shouldn’t be a toughie.
What’s your definition of the whole wife role issue?