Ladies of the Round Table

August 3, 2008

Lessons in being a wife

Filed under: Uncategorized — Angelique @ 6:33 pm

So here’s my (Angelique’s) first post. I’m sorry that it’s on July’s topic but I haven’t been able to figure out how to post until now (thanks for the help, Jen!)

Last week, my husband and I celebrated the 5th anniversary of the day we professed to love one another as long as we both shall live. In light of our anniversary and this very appropriate topic, I’ve been jotting down some notes over the past few weeks as I’ve reflected on this important role that I took on five years ago.

 

I will start by saying that I did not learn how to be a good wife by example. For many years, I feared getting married because I was afraid I would become a wife and a mother modeled after my own mother. Don’t get me wrong, my mom does have many virtues, but sadly, growing up and even today, what I most recall about my mother is how difficult it was for my father and I to deal with her. Because of her own unstable and unloving past, my mother was very critical of my father. Nothing he did was ever good enough and she was always quick to belittle him without regard for his feelings (or for the presence of their children listening to this verbal abuse, for that matter.)  

 

When I met Richard and we fell in love and decided to marry, I entered this new phase of my life with a lot of trepidation. I had a lot of emotional baggage and desperately wanted for that not to get in the way of being a good wife. There were so many things I vowed to do – or not to do- that were different from what my mom did with my dad. I vowed never to push my husband away when he was trying to be affectionate, whether or not I truly felt like a hug at that moment or not. I vowed to never have so much pride in me so as to neglect to say I’m sorry. I vowed to tell my husband often that I love him and appreciate all that he does. I vowed to always put him, and not my children, first, as this is the best possible example we can give our children. No, these were not the vows I professed to Richard on our wedding day, but these are also the vows I have tried (and I think for the most part, succeeded) to uphold for the past five years.

 

You know that show, “What Not to Wear” that turns people’s lives around and gives them confidence by showing them how to dress and carry themselves? Well, when I really think about it, I’m actually kind of grateful to my Mom for what she taught me growing up as I learned to be a wife by learning “What Not to Do.” Sad, but true. For many years, I thought it may be inevitable that I would repeat the same mistakes as her since she did exactly what her mother did despite the fact that she didn’t like it either. I now realize that it’s not inevitable, it just takes a big effort to overcome what we have grown up seeing as potentially erroneous gender or spousal roles.

 

I learned something else recently about being a wife that didn’t come from my Mom, but it also has to do with the spousal roles that society seems to impose upon us. I can’t tell you how many greeting cards I’ve seen with messages like, “Today I marry my best friend” and sentiments of that nature. For years, I thought my husband had to be my best friend and so I often felt I needed to share every little detail of my life, including all my often neurotic and silly thoughts because, hey, that’s what best friends do, right? So I did this, for many years, through our struggles with infertility, through challenges with my family, through assimilating the shock of unexpected pregnancies, etc. And you know what I learned? That both of us would often end up frustrated when he couldn’t understand or empathize with my sentiments, not necessarily due to lack of effort on either of our parts but more because we process things differently and because, let’s face it, men and women are just different! Ironically, when I would talk to my best friend of 12 years about the very same situations (despite the fact that in situations like infertility, my husband and I were really the only 2 individuals going through it), I felt she had a better ability to comfort me and help me feel uplifted than my husband. Again, not because he didn’t try but because what we were each feeling and experiencing was very different, despite the fact that we were both dealing with the same situation.

 

I recently learned that this connection that women have with one another and how men and women deal with things differently is actually primal. When the men left to hunt and provide for their families, women stayed in the cave with other moms and mutually supported one another and raised the clan’s children together. I used to feel guilty when I wouldn’t share everything with my husband. Now I realize that he doesn’t have to be my greatest confidant. It’s not to say that I don’t talk to my husband about my thoughts and feelings and what’s going on in my life; to the contrary, we’re both making a bigger effort to share and communicate more effectively with one another. It’s just that my husband is not my best friend – a very close friend, yes, and one with whom I share intimate parts of me that no one else shares, but I no longer feel the stigma or obligation to call him my best friend nor to place unreasonable expectations on him because I have certain emotional needs that need to be filled. He doesn’t have to be the one to listen to me vent all the time. We are both there for one another and though he may not be my best friend, he is an amazing man, an incredible husband and my lifelong companion, and I vow to be the best wife I can be to him as long as we both shall live.

 

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1 Comment »

  1. So much better than my post but says everything I wanted to!! Thanks for sharing!Beautifully put!

    Comment by Carissa — August 4, 2008 @ 2:39 am | Reply


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