“I’ve been marriage twice,” Marnie, a fifty-ish solepreneur, said before admitting, “It was the same both times – great for the first couple years and then they started to get demanding and possessive. I felt strangled.”
Yet, when talking business, said she was bogged down with all the detail and administrative work that came with delivering her expertise. They were things she hated doing but that had to be done. “I need a wife,” she laughed.
Her callous, sexist words made me bristled. And, at the same time, I understood. In her mind, just as in the mind of the vast majority of people, a WIFE is the person who handles the details of a marriage. She serves without being served.
In Marnie’s marriages, she became “a wife” and, within a couple years, hated being one.
To me, “wife” is a four-letter word. I don’t use it about others unless I must. I NEVER use in reference to myself. “WIFE” is a word which implies certain tasks. It’s like “HUSBAND” a word that boxes a man into the role of going into the workplace and becoming the bread-winner to support the family. The husband rules.
Meanwhile, the wife takes care of the household details – everything from making shopping lists and medical appointments to organizing couple events, family social events, sending birthday cards to staying on hold for hours with doctor offices, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.
In this day and age, many couples are less traditional than their parents and grandparents. Yet the stigma of the “husband” and “wife” words can still box them into mindsets and tasks that don’t serve their marriage.
What to call yourself instead?
SPOUSE. The word is a mental shift out of the sterotypes. It honors the relationship you and your partner share.
FYI: Be prepared for some Neanderthal attitudes from both men and women, but hold your ground. Many times I’ve been questioned about using the word spouse, but when I explain why, most people (men and women) agree. It’s one of those “teachable moments” opportunities.