anchored in light

A lifestyle blog about finding light in every avenue of life

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Am I a "Good Wife"?



This post has been one that I’ve been thinking about writing for months, because it’s something that I’ve struggled with since I got married over a year and a half ago. 

Before I got married, I had a good idea of the kind of wife that I wanted to be. I wanted to be pretty, smart, kind, a good cook, a good mother, able to juggle everything and make it look easy. Don’t we all wish that it were as easy as making a laundry list of everything that we would like to be and then suddenly become that?

After I got married, I quickly found out that I had a whole other list of things that I thought that I should be. Knowing that Brian struggles with Chronic Pain due to a back injury that happened several years back, I knew that it might be on me to take over some of his “traditional” roles. I mentally prepared myself for a life where I was possibly the breadwinner, while also taking the brunt of the responsibility and care of our children. Of course, this wasn’t ideal, but I had what I wanted from Brian. He was (and is) my best friend. Our relationship is the best that I have ever been in and he loves me like he hit the jackpot at the lottery. I could be everything else if I needed to.

However, while I thought I was mentally prepared to take on the role of “everything”, what I didn’t realize is that I had wired all of these tasks and responsibilities into my idea of what being a “good wife” would mean for me. It would be my job to make sure that we didn’t spend too much money. My job to keep the house clean. My job to cook and have a hot meal on the table every night. My job to do the laundry. My job to do the grocery shopping. My job to keep all of that up while still being me.

Luckily, marriage was a lot different than I expected. Brian was not only more capable of doing “his job”, but I quickly found out that he was better at doing “my job” too. Which left me with this conundrum, if I let him do things that were “my job” am I still a "good wife”?

A prime example of this is cleaning. My parents made me do chores as a child, just like most parents, but I have never put cleaning high on my list. I like things tidy but things like mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing the bathroom… those things tend to fall to the wayside. Brian has an entirely different idea of how often things should be cleaned. Whenever we go on vacation, or if it’s his birthday, or if it’s a holiday, or if people are coming over, the house needs to be cleaned. Not just tidy, but deep cleaned. For most of our marriage I’ve just let Brian clean. When we went on vacation I let him deep clean the house while I finished packing, or if I was finished, while I waited for him to finish cleaning. My reasoning was that it wasn’t something that bothered me. It wasn’t something that NEEDED to happen for me to be ok leaving. If he wanted it clean, then he was welcome to clean it, but I wasn’t going to make it my problem.

I successfully did this for quite awhile before I decided that perhaps I wasn’t going about this the right way. What actually happened is that we decided to go on a trip down to St. George with some friends. We were hoping that Brian would get off work early so that we could leave earlier to drive down before traffic hit. Either way though, we were planning to leave as soon as Brian was off work and ready to go. Therein lay the problem. I like to be on time. I wanted to leave as soon as we could, but that would leave little to no time for Brian to clean the apartment before we left, no matter when he got off work. So I decided that I would be nice and clean the apartment for him before we went. I put the laundry away. I vacuumed the entire apartment. I cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen. I mopped both floors. I did absolutely everything that I could think of to make sure that Brian wouldn’t feel the need to clean (or re-clean) anything before we left. He got home, he packed and we went on our way. 

However, while I’ve struggled our whole marriage to let that go off my list of things that I need to do to be a good wife, by doing this for him, I’d put it back on. We had the opportunity to go on another trip a few weeks later and my main reason for not wanting to go was not wanting to clean the whole apartment again. I didn’t want the stress of worrying about it. Thinking about adding that to my list of things to do made the trip not worth the effort. We didn’t end up going, and I was grateful, but we did end up feeding the missionaries the same night that we would have gone so I had to clean the apartment anyway AND make dinner. Doing those sorts of things are exactly what I had on my list of “good wife” traits, but I hated it. How could I be a “good wife” if I didn’t do those tasks, and when I did, I didn’t do them happily?

It’s still something that I’m working on. I have to remind myself often that my worth as a wife does not depend on whether or not I keep the house clean enough. It does not depend on whether I pack my husband’s lunch and have dinner on the table when he comes home. It is not in a tallied score of all the things that I check off as done for the day. 

It’s in how I love Brian. It’s in how I try to serve him. It’s in trying to do the little things that might make him happy or make his life a little easier, even if trying is all I can manage. It’s in putting myself first sometimes, so that I have something to give him. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that when I take care of myself, I so much more capable of being the kind of wife and person that I want to be. I am so much happier to do the things that are on my list of “good wife” traits. It’s in letting go of the “good wife” list, because most of it is a lie anyway. Just as I didn’t marry Brian for his ability to provide or his cooking or cleaning skills, he didn’t marry me to do those things either. Those are the day to day things, but they are not what makes me a good wife or him a good husband. 

What have you learned to let go of? How did you learn to let go of it? Or, are you still struggling, like me?
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