Thursday, March 12, 2009

What does it mean to be a "wife"?

So, one of the hardest things for me in contemplating the fact that I will be married in six months is the idea of becoming a "wife." I will be someone's wife. Being a sister or a daughter hasn't felt like such a defining label. I couldn't imagine being anyone's wife but my sweetie's, but still. In part its that getting married involves giving up your independence, something that I have always cherished (if you talk to my parents they will tell you that I tried to win my independence from them way before my time). I am looking forward to all the positives of being married. For us that includes seeing each other every day. I really hope that we aren't approaching this whole married things with rose-colored glasses. We acknowledge, for example, that being around each other much more than we have become accustomed to seeing each other will (at times) drive both of us a little crazy. But I still am struggling with the idea of becoming a wife--a new and scary creature. Part of me recognizes that this is silly. That I will still be me and that my honey will still be my honey after the wedding. Perhaps it's that I feel like being a wife involves more responsibility, which I don't quite feel up to. Perhaps it's the perfectionist in me that knows that despite how hard I try, I will fail from time to time to be a "good wife," whatever that means and that is scared at failing. Maybe I just need to come up with a new word instead of wife that I might be more comfortable with... any thoughts on what that might be?


elizabeth said...

I've been struggling with this one. I have so many images in my head of what it means to be a 'wife', and none of them are especially pleasing. Unfortunately, they mostly relate to staying at home and taking care of the house and kids full time, neither of which I plan to do. Interesting how all these identity issues come out... one married friend told me, if you're having identity issues now, don't change your name when you get married.

a mindful bride said...

That's an interesting response, especially since I am planning to change my name. Although it's something I go back and forth about. Something to think about. Good thing I will have plenty of time to make up my mind on that one :)

RDH said...

A very interesting comment indeed. While changing your name has symbolic value, and practical implications down the line, I can see that it also could strip away a feeling of comfort, continuity, and identity.

In all growth, there is a spectrum from Ease to Stretch to Stress. We cannot grow in ease, but if we push to hard we injure ourselves - mentally, emotionally, and physically. We need to listen to our minds, our emotions, our bodies and challenge ourselves to stretch without pushing too far and risking injury.

I think that is the problem with seeing marriage as a binary change - today I am fiance, tomorrow I am wife/husband. This is like saying today I am couch potato, tomorrow marathon runner. I think marriage is a challenging process of growth, and our commitment is not to the result - to being a good wife or husband - but to process of growing in ourselves and our relationship.

As to the fraught terminology of "wife", I would suggest the following as possible alternatives:

- Friend
- Companion
- Partner
- Lover
- Co-Chair of the Love Committee
- She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (you might need to google this one)

love, Fiance

p.s. Your blog is making me type in "Warch" before I can post a comment. What kind of word is Warch? Sounds Scottish ("I'm going to warch the tele").

a mindful bride said...

Thank you for making me laugh and being so open and understanding, fiance. I love you too!