Obviously, I am not a Perfect Wife. Yeah, Obviously. I won't hide behind that generalist phrase. 'None of us is perfect'. The truth is that I am not perfect, not as a person and not as a wife. A lot of us women seem to think being a wife comes naturally. Maybe it does for some women, but not for me.
When I was much younger, I assumed I would never get married. I just knew I would make a terrible wife. It wasn't because I didn't like marriage, but as I understood it as an institution, and myself as a person, it just didn't suit me. I feared I would make a terrible wife for some hapless man and drive him crazy. I was too quirky, and I was scared of sharing the passionate, vulnerable part of me with a stranger.
Probably because I questioned almost everything as a matter of course, I was quite young when marriage and wifehood came under scrutiny. It was interesting to me reading all the romance novels I did as a young adult and taking in the dynamics between the different couples in the various books. Through some of the characters, some of my questions were answered, but then new questions arose.
You see, men aren't always to blame for bad marriages, sometimes it is the woman. Indeed, men can be obnoxious, stupid, violent, unfaithful, insensitive, and what have you. But what about the women? We somehow assume these flawed men are bouncing off perfect women, and their wives must be angels, but that is not always the case. I began to ask myself, what makes a good wife? What kind of a wife would you make? The answer wasn't so great.
Strike number one - It seemed most men sought the height of femininity in their women. I'm certainly not a woman's woman. I can talk loud, I talk politics, I get into arguments and I win logically. I don't know what the latest trends are, I'd rather buy a fat book than inches of Brazilian hair, or give my money away than buy expensive accessories. Apart from a few, the men in my sphere - married, single, young or old - were baffled by me. Some liked my conversation, for sure, but tended to stick me in the friend category.
The first time in my life I didn't like being so intelligent, or preferring the more intellectual stuff, was soon after I got into boarding school. I admired the popular girls, they talked about boys, fashion and hemmed their school uniforms till it was above their knees. I loved them and then hated them, and then I hated myself even more. By the time we graduated, I knew myself better even if I wasn't totally done.
In university, friends and course-mates began to get married and gush over babies, and I found out something new. I cared for children, but I couldn't bear to talk about them, all day. And wasn't this supposed to be the epitome of marriage? You got hitched and started popping out children within the year? The nurturing and care-taking bones seemed to be missing in me! Strike, number two.
Also, it was very clear early on that I was more of an introvert, I loved my personal space. I didn't find it hard making friends, but I preferred my company, or just that of a close group of friends. And since I grew up with my three sisters and a brother around my age, they were usually enough for me. But then I graduated, got a job and entered firmly into the 'marriageable' age.
My colleagues and acquaintances at this stage were also mostly gregarious, moving around in packs with their friends. This, I couldn't deal with. I just didn't see myself becoming one of the women, even worse, in a large group where roles and gender were overly emphasized, and keeping up with the Jones is a fact of life. In my mid-twenties and with most of my personality set, that was so not me. Strike number three.
So imagine my surprise after I had met Atala and we began to talk. He was so mature, and in conversations with him, I learnt so much, about myself and about relationships. When he asked me to marry him, I did not say yes because I had suddenly changed, but because I had found someone I could be free to be myself with and not be defensive about it. Someone who did not demand or expect perfection from me.
Am I good wife? I don't know. I am still more comfortable in small groups. My husband is my best friend. While some couples take the most glamorous pictures in Vegas, I'll dress up in my most casual and go trekking around Hoover dam some miles away. A jaunt to New York is more for the museums than for the shopping. I am what you may call, a wife-in-progress. Marriage is after all, a journey.
And I think that's the secret.
As a single person, I shouldn't have bothered about being a good wife. The focus should be on being the best person possible. Of course we can make mistakes, and we may not end up with every person we meet, but that doesn't mean all other men are terrible or that we're screwed. It is just a process of becoming who you're meant to be so when your THE ONE comes along you'll recognize him.
Even this doesn't guarantee you'll be a perfect wife. But maybe your husband will call you good and cherish you for being you.