Recently, I’ve read a few articles by the “other side”. And by other side, I mean the religious side. I know, that’s mean. I don’t really mean it. I’m actually fascinated by religion and belief. I’m equally, if not more fascinated by the sociology and societal norms of religious communities. I totally don’t agree with most of it! And I’m absolutely enthralled!
Somehow, I found my way to some articles about marriage penned by individuals who lean in the general direction of god. Man! I was so baffled. And again, enthralled! I just did not- fundamentally did not– understand the views/expectations of marriage represented in these articles. This of course, got me thinking about my own marriage.
No one was more surprised than me when I got married. More surprising was that I was the first of my friends at the tender age of 25. Now that! That was surprising. I always thought that IF I met someone I’d be AT LEAST 30 before I even considered any sort of legally binding commitment. Well, life is funny, I met a wonderful man, and we were all “hey, you’re cute” and then, “no, you’re cute” followed with “hey, wanna get married?”. No, not really. Well. Kind of. That’s the really simple version. ANYWAY.
I never really thought wife would be a part of my identity before the age of 30. In fact, I never really expected wife to be a part of my identity at all.
And even now, married for a year and some months… it’s not.
Being married is a big thing, so I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of the institution or the consideration that we both put into the decision to say, yes, I like you enough to love you at your worst, I understand I am going to be with you from now until wrinkles, I forsake all others because you are way cute. That’s a horrible summary of the importance of marriage, so just pretend I said something eloquent and moving and just know that is what I mean about the bigness and importance of choosing one person forever.
So, marriage. Awesome, great, important, wonderful. I am married and it is all those things. But as far as considering “wife” as a part of my identity? As a part of what makes me, me? Not so much.
I am a lot of things and a wife is one of them, but when I think about the things that make me who I am– teacher, sassy, vegetarian, funny, animal lover, educated– when it comes to my marriage I think— lover of indie music, exercise, puppies, books, family and friend oriented, and partner to Chris.
That’s what I land on: partner.
Honestly, it really bugs me when women weave “wife” into a descriptor of who they are. I know this is because I’m assuming they mean it in a way that is antiquated and doesn’t jive with the way I think marriages and relationships should work. I try not to pass judgement on to those women. After all, they are allowed their own relationships and views. Because, duh. That’s the beauty of a modern world. You can be with who you want and hold the values that sit right with you. Certainly, I don’t pass judgement, but that doesn’t mean that I agree. I actually vehemently disagree.
I’m not religious. Being a wife is not something I consider to be otherworldly and spiritual. I’m speaking generally here about a large group of people, which everyone is always told do not do UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, but, I’m going to anyway. If you are religious (please read: religious, not spiritual) and hold what we describe as “conservative” views, being a wife is a part of your religion. Your spouse? A gift from god. Your marriage? Used for god. Or does god use your marriage? I don’t know. It’s all very confusing and I don’t understand.
I don’t have that kind of pressure riding on my marriage. In fact, I still feel weird sometimes when I say, “my husband” because my brain thinks, NO! YOU HAVEN’T GOT ONE OF THOSE, YOU’RE LIKE 17 AND STILL TERRIBLE AT DRIVING A STICK. Brain slowly turns over aaaaaaand there we are: Oh, right. Yes, I have got a husband. Look at me go! So, for me, being a partner is more important than being “a wife” and that’s how I think of us in my brain. Our relationship would, honestly, be the same if we had decided not to get married. When we met and fell in love (ew, gross) I decided that he was it and I was in. I never needed a piece of paper to have a serious, functioning, and committed relationship.
I’m sure there are women who probably think the same thing when an atheist, feminist sassbot spouts off about equality and being partners. I’ve been online enough to know that there are women who are in households who clearly embody all the things I dislike about the word wife (hello, religious articles that made me say to my computer screen, “WHAT are you doing, gals!?”). Their lives and views of marriage, honestly, scare me. I couldn’t function in the kinds of marriages that I read about. Heck, I couldn’t even function in the early stages of a relationship with anyone who didn’t understand and recognize that just because I happen to be a women means I have to or am expected to x, y, z. Excuse me? I HAVE to do what? I’m EXPECTED to do what? Ahem. Let me introduce you to these two ladies, Sucker and Punch. Those are my fists. Do you really want to tell me what I HAVE to do? A good relationship is an equal one. No fists needed. That’s the crux, for me.
Perhaps the most important part of considering marriage as an equal partnership (there’s always give and take though, don’t get me wrong) is that it allows space for each person to be an individual. We are two separate people who chose to be together. Two people who will keep making choices to be together. Sometimes, I think, when the state of being a wife becomes a gal’s identity, she can lose who she is as a person. How can you be a great pair when you don’t know who are are as the solo act?
For the women who see being a wife as part of what makes them who they are, I hope that this is truly (really, I mean it) what makes them happy.
For me, being Nancy–teacher, sassy, vegetarian, funny, animal lover, educated, lover of indie music, exercise, puppies, books, family and friend oriented, and partner to Chris– is what works and makes me happy.