[Chapter Three] What Does it Mean to be a “Wife”?
For those of you who are expecting some sort of guideline to what being a “wife” means (whether to obtain some sort of wisdom you assume I have in writing this…or to use as fodder to argue your opinion about the matter), you are going to be disappointed. This is NOT a how-to-be-a-good-wife post. Nor is it a how-to-maintain-your-position-as-an-equal-partner-who-deserves-to-be-treated-as-a-queen-who’s-every-wish-is-the-spouse’s-command post (because that idea in and of itself seems very contradictory to me).
This post is simply a self-reflection…a peek into what “being a wife” has translated to in my life. I’ve made some headway in the discovery of who I am and what my role is in my particular family and family situation. I’m starting to see what my version of “wife” is going to look like, and it’s taken me some deep reflection and a lot of “dying to myself” to accepting that version of me. Whether you can relate to my experience or not is not the intent of this post.
Earlier this month, I posted the following “status” on my Facebook wall.
Rarely…but I have them.
Of course, when writing this I was thinking about a general group of friends and family who have found success and contentment in pursuing and obtaining their dream occupations. Writers, teachers, artists (both in the audio and visual realms), film people, doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, business people, accountants, tax experts, executives, HR reps, top level administrators, pastors, counselors, etc…etc…and so forth.
But the one person who tends to make me feel this way more than others lives a lot closer to home. In fact, he lives IN my home. As an individual, I look at my successful husband and envy the fact that he “gets to” pursue his dream to become a doctor. I would like the freedom to pursue my own dreams (whatever they may be)…and probably could have, had I been single.
But I’m not single…I’m part of this team called a “family”…and am responsible not only for my own well-being, but also for the well-being of others in this family.
|I would do anything…BE anything…for these two…seriously…|
So as I am responsible for the well-being of other people (and a canine) now, my priorities have shifted. As I have taken on the title of “Mrs.” and “wife,” I have begun a journey down a path where my desires and pursuits sometimes have to take a backseat for the benefit of the family as a whole. This, of course, is why in June 2011, I chose to leave the one occupation I loved (teaching high school) to follow a husband to the land of deep freeze winters, knowing it was VERY unlikely I would be able to find another job in the occupation I loved.
Now for all you naysayers who believe I made a huge mistake putting my husband’s career before my own (I know you’re out there…somewhere…), let me explain WHY this was the better choice for our family.
|Would you believe it if I told you this guy’s a doctor?|
- My husband is a resident doctor (soon to be a fellow), and makes just a little more than I did as a high school teacher. Because of this choice he made to pursue medicine, we have accumulated a butt-load of debt (in the form of both school loans – 2 private college educations + 1 private graduate school education + 1 medical school education – and credit cards). Granted his school loans are currently in forbearance, we still need to pay for my loan , credit card debt, and our livelihood. Unable to subsist on one person’s salary, I took on any job I could to make ends meet (and I’m not complaining…they pay me well and give me AWESOME benefits!).
- Despite the money woes now, we know that down the road (3 to 4 years time?), my husband’s earning potential will be MORE than sufficient to provide for our family. Compare that with my dream of being a teacher/working in educational policy. I feel I would be doing my (future) family a financial disservice if I made my husband give up parts of his dream (or make it difficult to realize his full potential) just so I could fulfill mine. So, I take on the supporting role so that he can focus on following his career path.
- Of course, we do hope to have children of our own (sooner the better). We are also planning to have his parents eventually live with us as dependents (caring for them as they have cared for us…it’s an honor). But by increasing in numbers, it becomes more important that one of us spend more time caring for those at home. And considering each of our outside-the-home potential income levels (see second bullet point again), I’m the likely candidate to take on the home front.
Still, practicality aside, the independent, somewhat feminist me still feels that twinge of jealousy and resentment when I see my husband talking with his co-resident friends. Despite complaints, you can tell they are truly passionate about what they do and love being in the field they’re in (well, most of them anyway). I miss that…miss working with other teachers, talking (and complaining) about our profession. It’s something of the past I miss…and something I may never get a chance (or choose never) to return to…and sometimes, that hurts.
Being a wife does not mean being a lesser person than the husband. It means being a partner…in providing and caring for the family. It is a lifelong battle fought on dual fronts – in the workforce and at home. Our roles are different, but both are crucial. That is what makes us equal – we know the job is MUCH easier with one another…that the family unit will need us as both husband and wife (and eventually, father and mother) fulfilling our roles.
|Team An…a force to be reckoned with…|