Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30.
While at a Halloween party, last evening, the hubs and I won a ribbon for costume theme & originality. For those who know us, my husband truly is a priestly saint and I, the whirling dervish she-devil. The irony is that I am the Catholic and he is not. Amongst the songs at this 80s music themed party the DJ played Jermaine Stewart’s 1986 hit, “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” as I poked and prodded the hubs onto the dance floor with the pitch fork. I used to love this song when I was a teen and upon finding it on the web; listened to its message. Stewart died at the age of 39 due to liver cancer; a complication of AIDS. When asked what this song was meant to be about this was his response in an interview with Donnie Simpson, a well-known Washington, D.C. disc jockey.
“I think it made a lot of peoples’ minds open up a little bit. We didn’t only want to just talk about clothes, we wanted to extend that. We wanted to use the song as a theme to be able to say you don’t have to do all the negative things that society forces on you. You don’t have to drink and drive. You don’t have to take drugs early. The girls don’t have to get pregnant early. So the clothes bit of it was to get people’s attention, which it did and I’m glad it was a positive message.” ~ Jermaine Stewart, singer.
When I asked the hubs what he thought made “a good wife,” his response was physical touch. This is his love language, in reference to Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, He grinned salaciously as he said it while fulfilling my love language of acts of service. He recently has volunteered to usher during our church service and was dutifully cleaning our fish tank during this conversation. Normally his “nothing box” would be open on this beautiful, fall Sunday afternoon but when I nonchalantly asked if there were fish in the tank, due to all the algae, he began to clean it. I had already done my household chores neglected during the week, while at work, and so I sat on the couch to watch him. I was curious how he would answer my query. I played the song through my speakers to tease the hubs with the song’s lyrical message.
We are watching the hubs’ parents transition into retirement and have realized that the issues they have with one another is due to a lack of communication. My FIL (father-in-law) is like myself; constantly moving and buzzing with various home improvement projects. Since the hubs and I began to assume the family business on April 1st (their 25th year of business) the FIL has had his driveway repaved, replaced his front lawn with new sod and is currently putting in pavers in his breezeway. This is no small feat considering the amount of property their home sits on and he does this all by himself; the only hired help to pour cement on the driveway. My MIL (mother-in-law), in retirement, enjoys sleeping in, watching her Days of our Lives and reading; leisurely pursuits that do not involve any physical exertion. And so the differences that have always been there are laid bare without the business distracting them; causing strain in their 47 years of marriage.
Are we going to be like them? I constantly ask the hubs. I mentally take notes, reflecting on how our differences in personalities will affect us twenty plus years down the road. He could not clearly answer my question of what made “a good wife.”
The Proverbs quote above is one of my faves; one I continually need to remind myself of. It is a part of the “Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character” in Proverbs 31: 10-31. I get too self-absorbed in our busy lives and kids’ schedules; the Lord absent from my thoughts. The headiness of charm and the vanity of beauty beckons daily. When I first asked the question to the hubs of what makes a good wife, his first and immediate answer was being a good mother to our children. When I clarified that my question involved, solely, being a wife, he then grinned salaciously with physical touch. In our current season of life we are, parents first, partners second. And so we have to make more of an effort to remember one another’s needs. Will it only be when our children leave our home and we become empty-nesters that we will try to rekindle what brought us together in the first place? Will we even remember?
For days I have contemplated what I would consider being a good wife and had hoped my hubby would give me some guidance. According to this 1955 Good Housekeeping article I’ve failed at my job. And so my introspective list begins as I consider the wife I am and aspire to be. Being a good wife is (in no specific order):
- knowing that my place is equal to my husband’s. We are partners in this marriage and the load of our relationship should not be carried by one person or the other. If he feels burdened I must try to lighten his load. If I am sad, he cheers me or lends me his shoulder to cry on.
- communicating after emoting. I must learn to take a breath and pause; to choose my words. I am reactionary and respond with feelings versus objectivity. But I still must communicate. I am a product of the silent treatment and a good wife should always be able to communicate her needs without scorn or retaliation. Honesty. Nagging is not allowed.
- listening to what he has to say. There is nothing less affirming for my hubs than when I don’t hear his words. When he complains about his bad day I’m usually bustling around; half-listening or distracted with kids. I must hit the pause button and hear him; even when what he is saying isn’t what I want to hear. Just as he must hear me whine and vent; so I must validate his words.
- humbling. The desire to be right should instead focus on a shared path. Compromising, the give-and-take, is what makes relationships work. I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff; the shoes left in our hallways, the footprints on our clean tile floor. Cleanliness is not holiness.
- being the heart of the home. A happy wife makes a happy life. Most times it is the woman who sets the tone of the house; positive or negative. This does not mean having the perfect home with gleaming appliances with blinds dusted. It is a mindset, the happy home. In my four walls I seek: Love. Peace. Laughter. Faith. Democracy. Honesty. Humility. Empathy. Space. Beauty. Unity. Grattitude. Simplicity. Health. Security. Family. Creativity. Balance. Fitness.
- being thankful. I easily can fall into the I want and if only game but in order to be a good wife I must be able to see what lies before me and be grateful. I am happy for the home my husband provides for our family. That he is hands-on and can fix or create anything he sets his mind to (with the help of YouTube tutorials). I am thankful for the greasy hands that fix my faucets, install my car water pump or cooks our slow food meals.
- respecting the man cave and boundaries of the nothing box. The hubs must be allowed to escape into his man cave aka computer den to surf until the end of the Internet, play online games with our sons or do whatever it is that he does in that dark, loud cave. I must let him enjoy his own space; to open his nothing box and watch The Walking Dead, Ancient Aliens, Yukon Men, Doctor Who, Law & Order, Deadliest Catch, Good Eats, Diner, Drive-ins and Dives, Defiance and Revolution. Inappropriate movie nights occur when I am not at home. LOL.
- learning flexibility. A common complaint of the hubs is that I lack spontaneity; that I fret over unimportant things. I cannot leave on vacation without a cleaned house. I must learn to not be a creature of habit and just go with the flow. To step out of my comfort zone and think out-of-the box.
- mastering balance. To be able to laugh at myself, to unclog toilets and fix lights, to be tough and accept criticism. The hubs would love for me to change my vehicle oil, install and fix computer issues, be fit like Jillian Michaels and take constructive criticism with panache. He requests a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fix-it/techno-geek know-it-all and funny/tough persona of Sandra Bullock. And I must look hot while doing all this. LOL.
- being comfortable in my own skin. When he gives compliments, accept them. To appreciate the stretch marks from three labors, the laugh lines that crinkle when I smile, the sagging parts that reveal my years of experience. I don’t need to look like Debbie does Dallas in Victoria Secret lingerie and heels (though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind). The hubs claims it isn’t what I’m wearing (or not) but the self-confidence of who I am and what I’m capable of that turns him on.
- happily doing her Christianly duty. My husband enjoys Ephesians 5: 22-23, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” He takes this verse literally which speaks of his love language. Laugh. Out. Loud. My bookclub girlfriends know my husband’s vernacular and giggle when he teases amongst us; the man having no shame.
As I sat staring mindlessly at my computer, the hubs entered the bedroom to peer over my shoulder. I read to him the 1955 Good Housekeeping article and we laughed together. He added the last few bullets to my list with his preferred shows while Jermaine Stewart’s song played in the background. He has since retreated to his man cave downstairs to open his nothing box. I will continue to contemplate being “the good wife.”