How To Be A Good Wife
I am adding this post because of “popular demand”; that is, if I had a large readership, they would want me to add my observations about what makes a good wife. Nothing here applies directly to my own wife or marriage, although Nancy is one terrific wife. ‘Nuff said.
These theories are mine, but they jibe nicely with “The Tender Care and Feeding of Husband’s” by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. I have not read her book for a couple of years, but I think we are “in synch”. Just as my previous post for husbands, these suggestions assume you have “a keeper”, a loving, dutiful, hard working, faithful, husband. Such people are already not abusive or addicted. This is not a “how to fix your spouse”, if he he’s broken, but what I think a wife needs to do to be a good wife for a good husband.
Dr. Laura, of course, decry’s “man haters” and people who believe that women deserve special dispensation and privilege because of rights that have been denied them over the years.
I got some perspective verses those who criticize her for being a “Nazi”, or too conservative, with an article written by a self described liberal and women’s rights advocate. She pointed out that good men will sacrifice mightily for the women they love and for their families. She reminded us of the men who will put women and children into the lifeboats, who will sacrifice their lives to save their woman, and will go to war and make the ultimate sacrifice there. She urged women not to forget such things or the biology of our differences. I fight every day to protect the full legal rights of my clients, over half of whom are women. But do not forget, each partner in a marriage, ANY marriage, has important responsibilities
So, here goes:
1. When possible, marry someone with your values to whom you are strongly physically attracted.
2. Try to understand how the typical man is sexually, and, without sacrificing your own needs and desires, try to satisfy his. This is not easy.
3. Do not misinterpret his more ready response as a lack of caring. Don’t feel you are being used in having a vigorous intimate life.
4. And, for gosh sakes, don’t be afraid of innovation and do not hesitate to make your own wishes known. In other words, prudishness has its place, but not in the marital relationship.
5. Never forget, your spouse is usually your only lifetime, live together, relationship. Your children mature and move out, eventually; you move out on your parents, and more often than not, your parents die before you do. SO PUT YOUR SPOUSE FIRST. The reverse of this is do not allow your spouse to isolate you from your family unless that family is disfuntional and harmful to your core family.
6. Of course, your babies require your constant attention, so involve your husband in child rearing. DON’T exclude him, and do not let him believe hands on care is not his responsibility. Husbands need to know how to change the poopy diapers! Most of us feel a bit neglected when the babies arrive. This is natural. Not sure it was natural for my father to bring home a new convertible every time one of us was born. That was four brand new cars we really could not afford.
7. There is something wrong if a spouse cuts off the other from family and friends. This isolation is usually a control or abuse issue.
8. But, whatever the love for parents, siblings, or friends, they must take second place to the marital relationship. Spend lots of time together and try to connect on your mutual interests. And, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME!
9. Adapting to your husband’s/spouse’s passions in life is hard for me, a self absorbed, ego-centric person with lots of hobbies to advise on. Somehow, Nancy has put up with my pottery, my photography, my car racing, my book purchases, my computers, and my sense of humor! Not that it is easy, and not that she doesn’t have plenty of gripes that I would spend all our discretionary money on such things. In a good relationship, such things aren’t pushed to the limit. Not sure what would have happened if I had sacrificed our security for a dream to race cars. That’s why I “retired” on the way to the tire wall in 1980!
10. And, this is a delicate one. I pondered it carefully when representing a client a few years ago. She had gained 110 lb. Both parties agreed they had a “nearly perfect marriage” during the early years. At that time, she was 110 lb., quite cute, and very active physically. They did lots of great stuff together and as a family. When I met her, she was still young, barely 50, but nearly immobile, suffering from depression, fibromyalgia, and multiple ills. And she absolutely could not figure why her husband avoided her, had developed his own interests and friends, and had told her he just wasn’t happy any more and wanted a divorce. Her response, to threaten suicide.
11. It takes tremendous will to avoid being dragged into the pitfalls of the American diet and lifestyle. (He says after gorging himself during a week long vacation.), but I agree with Dr. Laura that our spouses have every right to complain, even take a hike, if the other ignores their health with little exercise, poor diet, excessive drinking, smoking, etc. This, of course, must be balanced with the tolerance and mutuality I comment on in my posts for husbands and on fitness. BUT, I think that managing that balance properly is the key to most good marriages.
12. Staying passionately in love, whenever possible, is ideal. I claim that for Nancy and me.
13. But, I am sure there are good marriages where there is comfort and devotion, a great place for grandchildren, that are worth staying together and heading into old age together for. I suspect everything I suggest here will still work. Staying fit, staying healthy, being so devoted that you become even closer if health leaves one or both of you, doing things together, putting each other first, and building your financial security. ALL are important.
14. As always, I invite comments, questions and criticism.
This post was written by Burton Hunter