Not long after we were married my mother-in-law showed me a magazine article from the 1950’s that someone once gave her summing up “The Perfect Wife”. A perfectionist at heart I was intrigued. As I started reading I very quickly formed the opinion that the advice given to prospective perfect wives was in fact archaic and was clearly written from a pre-women’s liberation movement perspective…most likely by a man I could only assume. Things like making sure you have freshened your makeup and perfume, have neat and clean clothes on, a tidy, softly lit home with settled and quiet children and of course dinner on the table ready to greet him with a happy “How was your day, dear?” the very second he walked through the door. My reaction to this nonsense was “Yeah, right! Dream on! I am NEVER going to do that! No one does this anymore!” I had no interest in being June Cleaver or a Stepford wife. Clearly I didn’t take the advice of my very wise father and be careful about speaking in absolutes.
At that time I was working just as much, if not more so, than my husband and was finding it very hard to balance my new responsibilities as a wife. I would get up each morning and go to work all day and come home to have to begin my next job of making dinner, grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning…then I would serve dinner, eat and finally clean up. I was quickly finding I had no time to even sit down until 8 p.m. and then I was supposed to be spending time with my husband. I was overwhelmed and exhausted trying to adjust to this new life. I so desperately wanted to be “the perfect wife” but these ideas seemed ridiculous and I began to become even more confused about what a modern “perfect wife” was supposed to look like.
Not long after my world turned upside down and suddenly I could no longer take care of my husband, but in fact, he took care of me. Selflessly and lovingly he set himself aside each day to make sure I had exactly what I needed to get through the day…endless trips to the pharmacy, appointments, tests…not to mention the shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry that still needed to be done all on top of his job. Never once did he complain but instead looked to the Lord for strength. What that taught me, Miss Independent I can do it all myself, was profound.
As I look back at the list that described “the perfect wife” I am astonished that over time I have actually put into practice every single one of them in my own way without even realizing it. Not because I want…or even can possibly be a perfect wife, but out of love for my husband who truly loves me. If love is a verb…if my husband is the head of our household and I am at the heart of it…if my husband loves me enough to set himself aside each and every solitary day…then I am not loosing an ounce of dignity or a shred self-worth but in fact I am finding my identity in who God wants me to be. My actions are not archaic or pre women’s liberation nor do they make me June Cleaver or a Stepford wife…they are simply tiny, miniscule ways I can honor and respect my husband…and more importantly the One who made him.
Contrary to what I once thought…marriage is not…should not be…50/50. Marriage is in fact an equation doesn’t really make sense mathematically. 1 + 1=1. Jesus, our perfect example for everything we face in life didn’t only give 50%…He gave ALL of Himself…in turn…so should we. I am commanded to honor and glorify God in all I say and do. Therefore my husband, my family, they deserve my absolute best, my all…yet I must rely on the Lord for strength because I simply cannot do it on my own. Nowhere in God’s Word does it tell me to specifically love my husband as his wife…it tells me to submit to him and respect him…to help him and serve him whatever that may look like in each new and different season of life. That is how I show him… through the way God wired him…that I love him.
It’s amazing to me how God changes our opinions and reactions to things when we begin to walk in His Truth. It makes me realize how important having that Truth hidden in my heart is so crucial. That is what needs to shape who I am…not just as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend but as a child of God…not culture or politics or society. It makes me eat my very own words and do things I said I would never do…happily.