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Reclaiming The Word Wife


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

So. Wife. Being a wife. There are loaded words, and then there are *loaded* words, and I think wife falls into the second category. I first started thinking about this concept when I got this comment from Cindy (remember Cindy?) right before the wedding:

“Meg, I love being a wife. So far in life, it’s been my most satisfying and challenging role. So here’s to the rest of yours and David’s life. Cheers.”

David was reading my comments over my shoulder (as he does) and he stopped at that one. “Wife?” He said, “That’s sort of a surprising comment. It’s something I feel like you don’t hear very much these days. People don’t say ‘I love being a wife’ unless they are talking about how they love being a stay-at-home soccer mom, and I’m pretty positive she doesn’t mean that.”

“I’m going to be a wife THIS WEEK,” I screeched. “I better love it. I better not become a stay at-home-soccer-mom-with-a-minivan. I better not lose myself. Certainly! Not!”

And then we got married. I haven’t told you guys this, but I stopped wearing my engagement ring the next day, which was funny, given all the time we’d spent thinking about it and picking it out. There were a lot of reasons that maybe I’ll talk about one day, but one of them was this – my bands (I have two, Jewish and well, regular) don’t scream ‘wedding bands,’ at least not without an engagement ring. And while I wanted to mark myself as taken, it turned out I didn’t really care to mark myself as married to the wide world. “Too much baggage,” I said, “Being a married woman comes with a lot of baggage, and a lot of stuff I’m not. I just don’t want to communicate that to everyone I meet.”

So. It turns out I love being married. LOVE it. It’s strange that it’s any different at all, but it is. On our honeymoon I started realizing all the really great things about it – we’re on a team now, a literal team. We support each others endeavors, we encourage each other, we support each other financially. Ah ha! I realized. Now we are two*! This is awesome. As two we should be able to be much braver, much more adventurous, right? We’ll be able to hold each other accountable. Imagine all the stuff we’ll be able to get done! Fabulous. So I started making a list in my head of ‘Now-We-Are-Two exciting projects to consider in the next three-ish years:’

  • Project Travel. You can travel with babies, but isn’t it better to practice traveling without them first? I have a lot of the world left to see.
  • Project Grad School. I’ve been breadwinner while David is in school, when he’s out, I should take my turn. I started researching graduate programs on our honeymoon. Somewhere in Scotland, I decided on what Masters degree I wanted to pursue.
  • Project Start A Business. Look around you. Wouldn’t it be great if I had time to make sure there was more of that?
  • Project Renovate a House. I’ve never been super wrapped up in buying a house. I mean, all the places I want to live tend to offer apartments for sale for half a million and up. If I have to choose between renting in San Francisco or buying in the suburbs, I can make that choice in five seconds flat. But then I realized you could buy run down cheap historic homes these days. Tiny, maybe in slightly dubious neighborhoods, but cheap (there are perks to being young in a horrible housing market). Then you could gut them, and make them beautiful again. Ahhhh… refinishing hardwood floors with an industrial sander by ourselves? That’s the kind of nesting that sounds interesting to me.

So I was excited. As soon as I came home from my honeymoon, I started looking around. Married blogs! Married media! I was going to find all the media that discussed exciting married projects! Ambition squared! Whheeeeee! And then slowly, very slowly, I felt the air letting out of my balloon. Where was this marriage discussion? I didn’t want to talk about nesting and buying pillows. I mean, I already had pillows. I didn’t want to talk about cooking organic food. I don’t really cook. (There. I said it. David cooks.) I didn’t want to talk about having a baby. Or I didn’t want to talk about *me* having a baby right now, though your baby is adorable.

And then I started processing this a little bit. Could it possibly be true that much of the available media I could find about new wife-ness was about buying pillows and cooking and having babies? In 2009? That couldn’t be right. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like cooking and babies and maybe even pillows, but I’ll be damned if I was going to let being a wife mean just cooking and babies and nesting. I had a list of PROJECTS damn it. I wanted to think about what new marriage meant. It’s joys, it’s challenges. I wanted to talk about wife-dom, and what it means to me now, as a woman with a very independent streak, a woman who’s a feminist, in 2009.

The New York Times recently ran a Modern Love article (that you MUST read right now if you haven’t already) written by a gay woman about her stay-at-home-wife. She said this:

I want to broaden the meaning of “wife.” When I call Ellen my wife I don’t want to mean that she is simply the chore-doer but that she’s the guiding intelligence behind her half of our household. Ellen doesn’t take care of the children the way I would, not by a long shot. If I were the stay-at-home mother, they would wear different clothes, eat different lunches, attend different activities. The cleaning and the laundry would get done in a different order and to a different standard. It took me a long time to accept that Ellen’s way is legitimate; it was probably 18 months from the time she began taking care of our son full time to when I truly let go of trying to make her do it my way.

That passage reminded of two members of our family. We don’t see them very often, but every time we do, we come away saying, I hope we’re parents like *that.* I hope that’s us, 15 years in. The kind of parents no one tell you that you can be – the wry, honest, funny kind. The kind that can love your kid and still note that parenting, when paired with sanity, needs a pretty serious dose of irony. The stay at home parent** in that family is the dad (parent and artist, natch). And this passage in the New York Times reminded me that as far as I can tell, he’s one of the best wives I know. I don’t think I’d mind growing up to be a wife like that. And I’d like a little more of that. A little less pillows, and a lot more honesty.

So lets do this thing. Lets reclaim the word wife. Lets talk about marriage. So tell me what you want to talk about, and then lets c-h-a-t. You can bring your pillows, but you better bring a conversation topic that doesn’t involve them.

*Two. Count it. Two. None of this two-become-one bullcr*p. Why the hell would I want to go from being One to being One-Half? Right. I wouldn’t.
**For all I know he may have a mini-van. Do y’all even drive mini-vans in the UK?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Anonymous

    Wow! This is a great post! Are you in my head or something? I am not getting married for a year or so, but the current old fashioned concept of becoming a "wife" means nothing to me and is one I am struggling to embrace (my mental image is of me trying to hug an iceberg…)I think it is great that you want to talk about what being a "wife" means now and to almost reclaim the term…
    My question would be whether you have noted if anyone new that you meet views you differently? I have been warned that single people may judge you as boring and settled… A lot of my friends are single and will continue to have single friends and I still want to be invited to the party after I'm married!!! Have you experienced this?

    Viki

  • Sparkleparty

    Great post Meg! This has very much been on my mind as a "wife" of barely 2 months. I just read the Modern Love article and through their discussion about what to call each other after marriage she mentions that going from “fiancée” to “partner” seemed like a diminishment of their relationship since they wanted to be clear that they were in a same sex relationship. I must admit I have had the opposite experience. I liked using "partner" before using "fiancé" (although sparingly). I have just started using "husband", but so far it doesn't feel right in my mouth. I rush through the word almost spitting it out. It might just need some getting used to, but "partner" seems to describe our relationship much better. Interestingly in French it is a whole other game – "mon mari" (my husband) and "ma femme" (my wife/woman). My partner/husband is very adamant about not using "my woman" for obvious reasons.

    Here's to post-wedding projects that don't involve a having a bun in the oven, literally or otherwise!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07964067874449854147 Heather

    You know. You just have one of my most favorite blogs out there. You really do. You tackle some really amazing topics head on and with the honesty they deserve.

    As a new wife of 2 weeks and 3 days, haha, this is such a relevant post for me. I had the same "a-ha!" moment on our honeymoon that my husband and I are now this team. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I have this person back home cheering me on! So many things to do OUTSIDE of buying pillows!

    I think the above suggestion on how relationships might change with some of your friends might be a good one. I don't think we will lose any of our glorious friends, but the way we interact with them and the things that we do have somewhat shifted. I wonder if anyone else has experienced that.

    Great post Meg. Love it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05955067991628905693 Bookbag

    Meg, I'm so glad you're taking your blog in this direction. Marriage is such a big, awesome, scary topic, and I can't wait to read your thoughts.

    And ditto on the traveling without babies. My in-laws are very vocal about their desire for grandkids, and I keep telling them I've got a lot I want to do first. That includes lots of traveling, just me and Mr. B:)

  • Sharon

    I didn't know that me being a stay-at-home "soccer mom" (are there such things as track and field moms?) ejected me from the feminist pool. Huh. After all that work I did trying to be an equal.

    Even if you didn't mean to be offensive, this post…kind of is. Because I hear it all the time. Wanting my girls to grow up to be feminist, forgoing Disney princesses, teaching them how to be good people? It's never good enough. I guess I have to trade in all that for that mini-van, right?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    No Sharon, I said *I* didn't want to be a stay at home soccor mom with a mini-van. And I don't, ever. I've always wanted to make sure that didn't happen to me, so for me, that would be losing myself.

    You notice later in the post I referance a stay at home dad who I admire, who might or might not have a mini-van.

    You need to do what's best for you, that's the way it works. My mom stayed home with us. I might stay home with my kids, or not, or maybe David will. But I'll be d*mned if I get a mini-van. Ever. But that's me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15452082852708707013 Peacock Feathers and Diamond Rings

    I love being a wife. And hearing my Husband refer to me as his wife.

    Last week someone said to me that it must be hard not having a job if I don't live at home (meaning my parents house/childhood home). To which I responded, surprised, that I do live at home. My home is with my family, my husband, in our flat here in London. (Obvs I still count my parents etc as family, I just mean my immediate family).

    Being a wife is like being the old me, but a better version.

    (and I don't think we have mini-vans in the UK. I think we call them people carriers. But my parents are Volvo drivers, and Husband and I don't have a car, so I couldn't be absolutely sure).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12497562042019201312 Yiskah

    This is nice, but I think it's easy to get too wrapped up in this idea of "reclaiming" words and redefining what they mean to you and all the "what do I want to show the world?" that goes along with it. It ends with spending a lot of time redefining yourself and less time just being who you are/who you want to be. As long as you love your life, who cares what people think you are? And while mini-van driving soccer mom is a nightmare for me, there are lots of women who enjoy it and who are truly happy caring for a family. More power to them.

    Then again, if it makes you happy to be philosophical about it, more power to you too.

  • http://www.themaidenmetallurgist.com The Maiden Metallurgist

    I love being Josh's wife and he loves being my husband. I think there is something extremely liberating in unabashedly wearing those "shoes."

    We make our partnership the driving force for everything we decide to do, and I don't feel old fashioned at all. We love, we laugh, we fight like cats and dogs, but the partnership, the marriage is the center of it, always.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02567097973987043341 Lauren

    Hooray for marriage blogs! Before I got married, I thought the words "husband" and "wife" were totally lame and un-sexy. I thought "fiancee" was this really glamorous, romantic word, and who would ever want to switch at the end of the engagement? But then I got engaged, and realized that the word "fiancee," while beautiful, is L.O.A.D.E.D. And not in a good way. It tends to elicit high pitched cooing from strangers, usually asking about your wedding colors. And I was psyched to get rid of it. The point of the words "husband" and "wife" being un-sexy is that it means you are boring and normal, and will be left alone to create whatever kind of life you want to with those words. Nobody cares about your marriage colors. But those are the colors that matter.

    Re: rings- I did the opposite- I didn't get a wedding band because my thought was "I already have one nice ring, why do I need two?" So I bought a fabulous sterling silver/CZ set of three bands to wear when I don't want to wear my engagement ring. Works out great!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01105755263373802813 invisiblyrose

    Hi Meg, great post! I just read a book exactly on this topic that touched me, so much so that I'm going to recommend it to you if you haven't already read it. It's called the Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston. And I'm totally with you! After the planning-a-wedding blogs it seems like they all jump to Mommy blogs. Where's the in between?!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17009143978954483152 Erica

    I read this The Nation article yesterday and it's like you just blogged my thoughts after reading it.

    I've secretly worried about whether I'm blindly submitting to the gendered roles of husband and wife in certain aspects of my life. And if so, do I want to change it? While I know we buck the traditional roles in many aspects, do I really have the motivation to change the ways in which we don't? I hope I do, but these are the heavy questions I guess I have to deal with.

    Great post, and I hope to see a lot more discussion on this topic!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13620797927505404645 Kayla Hewitt

    Love this post! I think it's sad that the word "wife" has come to have so many negative associations. I'd love to talk about ways you can start establishing yourself as a "family" before you have children. It seems like most people don't really consider themselves a family until they have kids, so they don't start traditions or set goals early enough.

    I have to disagree a little about the "two become one" thing, though. I don't think it means that you are one-half of a person. The mystical, transcendent experience of marriage is that somehow two whole people can retain their own identities but combine to create one whole person. Coming from a Christian background, the only metaphor I know to describe this phenomenon is that of the Trinity. (So instead of saying "two become one," we could say "two in one.") Perhaps there is another metaphor that is more universally relatable? Or it might be that my Christian worldview is what is causing me to see the "two-become-one" idea in a more positive light. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on the subject.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04324162547462095470 Cheese Queen

    Who says relationships all have to be the same? Or about babies and pillows? I never thought I would marry, and here I am a wife of one week. Crazy and Awesome. I have no idea what kind of wife I will be next year, I just know that right now we, my husband and I (it is still wierd to say that out loud!) are starting over. We got married, we are starting new careers and we are probably moving across the country. We have no idea what is going to happen and I love it! We are starting this adventure together, as two, as a team, as excited kids ready for anything.
    Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone in my "rebellion" against the norm.
    Great post, I have a similar to do list of my own. Things to do before life gets in the way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13424616103795706999 LindsFM

    AMEN.
    Seriously, I have been thinking a lot about what being married will mean and what being a good wife and a good husband means (without any of that "obey" crap). I think it is important to hear voices like yours and the people you bring to your blog that talk about marraige in a real way. Perhaps that is where this blog will go? Just an idea.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08762657843402413252 Cara

    Yes, this blog is really something special. I have warm fuzzies. I got married a little over a week ago and I'm loving everything except the word wife – in public. I love using the words marriage, husband, family, spouse, etc, but I feel like I have to qualify the word "wife" to others. At home with just the two of us it sounds respectful and sweet and comfortable, because I know that we know what we mean when we use it. It honors the weight of our marriage, which at the moment involves me, Ms. W, as breadwinner while he, Mr. K, works on grad school … among other marital endeavors (travel, brunch adventures, dinner parties, financial maneuvers…). But I just can't seem to spit it out in public where I'm afraid of the image of barefoot, pregnant, soap-opera watching, and cobbler baking. (Not that I don't love cobblers …).

    The other thing is that when we use marriage terminology in public I feel like I want to explain my support of marriage equality. "Yes, we just got married but we donate to HRC and we can't wait for gay marriage to be legal, too!" Especially around straight friends/acquaintances who aren't legally married in solidarity with the LGBT community.

    So I guess I'd like to hear about how/if others feel the need to qualify their life choices and how we move beyond that to the point where we own our choices as individuals.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15082554090481175349 A Los Angeles Love

    Even though I only recently got engaged, I've already been working through a lot of the questions you brought up in this post. I'm not happy with what the engagement ring and fiance role implies and, looking down the road, with what the wedding band and wife role implies. He's my "partner" and we're trying to hold onto that as we plan a life together. And yeah, that life may include some apartment nesting but, even more so, it includes a lot of badass me-ness and badass him-ness as we pursue our own separate awesomes, knowing all the while that we're fully supported and loved by the other. That's why we're entering into the marriage thing – for the partnership, not the pillows.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09983423504224711285 Ms Bear Cub

    wow meg, this was one fantastic post!

    Seeing as how there are so FEW "feministic" wifey/married blogs, I was under the impression (naively), that I was alone in my MUST DO PROJECTS mentality after the wedding. Projects are important! Pillows aren't. Unless you can sew a pillow and imbue it with meaning. But why would you want all your pillows to have meaning?

    Anyways, you're rad. I think it's actually the MOST difficult to juggle the stay-at-home-wife responsibilities when neither spouse physically stays at home. My husb & I both work, and we both have different ideas of how our house should be run. That's not to say we think the other's ideas are bad, just that they're different.

    How can a new married couple juggle their "ideal" views of building house & home, when neither is actually autonomous at home?

  • vanessa

    Loved this post. I want to bake my cake and eat it too dammit.

    For years I've been talking about doing freelance and being on my own but was always too "afraid" to actually do it. The whole thing about rejection and not feeling good enough, ya know?

    Well I got married just shy of 3 months ago and it was like that part of my brain instantly got deleted. From then on I've just been like, let's do this thing! And it feel awesome being a "wife".

  • http://buhdoop.blogspot.com avi@buhdoop
  • Marie

    We have to get over this idea that anything "domestic" is unfeminist or that we are somehow turning into all the things our grandmothers/mothers fought against by proudly proclaiming that we are wives.

    I am not yet married but I cannot wait to say that I am my fiances WIFE. I LOVE to bake and knit and I do want children, and I work from home (running an international development agency WITH my soon to be husband).

    I think we need to be respectful of the choices of other women while acknowledging that their choices aren't our choices.

    That being said, just as we all discussed about selecting or disregarding wedding traditions only if they do/don't resonate with you, we should do the same for our married lives.

    You don't have to buck tradition just to prove you are a "modern" woman and all "traditional" aspects of marriage aren't bad (although I think we are pretty much all coming from a very Western view of marriage, would love to hear from non Western couples too).

    For me, WIFE publicly ties myself to my fiance, I am proud of him and excited about our life together. Wife, to me illustrates the "bigness" of it all. While "partner" sounds too dry and legal (for me, not for everyone).

    I think what is very important and what everyone is saying is, we don't want to be judged or made to feel like we HAVE to be someone we're not. I suppose we are also illustrating that we need to stop judging others :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06529652450620062626 K

    Great post, Meg. I think I'd like to hear about the process of becoming a team and some unexpected bumps along the way. Most newlyweds experience an adjustment period, which I don't think is indicative of the relationship in any way. I've encountered numerous couples that go through some difficult times during the first year, and it frustrates me that it's taboo to discuss these difficulties. You're both learning! None of us were born Wife or Husband. It takes some adjustments, some love, some learning, and some understanding. That's marriage!

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    I've been nesting lately hardcore, and love to cook and knit and all that feminine shit, but I think the point is that that stuff does not define me as a "wife" or our experience of being married, and it IS disappointing when that's all that people have to say about marriage. I am more than the home accessories that I gawk at.

    Anyway you know that I'm down with this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05174783720123870852 Stephanova

    Thank you for writing this. This weekend I actually took off my engagement ring– not because I don't want to get married but because the whole THING just started to get to me. Until very recently weddings were about buying a wife– someone who did all the chores and kept life running smoothly for the man. I don't want that, and even though I know that I won't have that with the person I'm with, it still is a scary concept to enter into this structure with so much (negative) history. Thanks for helping to give "marriage" and "wife" a new history. (P.S. What subject are you interested in pursuing in grad school?)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08294632565178562192 Beth Cyr

    Definitely. yes. great post – I've been married for 6mo now and I think I'm pretty far from the typical. Since I'm in the wedding circle for other reasons, its interesting to see how everyone else does it and how I didn't do anything. I didn't go through the planning, the buying etc etc. We just got married – it was super super amazing and yes! We did feel different, that same day! I wondered if we would w/o all the to-do most couples go through. But it really was a wonderful feeling. We already owned a house together. We each owned and ran our own businesses. We aren't going to have children. We are not the standard couple by any means. But we are a team and I love being his wife, and saying that he is my husband and I love that I did actually feel different (in a most amazing way) after we got married. I like the project list idea a lot.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04137547398982007429 Mellyelle

    I'm getting married in about two months, and I can't wait to ditch the "fiance" moniker. Wife has a nice permanence, a seriousness, to it. But I think the problem with "reclaiming" the word is that we're subconsciously buying into the idea that the STANDARD definition is a bad one. All "wife" really means is that you're a married woman. I know 25-year-old career wives, 40-year-old soccer-mom wives, 70-year-old feisty retiree wives. I never have associated the word with something dowdy or oppressive, but it's clear, Meg, that you do, and I think it's a bit problematic. I agree with all your sentiments, but I'm afraid I feel this says far more about your impression of what a wife is than what society's impression is. And I must say that while I don't have any desire to ever own a minivan, and have indeed lived in the fantastic city of SF, it sounds somewhat condescending to say "That's fine for you, but hell if I'm doing it," because you are admitting a certain prejudice against a certain kind of "wife."

    I love your blog, and I love the sentiments you put forward, and I like it as a refreshing contrast to the OMG YOU ARE MARRIED LET'S GET DRAPES AND PILLOWS AND MAKE COOKIES culture that CAN exist, but honestly, while I am not exactly a fan of a homogenized, stereotypical Stepford existence, what if someone dreams to have that minivan and house in the burbs? I know it's not your dream, but why do you meet it with such disdain?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Marie-
    In case I wasn't clear, I do use the word wife in my day to day life, though I also use the word partner. That said, I still want to talk about what it means, and how we experiance it. That's what I do here.

    Second, you are confusing what *I* personally don't want in my life *right now* with judgment. Do I currently want to be a stay-at-home-parent, a mom, a pillow buyer, or an organic cook? No. But, some of these things I really do want to do in my lifetime. I'm not un-domestic, and I am among the most child orented people we know. What I object to is that certain aspects of marriage, or views of being a wife tend to dominate our cultural landscape and discussion.

    Do I buy pillows and decorate? Heck yeah. I love that. Do I feel comfortable with that being a large part of the discussion of what it's like to be a newlywed? Absolutely not.

    Hope that helps.

    Meg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11097163969864312650 K

    love it. looove. as always. man, meg, you're so wise!

    but seriously, i was just thinking about this the other day… how it seems "wife" is a very loaded word… and i think it inherently has some negative connotations, which is pretty odd… because when i think of the word "husband" it seems kind and sweet. "wife", however, sounds burdened…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04558969691762187390 pink helicopter

    I love this post.

    I agree totally. My 'married blog' is really just my blog, I'm just married now. I do post about cooking, 'cause I occasionally cook. But I also post about house renovations and travel and being a dual-grad school couple and random thoughts and serious ones. And I too, really love being married/being a wife.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12051581432652556410 Marina

    Meg, if you weren't married and I weren't married I would totally want to marry you for this post.

    Um. That sounds a little creepier than I hoped it would.

    But yes please, more discussion about being a wife beyond and in addition to nesting.

    I would love to hear what other people are doing re: grad school, jobs, and supporting each other. I want to hear more about how other people are negotiating decisions around who's the artist and who's the breadwinner, who gets to go to grad school first, who gets to start a business first, who's doing something else that's so wonderful and perfect for their situation it's not in any of the rulebooks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Mellyelle-
    You can reclaim a word and still like it and use it. Questioning cultural norms is a great thing in my opinion, and a smart and savy thing that makes us stronger. And DUDE, I *like* the word wife, I *use* the word wife, but it's loaded.

    And this happens from time to time when I post personal stuff, but I *am* allowed my own opinions, and I *am* allowed to write about them. I facilatate that for everyone else, please give me the respect I give you. There are a lot of personal reasons why the suburban-minivan-driving-mom is not a good thing for me, and I don't need to get into them here. But like I said, my mom stayed home with us, in a very feminist, examining what she was doing kind of way. That's fine with me. But knowing who I don't want to grow up to be? That's allowed. Please respect my right to write about my values and what I personally think and feel. I do belong to this community.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09911176317513671623 Alice

    I love you Meg! You are an amazing guiding voice in the strangeness that is my wedding organising.

    The word wife does bug me, because of the history, but then again, the concept of marriage and "getting married" bugs me too, in many ways. (the whole "end of your life" thing that is attached to pre-wedding parties makes me so angry, and sad).

    Being 7 months out, I can't know how I will feel about being a wife, but I would like to think that I can make it my own, just another of those labels that describe PART of my identity, not all of it (like goth, or geek, or bisexual, or postgraduate/grad student). And that, in some ways, I can undermine some of the assumptions of what being a wife is.

  • MrsGray

    Hey Meg! I love reading your blog because you do bring up some sticky subjects and discuss them with such honesty. I will say that I have never had negative feelings about the word wife, and I still get a little smile when my husband calls me his wife. I love the solidity of it. I will also say I was unsure about kids when I was younger, and now I can't wait to have them. I vowed to never own a mini-van, but watching my sister stuff her two kids into her Camry (and not being able to have more than one additional passenger) makes me think they are very practical. I guess I think it is important to be flexible and open to what life tosses your way. Your ultimate reactions and decisions may come to surprise you, but that is not a bad thing.

  • MrsGray

    Meg, please don't take my comment as a criticism of you! Your life choices are yours and you strike me as someone who lives a very honest and reflective life. That is never a bad thing and I love that you celebrate who you are!

  • Sharon

    Meg,

    Now that you clarified, I agree. I guess I've been "taught" to have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the thought of being "unfeminist" because I decided my girls were my priority.

    And promise me you'll never drive a mini-van. Those are awful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08921831777682472625 You can call me Yell

    Meg: Fantastic post. While I do love me some pillows (oh, if I could dive headfirst into a pool of pillows…), they shouldn't be the focus of MARRIAGE. When I went to buy a new washer for the Sin Pad (Living together? One way ticket to somewhere VERY warm), my mother in law gave me that look and said "Oh, the things you're interested in when you get married".

    Because having clean clothes wasn't interesting to me before? What? And no one ever asks us what OUR life plan is. And now that I'm getting married, I'm suddenly not allowed to do things by myself or for myself. Travel? Can do that without a man. School? Have you cleared that with your husband? How about the haircut I want to get? Well, better ask my husband how HE likes it. So creepy.

    tl;dr – Loved the post. While I may stay home with my kids and you may not, or I may not and you will, the important thing is that we need to focus on building partnerships in marriage. Interior decorating and what's for dinner isn't in that book.

    Alice – I agree SO much.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17599352897426065286 Bria

    I love this post as well. its the first ive shared with my friends since the 15mos. of reading everyday! From age 15-25 I was certain I would never marry…because of all i thought it meant to be a "wife". At the time it was synonymus with giving up your wild crazy passions for a quieter life of perpetual nesting and underlining discontent. But that all changed when I realized we could make up our own rules. Now I look forward to the day I become a wife for the very reasons you note in this post. I won't be giving up anything! I get to be me-crazy, manic, messy. I get a teammate who will help me and support me in an intimate way no parent ever could. I get an editor, someone who will help me want to be the best version of myself.
    As for the mini van-never say never…i dont think anyone dreams of owning a minivan. life creeps up on you in that way too!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07273495404035054849 Roxanne

    Meg THANK YOU for this post! It's so refreshing. Being a wife is something I struggle with because it comes with so many connotations. "Oh, you're the WIFE..you must cook dinner then right? And clean? How soon do you want a baby?"
    A friend recently said she experienced a day off of work and used it for "housewife training day" where she ran errands and cooked. Um. Being a wife to me has nothing to do with dinner. It's about all the things I said in my vows, about love and support and learning about each other. There isn't anything wrong with a stay at home mom or anything, but it isn't what we all strive to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17599352897426065286 Bria

    PS- younghouselove.com is a great example of that in between wedding…babies place people forget to mention. John and Sherry of that blog are another insperational duo, they discuss pillows quite a bit but the difference is THEY BOTH do it and you can tell they really love it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09290675964899257697 Kara

    I'm so glad I stuck around after my wedding! I've been a wife for a year now and I'm excited to see this conversation begin / continue. Off to read the Modern Love column now…

  • Ella

    What struck me about this post is not necessarily the "I-don't-want-to-be-a-suburban-housewife" (although I do think we should acknowledge that there are a lot of loaded stereotypes in identifying oneself that way, hence the sentiments expressed by some posters) — it's the idea that "I" have these projects. I thought the idea of marriage was a "we" — not an "I"-obliterating "we," but how are post-wife personal projects any different than pre-wife ones? I just got married and don't feel like it's given me a boat of new projects. I have the ones I've always had for myself…I'm the person my husband chose and still chooses. At the same time the question of how you figure out with your husband/wife what projects "we" have is interesting to me, I would be curious to hear what others think about this process of defining shared values and goals.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Sharon,
    Not to worry, I think it made my mom all edgy too. I'm actually the only woman in our extended family that is considering staying home with kids one day… we'll see. I suspect I'll try to freelance, or something, because it will help me love my kids better if I have a side gig. But I think you can do it on your own terms (I hope you can!!!) just like being a wife. Because when I watch the Oprah episodes that are "behind the scenes in the life of a stay at home mom" I go really white and look really scared.

    But then again, Say Yes To The Dress makes me feel that way too… and our wedding was awesome. So will = way, right??

    Meg

  • http://artcetera.squarespace.com darrah

    Wow. I LOVE that you're talking about this, Meg. I got married about 6 weeks ago and I have to tell you: I love being a wife. We had already been living together for a while and were in a committed partnership since about the day I met him. So I didn't think a wedding would change anything. But it did. In subtle ways, ways that I'm still discovering every day.

    I'd like to keep the discussion going about "new marriage". Some discussion topics that come to mind: 1) It's okay to want to have a baby. It doesn't make you less of a feminist. 2) Celebrating married life. So many people say annoying things like, "It's all downhill after your wedding day" or "Wait until you're married 25 years. Then you'll know about endurance." I want to talk about the good stuff. Yes, there will be hard times, but there are so many day-to-day joys to celebrate. 3) Partnership. My husband and I are not falling into typical roles. At first, I felt guilty that he was doing all the cooking and a lot of the cleaning. But you know what? He likes to do it! So why not let him?!

    Anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts. And by the way, yours is the only wedding blog that I didn't unsubsribe from after the wedding. What you have to say is relevant. I love what you are doing here!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15102193924484233803 courtney

    I started writing and realized my post was going to be super long so I wrote my opinion over on my blog. If you'd like to read it, here is the link http://courtneykhailstationery.blogspot.com/2009/10/defining-wife.html

    Thanks for bringing up such an important conversation!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Ella-
    Some of those projects are a bit more mine (grad school), made more possible by a very encouraging and supportive husband/ other income one day. But many of those projects are more we than I (which I might not have clarified). Travel is a commitment we've made to each other, (as is babies one day), and real estate is really David's baby, not mine. I was probably just trying to not speak for his feelings on the subject.

    I think for me, it's the amount of support and the feeling of being a team that makes these projects feel more possible, or more energized, and a bit different than pre-wife projects. Not better or worse, just different.

    But it may be different for others.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388295799913646592 “T-Bone” Lee

    I completely understand the urge to stick our tongues out and say "ICK" to the idea of stay at home soccer mom driving a mini van…but here's the thing…there's nothing WRONG with a mom who stays home to take care of her kids and drives a mini van…if that's what she wants. Those things (mini vans) are PRACTICAL!!! (and isn't that what this blog is about??)

    I'm not married (yet) and I don't have kids and I drive a sedan…BUT! Those mini vans have doors that slide open and a lot of cargo space and are great for carting around lots of PEOPLE and STUFF!!

    I think the problem is with the stereotype. Women like "us" are afraid that those stay at home soccer moms have lost themselves and are no longer their own people with strong senses of self….and that they represent what will happen to us the minute we say "I do".

    But that doesn't happen to everyone…and what if you CAN be all that and still be yourself? It's possible isn't it? If my kids want to play soccer and I've decided to stay home to care for them so be it….doesn't mean I won't maintain my sarcastic sense of humor, my dry inappropriate wit and my disdain for the bulk of humanity. :)

    I'm just saying that the whole point is…do what makes you happy….if that's driving a mini van, fine. If not, cool. But we need to stop ridiculing each other for our choices…no matter which side of the feminism spectrum they fall on…because as long as they are OUR CHOICES, that's feminism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06206689296805893265 east side bride

    Um. Why does it have to be a "married" blog? Why can't it just be a blog authored by someone who happens to be married?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    Meg! Exactly! I am deeply creeped out by the becoming-half-of-myself element of wedding planning. But a partnership, a TWO, is why I am getting married. Go, reclamation! xoxo

  • Anonymous

    I love being a wife. And by wife I mean, part of the team-in it together-equally loved and cared for. I got married for several reasons but, I did not get married to breed (sorry no thanks) I did not get married to buy a house in the burbs and hang out to clean and cook (but I love cooking so I do it anyway). I did not get married to "nest" Can I just say that I really hate the word nesting, like with a passion. I don't think I'm any different now then before, but having people, magazines, internet telling me that I should be "nesting" kinda pisses me off.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @eastsidebride It's not. It's a wedding blog. I want to talk about marraige in a similar way though, because other models of awesomeness help me. And because I don't write a personal blog. 51 comments full of people crazed over my dislike of mini-vans and how it means I hate other women(still don't like 'em, still have a right to say that still don't ahate other women) is a clue as to why.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05078510377194221539 Chantelle

    Hi Meg,
    Great post. I think it is wonderful that this reflection is happening. Its not readily available in daily life/media and I know that I personally am still struggling with the title I will eventually take on. While we have been engaged for over a year, me and my partner define ourselves as just that;partners. It is necessary in order escape the mindless questions about wedding dates,colours and dresses.
    However, at this point I'm leaning towards the new married title of "partners in awesomeness", rather than husband and wife.
    I'm stupidly stubborn, and it took me a good long while to embrace my feminine side, although I am a very feminine person. I think the process of embracing the title of "wife' will take much longer, and be a life long process.
    Thanks for always keeping it real,
    Chantelle

  • Anonymous

    I've stumbled across this blog and so far only read this post, but its great. I just recently had my one year anniversary, and I've never stopped thinking about what getting married means to me. First off, we lived together for a little over 2 years before the wedding, so we already had most things we needed and were pretty familiar with the split up of chores and tasks and every day "things". So in planning the wedding, I wanted it to be as much about "us" as possible. The wedding shower? It was a double shower. We went together to pick out our wish lists and we worked as a team on that. We've always worked together. I do some housework, he does other housework. I appreciate his help and he appreciates mine. We were best friends before we walked down the aisle, and he is still the person I turn to for advice and support and a kick in the ass. He does the same. So for me, becoming a wife was no different from being a "fiancee" or "girlfriend". I just gained a new title – we both did. It was exciting to note that it was all more official with paperwork and whatnot…but the sense of a team was always there…I wouldn't have gotten married otherwise.

    One thing that was important to me was maintaining my identity. I did not want to change my last name. It was important to me to hang on to mine. One, my great grandparents took a long hard journey to get to the US and I am one of the last people with our family name (I have a couple 3rd cousins who are boys, but overall, there are very few people to carry out the name). And while I don't imagine any future children will take my last name, it was still incredibly important for me to keep it. Once I saw the little town my great grandparents came from, I felt even more tied to it. And its the name I've had for 28 years…why should I change who I've been for all this time?

    The thing that is irritating is the expectations. Oh, you're a wife now…when will you spit out babies?????????? You have a ring on your finger now, you CLEARLY NOW FEEL THE NEED TO BREED! Sure, I've felt little urges here and there for a family, but I am pretty sure I will maintain strict use of birth control as I am not ready to delve into that right now. But why do we hold on to these antiquated ideals? Why are some people suprised that my husband loves vacuuming? And that I'm a crappy cook? Why are people so tied into these ideals of what we "should" be doing, instead of looking at the fact that we're two people who've formed a team and love and support each other in life?

  • Cate Subrosa

    HURRAH! So excited about this :)

    AMEN to the excitement of being *two,* to "ambition squared."

    (By the way I have the baby on my knee, resting on a pillow(!) and I'm actually baking cookies today, seriously… but still, COUNT ME IN. Because this wife is still interested in all the other stuff, in travel and business and work and definitely the renovations part. I guess I'm hoping to be that kind of parent too, like your friend.)

    Oh and I think you just explained why I only wear my engagement ring sometimes.

    Ach, I did indeed love this post. Here's to the next chapter!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00986985706531785806 McNair

    Great post Meg. Although I won't be a "wife" until April, I've thought about what it means. Your post and some of the comments remind me of the movie "Mona Lisa Smile". It deals with the issue of feminism… and it makes a great point. You don't have to be a working mother/wife to be a feminist. Feminism gives us the ability to choose. So for all the stay at home moms who made the choice to be a stay at home mom… they're just as "feminist" as the woman who holds down 2 jobs she loves while raising 3 kids. Its not about giving up part of yourself… its about deciding who you are and letting that choice become part of your life. And if your choice is to be a stay at home mom… rock ON! And if its not… thats cool too. I haven't decided yet! I'll let you know when I do! ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    You have a way of writing exactly what I'm thinking. For years, I felt like getting married meant giving something up – becoming 1/2. I spent my time largely with anti-marriage/ marriage is a dead institution friends. Then I met my David. The idea of having a partner, being a team on life's journeys felt…well, it felt "right." I love cooking, buying household stuff and cuddling babies, but "wife" is so much more than that. It means partnership. Strength from support. It means someone has your back. Someone who will eat your bad cooking and claim it tastes awesome. Balance.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10323993039912422459 Kristie B

    P.S. I'm not really the settling down type. I'm finding it hilarious that people equate me finally getting hitched to me settling down. *sigh*

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15102193924484233803 courtney

    I left you a comment back on my blog, but figured you'd see this one first :)

    I do understand that was what you were saying. I know you weren't attacking anyone, and even if you were, it's your point of view and you should be allowed to say it. You just made me think and I figured I'd give my say too (and in turn, second yours). Sometimes I think people's insecurities just make them defensive and quick to judge. I'm sorry people are twisting your words though! You're right, that is silly.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed this post too and can't wait to see the direction you take with your blog now that you're married. I've only been married for 6 months but I'm already struggling with my private joy and contentment with being married and having this awesome partner in crime, while publicly I seem to be viewed as "retro" for being married.

  • http://twigl.tumblr.com becky

    This comes up with us all the time! We're in this weird in-between place of technically wed (we had the civil ceremony), but still planning a wedding. Even still, we've never used typical describers for each other. We've always used my love, my honey, my ladyfriend (i love this one!), sometimes my partner. We don't like fiance, husband, or wife. Not sure if I ever will. We also selected an engagement ring that doesn't scream engaged, barely whispers it. Because we don't want to be defined by our relationship. We know it exists, anyone who meets us knows it exists, and I love introducing him as 'my honey', because it represents that giddy quirky playfulness that is still alive and well.

    As for roles, sometimes we match the typical stereotype and sometimes we don't. While I'm the breadwinner AND we're both in school (read: TIRING), i love cooking, sewing, all kinds of domesticity, mainly because i love having a warm and welcoming home and savoring the products of my own creativity. he cleans and walks the dog, more practical things. i guess that's just the way our cookie crumbles.

    This is long now, so I'll end with things I'd love to see discussed. Compromises. We're making them all the time, what are some big ones (and little ones) that come up in other marriages? And 2, things that are more fun with a partner than by yourself. That's why I like your list of projects, because while, like someone mentioned above, you can still have projects you had in your single life, some things are much better with a honey by your side.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13521232149473118218 Jenn

    Once again you inspire me to think about relationships. I realized that I am usually setting time aside to read your posts not like the other blogs I follow. I truly save it for later so I can contemplate and let the words sink in. So in true APW reading style I am going to think about this proposition for 3 more months until I am a *wife* then I am going to send you a subject I want to discuss sans pillows. YOU ROCK MEG! Love the projects btw, traveling, seriously on my list.

  • http://laidbacklife.wordpress.com Phoe

    Being married is hard. (I did it once, and I'm going to do it again.) No one tells you that. No one tells you that even though you love that person more than you thought possible, it is not all rainbows and unicorns. And you know, it is ok that you sometimes want to stab him or her in the eye with a fork. A rusty one. It's ok.

    My experience was that I had no idea it would be as difficult as it was and I was surprised to find out that my girlfriends were having the same feelings. And it was a huge relief to find out my feelings were normal!

    I love the honesty of this post. I don't think there's a particular topic I'd like to see…I just love that you handle things in a very honest way.

    I saw a couple wearing shirts that said, "I Love My Wife" and "I Love My Husband" and I thought it was so beautiful that they were intentionally not buying into the 'men are children/women are accessories' crap.

    Aaaaand this is really long. Sorry for that. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09930702268206088964 Ashley

    Whoa, who knew peoples opinions could be so… opinionated.

    For me cooking means being a wife… figuratively not literally…

    My boyfriend of 6 years cooks. every. night. If it he did not cook I would starve. Once every two weeks or so I try and cook. Just to take something off his plate (pun intended). Because thats what you do when you are in a team, you work to make things better for each other. Together. Just like marriage. I can't wait to be a wife.

    p.s. I LOVE that you are making everyone dig deeper!

  • Ella

    Hey Meg,
    Makes sense…I guess for us the level of support felt like it became what it is now once we made the commitment to be together for life, which happened before the wedding day (duh). So being a "wife" doesn't necessarily change that for me. I see how it might become more intense and real in good ways for others, though.

    To respond to the mini-Mini-Van- Controversy, I don't think anyone thinks it's bad or mean or invalid to not want to become this mythical woman. I guess people might be responding to the sense that there is a *fear* of becoming this woman. I read this as actually having less to do with the mini vans and soccer, and as having more to do with the fear of falling into what was once a well-defined role with the label "Wife."

    From reading the comments it sounds to me like some of the discussion over this post — why the big deal over "wife," why do we need to define it? — is a response to the fact that this role doesn't really exist as a well-defined one any more. We're free to feel our way into what that means for us and whether it really means that much. Could this be what East Side Bride is getting at…why call that out as any more significant a part of who you are than anything else?

    Maybe people's fear about falling into this predefined role has changed, and I hope so…that would be good. It doesn't mean that there aren't still reasons to talk about it and talk about the social construction of it, but I guess it means that for whatever reason some people don't find that it bothers them as much as "bride." I'd be curious to hear what people think about that…

    Personally, I don't really fear that being a "wife" will change me. I got my PhD less than a month after the wedding, and that was a lot more significant to me in terms of both my personal projects and my sense of how society would define me (for better or for worse) than anything associated with wifehood. I love my husband and look forward to building a life with him…I guess I just think of those projects as "ours" vs. "mine."

    I do really have a lot of respect for people who choose "wife" or "mother" as their primary identities or as important parts of their identities and wrestle with what that means. I guess this particular socially constructed identity has impacted me less because it's a term I feel I define with my husband; I don't feel that other people's views on it really affect the expectations we have towards each other.

    Sorry so long!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Hey Ella,
    The point really is that we're talking about what marriage means to us, in a meaningful thoughtful way. The construction or deconstruction of the word wife is a bit beside the point. It's just the way I think about it… because I'm a woman, so that's my role. I'm sure if my partner were writing it he'd be talking about reclaiming husband. We could talk about reclaiming marriage, but frankly, I thought that sounded like the name of an anti-gay rights group, so I skipped it.

    And heck yeah, I have a fear of being that mythical woman with the mini-van. My mother was not that woman, but every other mother I knew growing up was, and burned into my brain at a young age was, "I will not be THIS." I was pretty young when I started to figure out what I *did* want, and for the record, what I *do* want is the point of the post… the mini-van thing was a offhand comment that got way out of hand. So no, I don't have a fear of falling into the role of the "wife" (my mom didn't fall into it, so that's not a big issue for me) but I do pay attention to the way other people view me as a married woman, and the way marriage is talked about culturally. These things matter, and they are worth thinking about, *exactly* in the same way that they are worth thinking about with weddings. You can just do your own thing with weddings and not pay attention to cultural noise, but it helped me to think it through, and I plan to continue that. So I'm not calling it out as more significant as anything else, I'm calling it out as exactly as important as what I just went through.

    And, on your main point the sense of partnership changed after the marriage for us, because that's when we started sharing finances. That and the way the wedding changed us, but on a practical level, it was the finances.

    Meg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Or to sum up: obviously bride was something I wanted to redefine (I've spent this whole blog doing it, and now I'm working on the next stage).

    And yes, it actually is the mini-vans. Being a Mom = awesome. I also hate tract homes, logical or not, just ask David. And, you may be missing what I've said here, I LOVE being a wife. But that doesn't mean it's not a loaded word.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15362619565392680707 bekapaige

    A-freakin-men. Why is it that there were so many bridal blogs that I loved reading that talked about the real meaning of getting married… and then suddenly here I am, trying to figure out what to write about on my own blog and unable to find the "meaty" wife blogs that I had hoped for. Bring it.

  • Ella

    Hey Meg,
    totally take your point about finances…that was something we merged pre-wedding, but it is definitely a big deal.

    And yes, maybe we are getting wrapped up in the word "wife." Would it be the same issue for you if it were called re-defining partnership/ being a partner (a word that some people here have raised as their word of choice)?

    I think the thing with weddings is that it becomes, for practical and logistical as well as cultural reasons, a community affair in a way that maybe partnership does not. You're including other people in the wedding in a way that you don't in the marriage. Maybe we should realize that it takes a lot of people to make a healthy marriage…we definitely feel that our friends and family are invested in helping us and that felt more tangible after the wedding given the form they were had to express it in. But at the same time, a lot of what happens in the marriage is up to us in a way that what happened in the wedding was not.

    For example, I felt a lot more commercial pressure over the wedding and its associated material "accessories" (lots of which were meaningful to me) in a way that I just don't over what I wear/use/give in my daily life. I wonder if this is why the post-marriage seems less determined from the outside than the wedding did. Just a thought…appreciate all your honesty.

  • Ella

    PS
    I also really appreciate you saying bluntly that you have this fear of the role. I think maybe some of the defensiveness came from the sense that it was a judgment about that choice…which it's not, it's a personal fear that everyone has a different relation to.

  • Hannah

    Please note: The Knot has already attacked me with The Nest about how awesome it's going to be when I'm married and can spend my ENTIRE LIFE thinking about 'dating other couples' and stenciling my bathroom. Kill. Me. Now.

  • Katie

    What a great topic and post – there are so many different experiences/views/opinions. Some conversation topics I'd like to see explored:
    I would love to hear from/about women who don't feel radically changed by marriage. I know for me, the transition from girlfriend to fiancee to wife was a very natural evolution – and I think that perspective isn't discussed much. I'm certainly not knocking other peoples' transcendent experiences, in fact I think they're wonderful, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who didn't have one. My marriage blog would probably be very similar to my personal blog if I had one (I feel similarly to East Side Bride on that one).

    Also, I think it would be great to talk more about societal expectations and how they manifest themselves for different women. I know people who, immediately after marrying, are hounded by friends and relatives to start having babies, yet I have yet to experience that. Likewise, how do individual women define the word wife for themselves and how is this similar/different from how they believe society defines it.

    Thanks Meg!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05468157848813659240 JennyUsagi

    So I've been reading your blog for a while now (and I'm getting married in less than three weeks!), I don't recall how I found it originally, but I had to comment on your * from this one. Part of our vows that I wrote:

    "We are not two halves become whole, but two individuals coming together to form a sum greater than its parts – I, you and we make three. We are now a family."

    - I sure as heck am not a "half"! And I wouldn't want to marry one either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Marisa-Andrea (who clearly grew up with me, in case y'all are wondering… she knows my parents, who have a great marriage)

    Um. Preach it. I 110% agree with everything you said. Wise and true.

  • redfrizzz

    I love you. I love that you're addressing the word "wife" and using it in a statement of "reclaiming." I call my "fiancee" my partner. Honestly, I have a longing to one day refer to him as my "husband," but there is so much loaded into that two-syllable word! I started with Parter because I felt it took away the identity of my sexuality, made it irrelevant- but honestly, it is. It DOES matter to people what your gender, sexuality, politics are. We are a multi-faceted people, and we need to continue populating it with diversity. But how to choose what to call your "partner." I know he'd like me to call him my fiancee, because, as the author noted, going from "boyfriend" to "partner" isn't a huge upgrade. We thought we were being good to our gay allies…Let's continue on this. What to call the hubby? the wifey? THANK YOU FOR WRITING YOUR BLOG.

  • http://abridesmusings.tumblr.com/ Sarah Jane

    I'm getting married in a little over 300 days and to be honest, reading this blog sparked my first thoughts of what it means to become a wife. I've thought a lot about what it means to be his wife, but not a wife as in one of a million wives. I have, however, spent most of my life being very conscious about the kind of woman I want to be. And my (future) wife side, will be one of a hundred different roles I play on my own terms.

    When my lovely, yet somewhat of a mess, fiance gets too comfortable expecting me to know where his socks are or when his cell phone bill is due, I always tell him, "I am your fiance. Not your mother, not your keeper."

    I do cook for us. And I do most of the laundry and the cleaning. But my standards of clean are significantly higher than his. And he does most of the driving because his standards for transportation are higher than mine.

    But I also debate sports, music, television, politics and social issues with him. We teach each other things and we guide each other to new levels of understanding. That's my favorite part of our relationship and that's one of the biggest reasons why I chose him to spend my life with.

    Whether you use the word husband, wife, partner, spouse or any other term, the person you spend your life with is in most cases, in the best cases, the person who makes you better at living your life.
    And I know my life will be better because of his spontaneity, his humor, his calm demeanor, his ambition and his appreciation for all of my best qualities.

    I don't know if I'll be good at being a wife. I don't know if his mother or my mother will approve. I don't know if all the wives of the world will welcome me into the club. I don't know if I'll be feminist enough about the whole thing. But I know that I will be his wife exactly the way I want to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06990466546123333194 Kyley

    Meg, seriously, YOU ARE THE GREATEST BLOGGER OF ALL TIME.

    I do not have any time to read all these amazing comments yet (although I will come back to read them tomorrow), nor do I have any ideas for this discussion, but I CANNOT wait to have it. Oh, we already are. Fancy that.

    Seriously, I wish they gave out Nobel Prizes for blogging. I would *so* nominate you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11025741529492671011 jessica lynn

    amen sister, amen.

  • Michele

    Interesting stuff indeed.

    Personally, I don't view the word "wife" as particularly loaded or in need of reclamation. For me, a wife is simply a married female; straight, gay, legally married, spiritually married, whatevs.

    I'd love it if you tackled the subject of childfree marriages. Not those that are childfree *for the time being* because the couple simply hasn't gotten around to having kids yet, but because they've decided not to AT ALL.

    I think there are more and more couples in this camp, but there's really not much said about them other than "what's the point of getting married if you're not even going to have kids?" And yes, someone ACTUALLY said that to me once.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18134825296733633815 October12

    Thanking all that is good that SOMEONE is starting this conversation. Finally. And so very happy that someone is you, Meg.

    I'm a naturally curious person, I love to know about interpersonal dynamics and think it will be very enlightening to see how the teams in this community function.

  • http://stackingpennies.wordpress.com/ stackingpennies

    omg, 81 comments already? You're blog is amazing and this post obviously filled some sort of void in the internet (or world?).

    even though i literally just posted about buying pillows, I'm not married yet (engaged).

    I'm excited to be married. Wife seems like a big word, but I'm sure I'll wear it well and it will suit me (though I may wear it my own way).

    But how are those things you mentioned exclusive to marriage? Can't that just be two people madly in love and committed? Weren't all those lovable husbands just as supported before? Didn't you dream of traveling together before? What is the difference?

    I do not say this to be rude, rather I'm sincere in my wonder. Most my old friends married young, and I admit I'm on guard about people implying my relationship was somehow less valid, we loved each other less, because we took another route.

    Why am I getting married? I want to publicly commit the rest of my life to the one I love, to celebrate our love, and partly because of the magic tradition of it all. I'm not getting married because I expect it to dramatically change our relationship. Am I wrong?

  • http://stackingpennies.wordpress.com/ stackingpennies

    You're = your. I'm embarrassed at my grammatical error in my first comment here!

  • April

    Me and Mr. M have been married now for 10 glorious days. I love the word "wife". Love hearing him say it and I adore calling him "husband". That said, I've sat here for 10 minutes trying to sort out in my mind what the word "wife" means to me personally on a philosophical level and I got nothin' that is deeply profound to say… so, I got this:

    Wife just seems like another title for "partner" (to me, anyway). And saying I've now got a partner for life feels really effing good. It feels solid. It feels real. It means I've got someone's back and they've got mine.

    And for the record: F*ck minivans.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14943714277970633585 Elissa

    I have trouble with the word 'wife'. 'Husband' too, but less so, probably because there's very little chance it's a word that will be applied to me.

    I have a strong independent streak – I'm exessively wary of anything that suggests control or restriction or limitation of me-as-a-whole-and-independent-person. The word wife sets this off for me. I don't want to be 'a wife' – I am me, I am a person, I am S's partner, I am a woman, I am a cat lover, I am many things. I might be married, I might be S's wife (even though that phrasing makes me a bit twitchy), but I'll also be a lot of other things. My concern with the label 'wife' is that that is all that I will be seen as, that my life and interests will be assumed to only include 'wife things'.

    I think that the problem Meg has with the pillows and babies, the 'wife things', is that they are not being discussed in the context of the rest of life – just like wedding blogs can be focussed on the 'wedding stuff' of colours and cakes without the context of the rest of life, and the social/cultural context in which they exist.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Meg,
    This post is interesting. I agree that there do not seem to be very many models for marriages and “wives” that are outside of the box. You had a great model in your own parents, but I think generally, it is something that is missing from our cultural landscape. I personally do think about the word “wife” quite a bit and I find thinking about the word helpful in keeping us “grounded” in our marriage. It was very important to me and Chris that our marriage remains “ours” and that it works for us. There is a lot of cultural pressure to be a specific kind of wife or have a specific kind of marriage and it is easy to succumb to that if you are not paying attention, EVEN when that model is not self reflective. I’m of the opinion that marriage will be a richer and more joyous journey if you can be true to yourself and not what everyone else decides for you.

    For me, being a wife is partly about being part of a partnership, of this awesome unit in which the two of us can accomplish things together we could never do on our own. Truth to tell, I don’t like to think about marriage in terms of tasks, because for me, it really takes away from what our marriage is all about. Wife does not mean that I cook or clean. Those are tasks. Wife means that I honor the vows and commitments I made to my husband. That I be his personal cheerleader and constant friend. That I always seek to encourage and support him. That I challenge him to grow in his character and heart.

    Btw, I have a comment about your two-become one comment, but I’ll post that later 

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Here is an example of how I find thinking about and examining the term “wife” helpful: I cook for us. I cook almost every night. Chris routinely asks me in the middle of the day what we are eating for dinner with the expectation that I will know and somehow at some point later on that day, a meal will be prepared (not by him) and he will eat. It’s just a given in our household.

    For the longest time, I worried about what that meant. I mean, I WORRIED. It was a big deal to me because I grew up in a household where my mother worked the “second shift” for years. And I swore I would never become that person. But becoming that person meant to me that I would simply come home and cook. I did not assign an identity to the concept of rushing home to cook dinner every night. I just decided that it was something I would never do. In fact, I did not learn to cook until recently. I adamantly refused to LEARN because I was never going to cook for some man after I’d spent hours working hard just like he had. I became even more worried when we got married because I still continued to cook every night. I just had this FEAR that I would become this person that I never wanted to be. That it wasn’t me and here, I’ve fallen into this trap and how do I get out of it?

    And then I realized, with a sense of peace and calm, that my cooking every night did not mean anything. It was not a sudden epiphany, but a process. But I realized it. Cooking, in our household, did not mean anything, because our marriage and our commitment isn’t about the cooking. Being a wife isn’t about whether I cook or not. I know it might sound silly and perhaps overly simplistic, but coming to that realization gave me the freedom to cook every night and embrace it because you know what? I LOVE cooking. I really and truly do. It makes my heart smile to prepare something delicious for my husband and see him enjoy it. It’s something so simple that I can do for him that he really appreciates. And I think that allows me to be a better partner and well, a better wife.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10596656753737205876 cait

    what a fantastic post…I couldn't agree more. Wives have life projects–and I don't want to talk about nesting and pillows either- new husband does that enough for both of us.

    I've been reading since the spring-we got married at the end of August and your insight, words, stories and sense of humor has been such a god-send.

    thank you, meg.

  • Maddie

    "Too much baggage," I said, "Being a married woman comes with a lot of baggage, and a lot of stuff I'm not. I just don't want to communicate that to everyone I meet."

    Amazing. I think it's the baggage of symbolism that's getting us with this post. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this post. And I understand why others might not. The minivan, the pillows, the travel – these symbols of togetherness are all loaded with such baggage from our predecessors that we don't even know what they mean to ourselves anymore.

    I couldn't wear my engagement ring for weeks after I got engaged because I didn't know how my understanding of being betrothed could fit into the societal understanding of that commitment. Now, I wear my rings proudly (wedding and engagement – he bought it, I won't not wear a present I love!) and they spark conversation constantly. I enjoy the opportunity to speak honestly with other men and women about the commitments we are/aren't making and what they mean to us.

    Rock on!

  • Maddie

    P.S. I was totally shopping for pillows when I first read this post with my mouth agape at how much they effing cost! What the hell, dude? A pillow does NOT cost $50.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09499465460632505632 Casey

    I was really worried about becoming a "wife" and how I would feel about it. Before we got married all Danny's friends used the word as an insult. They would say about other friends of theirs that they got "wifed". As in whipped and emasculated and stripped of individuality. There is nothing I would like to be less – and I would never want that to happen to Danny.

    I am learning Hebrew since he is fluent and shortly before our wedding I learned the words for husband and wife. The word husband is ba'al, but the word for wife is exactly the same as the word for woman. It was so freeing to know that – I am just a woman, the same woman I was before but now married to an amazing man and part of an amazing couple.

    I have been married just over a year and being a wife to me is being the woman that I've always been and growing together with and apart from Danny. It's the most fun I have ever had.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    Boy, oh boy. Opinionated people are…opinionated. And I am an opinionated person.

    A lot of words are loaded, especially on the internets, wife being one of them. apparently, minivan is also a loaded word that implies "rockin' the suburbs with my 1.7 children and a white picket fence".

    I think it's important to dissect this sort of stuff and to understand the implication of these words, especially the ones which are titles of people, used to either give agency or structure.

    I'd like to think that I'm defined as being more than someone's 'wife' , and that other roles and experiences give me identity. But, identity is a tricky thing, which is perhaps why we have to work through it. (And that's why I'm glad people like you are around so that we *can* work through it)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10529917440443656151 Conversation Pieces

    Wow, what an amazing post. Thanks so much for this. I have been kind of thinking about this since I've got engaged… have never really seen myself as a 'wife' and I definitely think it's a word that needs reclaimed. It does seem like such a different word to 'husband' doesn't it?

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes it feels like if a husband stays at home and does all the cooking and cleaning, it's considered "rad" and everyone bends over to give him points.

    But if a wife makes the same choice, she's just falling into a role without thinking.

    Yet both are just two people doing the same job. I think I hate that domestic work became so downgraded.

    If a man is the breadwinner, no one ever says he lost himself or just fell into a role.

    What this really tells me is that traditional women's work is devalued, but traditional men's work is not.

    Now that's something to think about.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14919507519237710152 Bowie Bride

    This post lit a fire under my ass. (Don't worry – I mean that in a good way).

    Meg, i love you. You don't know me, but i think you're awesome. This post resonated so deeply with me. It constantly baffles me how people think feminists are anti-domestic or anti-stay-at-home-mom. It's not about that. AT ALL. It's about having a CHOICE and not being immediately EXPECTED to turn domestic after marriage. So many people EXPECT recently married women to immediately jump into the "domesticated, soccer mom, wife" stereotyped role. I don't care if you LOVE being a wife or LOVE cooking for your husband. That's not what I'm talking about, ladies. I just don't want to be labeled as a 'wife' because of the connotation that comes with it. I too do not want to be a mini-van driving soccer mom – RIGHT NOW. Maybe later, who knows. But I am SICK AND TIRED of getting a SHOCKED reaction from people when I say I'm not taking my husband's name, or I'm not having kids right away, or I'm not quitting my job and letting my hubby be the breadwinner. Fuck that. All us feminist wives and soon to be wives want to be treated as EQUALS to their partners and to not be EXPECTED to be anything but themselves before marriage and after.

    So I say bring on the haters! Bring on the nay-sayers! They're just continuing to make themselves look bad and set an example of how NOT to be. Women and members of the LGBT community aren't taking shit anymore. The haters are a dying breed. And the more we speak out and band together, we really WILL be seen as equals, and the word 'wife' will mean 'partner' and not any of this other bullshit.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05098729708314853961 MWK

    I don't even know if I can add much to this already very rich discussion, but I am so glad people are having it. The day after our wedding we had a BBQ and wore t-shirts that said "HUSBAND!" and "WIFE!" and I worried for about ten seconds that people would think that we were taking those roles on as our main identities and think I was buying into the patriarchy, but then I remembered that the t-shirts (that my husband had made) were really just an inside joke that displayed our personalities and our excitement about being EACH OTHERS husband and wife. And people thought they were hilarious.

    I think because both of us are such strong personalities and individuals that neither one of us really worried about becoming a stereotype or losing ourselves in the role. You know that thing about group work where you "hope that 2 + 2 is greater than 4? " That is how I feel about marriage (or any type of serious relationship commitment, not heterospecific at all); definitely not 1+1 being 1, but 1 +1 being 2+ awesome.

    We both come from families with divorced parents and each of our multiple mothers and fathers have broken the mold to be people that move beyond any rigid roles, and in my family each parent formed really great relationships with a new partner, so this isn't something I worry overly about. A few weeks before the wedding a friend asked me if I was going to become boring when I got married (which I thought was insulting) and I was like, "What? NO? Who in the hell are you to ask me that?"

    I mean, I do think it is important not to let ANY one aspect of your person identify you, whether that be hair color, social class, relationship-status or academic degree. And while I don't worry myself (at least not often) about being pegged as a Betty Draper "wife," I do think discussions like this one are important to have so that we can change that definition in society (so that people aren't talking about "getting wifed"). I also think there is a larger issue of women's roles and identities in society that goes far beyond just the institution of marriage, however.

    Sorry, I am rambling. On another note: my husband is the cook (like someone else said I would starve if he didn't feed me), and in our vows I vowed to cook dinner at least once a …month. And have totally failed so far to keep to that.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I am saying . . .

    It's one thing to have a preference to have a career.

    But if it goes beyond a preference and we say we are "filled with horror" at the idea of staying home and performing the domestic duties, then we are really saying that outside work is worthy of honor, but inside work is less worthy.

    It's odd that feminism seeks to value women, yet sometimes ends up downgrading them.

    I remember the workplace in the 1980's. Women wore little floppy bow ties around their necks and buttoned up collars. Their suits were a slightly feminized version of a men's suit.

    That uniform back then said one thing. It said it wasn't good enough to be a woman. You had to be an imitation man if you wanted respect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15643452724998192856 Cinnamon

    Thank you for this post. Really. All of my friends and acquaintances are getting married right now, and when I see what roles they feel like they are expected to fill after they walk down the aisle, makes me hesitant and scared to even consider marriage. Something the boy and I have been talking about for a while, but I don't want to become the woman that shockingly enough people still think I should be even now in 2009. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for reminding me that there are women out there who still want to claim themselves as a whole woman! You're the best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15643452724998192856 Cinnamon

    PS-If we weren't thinking women with opinions we probably wouldn't read this blog, as Meg is a thinking woman. And isn't it grand that nowadays we're allowed to have opinions and become the women we want to be, wife, partner or otherwise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Anon – Chill. I have no problem with parents choosing to stay home, or NON parents choosing not to work, whatever their gender. No. Problem. I also am super femmy and have many lady skills, so please don't unload your preconceptions about feminism on to me.

    @Michele ""what's the point of getting married if you're not even going to have kids?" And yes, someone ACTUALLY said that to me once."

    RIGHT? Sometimes I feel like that's the vibe for us now, and we really *want* kids. Just… when we feel like it, which is not now. I thought that would be taken for granted, apparently it's not?

    @stackingpennies I think that's a very good question. Obviously I had goals and dreams and traveled when I was *single* not to mention over the last 5 years with my partner. Obviously. What I'm discussing here though it the surprising ways it changed for me after the wedding. As I said above somewhere, part of that had to do with the literal financial safety net we now give each other (uhhh… no way did I share my money pre-wedding ;) but it's been a really cool ride since) and some of it was probably just the extra level of commitment we felt afterwards. That really firm knowledge that your partnering with this person FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE made me feel like, "well ok then, I can do anything!" I'm not saying the experience is universal, just speaking to my truth.

  • TNM

    Meg, I admire at your patience with all of us opinionated critics! In a backwards way though, I think the critical comments (and minivan controversy) have raised another very key issue about figuring out this "marriage" thing.

    You wrote: "I *am* allowed my own opinions, and I *am* allowed to write about them. I facilatate that for everyone else, please give me the respect I give you."

    I think it is sort of amazing that you even have to write this at all. Why can't you hate minivans? Why, particularly in the context of weddings, marriage (and esp childrearing), do women need other women to approve of their choices – and really, more than approve their choices, but copy or "live" their choices too? Why do women always have to condition "I like choice A" with the proviso, "OMG, but I didn't mean that choice B was wrong" – again particularly in the context of marriage and childrearing?

    I realize that stay-at-home moms (really, "working moms that just aren't compensated by the market") are on the receiving end of a lot of disrespect. But why can't one express personal fear about becoming a stay-at-home Mom if one doesn't want that? (Or conversely, fear that one may have to continue working after kids for financial reasons when you think staying home is best for your kids?) I guess I'm troubled by the notion that "feminism" has moved from ensuring that women have a full range of life-choices to mandating that women express no preferences regarding the different life-choices…

    (Sorry for the rant… I love the blog – and all the commentators too!)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06272654565469914998 sam

    Yes! Here's to travel… and projects!
    And being fully "wife" without being at all "mother". Because since we've been married (all of, oh… 10 days) that seems to be all anyone talks to me about.
    I knew I would find sanity here :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06272654565469914998 sam

    I just had to add, I love Marisa-Andrea's comments about being the one who cooks, and how that doesn't mean you have a marriage-from-the-fifties.

    And I do want to be a mother. Someday. After we've traveled a lot. And I've gotten my Masters. And I might even stay home with the kids.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, so I was thinking about this a lot for a couple reasons.

    1. I don't think there are so many blogs about just being married for the same reason there aren't a lot of blogs about dating relationships. Each couple defines their relationship on their own. Those are just blogs about life..because relationships are part of your daily life. Weddings, however, are not part of most people ordinary life. I believe there ARE however lots of blogs about weddings because that’s a new thing to a lot of people, same with babies, etc.

    2. I think (hope!) most people figure out how they function as a couple prior to marriage, and I don’t think a new “wife” label or a certificate should change that. Each person is allowed to define their relationship as they choose – it doesn’t matter the good/bad/scary connotations you have with the word “wife”. All that matters is that you are who you are, individually and as a couple. Just like Meg’s perspective on not buying into the crap the WIC throws at you… I think not buying into the crap society says about being a wife is an important message to send. Thank you Meg for reminding people they don’t need to lose that. Meg does such a good job of empowering women when it comes to weddings that I would hope she could do the same about not feeling pressured by the “when are you popping out a baby?” questions as she does for the “Why would you not want a veil?” questions.

    3. Societal reaction to labels in general are something I think about quite a bit. I read your blog regularly despite not being engaged or married. I love what you have to say about everything. However, as someone who is 30, in a very long-term committed relationship, and doesn't plan on marrying any time soon, I find it quite annoying how people react when I say “boyfriend”. I sometimes say partner or the like, but it’s almost as if they don’t take our relationship seriously because we are not married. Does it really matter, no, but I think this is another choice people need to respect. I figured this would be an okay place to vent my annoyance. Example, what a co-worker who’s been engaged 2 month to a guy she’d known for 10 months says to me on not seeing a need to get married (we have plenty of reasons by the way): “Well, when you are reeeeeeeeeeally in love, you’ll want to get married! Someday I hope you’re as lucky as meeeeeee and find someone soooo wonderful!!!” Does it matter to me that some idiot doesn’t understand us? No. Does it annoy me still? Yes! I hate when people don’t get that this is a personal choice, and wish they would just respect our non-marital commitment.

    -Leila
    (Sorry for the uber-long comment. Thanks Meg, for providing this awesome forum for everyone. It was a great feeling to write this out.)

  • Anonymous
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07927933503537714693 Two Chicks Nest

    I'm pretty late to this discussion, but as a woman married to a woman, I have to say, I love using the word "wife." In some ways we are lucky because by the very nature of our relationship we get to define what wife means when there are two of us. For us, wife can't mean "the one who gets stuck doing all the grunt work with none of the glory" or "the one who hangs out in the background making sure that the other shines." Actually that second one sort of fits, but it's a revolving role. We both get to be the supporter and the supported. We are a team that takes care of each other.

    And I won't lie, it's also partly fun to say "wife" because it makes people stop and go, "huh?" Except that one time when my wife's (former) doctor said, "Wife? What?! That doesn't make any sense!!!" That kind of reaction is not fun.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02788673853394723270 Christy

    Way late to the party, but hi!

    I so identify with the irrational fear/hatred of the minivan/tract home. It isn't the domestic life that is scary, it's the idea of waking up somewhere I don't like in a life completely identified by my spouse. Not that I think that is possible in my marriage. Or hello, I wouldn't have married.

    I did grow up in a large neighborhood of housing tracts. It was pre-minivan though. But honestly, though many of my friends' mothers worked at home, I can't think of any who fit that "soccer mom" stereotype of today. So while I don't want to live in a brand new subdivision, I've seen the soul of the middle-middle-class suburb. Still, I'm more of an urban girl at heart.

    But I digress. I want very much to perform the duties and joys of a stay-at-home wife and mother eventually. I just don't want WIFE and MOTHER to be my identity. I had a similar issue when I taught highschool–people were constantly saying "well you're a teacher…" as if that word encompassed my whole identity. And it's that exact feeling that squicks me out about other labels.

    The only label I've ever been comfortable with is "girl" or "woman." To me it includes all the possible roles: lover, spouse, parent, teacher, friend, person–without reducing me to a single one.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07820971202062693393 rosemary

    Glad you posted. In the two weeks I've had to try it, I love being a wife. Love love love. And we don't want to start having kids yet. And I don't like minivans, and I REALLY don't like throw pillows. And he does more house work than I do.

    But I love being a wife because I see it as partially defining myself by the nurturing role I am taking towards somebody else- and as the joyful recipient of such nurture, myself! Even though I took our relationship seriously before marriage, now it seems much more so. It's like the difference in role I felt between when I was a student nurse, and now, on my own.

    As a student I really cared about my patients and did the best I could for them, but ultimately, they were not my responsibility. As a Grown Up Nurse I care about my patients and do my best for them with the weight of a larger promise weighing on me, as well.

    And that weight is such a lovely thing! It's like my warmest wool quilt, wrapped around me.

    The first thing I did was go off looking for wife blogs, too! And I didn't find one. Help?

  • Anonymous

    Meg said: "@Anon – Chill. I have no problem with parents choosing to stay home, or NON parents choosing not to work, whatever their gender. No. Problem. I also am super femmy and have many lady skills, so please don't unload your preconceptions about feminism on to me."

    I don't think I was "unloading preconceptions about feminism on you" Meg.

    As I'm a good 20 years older than you, I've been living with these questions a lot longer than you have, and remember when the fight was a hell of a lot harder.

    My point is that no matter what men do (go to work or stay home), they seem to automatically be given more respect – even by women themselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15624887417161160262 WilderMiss

    Hi Meg, if you're looking for a blog that's very much about marriage I'd recomend notquitebettycrocker.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13981200245748609914 Skye

    Meg, I have never posted on a blog before, wedding-related or not, but your blog is excellent, and this post in particular moves me to say – you go girl!

    I was married 6 weeks ago, and throughout my engagement I felt this sense of discomfort with the whole notion of being a "fiancee", like I wasn't a proper "woman" because I didn't feel girlish glee over planning a wedding. To me, it felt like an unending series of tasks.

    But now being married (as of 6 weeks ago), and being referred to as "wife" by my husband makes me feel intensely happy, because it identifes us indubitably as a team. And it does feel different – it makes me feel MORE free to be myself, more confident, because I know I always have someone cheering for me, who is my greatest fan and who encourages me to do things that maybe I would hesitate to do without that kind of back-up and support. And yes, he was like that before, but there is a newfound sense of security and a kind of cherishing and protectiveness between us that feels different to when we were going out, or living together, or engaged.

    I agree that "wife" is a loaded word, but for me, being past the wedding stage (at last!) and finally having society (and even loved ones) leave us alone to define our relationship ourselves without the weight of that gaze upon us feels GREAT. I think that, for me, this might change if I became a "stay at home" mum at some point – society starts to have an opinion on that, too, like it does for weddings. But honestly, my identity has long since been formed by friends and families and studies, and I am just adding a new dimension to all that now with "wife". I hope that identity never feels threatened by the kinds of societal pressures and expectations that are heaped upon words like "wife" and "mother".

    Congratulations on a well-written and thought-provoking blog.

    (Btw I live in London, and NO ONE has a mini-van. Everyone here has a small car, because parking is impossible. But I know exactly what you mean and I agree.)

  • http://sanebride.wordpress.com/ sanebride

    Oh Meg! This post makes me so incredibly happy.

    My fiance and I are in medical school now which means that we don't have the time to cook or the money to buy pillows. Right now there's no room in our lives for children, and we can't stay in one place long enough to buy a house. I think subconsciously I was fretting that I won't really feel married if those things aren't happening (because isn't that what being married is all about?)

    What I have realized is that as partners we have some really exciting things coming up in our future:
    -choosing a medical specialty and finding our vision for our respective careers
    -taking an extended honeymoon to Argentina so that we can take Spanish classes
    -forming strong relationships with each other's families (we can help my future brother-in-law nest in HIS new home)

    And to me, those things sound a lot more fun than picking out pillows right now! I can't wait to see the dialogue that unfolds!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14370373471596236632 eLiZaBeTh

    Well, I did things sort of backwards…I had a baby, then I met my man, then we got married! I already had the kid thing done and it has made me a better woman and in turn, a better wife. But, truth be told, I was rowdy before I had my daughter and I needed to a reason to chill out!

    Meg, this is your blog and you always keep it real. I am sorry that you have had to defend yourself…the only thing that matters is who you are for you and who you are to your husband. To each their own, right?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16787392184686950891 Autumn

    I'm sure someone has already said this, as I don't have the energy to read all 110 comments (someone struck a nerve!) but let me just say you hit the nail on the head. This is how I feel about being married– I'm now part of team US, and it's awesome. We have projects, we have travels, we have lots of fun just hanging out by ourselves or with friends. Ditto on the pillows. We've got that covered, and it's not very interesting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18182268757502634911 sera

    Of all the words associated with marriage "wife" seems to be the only one so loaded with unfortunate connotations. We made the leap and in that ceremonial moment we both felt something bigger than anything we had ever felt before. As my fiance, he meant so much more to me than table settings and white dresses, and as my husband he means so much more to me than pillows and cooking and popping out 2.5 kids. But thats not what gets discussed. We still have to fight to define who we are on our own terms.
    Before my wedding and now after as a newlywed, those in unhappy marriages or those that have gotten divorced want so desperately to lay their personal experiences on me like a big "you just wait until your marriage sucks as bad as mine." Of course the first thing that comes to my mind then is "well I wouldn't have married you either!"
    We all define wife and marriage in the same way we define ourselves. It's always difficult to tear off the stereotypes no matter what they are. And right now, we are newlywed wives, eager to define marriage according to our own terms. And I am happy to do so.
    As always, thanks for this Meg. And you should not have to defend yourself for not wanting those stereotypical things.

  • Anonymous
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14021725591075968558 KatieF

    I hope you have read this book: The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kinston http://www.amazon.com/Meaning-Wife-Provocative-Marriage-Twenty-first/dp/0374205108 If not, please do. It has quickly become a must give for wives-to-be.

    Thank you for keeping your writing up. Finding and following this blog and this community has been an impetus for other great things. Your blog and books like Kingston's have kept my own community going. Turning words and impressions on their heads and forging a new path. My friend's recent wedding (Jesscp a follower) reminded me that we're not along in our radical ideas. We are surrounded by friends and family who know we have a long way to go but are happy to Do It Together!

    Hooray for Project Grad School and Project Start a Business!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06527247451021351222 Liv Lundelius

    ok i am already comment #116 …but i have to say, this is an amazing post!!!
    i totally agree and it was so good to read that there are women out there that share my idea of a "wife" in 2009. thank you so much for wrting it and sharing your thoughts.
    you are definitely on the right track! both of you!
    all the best for your adventurerous way together.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09361658418978897159 Danielle

    Anyone reading this may be interested in today's article in The NY Times, 'Money Talks to Have Before Marriage': http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/your-money/24money.html

    Be forewarned, part of the discussion is about divorce… but it offers good advice.

  • Lea

    I married a woman, and I have struggled with the word "wife" for both of us. Before the wedding, I said I would never use that word to describe myself, because I was uncomfortable with the cultural baggage it carries. Well, during our wedding reception, my parents-in-law started a screaming argument with my new spouse. I tried to intervene, her father stepped up to me, and my wife yelled, "Get away from my WIFE!"

    The wedding has irrevocably changed who we are to each other. On this side of the wedding, I'm surprised to find that the word "wife" doesn't have as much negative baggage as I felt it did beforehand. Also, in our culture, it's the only word to use to describe how we are family to each other now (because as you might imagine, we're not a part of my in-law's family anymore).

    What does "wife" mean in 2009? I'm not sure. While it's definitely different for every individual, I think there are still cultural stereotypes that need to be put to rest. Thank you for putting this topic up for discussion, and I hope you continue this — because as you said, no one else out there is discussing it.

  • agirl

    Gah! Clearly this post was needed given the enormous response to it.

    I think enough has already been said, and I'm putting my ideas on the issue elsewhere (I tried commenting but it kept turning into a blog post, so I just wrote one instead), but thank you so much for starting the discussion and please do keep it going. I for one am very willing to join in.

    And your honesty is admired, so please don't be deterred from expressing your opinion in future posts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Now this thread is being edited for kindness as well. As I have been QUITE CLEAR I have no problems with women or men staying home with children. In fact, I probably will. I'm not planning to defend myself any further, I think my rather enormous blog speaks for itself. Any more comments that attack me or anyone else will be deleted. Period.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    I feel a bit like an interloper because I am not engaged or married. I discovered your blog quite by accident, Meg, and now have you on google reader and regularly read your archives. I have five sisters and have lived with much insanity of marriage, so the practicality, feminism, and awesomeness of you and Team Practical is quite refreshing!

    This post called to me, as it was something that I had been fighting with myself about *that very night*. It took me forever to get through all of the comments. To me, "wife" has the same connotation as "submit", and it is important to me to reinvent that within myself before I take the plunge into marriage. It is also difficult for me because it is such a gendered term.

    I think in some ways, the role that a woman may choose has become more difficult to navigate. There are so many options, and there are so many opinionated people. I love that you have your own opinions but aren't judgmental of others. Jessica Valenti of feministing faced so much backlash when she married that I sat in shock. We now have to worry about possibly offending everyone, instead of just getting a bad name for a flat cake or children who go out in dirty laundry. I struggle with this at times, but think that in the end it makes us stronger in ourselves, and that it causes our relationships to be doggedly self-defined.

    Thank you for bringing this up and in general letting me get my fix of individual feminists who interpret their lives in their own ways! You are wonderful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18322614204354706684 Amelia

    I don't remember if I ever commented on this, but I meant to – I'm working toward embracing that wife doesn't have to mean an identity that isn't me, it can be how Amelia is a wife, how Jason is a husband. Because we'd be doomed if we were going for Archie and Ethel Bunker or Ward and June Cleaver.

  • http://claimid.com/danielle_latman Danielle

    Hi Meg, I read this article in the NYT today and it made me think of you and your blog:

    'Newly Married, In Search of a Style': http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/garden/03cheap.html?_r=1&ref;=garden

    Style and design? Check.
    Real estate? Check.
    Wedding planning? Check.
    Budget? Check.
    Throw pillows? Check!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Danielle That article was tricky as hell though. Did you notice where they lived? A 850 square foot apartment in a stately town home off Washington Square Park? Those start at ~1.3M. So, I thought the budget angle was… odd…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13563502842975495492 Jayne

    Wow, I could not agree more. I am a newlywed and have been thinking the exact same thing. I even told my husband that I still wanted to be his girlfriend (as well as his wife) because I don't want to lose the romance and playfulness of the word "girlfriend". But reclaiming and redefining wife is so necessary – And a fair superior solution to being both wife and gf. We need to embrace and imbue "wife" with all the power, independence, and love it deserves. Kudos for getting this out there, Meg.

  • http://thehubbydiaries.wordpress.com The Hubby Diaries

    I realize this is an old post but I just stumbled on it today and I can’t begin to tell you how much I agree with you. When you mentioned that “now you’ve become 2″… I just shook my head. I have actually made the statement more than once that by getting married…. TWO doesn’t become ONE.. it becomes TOO.

    Of course when I talk about marriage and my dear hubby in my blog it’s intended to be sarcastic humor and my post about this very topic shows the “male version” of “sharing” chores… but I digress.

    http://thehubbydiaries.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/when-two-becomes-too/

    Just wanted to say as another independent married woman who knows there’s more to life than nesting.. great post!!

  • K

    I think Rush’s song The Speed of Love sums up the joining of two souls perfectly…
    “Where two halves make two wholes.”

  • Denise

    Meg! Thank you so much for this post. It’s been a year since you wrote it but this post really inspired me to comment. I’m getting married in October of 2011 and I’ve been reading all your archives. There are many wedding blogs but yours truly resonates with my fiance, Dave and me. It’s hip, practical, creative, fun and sane! I love it.

    Anyway, I loved this post so much because let’s face it, I kind of have some issues with the word “wife.” The fact that I am even getting married so soon (at the age of 25) has sent shock waves through my family and friends. There so many things that I wanted to do before I took on that loaded word, “wife.” I wanted to travel across the world, get my masters degree, find a full time job that inspires and motivates me, and live on my own.

    Needless to say, by the time I am married I will not have attained most of those things because a) I don’t have the money for the travel b) realized that what I went to school for may not be what I want to do now or for the rest of my life, c) am working at a job that really goes against much of who I am just to make ends meet and d) Dave and I already live (quite happily) together. It wasn’t too long ago that I realized, “who cares about any of that? You are in love with a man who is good to you, loves you for everything you are, and who inspires you to reach all those goals that you long since buried within you because you thought they were impossible. Why not reach them with him? You can still be an independent, strong woman with independent dreams and goals while still being considered a ‘wife.'”

    While reading this post all I could think of was “Amen, sister!” Thank you so much for writing this and keeping this blog after you’ve married. You’re inspiring and your words are so incredibly helpful. Thank you again.

    P.S. you did have an amazing beautiful wedding!

  • Tegan

    (I hope you get this response even though it’s so late in the game for the post…)

    One of the things that my partner (male) and I (female) have done to make it a little more equal and less traditionally defined, is we’re both going to be gaining a wifey when we get married. I don’t want a husband — I WANT someone to clean, and cook, and take care of me. And so does he. :-P Because we share these duties anyway, we’ll share the title. I mean, what is husband except a reference to the fact that the man kept the livestock? We don’t currently have animals, but if we did, it’d be because I’m the one pushing for dairy goats and chickens!

    So, when we’re being all cutesy and cuddly, he’ll look at me and go “you’re going to be my WIFE!” and I’ll exclaim and “and you’re going to be MY wife!” And we’ll kiss and it’s awesome. I think that we should have that engraved on our rings, but then I’d have to explain to our families why it’s there and I like it being a secret joke.

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  • http://teanhoneybread.com/ Tameka

    “And while I wanted to mark myself as taken, it turned out I didn’t really care to mark myself as married to the wide world.”

    Oh, yes! This time around being married and being a wife is so much more about us than the rest of the world.

  • Carrie

    I just recently found your page and I feel like I’m finally not alone! I’m half way between a great long sigh and tears of relief. I have been married for about six months now. I love this guy with my entire soul and we were together for a very long time before getting married & at first I loved being married, but I have been deflating for months now. I still love this guy like crazy, it’s just the looks from his family when I’m a little put off by people asking for our baby timeline (which is hard to answer with were not ready right now when most of his family gave birth just inside their one year anniversary). It’s awkward when they call me Mrs. (His first name) (his last name) in every conversation & when I’m not squealing with glee they assume that we have hit a rough patch. I feel like I’m evil to his family for being different than them. The sad thing is this was all okay as his girlfriend or the time I spent as his fiancé, but this same me isn’t good enough to be his wife.

  • Steph

    “who cares about any of that? You are in love with a man who is good to you, loves you for everything you are, and who inspires you to reach all those goals that you long since buried within you because you thought they were impossible. Why not reach them with him? You can still be an independent, strong woman with independent dreams and goals while still being considered a ‘wife.” Wow. Here I am reading this message in 2014 and it just floored me. I have been trolling Meg’s archives as well as I am really struggling with the idea of becoming a wife when I want there to be soooo much more to me. But what you just wrote almost brought me to tears because that’s exactly how I feel about my partner. He’s changed me and given me so much confidence and support and yet I’ve been so reluctant about marriage because of what society says it is. You’re so right it doesn’t matter that I don’t have anything together. We will keep achieving and be amazing together and I shouldn’t pull away from him because I am getting annoyed that everyone keeps asking me about bridal magazines. If anything that should drive me closer to him and we’ll face it all together. Thanks for this. This is truly the only blog out there that addresses any of the issues facing marriage today.