Even before the knot is tied, I find myself struggling with what it means to be a wife and whether I even want to be one.
As I contemplate the prospect of marriage and wifedom, I'm apprehensive about the role and the inherent expectations. I'm in the middle of a struggle between the stereotypical world-view of marriage formed by the nuclear family unit, and a modern view which is influenced by the rise of non-traditional families and the ever changing role of women in society.
Reflecting on my own upcoming marriage, I don't buy into the idea that I'd be the gentle caregiver preoccupied with the household and children while my husband, the strong breadwinner, occupies his mind with the family's finances and ponders the 'big things' thoughtfully by swirling his scotch.
I don't see why I need to strap on the apron and reach for the spatula just because I have an extra X chromosome.
I grew up in a loving home, but one where I was too often reminded that I was a girl. I was sternly reprimanded if I was too outspoken or played rough (the 'girls are meant to be seen, not heard' mentality), and I was told what I could and couldn't do based on what was commonly acceptable for a girl. It was very early on that limitations and restrictions were enforced on me based on my gender rather than on my natural ability and comportment. To contrast, my brother enjoyed a free-for-all. I guess because no one seemed to care about what others might say. Boy will be boys.
As I get ready to walk down the aisle, I've been paying more attention to the relationships and marriages around me. I can't help but feel a small sense of aggravation when women in my life gather in the kitchen for hours perfecting the meals as men sit back in front of the television. After some constructive feedback on how to cook the next pork roast, the men rub their full bellies before returning to their spot on the couch. The women are left to clear the table and head in unison toward the sink.
Wife. The word itself inadvertently carries within it expectation molded by each passing generation. These expectations now bestowed upon me, make the prospective of failing to meet my duties (or my inability execute them adequately), completely terrifying. How can women -- and for that matter men -- be expected to enter a marriage already having the boundaries set for them, and be given the guidelines of what they should be accountable for in the relationship?
Husbands shouldn't have to carry the burden that society puts on them to be the source of financial stability. Nor should they feel restricted to reach the spatula in fear that it might reflect poorly on their masculinity.
Society has a habit of categorizing, naming and labeling everything. Yes, this is human nature. Yes, it allows us to better understand the world around us. But the problem with labels is that they restrict our abilities and cage our individuality.
I do not want to be my husband's wife. I don't want him to be my husband. I want to enter a marriage as equal partners. That way, the best cook will be the one reaching for the spatula.