Friday, April 29, 2011

After The Wedding Comes Marriage...

In light of today's historical wedding of William and Kate and the crazy "wedding fever" gripping the world, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the magnitude that such a day plays in the lives of so many women.  The fairytale wedding to a handsome prince charming is the dream of almost every little girl, and it's crazy to think it's all over in one single day.  Look at all of the shows on TV dedicated to this one day:  Say Yes To The Dress, Rich Bride Poor Bride, Wedding SOS, A Wedding Story, For Better Or For Worse, Who's Wedding Is It Anyway, Bridezillas, I Do Let's Eat, I Propose, Engaged And Underage... and on and on!

We already know about all of the excitement and joy a bride-to-be feels in preparation for her big day, but the planning of the wedding can also lead to all kinds of stress, anxiety and drama.  It is kind of crazy to think of all of the effort that goes into being a bride, especially compared to so little that's put in to becoming a wife.  And we all know, the wife part lasts a whole lot longer than the bride part! 

Now that Kate's big day is almost over, real life begins.  She's probably had a whole lot more training for what that entails given she will be leading a public life, but what about us common folk? The honeymoon comes to an end and the excitement wanes - for many women the transition from bride to wife can take some getting used to.  Marriage is wonderful, but it also takes a lot of work to keep it that way.  In the fairy tales we grew up on, "happily ever after" ends when the princess marries her prince.   

When I got married, I was 35 and pregnant (yes, it was planned).  Since we had already been living together, I had a pretty good handle on what the wife part was going to be.  Given our age and circumstances, our priorities for a wedding were not the traditional ones.  My husband had been married previously and had told me from day one that he didn't want to get married unless he knew for sure that he would be a dad (hence him knocking me up before us getting married).  He had also had the traditional big wedding. 

When it came down to it, I was more than happy to put whatever finances were earmarked for a wedding toward a down payment on a house.  I thought nesting at that point was a whole lot more important that one big celebration.  We eloped and got married on the beach with 4 witnesses and a Rabbi.  We didn't tell our families in advance but simply called them after the ceremony to let them know.  A week after we came back they threw as an intimate luncheon that was just perfect.

Although I had no issue giving up the fairytale wedding of my childhood dreams, I must say there were two things I did feel badly about missing... firstly, the whole dress experience and secondly, having my father walk me down the aisle.  I did wear a white dress that was perfect for our beach wedding (together with white flip flops), but it wasn't the same as having that whole princess dress shopping experience (and I do love to shop).  That said, I have absolutely no regrets over our wedding and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

So what makes a "good" wife in today's world?  I found a very funny article that told you what it meant back in 1955 - the contents are posted at the bottom of this post.  In my humble opinion (we're just approaching our 7th anniversary), what makes a good wife depends on the partnership you have.  Each relationship is different and what works for some, may not work for you.  On that list, however, there are some ingredients which are non-negotiable for a happy marriage: 
  • love
  • mutual respect, honesty, loyalty and acceptance
  • open communication
  • picking your battles and fighting fair (let's face it, you will fight)
  • being secure both as an individual and as a couple
  • having realistic expectations of each other
  • a healthy sex life
  • sharing in household and child-rearing responsibilities (hopefully on an equal basis if you both work full time)
  • being supportive of one another
  • giving each other space
  • treating each other as you would a best friend 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. 

I'm not sure why we're so fascinated with weddings and brides - but I have to say I loved watching the ceremony this morning.  Do we just love the romance part of it?  Do we want the things that traditionally followed... security, house, children?  Or does it just represent "happiness" - something we are all seeking?  Whatever it may be, I do hope that Kate gets here happily ever.  I hope that as husband and wife, Kate and Will have a successful marriage.  Now we will all wait with bated breath for the first new little royals!

The Good Wife's Guide

From Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May, 1955.
  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.
*picture courtesy of

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