Thursday, 22 October 2009

On being married part II

I wrote before about being married but re-reading it, I'm not sure I agree with my July self any longer. On paper, not much has changed since then. I am still jobless although I have taken on some unpaid freelance work in PR which I am enjoying. I am still at home more than Husband. I am still, technically, a housewife, in that Husband works and I do not. Yet I do not feel that I am one, or need to be one. It is also (I hope, I pray) a temporary role.

Meg wrote the other day about reclaiming the word 'wife'. I think there is a lot of merit in stating that wife does not have to be defined in a Bree Van Der Kamp pre-catering-business type way. As you will no doubt have realised by now, my viewpoint usually leans towards the traditional but not, surprisingly, on the subject of the word 'wife'.

In our marriage, Husband and I are a partnership, a team, a family. Neither of us is in charge. We make decisions about our future together, jointly. Sometimes one person's agenda is more important (like when I had a job offer out of London) and sometimes the other person's needs take precedence. We share our household chores equally to our strengths: Husband loves to cook, I love to bake. We both sit down on a Monday night and order our vegetables and meat from Able & Cole, we purchase our own lunches and as he cooks (and earns the money at the moment, he purchases other food items on the way home from work. I purchase cleaning materials & toiletries, because I care which ones we use and he has little preference). Husband would rather wash up and I would rather do laundry. We have floor boards so we have yet to have the hoovering discussion but I suspect we would take turns. We both do tidying and emptying bins and cleaning generally as and when it needs doing. He encourages me to be nicer, I encourage him to come home a bit earlier from a night out. We support each other, look after each other when we are ill & try and get the other person to have the first shower in the morning so we can steal 5 more minutes in bed.

Home is where my Husband is. Home isn't my parents house any longer. I like that. I love being his wife, perhaps because it makes me smile every time he says it. I love that we have said to each other, in front of everyone else, that we are each others forever. I love that he is proud of that commitment, the fact that he is not single any longer and likes to proclaim it to friends, colleagues and clients. I also love the fact that when we were away on our honeymoon, his out of office e-mail told everyone that he was on our honeymoon, rather than just on annual leave.

I am his wife. He is my husband. But we are also so much more than that. We are a family.

But, pretty much all of this applied even before we got married. We were a family long before we got married, even if not officially, legally. We waited until we got married to open a joint bank account but since living together our finances have been intertwined. Generally, the person with the money spent it. Our habits, our sharing, our supporting were present long before any thoughts of marriage. Perhaps that was how we knew we would have a good marriage: that we had the basis without any formal commitment in the forms of rings or signatures. Which is why I am not traditional about the word 'wife': because wife to me simply says Rachel in the context of married Rachel and M. Nothing more.


Marie-Ève said...

Great post, and ongoing discussion... I agree with you about being a family, a team, a unit before getting married. I guess this was especially true for us since we had a house and a child together before we tied the knot, but marrying Martin did not change much for me in terms of my commitment to him, in terms of the future and projects I envisioned we would take in, etc. Because we were already what we are before, and would be even if we never married. I never saw our wedding as the beginning of our unit (but then again our situation was a bit peculiar), but rather a symbolic milestone of expressing what we already had out loud in front of our loved ones...

Marie said...

I truly agree with you. I am so happy to be introduced as J's wife. It's something I am very proud of. To me it has no bad connotations, I am not of the housewife generation where there was an idea attached to the word wife. The only thing I tend to get is surprise that I'm married so young. Not that I am a wife.