It was so exciting, the whole marriage process. First, we had the engagement and both our family and friends gushing over our future together and all the things to come. Next we bought a house, and whoa what a whirlwind that was. From the searching to the buying, picking out furniture and paint colors, having friends over for the first time, all little milestones that kept us on cloud nine. Of course then there was the year of planning the wedding, picking our attendants, the colors and decorations, and of course the joyous night we said “I do”. Now here I was, happily married, a wife to my husband, and absolutely no clue who I was any longer.
As a child a particular picture always came to mind when I heard someone mention the word “wife”. Perhaps it was due to the idea of the American Dream, but I always pictured a forty something woman cooking dinner for her husband and three kids before running around to soccer practice and cleaning the house. The truth is, I hated everything about that vision. Being very independent from a young age, the thought of being a house wife was diminishing to my natural personality. So when I suddenly found myself with the title of wife I felt a momentary sense of panic. Who am I now? Is it my job to become nothing more than maid, cook, and baby maker? Is this what my husband would expect now that the marriage certificate was signed? My identity was in crisis and I felt trapped. With all the “new” exciting things wearing off, what was I left with? Suddenly marriage felt like a burden.
The thoughts floating in my head were enough to keep me up at night. I found myself burried in work and distancing myself from the man that I married. If I wanted my marriage to work at all I needed to find myself and quickly. I started having lengthy discussions with many newlywed wives and determined that my panic was natural. I am not the first wife to feel this way and I am sure that I will not be the last. Ladies it is okay to admit that being a “wife” is not what you had hoped to become, even if getting married to the man you love was everything that you did want. I have learned that they are not one in the same when looking at it from a traditional point of view. It took hours of soul searching and many tears before I finally made peace with who I now was.
My husband married me for who I was, not who he expected me to become. This was perhaps one of the most important things pointed out to me in the many discussions I had on the topic. It was up to us to determine how we wanted our marriage to be, not some set of ideals set forth in the mid 1900s. Wife was a title, not a description. The definition was ours to determine and we could rewrite it as often as we felt necessary. Communication was the key. What did he expect of me and what did I expect of him? Were we on the same page with the path we were currently on or were there areas we needed to compromise on? Truthfully, we had answered all these questions pre-marriage but somewhere in my maze of panic it had slipped away as if the rings changed it.
I’m married, I’m not old and I’m not imprisoned. My friends did not suddenly disappear, my hobbies did not die, and fun was still allowed. In truth, having our own friends and hobbies has made our marriage stronger. For me, I love spending time with my horse while for him its playing competitive volleyball. We both enjoy our time apart, doing what we love. Neither of us is left home, bored or resentful of the other enjoying the other things in life that we love. Our friends are still our friends. We go out separate, we go out together, he has his over, I have girls night in. We know that our relationship isn’t the only important one in our life. I needed to remember this as I was searching for me, I could still have a life as wife.
My journey is not over. Yes, as a wife the natural tendency is to journey into motherhood and family life. However, this isn’t the journey I was thinking of. My personal growth was not stunted. I could still grow and discover while being married if that’s what I chose to do. Did I want to go back to school? Change careers? Visit someplace exotic? There was no reason that having the title of “wife” needed to be a dead end to wherever I wanted my life to go. If anything, it made it more exciting. I now had a built in support system in my husband. The dreams were still mine to chase.
There are going to be good days. Days where I say “I’ve got this” and I feel confident in my decision to marry. There are also going to be bad days where that little bit of panic sets it and I need to find myself again. I know now that it’s ok. Being a wife will not define me, I will define being a wife.