I’ll be honest, before I got married I thought being a wife looked pretty easy from the outside. How hard could planning one meal every evening, grocery shopping, cleaning, respecting the man you love and chose to be with, and getting him into heaven, possibly be?
…uhhhh, as it turns out, it’s actually pretty challenging, and learning how to do it can’t happen over night.
You’re the one who knows your husband the most intimately. You know what he needs, what his temper is like, when it’s best to approach a contentious topic, and what makes him laugh after a hard day. You know what his favorite dessert is and what sets his teeth on edge. You have the unique capability to make him incredibly happy and peaceful and the unfortunate power to make him absolutely miserable. You love him more than anything and, while your every waking moment can’t be dedicated to his happiness, a significant part of your life should be directed at that goal and that of his salvation.
Again, none of this happens overnight and learning about who your husband is and how to happily live together is going to be unique for everyone. However, the following are a few practical wifey skills I wish I’d known before I got married.
- Meal planning and smart grocery shopping make a happy husband: You really wouldn’t think it was that hard to plan a meal for seven days of the week, buy only those ingredients (plus things for breakfasts, lunches and snacks) and stick to the plan… but after three years of marriage, I still find this really tricky. I can’t decide on what meals I want, Saturday grocery shopping sneaks up on me, so I go when I’m lazy and haven’t planned. I grab a bunch of impulse things that will inevitably sit in my cabinet for the next year. Being disciplined about meals and grocery shopping will bring you and your spouse a lot of peace.
- Frequent, honest conversations about the credit card bill are essential: Sometimes, husbands underestimate how much it costs to run a household. If you’re only buying essentials, the family credit card bill should not be relatively exorbitant, right? Well, cleaning supplies, cooking supplies, home furnishings, and little extras that make things lovely (flowers for the dining room table, a candle on the mantle, etc.) really have the tendency to add up. If you go shopping and you’re not sure how much you can spend, then don’t. Sit down with your husband and talk about how much the family makes a week and how much can be spent on miscellaneous things each week. If you’re honest and rational, things can be worked out before the credit card statement comes, you can’t remember how or why the balance is so high, and things get emotional.
- Being disciplined is not an option: This is the hardest part for me. I tend to be pretty laid back; if I don’t feel like shopping, I’ll have a peanut butter sandwich for dinner, no big deal. The thing is, as a wife, you no longer have the luxury of being a complete and total flake. Your life directly impacts another’s now and if you stay up late on Saturday night when you’d agreed to attend 8:00 Mass the next day, it’s really not fair to your spouse to change plans at the last minute.
- Being humble and submissive is not at all an easy thing to do: Seriously. Acknowledging that respect for your husband must come before personal pride and arrogance. Wifely submission isn’t about being servile or slavish. It’s about being smart enough to realize that without your humility, your marriage is dead in the water. Without your service, the household won’t be charming or full of joy. I hate cleaning more than anything, and the more kids we have and the bigger the house, the harder it gets. But, I know that without the hard work, our marriage would be completely different, and not in a good way.
- Your husband is not responsible for all of your emotional needs: Ladies, your husband is not your girlfriend. He’s not. It’s just more fun to go out and get pedicures or go shopping with someone who does not have a Y chromosome. I firmly believe that an important element of a successful marriage is a wife who has girlfriends she can talk to and hang out with.
Love your husband passionately, all the time. The joy John gives me is why I love being a wife. It makes the awfulness of grocery shopping and the tedious-ness of budgeting completely worthwhile. I still think he’s the smartest, funniest, most honorable man I’ve ever met. Sometimes I feel it in gigantic bursts (when he’s honored in a public way) and sometimes I feel it in small, silly ways, like when I overhear him making a pun to our baby while cleaning (Son, you got orzo on the floor-zo). I want him to know he’s loved every single day of his entire life… and that’s why the other stuff is so important.
If you’re like most women of our generation and claim that your husband is your, “best friend”, then prove it to him by being honest, forthright and reasonable. Show him with service. Come to him with humility in saying that you’re still getting the hang of this “wife” business and you’re open to constructive criticism. Most of all, show him you love him in the way that only you know how.