FEATURES: THE HELP (MATE)
The Help (Mate)
By Drew Dorsey
Wanted: Hardworking, committed, patient, multi-tasker who can cook, clean, nurture and budget. Solid time management, effective communication and active listening skills are required. Must be a team player who can also work independently when necessary. Previous experience is helpful, but not necessarily preferred. Hours – 24 hours a day,7 days a week, 365 days per year. Paid holiday, vacation and sick days: none.
Does this sound like the career of your dreams? Maybe not. But according to a recent study conducted by George Mason University, close to 42 million American women have said “I do” when asked if they’d like the job.
If you never thought being a wife is a full-time job, then think again.
For most of us who’ve never been married, our concept of what a wife’s job is like has been shaped by our parents, relatives and images of marriage in pop culture. But what exactly is a wife’s role in a marriage?
Inspired by the book and Academy Award-nominated film The Help, we interviewed a group of married men and women separately to candidly weigh in on the matter. Here’s what they shared with us.
There was a consensus among the ladies that a wife should be a partner in every respect, share responsibility and to mutually love and support her spouse. One wife’s answer – notably different from the others’ – stated that a wife’s role includes “obeying and fulfilling the desires of her husband, as well as looking after the home and children.”
When asked how being a wife differs from what they expected it to be, their answers varied. One wife told us no, that her husband performs all duties expected of a man such as house maintenance and finances.
A couple wives shared that their husbands are not as mutually supportive as they’d hoped which, in one case, led to a growing distance between them and ultimately, infidelity on his part. Another told us that she always believed her role should be to serve her husband, but learned that this takes more effort than she anticipated.
One wife confided that she thought the initial wedded bliss euphoria would last forever, but learned that although companionship is not always seamless, the love is unconditional.
The husbands we spoke with shared similar beliefs in that a wife’s role is to be supportive of her husband, and that support is to be reciprocated to her. Marriage is a team effort, they stated, where the wife and the husband complement each other: where one is weak, the other is strong. One husband adhered to the traditional viewpoint that a wife’s role is to cater to her husband while maintaining a healthy home and helping to raise their children.
While most credited their mothers and various media portrayals such as the 1950’s “June Cleaver” stereotype for shaping their idea of what a wife should be,
a couple of the men cited life experiences – both firsthand and observed – as critical to helping define their views on relational compatibility and marriage.
The notion of marriage has been at the epicenter of a cultural storm as of late. Some have been fighting for the right to do it, while others have been fleeing from it. And a growing number of women wonder if they’ll ever get the opportunity for consideration.
Likening the role of a wife to employment, in this day and in this global economy, is not as far off as one might think. After all, many have submitted their applications, but there just aren’t enough jobs to go around. If there’s one thing our married couple focus group has taught us, though, it’s that the keys to job stability seem to be commitment and compatibility.
Think you’ve got the skills to be the perfect modern wife? Join the conversation and let us know what you believe should be a wife’s role in a marriage.