My mother-in-law loves to say "how modern I am" and she doesn't exactly mean it as a compliment. She was a very traditional wife. Dinner on the table every night. Spotless house. She even ironed her husband's boxers on especially chilly winter days so they were warm and toasty when he put them on. Even though she did eventually get a job once her son went to grade school, her priority was always cooking and cleaning over career. For me, it's the opposite. I love my husband dearly, but I'm not the traditional homemaker type. I know I am not alone in this. Many women are just not fulfilled by domesticity. But fact of the matter is, many young women are -- even those we don't typically expect to be. Case in point, volleyball champ and model Gabrielle Reece, whose philosophy on having a successful marriage sounds a bit stone age to me.
She's no Marissa Mayer/titan of industry. Still, there is a strength and type A determination I've always associated with her, especially given that she was a professional athlete. Right or wrong, those are not always attributes historically associated with someone whose goal is to be a traditional wife -- yet that is exactly who Gabby has chosen to be. While promoting her new book last week, My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper, she revealed the woman she became in order to have a happy marriage, and I haven't been able to get her comments out of my mind.
Gabby said that she is the woman and her husband Laird Hamilton is "clearly the male." She talks about serving her family -- and she means that literally. Dinner, laundry, and organizing her man's schedule fill her days. Though most surprising was her statement about the way men communicate: "I think the language that men understand and they receive -- is through food and through sex." Makes them sound a bit like cavemen, if you ask me. But I have to at least think about Gabby's perspective because she is obviously doing something right -- they have been married 17 years. Not many couples make it that long.
This dynamic works for them, but can it really work for the rest of us? I have no doubt that my husband would LOVE it if I took on those duties with the same vigor and pride instead of always groaning about what I consider annoying chores. But could I be happy putting these things above my other goals? Honestly, I don't think so. It's not what I busted my ass for in college and grad school. I feel energized and invigorated by making work a priority. Actually, calling it work is not really correct. It's something I enjoy. It's something I get up looking forward to doing and I feel very blessed to feel that way.
I will even go as far as to say I am a better wife and mom because I am able to contribute to something beyond my family. I get a sense of pride from it. And yes, that means I don't have time to be the perfect homemaker. And honestly, nor do I want to. I think it's important to note that while Gabby puts domesticity first, she was able to achieve most of her professional dreams years ago. Many of us are still in the process of climbing that ladder of success. I'm fulfilled by having a career -- a busy career. Again, that is not for everyone, but it's right for me. And as my husband always says, "Happy wife, Happy life."
Do you think taking on a more traditional wife role is the key to a happy marriage?
Image via browniesfordinner/Flickr