7 Things I Got Wrong About Being a 'Good Wife'

HousewifeFor nearly 11 years of marriage, I thought I had the wife thing down pat. I was by no means perfect, but I loved being a wife, and I tried really hard to be the best one I could possibly be. I had shelves filled with books on how to be a better wife, how to pray for my husband, how to survive difficult marriages ... I actually thought I was a stronger, better person for staying married despite some very serious challenges.

A lot of the advice I sought out on how to be the best wife possible went something along the lines of "show love to get love." No husband wants a nagging shrew of a wife, right? To make my marriage work, I just needed to be the best wife I could possibly be, and my husband would be compelled to love me back.

Maybe that works for some people. Maybe I did it wrong. Maybe I didn't do enough. I don't know. What I do know now though is that some of the very things I thought were right ended up being very wrong for my particular situation.

Here are seven things I got wrong about being a "good wife."

  1. Being non-confrontational: I'm a people-pleaser by nature, so confrontation is definitely not my thing. What this translated to, unfortunately, was letting things slide when they really bugged me. Sometimes I tried to talk to him about it but was usually countered by my own fault in something. I figured if I wasn't perfect, it wasn't fair to be upset with him for not being perfect either. I wish I had stood up for myself more often.
  2. Covering for him: My ex is something of a homebody. I used to try dragging him out to things, but he was just so miserable most of the time that I eventually left him home, saying he had to work or something. Or take care of the kids, even though we could've easily gotten a sitter. Sometimes when his social anxiety got the best of him, I excused his behavior as work stress, or allergies, or something. I should have realized that was his battle, not mine.
  3. Never saying no: The first time I remember saying no and sticking to my guns was on my 10th anniversary. We got into a cataclysmic fight over it, and now I wonder if it was so shocking to him because I'd always caved to him before.
  4. Taking responsibility for his happiness: It's exhausting trying to keep someone happy all the time. I wish I had let him take ownership of his moods and worked harder at not letting them affect me so much.
  5. Submitting to his leadership even when he was wrong: The church we attended for seven years excommunicated me for the "sin" of divorcing my husband. My closest friend there called the day after I left my husband and reamed me out. They publicly announced to the entire congregation that I had been "trapped in the snare of the Devil" and must be avoided. I had begged for years to leave there, but that's where we went, so we went. Now I wonder if things might have been different if I had gotten our family out of there years earlier.
  6. A fake it 'til you make it mentality: I knew something was "off" in the weeks leading up to our wedding. But you know, I figured I just had normal wedding jitters. Over the years I learned that if I could just tough it out through whatever it was that my husband was going through that made him a bear to live with, my fun, care-free guy that made me the center of his universe would eventually return. I longed for the day that guy would come back to stay, but I didn't see him at all the last couple years. It broke my heart, but I had to let go of the fantasy and accept the reality.
  7. A good wife would never abandon her marriage: My ex-husband and I ended up being very different people than the ones that said "I do" once upon a time. We not only had nothing in common, we had no common ground. Maybe a good wife recognizes that she will never be able to be what her husband wants, and she takes one for the team by ending the marriage when it's obvious there's no fixing it.

I honestly don't know what constitutes a "good wife" anymore, but I'm pretty sure there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

What do you think makes a good wife?


Image via robert wade/Flickr

divorce, marriage

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nonmember avatar Morgan

Being a good wife means never abandoning your husband. You stand by his side whether he is wrong or right. You put his needs and the needs of your family above your own selfish happiness. It doesn't matter what your husband does, you never go against him. If women weren't so hellbent on being opinionated and independent then marriages wouldn't break up so frequently. When you get married you are no longer your own person, you are your husbands wife, nothing more. Women need to shut their traps and focus on serving their husbands.

ZamEnt25 ZamEnt25

Wow Morgan you are a piece of work no?? I guess you failed to read the part of love your wife as Christ loves the church? Where HE laid down His life for it. Submissive does NOT mean abusive. It means TWO EQUALLY strong individuals where one submits to the other out of lo, NOT OUT OF FORCE. Wise women choose their battles and yes even we need to put our foot down. Jenny has written in detail what's been going on with her. Now she realizes things she could have done differently. As the elderly lady at church always used to tell me: Never say never, because life is too long and you never know what it brings. You may even drown in the glass you said you'd NEVER drink from. Don't judge her because you have NO IDEA what her situation was. We are not servants to our husbands. If they are doing the wrong thing, objecting to that is OK. God didn't call me to follow someone just because of a title, but because of HOW they live their lives. It should be lived in a godly manner, if it isn't, what business does the woman have following a man to the demise of her family?

nonmember avatar Shar

Really Morgan women should just shut their traps. I would like to bet you are not married, if you are your poor wife. It is true that the key to a healthy marriage takes a lot of work and communication, but it takes two. Women have fought for ages to be heard , women have worked hard to become equals. I in no way will let a little man (Morgan) bring down my self worth or self esteem. You my man will find it very hard to function in this society if you don't stop acting like an ass.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Oh please. We are supposed to believe that someone who is so opinionated and obnoxious and quite frankly an ignorant bitch in her writing is a good wife at home? That would require two separate personalities. A submissive wife living by biblical principles would never do what you do here.

ZamEnt25 ZamEnt25

@Rhonda really?? Why is it that biblical women can't have opinions? Do you KNOW why she got a divorce? The addiction that her hubby had? What he did? NO! again, the high and mighty always speak up against but I've learned a few things in life. 1.) Shut up about other people's issues. Life is too short for me to be SO judgemental about OTHER people's lives. 2.) You never KNOW if you will end up in a situation such as hers. You can't guarantee it. There's no way you can. 3.) I guess that's the part the world hates about biblical principle Christians, we are SOOOO quick to judge we forget the love aspect. The compassion, the mercy, when God never forgets those things.

Katha... Katharine205

It sounds like there might be a bit of a co-dependency issue, there's a book called "Co-Dependent No More" , written by Melody something or another.  It was recommended to me a couple years ago and it was a very insightful and helpful book, I'd highly recommend it.  Being submissive is one thing, being a doormat is another and you don't have to take ownership of other people's problems/shortcomings/feelings.  I fully believe in the model presented in the Bible, and that both sides need to follow it.  However we are human and we are fallible and while I believe that we should strive to follow Christ we have to remember that we need Grace too.

nonmember avatar Remo

Well a good wife doesn't abandon her marriage and I am rather tired of the old canard that any man who doesn't love his wife like Christ loved the church is BAD BAD BAD!!!! Have you read the old testament? What did Christ *do* to the church when it disobeyed and went its own way? Didn't Christ destroy it, lay waste to it, and send it into captivity a dozen or so times?

Christ loved his church he did *NOT* submit to its desires which is what everyone who trumpets this is implying a husband should do. Christ chastised the Pharisees and overturned tables when he got angry and when he comes again women like this will be called the whore of Babylon for following their own selfish desires rather than his teachings. And she *will* deserve the pit - and all that comes with it.

Klang... Klangdale

@Morgan...I'm so sorry you live that life. When you get married you become ONE...not lose your identity and become "your husbands wife". But lets be honest..you typed that out just to get a rise..so move along. As for @Rhonda---judgemental much? For someone running their mouth about another persons opinions--you sure come off perfect now dont you:) This is a blog---a place where you can state your opinions and outlooks. Some people may support/relate tot hem and some may be on an etirely different planet then you. Thats the beauty of it. Instead of sitting behind your computer and name calling because jenny isnt your cup of tea---either accept her (and her faults) for what she is and read her blogs as such..or move on too! Does it make you feel better kicking someone while they are down? Jenny is coming into her own..she was in a church that required you to be submissive to your husband regardless of the circumstances--but then also be steadfast in their beliefs and preach them to the world which generally comes off close minded. It is what it is and let her grow without being ugly about it.

the4m... the4mutts

I agree with my friend BiBi. Nobody should be a doormat.

And I disagree (for my own life) about "fake it til you make it"

My husband has been deeply, passionately, in love with me, from day 1. I never was with him. I respect him, he is a good person, I LIKED him, and I logically chose, after 5yrs of dating, to marry my partner. But somewhere in those 5 years, I started loving him as a person. His jokes became funnier, his face became a cheesey ray of sunshine. Watching him with the kids, made me melt.

What started out as "I just see no good reason NOT to be with him" became "I see no way that my world would be complete without him"

He knew all of this up front. I just KNEW he would change, like every other guy I had a LTR with had changed. But he didn't. I showed love to him, that I didn't feel. I smiled when I didn't think I had a reason to. And he won me over.

This isnt to say our life is perfect, or Im some twitterpated douche. We argue, we drive each other nuts, and we have big blow outs every now and again.

But I waited, and showed affection that I didn't feel, and it grew into a real, loving, life.

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