- Gender and Relationships
How to Avoid Seven Mistakes Some Married Women Make
What Does Being a "Good Wife" Mean?
It would be simplistic to say to wives, "be all that you can be." But what does that really mean? To find out, we first need to consider the source. Certain stereotypes exist about married women, and have been popularized by the media and are so deeply embedded in our culture we don't even give them a second thought.
To understand this, take a few minutes to think about what women have been subjected to, and have subjected themselves to, at the hands of men, for centuries. If you think women are viewed equally, take a look at the majority of commercials for household products, food, and almost anything for that matter. Think about the way that women are portrayed in these commercials. Now take a hard look at the movies, and the way females, especially "good" wives, are stereotyped. Think for a minute about what happens inside your head when you look in the mirror and a "supermodel" isn't staring back at you. Watch a few "family" shows and see how you "stack up." Becoming more aware of these things is the first step you need to take in order to begin navigating your womanhood. Recognize, but never accept these old, worn out opinions, because that's all they are, just opinions that were pushed until they were accepted and popularized.
These opinions date back hundreds of years and started with those interested in keeping women under the control of men and safely locked away in kitchens and bedrooms with a passel of kids to tend to. Making women seem inferior was not hard if you could just play one card - "the sin of Eve." Well it is way past time for men to stop playing that card and blaming women for all the ills in the world. More importantly, it is high time for women to wake up and realize their own worth. But pointing fingers at men won't solve the problem. Both sexes should recognize that we are equal when it comes to the capacity for either good or evil, and every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. It is ridiculous to use “original sin” to make women seem inherently evil, childish, or prone to poor judgment, and in need of someone to hold their hand and think for them. What a crock. As a woman, you can check your attitude to make sure you are not lending a hand, falling into an outdated pattern of thinking, and making the stereotypes seem true.
There has been a failure on the part of both men and women to value womanliness and focus on the strengths of womanhood. The result has been a tendency by both sexes to associate the concepts of womanliness and femininity with weakness, helplessness and an inferior intellect. Men bask in their ability to marginalize women, and women subjugate themselves, sometimes without even realizing it, perhaps because it seems easier to just "be nice".
In the following paragraphs, you can discover how a woman who has confidence and poise, strength, independence, self-worth, intelligence and assertiveness is a far better partner in a marriage than one who accepts the stereotypes, feigns weakness, plays dumb and feels inferior.
How Having Confidence Can Make You a Better Wife
One of the biggest mistakes some women make is failing to have self-confidence. As mentioned above, the media stereotypes feed this opinion, and it has a bigger impact than people realize. Try standing in front of the mirror and listening to your self-talk. Or just take a few minutes and think about how you really feel about yourself, and how you compare to other women, especially those portrayed in the media. Recognize any negative thought patterns there? When was the last time you made a list of all of your good points?
Being down on yourself is not necessary, nor is it healthy, and it is highly likely that the negative things you think about yourself are not true. No one is perfect, sure, but give yourself credit where credit is due and focus on your assets. To help get the ball rolling, go ahead and make that list of your strengths and assets. Allow yourself to see the good in you and add to the list from time to time.If you make a mistake or fail in some way, get up, dust yourself off and move ahead.
When you have a healthy sense of confidence, it is going to benefit everyone around you, especially your spouse. Think about the people you enjoy being around. What kind of people are the most inspiring and fun? They are happy and sure of themselves, but no one likes people who are insecure, clingy, or neurotic. Sure overconfidence can be a detriment, but true confidence can allow a person to shine and make good decisions, especially in times of crisis. Confidence and good decision-making abilities lay the groundwork for your success as an individual, and for the success of the marriage.
How Independence Can Make You a Better Wife
Another mistake some married women make is being clingy, childish, and dependent. If you are married, guess what, childhood is over. That's not to say don't have any fun but don't be child-like either. Some women make the mistake of being too dependent on their husbands, both financially and emotionally.
Helplessness and weakness can be a strain on any relationship. Think about what tends to happen when the bulk of responsibility in a relationship is left for one person to deal with the majority of the time. If the other partner takes on the role of a sheltered child, routinely expressing qualities of helplessness and weakness, the unintended result in both partners can be the development of bitterness and contempt.
Bitterness can develop on the part of the person who ends up pulling all the weight and making all the hard decisions. Meanwhile, the person who has silently subjected themselves without (vocalized) complaint to the (naturally sometimes fallible) leadership of another human being can develop a strong sense of contempt. How easy it is to criticize from the sidelines. Taking on the role of a dependent, sheltered little girl who needs guidance is a mask for taking the easy way out, leaving the leader to be blamed for anything that goes wrong.
Develop your skills, create your own source of income and have a life outside of the marriage. As a result, you will have more to contribute to the relationship. Even if you have children, and have elected to stay home with them, you should try to do this. Take up a hobby, get a babysitter, go out and share your talent. At the very least, volunteer in the community. That way when you are with your husband, you will have more to talk about than the two year old's constipation and the 6 month old's spit up.
Responsibility in any partnership should be evenly distributed, and adults should be able to function independently, especially since anything can happen that might leave a dependent person stranded.
How to Be a Supportive Wife
Another mistake some married women make is not being supportive enough. In the past, women were portrayed as if they were helpless little things who desperately needed the support and protection of men. This went on for centuries, and was especially prominent in the past century in the media.
Well guess what, sometimes men need support and protection too. A lot of men have succeeded in getting over themselves and learning that the media stereotype of men was a big crock, but more importantly, women have begun to realize that men actually have emotions too. He may respond to the media hype by thinking he has to act like a tough-guy, but that is only superficial. Inside, he is still that scared little boy, but he has learned not to let it show.
Wives can be a great source of comfort when an atmosphere of safety does not exist. This can happen in a number of situations. Protection is not just physical. As a good partner, you can be there for him in his times of need, whether that be mental, emotional, or physical. Start being more aware of the shifts in his attitude, or how defensive he gets over certain topics. Instead of nit-picking or criticizing, do some genuine listening and consider the possibility that there is a reason for those behaviors. There may be some very real needs and fears buried under that all-knowing, tough-guy facade. Your willingness to listen and provide your spouse with a sense of safety will make your marriage stronger than it ever was.
Protection can take on other forms as well. In the unfortunate instance where an intruder were to enter the house, of course, either partner should have made a point of being prepared to deal with it. But there are other times when protection is called for. When reputations, livelihoods or well-being are at stake, be prepared to take a defensive stance, provided no ethical boundaries have been crossed.
Whenever anyone is doing their best to succeed at anything, they need a supportive partner. This goes back to the issue of not having one person to carry all the responsibility while the other one acts needy. When both people in a marriage know their partner has their back, each individual will be more confident and able to grow, succeed and become a more fulfilled person.
How Much Does Money Matter in a Marriage?
Some women make the mistake of not making their own money, becoming dependent on their husbands financially. The sad truth is that this can really create a lot of problems in a marriage. Remember the discussion about how one person being dependent and clingy could cause bitterness and contempt? In the real world, unless a person is disabled, both partners should be bringing in some sort of income. When one person in the marriage has to “suck up” to another person for an “allowance” or some spending money, the axis of power in the relationship will shift, no matter how much you say otherwise.
In part, this is because in modern western society, the value of an individual is perceived based on their income. While in some cases, it can be beneficial for one partner to stay home with the children, how many women have you ever seen being recognized on the cover of a national magazine for being the homemaker of the year? Rarely, if ever, is the true value of a homemaker recognized by anyone, and sometimes this includes their spouse, unfortunately. And what about retirement? While one spouse is working, putting money into social security and maybe a retirement account, the other one, at home with the kids, is staring at a future in which there is no retirement check. Many an elderly lady living in a nursing home funded by government subsidies could testify to that. Not to mention that in this life we have no guarantee of anything. Who is to say the working spouse might not someday suddenly decide to take off with someone else? It happens.
Even while staying at home with the kids, there ARE ways to bring in additional income, make a financial contribution, and save for the future. In addition, getting out into the community is important, and necessary for personal growth and networking purposes.
Improve Your Marriage by Getting an Education
Another mistake some women make is the failure to get an education. An education will serve you well, and improve your marriage. Having an education will help you to improve your own thinking skills. Your sense of reasoning, ability to solve problems, and determination to rise to meet challenges will increase. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom and wife, you can become more educated.
College programs are available online, and there are many ways to get financial aid for college. In addition, there are many ways to become more educated, even if you do not want to go to college, or cannot get financial aid.
Every woman owes it to herself and to her spouse to educate herself and keep her intellect sharp. This can easily be done by taking the time to read scholarly books and articles, watch the news, and watch documentaries that provide valuable information. By educating yourself, you will be open to new worlds, and greatly improve your confidence. You are far more than a baby-factory/servant.
You should be able to discuss current issues in the news, provide insight or expertise on topics of interest and even share some good poetry. You can become a more interesting person, and be a source of inspiration to anyone you interact with, especially to your spouse. (Unless, of course, your spouse is too egotistical and self-centered to appreciate and be proud of your intelligence, in which case, it might be a good time to start thinking about shifting gears.)
Assertiveness Saves Good Marriages
Another common mistake is that of allowing yourself to be pushed around or manipulated. Whether it is emotional, mental or physical, the limits of what you will put up with should be established early in a relationship. We teach people how to treat us by what we allow. To put it bluntly, not drawing clear boundaries can quickly lead to your becoming a victim of abuse. No woman deserves to be a doormat, punching bag, or even the butt of an unappreciative man’s jokes. No one should make you feel like a second-class citizen, be allowed to disrespect you or take away your rights. Going back to what was said earlier, a healthy sense of self-worth goes a long way in keeping a marriage healthy. Inappropriate behavior, especially violence, should be met with definitive and unpleasant consequences, up to and including termination of the relationship if necessary.
It Takes Two to Tango
Finally, a serious mistake is not knowing when to provide a spouse with advice and constructive criticism. The way decisions are made can mean the difference between the success and failure of a marriage and of each individual in a marriage. This does not mean it is ok to belittle and browbeat your partner. It simply means that if they are getting ready to, say bring financial ruin on themselves and in turn on you, or are doing things that are self-destructive, you let them know that you disagree with them and take appropriate steps towards averting the disaster. Sometimes caring for someone means having the guts to tell them when they have a bad idea, or are making a mistake. If a man’s ego is so delicate that he can’t take a little criticism without feeling emasculated, he might need to get some counseling. Most successful people know how to deal with and appreciate criticism. A good healthy argument (not a fight, mind you, an argument – or healthy debate) can actually help a person to refine their approach to a problem and come up with a solid solution. What a great gift this would be to give to the person you love!