Tag Archives: childhood

The Right Way to be a Wife

A few days ago I ran into my ex-fiance’s former best friend. We exchanged hello’s and a brief update on our lives before walking away. He was the same as I remembered him from our teenage years, full of anger and incredibly sarcastic seemingly displeased with his life. He reminded me of a time in my own life I had long since forgotten. Where the road I was taking was straight, narrow and predictable.
My ex-fiance and I met our sophomore year in high school when we were both still semi-innocent and sweet. We went from friends to in a relationship quickly and then on his 17th birthday I took his virginity. Eventually we stopped being separate people and our names became synonymous with the others. One day after work he asked me to meet him downstairs on the front porch and there he was on one knee holding a black velour box open. I don’t remember what he said but I do remember feeling reserved. Though I never dreamt of getting married or anything that follows, I imagined when your best friend proposed to you it was supposed to be magical. I felt nothing when I said yes and wondered if I only said yes because we lived together and I had no where to go.
Growing up I never had anyone to model a healthy marriage. My biological parents never married and though my foster parents were, he owned her. She often told stories of when they first met when it was a cute teenage relationship. But then they married, had kids and he turned into a raging alcoholic who beat her and the kids. By the time their 4th daughter was born he had found religion and stopped drinking. But at this point it was too late and he didn’t know how to be a husband, or a father. In his mind he financially supported his family, and that was his sole role as a father. He was controlling, mean and manipulative. He showed no affection to anyone let alone his wife. Very rarely you would overhear her talking about her unhappiness but she had no where to go. She hadn’t worked since before her first daughter was born, barely spoke English and had no money of her own, she knew leaving was never an option.
Everything I lacked in my childhood molded me into an anti. I was anti-kids, anti-marriage. I never thought about a wedding or finding the right dress and every part of me believed I could never be a good parent and so I buried those possibilities deep into my core until they disappeared. I would focus on my education and rising above the life I came from. After three years of an engagement and no wedding planning, we parted ways. Even as an engaged woman I never once thought about planning a wedding.
By my late 20’s, friends around me started buying houses, getting married and having children but at this point I was set against sharing my life at all. I struggled with feeling as though I brought shame to women around me. I couldn’t understand my friends happiness when they spoke of their proposals, or showers or wedding plans. I was happy for them, but couldn’t picture that happiness for myself. I was content in my single life, bringing men in and out as I pleased. I enjoyed living for myself. Every woman at least once in their life should be a selfish woman.
The more time I spent with myself, the more I learned to love myself and all my imagined inadequacies. I feel as though this time period marked the beginning of my life. I was hungry for knowledge, for experience. I enjoyed meeting new people who could enhance my life. I began to live. I stopped worrying about the way others would view me or my lifestyle and I let fear guide my adventures and thus far it has been beautiful and I am fulfilled for 30.
I don’t take change well, it terrifies me. But I am learning that there are phases within our lifespan. They come and go and add to who you are, preparing you for the next phase. I now view marriage and kids as one of these phases (although I guess normal people would call them a milestone).
Though late in life, it was my best friends who taught me what unconditional love feels like. As someone who never believed they were worthy of such a feeling, I never allowed myself to be receptive to it. But over the years I have met the most incredible people who know my soul and found ways to speak love into existence in my life without me knowing. This change I am most grateful for. Fear was quickly bypassed and instead of dwelling on hesitations by the time I realized I was surrounded by love it was like a drug that I couldn’t get enough of. I reflected back on all the pain I had been through. The darkest days where I wanted it all to end. The days I couldn’t get out of bed or cried myself to sleep and imagined I would feel that way forever. I would go through those days all over again if it meant that I would feel love, even if only for a few minutes because love is that beautiful, that powerful.
I imagine that you marry to feel this unconditional love everyday. At your worst, at your best. I imagine that marriage isn’t a milestone or an achievement but the ultimate surrender to love. When you realize the love you have for that person you could never have for another. I imagine you marry the person you want by your side during every phase of your life. Part sibling, someone you can be silly and argue with, but would spend your lifetime protecting. Part confidant, someone you can tell anything to, who knows you inside and out but never judges you. Part best friend, someone you want to share all aspects of life with. Part parent, someone who pushes you to be the best version of yourself, who grows with you, guides you and teaches you as they walk beside you. Part lover, someone who romances you to remind you of your worth. I imagine that marriage involves wearing many hats depending on the day or the situation. I also imagine that somedays this may be exhausting and hard. As cliche as it sounds I imagine that when you find the right one, marriage makes sense.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get married. I also don’t know if having dreamt of marriage in your childhood is a right of passage for women. I do know that according to the 1955 “Good House wife’s Guide,” I wouldn’t have cut it as a wife. But maybe much like being a woman, there is no right way to be a wife. It is simply who you are.