Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide

Before I was married, someone gave me a copy of this article from a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Weekly. After we got married, I placed it on our refrigerator where I could see it every day. Obviously, there were some points in it that I disagreed with and one that I actually whited out ("Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night."), but I liked the overall idea of adhering to a more old-fashioned code. I desperately wanted to be a "good wife."

If you don't take the time to read the article, you won't understand the depth of my insanity, so please read it. In the intervening years, my eyes have been open to the deception that hung on my fridge for the first two years of our marriage. But in those years, I spent a lot of time breaking down in sobs because I just couldn't live up to "the good wife." I constantly wondered what was wrong with me, why I was so incapable of doing what every woman in the fifties apparently did. I acted like the perfect wife and housekeeper, but I never felt like I really was good enough, and I drove my husband to distraction. How many times did he find me in a heap of tears in the kitchen floor, apologizing for failing him? He always told me that he loved me, that I was exactly the kind of wife he wanted and needed, that I was doing a good job. He couldn't figure out who I was comparing myself to until one night when he saw the article on the fridge and it all became clear. That night he made me get rid of it.

I was so sick I didn't want to throw it away, so I hid it in a book. And that's where I found it recently. I wish I could say that I just laughed at my old self, but it's not funny. The night Jon made me take that deception off of the refrigerator marked a turning point for me. Shortly after that, our pastor's wife asked the women in our Tuesday night women's group to be honest with one another. She said, "Raise your hand if you have ever feared that you might be crazy." I will never forget how scared I was to raise my hand, until I saw with my peripheral vision that almost every woman in the room had her hand up. I thought I was the only one, but we were all struggling with unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations and it was causing us to think we had lost our minds. Somehow the Enemy had distorted our desire to do things well. I was trying so hard to be a good wife that I forgot to honor my husband.

I only bring this up now because I feel like God has recently opened my eyes to the pain in the eyes of other women all around me. They are working hard to be wives, mothers, employees, ministers, etc. and they are desperate for a standard that is unrealistic. They are not casting their cares and concerns on Christ, the only One who can measure up and bring rest. They are depressed, and feeling guilty that they're not happier. And some of the things that lead them on in their deception are disguised as good things. If this is you, I want you to have freedom from the bondage of this lie that you should be perfect, perky, and presentable at all times. So let me tell you what I found out recently. The article wasn't even real! It was created as a hoax, probably in the 1980s and has been widely circulated as an email since that time. The standard I was holding myself to wasn't even a true standard in the outdated time it was referring to!

So before you hold yourself to some crazy standard, examine the source. Is it from God? Or is it just something some fool made up?

1 comment:

Shanna said...

Amen! While there was never an article to drive me, I have long struggled with a need to be perfect--whatever that means. I had these undefined standards in my head. I didn't even know that I was reaching for them most of the time, but I sure knew when I had failed.