When my wife and I went to get married, we took some premarital counseling classes from the Youth Pastor at my church (the man who did most of the ceremony for us). He had us work through a book and video series that must have had 13 different steps. Along the way, we met with him and reviewed our answers. There were a few things that stuck with me from those lessons, and one of them was that both we should both attempt to continue to do the same types of things that we were doing when we were dating after we were married because we would expect it.
This is indeed a hard thing as I have found. Nothing makes it more difficult to get a night out then to have a few children, have a small budget because you’re trying to get out of debt, and falling out of practice.
So, it came as no surprise to me that when Carol Midgley of the Times went on the search of a good wife, she found that one of the chief most complaints that a man has is the difference between who his wife was before they were married and after. It’s right up there with the stress of parenting. There is something in both the man and the woman that longs for consistency– and I think the reason there’s a difference can be explained by this paragraph:
Val Sampson, an author and a couples counsellor, has launched relightmyfire.org, a website dedicated to helping couples to find their passion again and make each other a priority. She says: “I see a lot of people who have lost sight of fact they are a couple and see each other only as Mum and Dad. Women in particular get a lot of affection energy from a child. They turn to the child for cuddling, touch and sensual needs. They become almost absorbed by the child. It is like a grenade exploding in a marriage.”
Simply put, she doesn’t need to cuddle with you any more, because she’s cuddling with her children. She doesn’t need touch any more because she’s getting it from her kids. In one way, this is terrific, because she’s getting her needs met, but what has her husband become?
This whole problem becomes exacerbated if the woman works outside the home.
Some experts believe that as modern life becomes more demanding, what defines a good partner has not only become obscured but has been pushed down the pecking order. So much emphasis is now placed on being a Good Parent that being a Good Spouse comes a poor third after a) the children and b) the job. Marital conversation is reduced to “Have you got the juice?” “Yes, have you got the wipes?” The advice given by her mother to Jerry Hall that to keep a man a woman must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a [Prostitute] in the bedroom seems ever more quaint now that housework is increasingly outsourced, food is fast and marriages become increasingly sexless (witness the emergence of books for the sexless marriage with titles such as Okay, So I Don’t Have a Headache, I’m Not in the Mood and For Women Only , which lists techniques that wives use to avoid sex). Has the race to raise the brightest child, get him/ her into the best school, ferry him/her around to the highest number of improving activities actually put marriage under strain?
I would say that the answer is yes. And this is what I believe is the primary cause for men deciding not to get married– especially if they can get sexual relations without vows– or for divorces. The couple just doesn’t realize how important their lives together mean for their kids and for each other.
So, what makes the perfect wife? Same thing that makes a perfect husband. Two people dedicated to their marriage, and willing to put the other one over their children and to choose to love each other no matter what.