The Meaning of Wife- What’s Your Definition?

I am reading a book right now called “The Meaning of Wife”. It’s a really well-written book looking at the role of the wife in marriage throughout history. Truthfully, I first grabbed it because of the cover art, how could you not love this?

the meaning of wife

Anyhow, it raised a lot of questions for me personally about what the woman’s role truly is. So tell me your thoughts- what is your place in the marriage(Traditional wife? Modern working wife? Somewhere in between?) and are you happy with it? If you could change anything about your marriage, what would it be?

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23 thoughts on “The Meaning of Wife- What’s Your Definition?

  1. That cover makes me want to grab it up and read it.

    Not married, but in a relationship. We’re actually pretty traditional outside of not wanting to do the rings and ceremony stuff. For all of our liberal leanings we do the “man works, woman stays home with kids” stuff. I’m happy, as much as can be. I want to stay home, but it’s hard when most of society acts like what I do is worthless and I’m wasting myself for doing this. I wish I could make the relationship a lot more equal, but I get that it’s hard when there so much outside influence that I’m not equal because of my choices.

    Too bad moms weren’t paid for their service to society.


  2. It’s funny to me the difference between being a wife and a wife/mother. Before we had Sam, I was happy to do the laundry, make sure the house was clean, do the dishes, etc. Now, I need more help with that because I am too tired to do EVERYTHING else and not feel overwhelmed after being with Sam all day. I am a SAHM, although I work part time from home. I thought I was going to go back to work after having the baby, but I new two months into my pregnancy that I just couldn’t – I couldn’t leave my baby with someone else. It wasn’t in me. So, we worked it out.

    I do agree with Summer – it’s not always the easiest decision to make because society doesn’t value it as a choice anymore. It’s all, women working and careers. I don’t WANT a career. I want my kids to BE my career. But somehow people don’t see that as a choice, or don’t see it as working (dude, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, I just don’t get paid). My husband would like to be a SAHD, but he has the capability to earn more than me, so he is the one who works. I’m not sure he could handle it, nor do I think he understands how hard it really is.


  3. I’m a working mom/wife, meaning I work outside the home. I always thought I’d be okay with it until I was living it. Now I’m not happy about it. I don’t feel like I’m a good employee or a good wife and mother. But, it’s the only option I have at the moment, so I just have to make the best of it.


  4. I read that book, and I’m curious to see what your readers have to say. It’s important to remember that both husbands AND wives can easily get stuck in their roles.


  5. I read that book before I got married, but I’m having a hard time remembering a lot of it. My place in the marriage probably leans somewhere towards traditional, but I also work full-time. I think that the balance of the workload in our house evens out pretty well. We don’t ask one another permission to do things, but keep each other in the loop. I like to think we’re mostly equal partners.


  6. i grew up in a traditional household where my mom waited on my dad and still does. dad handles bills and everything and mom cooks and cleans. i got married much later in life and had a successful career. i am a sahm and it was hard to give up control of money. however, in the same breath i find myself expecting us to be in the traditional roles, he should do the garbage and be in charge of the lawn. it has been interesting and has caused some fights.


  7. Great cover….at first I thought she was giving the middle finger and I thought, “I HAVE to get that one!”

    Marriage roles is hard to categorize. I am a working mom/wife so we have to get creative on who does what to keep the house running smooth. My husband cooks, cleans and does laundry….and I do the same.
    But, he does all the outside chores.

    If I had to sum it up….we are split fairly even. Although, I will never admit it to him. As far as he is concerned….I do more.


  8. I think our marriage is odd. I worked full time out of the home until the past August when I moved and became a remote employee working out of a home office. My husband who was a SAHD now works out of the home but as a contractor so he’s around alot. We really don’t have his/her jobs as he still does most of the cleaning.

    He lets me take off alone on weekends to visit family and friends w/o the kids and it’s really a nice break after being in the house with them full time all week long. I have found working out of the home that I’m not built to be a SAHM and long to go back to my cushy office. lol


  9. I would say I am in between. I am a WAHM. DH and I split the chores as best we can. We both do laundry we both do dishes. I clean house and he cuts the grass. We both work on home improvement projects. We are a united front when it comes to parenting the children. We both make equal salaries. I think our marriage is a lot like a partnership. We both have responsibilites and we work together to make sure our family unit runs as smooth as possible.

    I am happy where we are at. There are times that I do get my nose out of joint but I think that is true in every relationship. It can’t been moonlight and roses 24/7.


  10. Since December, I have morphed into a full-time career gal with a Title (Senior Paralegal), working in the Big City (Boston), making the Big Bucks (more than Hubby, anyway)–after spending the past 6 years working 3 days/week while raising 3 children. Hubby is now responsible for drop-offs, pick ups, packing lunches, getting the boyz dressed, making dinner, etc.
    And you know what? It’s totally working for us. Our plan is to keep this arrangement for the next 3-4 years and to build up our savings, at which point I will again return to part-time work closer to home.


  11. Now those are loaded questions if I ever heard them!
    I’m the SAHM who tried to do a side business and it failed (direct marketing’s not so hot in this economy when what you’re selling is a high end product!). I really like the fact that I am raising my son, yet at times I go stir crazy. I chose this because I didn’t want him in day care and as a teacher I’d be overwhelmed since you don’t leave your teaching at work like a lot of other jobs!
    I’m trying to be creative and not lose my “brain” since at times I feel like all I contribute is my laundry and cooking skills (and the later are pretty sad). I don’t feel looked down on for my choice so that’s not really the issue, more for me is I don’t feel that useful, like I’m contributing to society. Although I know raising children is, it’s hard to see when they aren’t out interacting with society either!
    If I could change one thing in my marriage it would be to learn to a) apologize and b) express myself better. (sorry that’s 2!) I’m WAY better at writing than talking so I’m sure I come across totally differently in blog land than I do in real life.


  12. I am very proud to be a sahm. I cook, clean, raise my son, take care of my husband, and even do a lot of the yardwork and car stuff. At the same time my husband wouldn’t think twice about helping me out with stuff around the house when I need it either. We are a team and we make it work. In my opinion, raising your children is the most important job you will ever have and you should never feel guilty about it. I don’t care how society views us or our choices because at the end of the day my family is happy and that is all that matters.


  13. Completely unique as far as I can tell. I was raised to always take care of myself and that no one-esp a man would never be able to take of me. I realize now that I can trust one particular man to take better care of me than I can take care of myself. Things aren’t perfect, but we are both willing to accept each others imperfections. I mostly stay home with our 4 (soon to be 5) kids, but there are times when I DO work to make ends meet. I have a head for numbers and he has the will to work hard at whatever job he has to make this work for all of us. I don’t cook much, I hired a house cleaner…and it’s not like we have loads of $$ either, it’s strange.


  14. My husband and I are both from divorced families – he was raised by his father, I was raised by my mother. Our marriage is pretty even, with a few traditional gender roles still in place.

    I kept my maiden name, but the girls have his last name (but my last name as a second middle name). We both worked for awhile, but currently I’m not working outside the home, because we can’t afford childcare and I’m in school for another degree. As soon as I get my degree, I’ll work full time and he’ll drop to part-time so he can go back to school for his masters.

    He cooks, he does the dishes, and he cleans the bathrooms and mows the lawn. I do laundry, cook occasionally, and vacuum/dust. We both take care of the girls, although I do slightly more only because I’m home more. I also take care of ALL of the finances.

    I’m pretty happy with our setup. If I could change one thing, I’d want him to have more interest and be more involved in finances so he’d understand why it matters so much when he buys lunch all week instead of packing a few days a week.


  15. I am more of an in-between. Second marriage, older kids, work part time while they are in school, but still do all the errand-running, bill paying, kid-shuttling…I basically do everything except work 40 hours per week.


  16. Sara, when I first saw the cover of the book I started laughing out loud thinking she had raised the “other finger” , but then realized my mistake. Ha!

    I’ll definitely check out this book and see what it has to say. I would think the meaning of wife would depend a lot on what generation you grew up in, how you were raised to view the roles of a man and woman in marriage, as well as a persons spiritual/religious views and beliefs.


  17. Hmm, I don’t think I have time to think about being a wife. I have a hard enough time actually being one…not a good one, but still.

    However, that cover art is enough to make me want to run out and read a copy.


  18. I think its important to work together and as my mother in law said “young marrieds need to be together”. It’s also been my personal observation couples I know who didnt take honeymoons are divorced. Wonder if a study has been done on this. I try to get as much stuff done during the day so that my husband doesn’t have to do it when he gets home, because if I dont clean he’ll spend all night doing it, and he works hard during the day. Only seems fair to me.


  19. I’ve been married twice before, and each time the definition I had for myself was different.
    I’m in a relationship now- headed towards marriage again- and once again- a whole NEW definition.. definitely much healthier.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, “Happiness is not overrated”. and “Life is too short to be miserable!” Under the right circumstance I think being a wife might just be lovely… 🙂


  20. That cover is definitely appealing. If there is anything I could change about my marriage, it would be getting married so young (19). However, I don’t regret my kids that resulted, I just wish I had had a change to grow a little more and find myself before falling into the mothering and wifing role. :o)


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