The Balancing Act

Fourth week: boooooooooooooooooooooooring. I guess the high had to wear off at some point. Don’t get me wrong – still love copyediting, but now I’m also working on researching the current market for Economics textbooks. I have never taken economics and am not in the least interested in learning about economics (money kinda freaks me out), so filling my afternoons with trying to find out what makes a good economics textbook is not the most entertaining use of my time… I’m constantly shifting in my seat, looking at the clock, fighting my stupid mouse that keeps trying to click on solitaire (stupid mice…), and looking for excuses to get water/go pee/make tea/ask other interns how they’re doing.

On a very different note, however, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with my fiance, Andrew. If you haven’t read my ‘About Me’ page (I won’t be (too) offended), one of the things that I was interested to learn while I’m here in London is how to be in a long distance relationship with him, since we’ve spent the past year together almost every single day, and how to prepare to be his wife in a few short months. It hasn’t been easy.

I know I’ve mentioned how amazing he is in other posts, but seriously… he is so awesome. I love him and totally rely on him as my best friend.

I really want to be the best person that I can be so that I can love him with everything that I am, and so I’ve been considering the question: what makes a good wife?

The only answer I could really come up with on my own was: A good wife is one that loves her husband. Not a bad start, surely, but definitely needing some support.

Leanne recommended that I read Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage. I was leery at first. I grew up listening to Dr. Laura’s show and as a sensitive young girl, I always thought Dr. Laura was harsh. I just don’t like mean people. And when you’re a kid you can’t tell the difference between ‘mean’ and caring in a ‘tough love’ kind of way. I still don’t like her tone of voice, but at least I know now that she means well. Maybe that’s why I am absolutely loving her book. What she writes is usually very nice-sounding (since writing can’t convey harsh tones of voice very well). But I’m learning a lot about myself and about Dr. Laura’s view on what makes a good wife.

I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, this book is making me so excited to be Andrew’s wife! I can’t wait to make dinners for him, clean the house for him, be the mom of his kids, love him, and tell him how he is totally my MAN everyday.

But wait a minute… in the midst of all this altruistic, self-sacrifice (the very definition of Godly love??!), where am I? I’m in London right now doing an internship so that I can have a career. I didn’t go to a really expensive undergrad school to get an MRS degree. I’ve got a dilemma. The thought of being a stay-at-home wife/mom is really exciting, and so is the thought of dressing up in the suit everyday and going to be an editor in an office!

Of course, I know you’ll all tell me that it’ll be hard, but I can still have a job and be a good mom and wife and make dinner and all that. But seriously, folks. Who wants to get up, feed the kids, put on a suit, work all day, pick up the kids from school, make dinner, clean up, and – COLLAPSE?! I know moms who do it. But I also know that it’s exhausting! Sheesh, I only have to go to work and I’m exhausted. I can’t imagine adding a husband and kids to the picture.

See, what I’m learning from Dr. Laura is that being a good wife isn’t just about what you do – it’s about the attitude you have while doing it. I’m pretty sure we could all agree that a woman who runs to her husband when he walks in the door and showers him with kisses, regularly affirms him, and makes sure his emotional and physical needs are met (yes, I mean sex), is a Good Wife. But I don’t know if you can be a Good Wife if you’re exhausted.

Now, my dearly beloved feminist friends. Seriously, I am a feminist, too. I 100% believe that men and women are equal, and I get very p.o.’d when I see that women are not being treated equally. I assume Andrew wants to be a Good Husband to me, too, and will work very hard to figure out how to do this (though he may not go about it the same way I am – by reading books, etc.). But even if he doesn’t, that’s not even the point. This is not just me trying to figure out all the ways I can be a doormat. This is me rising to the responsibility I’ve signed up for: being in a committed relationship. We each have to do our part. It’s not 50/50. It’s 100/100. So I’m giving my 100, and I’m not being a bratty little teenager withholding my 100 until he gives his 100. I’m just giving it. Or, at least, I’m trying my darndest.

With that said, I do have a dilemma. How do I make sure that I’m not too overwhelmed so that I have enough energy to give him everything he deserves? Because he does deserve it. I love him, and I want him to feel loved/affirmed/valued/manly.

I’d love to hear from some others on this (if anyone reads my blog). Women, what are your thoughts? Guys, any suggestions? Especially, if you are in a happy marriage, what makes it happy?? How is it working for you?



Filed under Andrew

3 responses to “The Balancing Act

  1. ruth

    Wow Ariel! Very nice!

    I agree with everything you said, and I can help but stress the importance of thinking it all through as you are now, and being committed to giving 100% before habits and exhaustion has a chance to settle in.
    You are most correct in saying that you can’t be the best wife you can be if you are exhausted.
    Commitments of a 50 hour a week, professional level career leaves you mentally and sometimes physically exhausted.
    Kids are wonderful, and they move a million mile a minute. It’s not a wonder that marriages have situations where everyone is frazzled and need some time for just themselves. This is true of the working mom. I am there now.
    Bottom line: If you can figure how manage it financially, stay home and be the best wife you can be, and mom, but give that some years…
    You have your degree, should ever need it to get into the career game.
    I am very happy for you and to see such wisdom in such a young lady!

  2. Aly :)

    Ariel… I am reading this book too! Ryan’s mom gave it to me, and I was hesitant at first because I think Dr. Laura is fierce… but in such, such a good way.

    I completely know what you mean, though. I have a hard time thinking about balancing motherhood, career and marriage. I end up feeling guilty all the time knowing that I want to work after I have children, and I don’t know how to counteract that. But for me, that’s balancing those two aspects of my life, not adding a third item (Ryan) to juggle–he is his own balancing act.

    I think one of the most profound things that Dr. Laura wrote in the book (and this, again, is mostly referring to children), is that we will be our husband’s wives before we will be our children’s mothers.

    That being said, our allegiance and our focus has to be our husband. This isn’t to say that we should ignore our children, obviously. Dr. Laura believes in being a stay-at-home mom, so she doesn’t advocate ignoring children at all. But I think this has more to do with making an effort, despite. Despite being tired, despite being upset from work, and despite being overwhelmed by children, our husbands come first.

    I’m pretty sure that there is no humanly possible way to ensure that we don’t become overwhelmed or tired or upset; it’s part of adult life and it is certainly a part of marriage. But the key will be in reminding ourselves that we put our husbands before any of those things, because we owe it to them, ourselves and our marriage to make sure it stays like that.

    • So true! And I totally agree. Fighting being overwhelmed/exhausted/stressed is just a battle in life and it’s always going to be there no matter what. Something I’m totally taking away from the book is just the reinforced idea that when you sign up for marriage, it’s a commitment of your whole life – not just meaning my whole life until I die, but meaning every part of myself is invested in it, and my marriage comes first. That’s such a “duh” thing, but I think people really forget that it’s not just you and some other person living together, it’s a working relationship that takes focus and attention. I was shocked when she said that one of the biggest misconceptions about marriage is unconditional love, but it’s true! If you don’t work at it, the love really will die! Wow. Such a wise woman.

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