Even after eight years of dating I was still waiting for my man to admit that I was not what he wanted and leave me. So I worked so hard to make sure he never saw the damage inside of me. I must add here that my husband and I are opposite in every way. We joke that the only things we have in common besides each other is our faith and our kids! We are even shaped differently! He is 6'7" and thin, and I am barely 5'3" and wide. In high school we were called the “perfect 10” couple, not because we were perfect for each other, but because we looked like the number 10 standing side by side.
So with that being said, I’m not a cleaner by nature, and my husband was raised by a very strict father who insisted everything be clean and in order. I am not dirty, but I admit to messy! I worked so hard those early years to be neat and to keep the house as spotless as possible. I felt I had to be a perfect cook and hostess to be the wife he needed, so I set about learning to cook. I always invited people over so that he could see what a good job I was doing. At least while wearing this mask I discovered that I love to cook and entertain! Back then instead of enjoying my home I was simply managing it—and not that well, I must say! It was exhausting. Thankfully my husband helped with the cleaning, but I was becoming resentful for having to maintain the facade at all. I began hating myself because I just could not keep it up. Once we had kids I quickly realized this kind of high maintenance housekeeping was going to fall by the wayside. My house today is certainly not a spotless museum, lol. It is a well lived-in home.
Wearing the mask of the perfect wife, I also saw it as my job to keep my husband from straying by keeping things exciting in the bedroom. I was already insecure about my weight and looks, so I constantly reminded myself that he could certainly find someone thinner and prettier. To compensate, I thought I would give him what every guy wants—lots of lovemaking. I reasoned that if I was available anytime he wanted and willing to try anything he wanted, I would be the perfect wife and he would be faithful. I became the initiator in our lovemaking so he would see that I found him desirable. Mind you, he did not ask me to do any of this; I just took it upon myself to do what I assumed he wanted. And of course, I was hiding my fear that he really didn’t want me. Yet, I never even asked him what he wanted. Once again, like with the housekeeping, I began to resent him. Then I convinced myself that he did not want me because he “never” initiated relations with me. Are you hearing me, ladies? I was resentful toward my man over a situation I caused myself!! How could he be the initiator when I was always doing it for him?
Besides money, intimacy is one of the leading causes of divorce today. I don’t need to tell you that a lot of that could be solved with communication. Ladies, we need to be honest with our men about what we expect in our marriages in all areas, but especially when it comes to intimacy. It is not wrong or embarrassing to discuss your needs with your husband. If not with him, then who? No magazines, romance novels or television shows can replace real communication between you and your husband in the bedroom. If anything, they can lead to creating unrealistic expectations of ourselves and of our husbands. I mean, we would all love to have a husband who beats up the bad guy, declare his undying love for us to the world— in more than three words—and then carries us off to bed for a night of passionate, soul-stirring lovemaking. Face it, most men will never be that guy, lol! Over the years I have learned to recognize and love the routine things my husband does that demonstrate his devotion to me. I encourage you to focus on those things, too. Sometimes as wives we get so caught up looking for the grand gesture that we miss the daily ones. Think of how he puts the kids to bed so you get a break, or the hug and kiss on the cheek he gives each night when he comes home from work…or that he runs out to get you chocolate because it’s that time of the month. Appreciate it when he puts the dishes in the dishwasher instead of in the sink, or makes sure your oil is changed, or gets up each day and goes to a job he may not like so you can be home with the children. I’m sure you have your own list. Don’t be fooled into thinking he should do all that just because he’s your husband. He may not be a romance novel hero, but his commitment to doing the little things every day shows that you matter to him. Your safety and the security of your family is important and often on his mind. Recognizing the value of these things and communicating our appreciation can lead to natural and mutually satisfying expressions of gratitude in the bedroom. After some major struggles in our early years of marriage, I can say that changing my perspective profoundly impacted our physical and emotional intimacy. I no longer try to control that area of our relationship in order to mask my insecurities, or manipulate him into believing he could never live without me. I have learned to communicate with my husband instead of camouflaging my feelings, and our marriage is much stronger because of it. Yours can be, too.
One more thing from me on wearing the mask of the perfect wife, then it’s your turn.
I love kids, and I have been teaching in some form since I was 16. My college degree is in education. So kids were at the top of my list for being the perfect wife. Unfortunately, after about two years of struggling unsuccessfully to have children, I was diagnosed with and put on medication for polycystic ovaries. Nothing seemed to work. I was so sad. I really felt like a failure as a woman and wife. I would see friends pregnant, and though I was truly happy for them I was also envious, and it was hard to be around them. Their bellies were like neon signs flashing "FAILURE" everywhere I looked. I had basically given up; I figured children were not in my future. I decided I needed to see myself as a valuable person and wife even if I could not bear children of my own. My husband and I considered adopting so that we could build a family to share our love and our home. Then I got pregnant. After another four years, fertility treatments that did not work, and a miscarriage that devastated me, my second son was conceived. Now we have two boys ages 10 and 5. I grew a lot during those years, working through my issues and facing the reality that there is no such thing as the perfect wife. Looking at me from the outside you would never how much I struggled in this area. It’s taken a long time to get out from behind that mask. While, like any married couple we still have issues, I have to admit that my husband did not pressure me to keep an immaculate house, pursue him like a video vixen, or give him a dozen babies. I do understand that some husbands try to get their wives to live up to unrealistic expectations, and we wives can have unrealistic expectations of our own. Each person brings his or her own idealistic expectations into a marriage. Communicate them early, and be willing to compromise on some if you ever want to be truly happy and open in your relationship.
I speak from experience. Through lots of payer and communicating with my husband, plus having amazing women in my life who are great examples of godly wives, I think the mask of the perfect wife is one I don’t wear very often anymore. I do have my moments of insecurity and feel inadequate in areas, but definitely not as often as I used to. My husband now says, "You are the perfect wife," to which I say, "…The perfect wife for you." So I ask, in what areas are you trying to be the perfect wife? Housekeeping…in the bedroom…having children…something else? Have you ever asked your husband, seriously, what makes him happy? Is your idea of the perfect wife realistic in your situation? Where in your intimate life are you struggling? I challenge you this week to begin to talk honestly with your husband about your struggles and expectations. Like I did, you may find that it’s time to shed the mask of the perfect wife because most of your insecurities are in your head, and your husband thinks you are "perfect for him" the way you are.