The #TradWife movement on social media is an interesting phenomenon. The general gist of the movement seems to be that in the sea of career options for women and men, women who are married should be able to choose homemaking as an option, teaming up with a husband who works outside the home. Traditional wives support and live out traditional gender roles.
My life right now fits into the category of “homemaker,” as I stay at home and take care of children, housework, and meals during the day. My husband works and provides the income we use to buy groceries, pay the mortgage, and all the rest. But I struggle to identify with the label #TradWife because I think it oversimplifies marriage and gender roles. The movement in general also seems to focus on the aesthetics of the traditional wife — makeup, dresses, home decor — that rub me the wrong way.
In thinking about this, however, a few questions have come up that have helped me me think about my own marriage, and what “wifehood” should look like.
The first question I’ve been asking myself is …
“Other than homemaking and/or providing income, what do we each bring to our marriage?”
My husband brings his unique personality and gifts to our marriage, and I do the same. I’ve realized that the more I focus on the gifts my husband has, and contributes to our life, the more I appreciate him. Likewise, the more I understand about myself, the more I can lean into my good qualities and correct my bad habits and faults.
What does this look like in our marriage?
My husband is very hospitable and good at maintaining relationships. In general, he is very good at thinking about the big picture.
I am not big-picture oriented, but am able to sort out the details. I love connecting people, but don’t excel at maintaining relationships.
We have lots of gifts that don’t perfectly overlap or complement each other, but the more I learn about myself and him, the more I appreciate our relationship—and the more united we become.
The second question I’ve been pondering is …
“How can we truly love each other in marriage, and not just use each other?”
One big thing that I’ve learned in marriage is that it is very rarely an “if I give 50% and you give 50% everything will be hunky dory.” I’m here to advocate for giving as selflessly as possible in marriage (I’m advocating for it, despite my daily failures to live it out).
But even when you’re giving your all, your selflessness may not be understood. As a good friend recently mentioned, you might be giving 100% in your relationship, but because it doesn’t look or feel like that to your spouse, he or she might not realize how much you’re giving.
In our marriage vows in the Catholic Church, we vow to love each other freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. As the years go by, I realize how much room there is to grow in loving my husband in those four ways.
I’m still thinking and praying on these questions, but they have also spurred me on to re-reading this document on marriage, which spells out truths about marriage and men and women so beautifully.