When my husband and I first got married I found myself so wrapped up in becoming the perfect wife. I desired to be a Proverbs 31 woman so badly. I wanted to honor him and for him to be proud to have me on his arm. This meant that I needed to look and act the part. Some days I felt like I nailed it, like I had it all together. Other days I felt like a complete failure. What I did not realize is that I was slowly losing my identity.
Suddenly, my husband and being his wife was everything to me. Having dinner on the table after a long day at work, keeping the house cleaned, and making sure that he was satisfied was all that seemed to matter. I wanted to not only be good to him, but I wanted to be perceived that way as well. All of my friends, both real and in social media land, needed to know that I was a good wife. They needed to see the images of the food I prepared and plated beautifully. They needed to know that we were on a date to the movies and that we held hands and cuddled all the way through. They needed to know how much he adored me and loved me. I wanted them to see that I was truly his good thing and he was mine.
What I ended up doing was building up this illusion. Over time, I realized that I was fighting so hard to keep up with this woman and concept of marriage that I created. I was running a marathon that had no finish line — like a hamster on a wheel. What was I trying to accomplish? Who was I really trying to please and what was I willing to compromise to do it? Suddenly, I was spiraling out of control. Constantly attempting to please others and seeking their approval. My insecurities were piling up. The strong, motivated, and focused woman I thought I was dissolved—she was replaced by a fragile, overly sensitive woman. My self-esteem was at an all time low. I felt so lost.
I hit a wall. Not literally, but just as painful. Happiness and joy eluded me. Self-fulfillment was non-existent and my marriage was struggling as a result. I was so focused on doing what was good, right, or looked perfect that I was missing the bigger picture. Our marriage would not be successful because of the meal that I prepared last night, no matter how delicious it was. It would not be successful because we looked happy in the picture I posted the night before.
I had to learn that I had a purpose—as a wife and beyond being a wife.
I’ve been learning that although I am to serve and love my husband, I must also realize the importance of serving and fulfilling my own purpose. My identity in many ways is connected to my husband; we are interwoven as husband and wife, joined together to create one. However, my identity is in Christ first and there are specific talents and gifts given to me to do more and accomplish great things. I found it essential to harness those abilities and find ways to grow as an individual. In time, it became clear that learning to do those things actually strengthened my marriage. Instead of leaning on and looking to my husband for my joy and happiness I learned to look within and to do the things I have been called to do. This change was so freeing for me. I felt like I was finally living, not for myself, not for my husband, but for God.
The old saying goes, “happy wife, happy life”. While that is certainly the case for most of us, the truth is my husband cannot be the ultimate source of happiness and joy for me. I am sure he is both happy and relieved that the pressure is off for him.