Our entire first year of marriage, I had an idea of what I thought the perfect wife looked like and I worked hard to make that image a reality in our home. The picture of perfection that I tried to maintain included making a homemade meal every night, maintaining a clean and spotless home every day, planning an elaborate date night every week, and a few other housewife type duties. For the first year of our marriage, I never made the same meal twice, unless it was a hit or I wanted to make something tried and true for company. Every week I put a lot of time, energy and thought into what we would do for date night. My cleaning routine from our first apartment is still ingrained in my head because I went through it so often. People always complimented me on how clean our apartment was and Joe got comments of jealousy for the leftovers or sandwiches that he brought for lunch every day. I was the perfect wife.
Four years into marriage me (2015) sometimes felt like a failure compared to first year of marriage me. I rarely if ever spent more than half an hour preparing dinner, the house always seemed to have some sort of mess to clean up or project to be done and some weeks, even if I'd planned something fun and exciting, we ended up getting take out and watching something on Netflix for date night. When I thought about how dedicated I was to my "wifely duties" in year one, I was motivated to be better, but I also tried to remind myself that the meals I cook and the cleanliness of our house aren’t the things that determine my worth as a wife. Even so, those were the things that I set goals for and worked to accomplish.
Now, almost eight years into marriage, I've realized that there's so much more to being a good wife than cooking, cleaning and date night and that I can make a bigger difference in the relationship that I have with my husband by making these things a priority instead.
How to Be a “Perfect” Wife
Let Your Husband Know that He's Loved and Appreciated
There's never been a shortage of 'I love yous' in our marriage, and even though I know that we always mean it, I feel like sometimes, saying those words has just become a habit and we don't necessarily think about what they mean. Showing Joe that I appreciate him involves all five love languages, even the ones that he doesn't necessarily care about. I serve him by making meals, and taking care of some of his usual household tasks when he works longer hours. Every once and a while I surprise him with his favorite treat or something that I know he's had his eye on. Our house might not be spotless and Joe may not have something homemade to eat at every meal, but I always hope that he recognizes my efforts and knows that I care.
Spend Time With Your Husband Daily
Two busy toddlers, work schedules and other life responsibilities don’t always leave much room for quality time during the week. We look forward to the weekend when Joe doesn’t have to work and we have oodles of time to work on house projects, do something fun as a family, go out on a date, catch up with each other's lives and just hang out. Us time only on the weekends isn't enough for me, so every night after the kids are in bed, we watch an episode of our current Netflix addiction, eat a treat and enjoy each other's company. Making sure that I don't let all of the other things going on in our lives get in the way of our relationship is one of the most important things I can do for my marriage.
Lower the Expectations You Have for Yourself
When I finally admitted to myself that I can't do it all and do it perfectly, I felt better. I've learned how to prioritize the things that I have going on and am better about not taking too much on at once. I know that I have to focus on time with my family and my work responsibilities first and then if there's extra time, I tackle the rest. That might mean that some weeks my house is a complete disaster and we might not eat an elaborate meal every night, but as long as I'm putting forth the effort, it doesn't matter.
First year of marriage me could have saved herself a lot of time, energy and stress if she'd gotten her priorities straight earlier on. My marriage was still a priority, I was just focusing on the wrong things when trying to be a good wife. Not that they weren't appreciated, they just weren't the most important and they got in the way of the more important things that I could have been doing.
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography