Wifey Material? Let's Talk About It

Women in the 1950’s were expected to behave and perform in a certain way that reflected the social values of being a mother and a wife. In 1955, “Good House Wife’s Guide” was published and it described the duties and responsibilities of women in marriage.

Some of these guidelines stated that to be a good wife, you needed to know how to cook and clean, how to take care of the kids, and how to do laundry. A good wife always had to look pretty, greet her husband happily, have dinner ready when he came home, and provide a calm environment so that he could feel relaxed after a long day of work. She couldn’t complain about anything and she should always wait for her husband to start a conversation (because what he had to say was more important). She was supportive, caring, maternal, and appropriate both in behavior and in attire.

Even though the concept or the idea of “wifey material” has changed and it’s not as extreme and strict as it used to be, we can’t deny that we still hold and act upon some of these rules. This happens consciously and subconsciously. They’re influenced by the way we’re raised, the examples of our parents, what we observe, and the traditions our culture and society pass down from generation to generation.

For example, there’s a widespread idea that there’s a type of woman that men have no strings attached to. That specific type of woman, the one you have fun with (and nothing else), is just for sex. She’s not wife material. Then, there’s another type, the woman that's meant for you to settle down with, i.e., get married to. She's meant to be the mother of your children and the keeper of the home.

Think about it.

Each type has a dress code, a behavior pattern, and maybe a background associated with it, whether it’s racial, social, economic, or even political. The categories and attributes are based on cultural patterns of misogyny. And I’m sure many of us have been told: “Be the one they want to settle down with,” right?

Take this example. Whether it was a rumor or a fact, observe Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. Notice their looks, the way they dressed (including their make-up), their family background, what they did for a living, and their reputation. Who was considered the “side chick” and who was the wife living at the White House?

Other examples of today include knowing how to cook because “nobody wants a woman that can’t cook” and you don’t want to be forever alone, right? You also can’t be too independent because men like to feel useful and needed, so please bring it down a notch. Some things a woman just doesn't have to learn. You can't take care of yourself at least. That's for your husband to do. Especially, you can't protest or talk in a certain way because it’s not “ladylike.” There’s more, but you get the point.

The problem with the concept “wifey material” is that it takes away our right to be who we want to be because it traces a path we have not created for ourselves, but others have done so for us. It creates the notion that women should be wives and, to succeed as one, we should fulfill a list of qualities. It perpetuates a sexist mentality and implies we are now in devotion to someone else while promoting social and gender standards, roles, and expectations. Later on, it encourages us to be mothers first, wives second, and be ourselves last. The worst of all is that it makes others think they’re entitled to tell us how to live our lives because there’s a handbook we should follow as a society. If we do otherwise it might be forced upon us, whether it be by law, religious beliefs, or in a verbal, physical, and/or sexual way.

Nowadays, many of us have a progressive mindset due to our history of experiencing injustice, prohibitions, gender roles, abuse, and inequality. We know we have (or should have) the equal right to be and do with our lives whatever we want (regardless of gender), simply because we’re human beings. Thanks to many wonderful women in our history, we’ve come a long way, but the road is still long.

We now know that women don’t belong at home! We can be at home, at work, in stores, at the mechanic, in clubs, at church, or the gym. We can spend time with friends, family, partners, children, and ourselves. We can be nurses, doctors, lawyers, dancers, teachers, builders, CEOs, or architects, among others. We can divide responsibilities at home to what we like and feel most comfortable doing instead of assigning them according to gender. We don’t belong to the state, a religion, men or other women. We belong to ourselves and the decisions we make about our bodies and our lives are ours and they should be respected. We also have every right to live, enjoy, work hard, and contribute in any way we can to the world we live in to better it, instead of limiting our capabilities to reproducing.

With all the progress, then, I wonder, why is there such a thing as “wifey material” in terms of specific established attributes? If we think about how it used to be, marriage was a priority and of extremely high value, but it was one-sided. Women were practically devoted to husband and children, and having a guide to live in a man’s world seemed “okay.” However, now, I think our generation is well aware that a relationship or a marriage is a partnership; a two-way street and both men and women are more selective and demanding of what company they wish to have (especially in times where commitment is something our generation is running from, unfortunately).

Qualities like compromising, having individual goals and dreams, being a good listener, independent, reliable, caring, supportive, honest, loyal, understanding, friendly, respectful, cordial, and many others, are not qualities that make us just good wives as people expect and assume. They are qualities that make both men and women good people, period. When we have them, we naturally bring them into a relationship or marriage, and guess what! They make a GOOD PARTNERSHIP because you become a team that works together.

We are more than wives to be tied up to an expectation of having it factor that will make someone put a ring on it. And besides, we all look for different qualities in the person we want by our side.

So, men, stop looking for a “wifey material” to “settle down with” and start giving what you want to receive. By being a good person and partner you’ll attract the same, whether it’s a man or a woman. Treat your partner right and they’ll do the same which it’ll eventually lead you to a strong and successful relationship.

Women, stop pressuring yourself and letting others pressure you into being something they want you to be. You have the power to determine what kind of life you’re going to have and with who. And again, be the person you want to attract, regardless of gender, but never settle for anything less than you know you deserve.

Men and women, I know we live in different times and the Millennial generation are on a different mindset, but don’t be afraid or run away from commitment. Life is hard, but having a ride or die partner to go through the tough times with and share the best moments in life with, is a pretty wonderful thing. Relationships are hard work, but what isn’t? And remember, they’re a two-way street.

Also, ladies, don’t let expectations about women define you or your life. If you want to be a stay at home mom and homeschool your children, that’s amazing and priceless, so do it. If you’re a single mom who can’t afford to work or simply want to because you enjoy doing it, great! Be the girl boss you are and go for it. If you don’t want to get married or have children, fantastic! Don’t do it. Do you. It’s your life. Live it as you wish, but live it the way you choose to. Above all, love, respect, take care, and stand up for yourself. Inspire and teach others to do the same. Have an open mind about how each person chooses to live their lives, and never stop working to become the best version of yourself.