So somebody tweeted this morning:
Difference between complete and finished? If you’ve a beautiful girlfriend life is complete, wife finds out, you’re finished.
If I had been strictly monogamous my response would probably have been ‘if your wife is the beautiful girlfriend then you’re complete’. With my rather more polyamorous head on I went for ‘if your wife is involved too then you’re complete’. But either way, I felt it necessary to question that humour.
While at a word play level I can appreciate the funny side of this joke, at another it roused a level of annoyance within me for that typical casting of the wife as the bad guy.
Too often, I see the wife cast as a monster, lurking in the shadows, preventing the ‘poor’ husband from enjoying himself. And when a husband is portrayed as being able to have fun it is only by defiantly ‘disobeying’ her. As if the couple is incapable of reaching an adult agreement together, or being honest, and instead behave in a parent/child manner (and I don’t mean in a role play sense).
The only figure more terrible than the wife, is of course, her mother!
Somehow the beautiful loving girlfriend, becomes resented when she becomes a wife.
But why should it be so. Of course some of this is portrayed in jokes like the one mentioned, but often those stereotypes are replayed and reinforced by men talking about their own wives. Are so many people unhappily married that they would denigrate their partner publicly that way. I can’t help but wonder, do the wives know how their husband talks about them?
Sometimes I dislike being described as a wife, precisely because I am afraid that the listener will hear those stereotypes, rather than the cherished person that being Perrin’s wife means I am.
I wonder, do so few people have an adult relationship with their partner, or are they all really so embarrassed to admit that it is a partnership that they have to hide their feelings behind insults.
Either way, if you love your wife, if she is your love, and your lover and your friend, as she should be, stand up for her today. Tell someone how special she is. Make her the princess and not the monster.
And yes, I know the same is sometimes true in reverse, it’s not defensible either way.