Friday, July 14, 2006

Wifely Duties

Wifely Duties

I read this in the WSJ Online this morning and looked at it from a couple of perspectives. My early childhood was spent as a preacher's kid, so my Mom had the role of clerical wife. I don't remember much of that time, but Mom has told me about doing many of the things mentioned in this piece. Recently also, at their church, my Mom had the opportunity to help their new pastor's wife get settled into her role. Working with a woman who was willing to do the work, but dealing with people was a challenge. So there's that aspect as well.

But it was when I got to the final paragraph that I saw this gem-

The problem with a facile feminist critique of the role of clergy wife is that it misses the real beauty of the collaboration sometimes found in clerical marriages. There is something wonderfully seamless about their lives--their work and their marriage is all of a piece. Husband and wife are profoundly knitted together, and their shared calling offers something of a rebuke to the hyper-individualism that characterizes so many American marriages. Indeed, they may set a nice example for the flock.(emphasis mine)

You see, I don't think it's just pastors or rabbis and their wives that this should be true of, I think it applies to ALL marriages...or should. It's the 'oneness' that we talk about in Christian marriages. Not that women should lose themselves in what their husbands are doing, but that marriages are strongest when they do share a calling, whatever it is. It could be as simple as being supportive of a career change or working together when a move is needed to advance one's chosen vocation. (This is not to say that husbands don't need to be supportive of their wife's careers, but men tend to do that in different ways)

In my case, it's been the occasional struggle while my husband decided to re-enlist in the Army and I became a military wife. I think being a military wife is much like being a pastor's wife. My job, in addition to anything else I want to do, is to support him and make it easier for him to do his job. I know the perception of 'wifely duties' is something that officer's wives in particular have to deal with too.

But I think that ALL marriages could benefit from the sort of teamwork that has been required of clerical and military families, and the breakdown we have seen of so many of those marriages is due (in part) to the resisance of this sort of 'oneness'. It's hard, because it IS giving up part of your autonomy, part of your self, but the rewards are so much greater than what is given up.



At July 15, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Alicia said...

I especially liked that last paragraph too.

It seems like on most of the Bible Studies/ Women's Studies, etc. that I've been to for young adults, somewhere the concept gets thrown out there that you don't need another person to be who you are. That's true (hence the criticism the article mentioned of those who marry into the roles they always wanted to have, although the criticism gets it the opposite way round--they chose who they were and then found another person who would let them act that out).

However, you do need another person in order to be part of a team. I wanted to echo everything you said about teamwork and rewards! I've always admired that about you, that you saw it so clearly and you could share what the individual roles and the teamwork meant. "To make someone else's job easier" the end, isn't that what all vocations come down to? You make your husband's job easier in the Army, he helps make the division run more smoothly, the division works to keep peace in the world...

One final thing back to the article--I'm glad she cast minister's wife responsibilities in a positive light like that. Mom enjoyed running potlucks, and I enjoyed helping.

At July 15, 2006 1:59 PM, Blogger Kyrie said...

(hence the criticism the article mentioned of those who marry into the roles they always wanted to have,

Interesting. I didn't see this as a criticism at all, just a statement of fact.


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