The Meaning of Wife

He asked me what kind of husband I wanted. What kind of marriage.

To say I was taken off-guard would have been a vast understatement (though surprise is one of the bajillion things he’s good at). At the ripe age of 21, marriage is a creeping reality looming just over yonder. Friends are pairing off, for real, for keeps, for life. For babies, and mortgages and shared checking accounts. This shit is fo’real.

The average woman gets married at age 25. Throw in a couple years of dating and that tells me that most chicks in the next couple of years are going to primping for wifehood.

I’ve had my nose tucked into “The Meaning of Wife” by Anne Kingston, trying to figure out the state of our unions, because if you had told the pre-teen me that I would one day be fantasizing about Nordstrom’s Caldrea-Green-Tea-Patchouli dish soap, I would have laughed with wild unabandon. What is marriage other than a public declaration, a tax break and way to get your mother off your case… right?


I answered his question about what kind of husband I wanted, though I don’t know if I did so thoughtfully. What do I want in a person that I will (hopefully) spend decades with? Beats me. Hope he’s not a dick. Maybe he’s a she, though that wouldn’t fit into the 1950s dream bubble I’ve constructed.

I wear the seersucker dress and peep-toe pumps in this relationship.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fantasize about white linen sheets and William Sonoma’s KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Buttercup Yellow. Secretly, I doodle my first name with his last, just to see how it would look, to see if the loops of J’s and L’s and Y’s balance. I stare a little longer at guys who wear the baby carrier, as if their new sack of joy were akin to camping gear.

But maybe marriage is only an eyelet and lemonade fantasy. I know these days are far away, and good thing, because I’m scared that one day, there will be legal divorce proceedings over who will get that Persian rug that neither of us really want. There’s the simple reality that wives do a shit-ton more housework, and I hate folding laundry, can’t remember to take out the trash, and dirty dishes are a-ok by me. And then there are all these naming conventions to take into consideration (last names, baby names).

“You need more than love.” Grandma, in her infinite wisdom. Amen to that. I’m not naïve to think that some strapping lad is going to rescue me from my city apartment fire escape a la Pretty Woman (because I am certainly not looking for rescuing; a partner in crime would be fantastic), but I rather like journalist Lynn Darling’s reasoning:

“I married the man I married because I liked his version of myself better than my own.”


Are there prince charmings? Do they come with baby carriers and 401(k)s? Are there Cinderella stories and fairy tales? I’m not sure, but if you shell out a pretty penny, you can have your dream wedding at Disney’s with a Wizard of Oz theme, though Oz itself was a façade.

The actual day of the wedding is the most bizarre, come to think of it. I can’t help but think, ‘when the groom carries the bride down the aisle at the end, where does he put her down?’ I think it’s a completely romantic gesture, but seriously, how far do you carry her?

Is the electric slide state-mandated?

And I’ve heard theories that the wedding cake, in all its prim white confectionary glory is just an analogy for the bride herself. A veiled triangle of sweetened perfection, ready to be penetrated and consumed for the first time on her wedding day. Or something like that.

Whatever, I just like cake.

And I’m sure in time, and with my Buttercup Yellow stand mixer, in a pressed apron, I can make a banging cake.

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