Monday, August 31, 2009

A Good Wife

Late last year, I married MrLaurie. Up until about six weeks before the wedding, we had not lived together (a complicated and multi-state long distance relationship. Virgin Blue made an absolute fortune off us).

And from the moment we moved in together, for some reason, although we had both been very independent until that point, I found myself immediately wanting to be a ‘Good Wife’.

In three and a half years of living alone I had not once planned meals a week ahead, or managed to drag myself to a farmers market for vegetables. I had certainly not looked up recipes online and written shopping lists (my shopping style trended more towards moseying around the supermarket where inspiration took me).

I would often go weeks without doing laundry (benefit of having too many clothes), and my cleaning was scrappy. I’ve always been the sort to do a panicked rush around when people were coming over, and tend to feel that a place is not home if there are not five pairs of shoes sitting in the middle of the lounge room floor.

But since getting married, I somehow care about the groceries. I’m planning menus. Days in advance! I care whether we’ve had the same meal more than once in a week!

I’m worrying about laundry – for some crazy reason I care that his collars are stained, and somehow decide that I need to fix this immediately. So I’m scrubbing in the ‘made into a paste’ napisan early on a Saturday morning. This is ridiculous - who even sees the inside of the collars of his workshirts?

I’ve started planning dinner parties. And worrying about his health (has he made a doctor’s appointment? No? Should I make it for him? – Talk about infantilising). I’m caring about how often he calls his mother (for some reason apparently I think this reflects on me!). I’ve started buying Christmas and birthday gifts for his family ‘from both of us’, where last year I would have firmly declared this was his problem. I’ve even sewn on his buttons, rather than taking the time to teach him, which I’d previously insisted was the only way it was happening.

Admittedly, its not all one way – MrLaurie does tend to clean up the kitchen after I’ve destroyed it through cooking. And he does put loads of washing on much more often than I do (although his attempts to hang the washing afterwards are… artistic). And we have sensibly agreed that we are both terrible at mopping and vacuuming, so we’ve hired a cleaner. (I never knew floors could shine that way!)

I just don’t quite know why it is that I find myself wanting to be A Good Wife. Capitalised. Fifties-style.

What is it about the gender relations that I’ve picked up so comprehensively that I want to prove that I have traditional house-wifely skills? Why after years of simply assuming that he must enjoy my company due to wit and smarts (not demonstrated to date on this blog, but I would like to assure any readers that it really is there, somewhere) have I suddenly moved towards trying to impress with how much I can be like our respective Grandmothers?

Clearly, the patriarchy has some seductive charms. But I’m going to have to do some serious conquering of this trend before we even start to contemplate little ones running about, or I’ll be straight back to 1956.

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