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Why I Want a Wife

04/21/2010

While preparing for our recent Song of Solomon series, I came cross this essay written in 1971 by an early supporter of the feminist movement named Judy Syfers. It was read at a rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. “Why I Want a Wife” was originally printed in the premier issue of Ms. Magazine and was widely circulated in the women’s movement. As I read this piece, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sarcasm and perspective.

(Writing after 11 years of marriage, and before separating from her husband, (Judy) Syfers here pins down the meaning of the word wife from the perspective of one person who lives the role.  This essay was published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine in December 1971, and it has since been reprinted widely.)

I belong to that classification of people known as wives.  I am A Wife.  And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce.  He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife.  He is looking for another wife.  As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife.  Why do I want a wife?

I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me.  I want a wife who will work and send me to school.  And while I am going to school I want a wife to take care of my children.  I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments.  And to keep track of mine, too.  I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean.  I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended.  I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc.  I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school.  My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job.  It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that.  Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs.  I want a wife who will keep my house clean.  A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me.  I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it.  I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook.  I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying.  I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school.  I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties.  But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course of studies.  And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life.  When my wife and I are invited out by friends, I want a wife who will take care of the babysitting arrangements.  When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends.  I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us.  I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortables, who make sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hor d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it.  And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night  out by myself.

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife that makes sure that I am satisfied.  And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it.  I want a wife who assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children.  I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies.  And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy.  I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one.  Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life: my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.

My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?

Ladies… I wonder how your essay would read today? Would it be similar? Have things changed? (for better or for worse)

Men… I am curious to see how this essay struck you? Agree? Disagree?

Maybe this can begin some interesting dialogue within our marriages.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Aaron B
    04/21/2010 at 2:59 pm

    I think the perspective has only slightly shifted since the initial writing. Sadly, I think a lot of the frustrations expressed by her are still prevalent, even in the Christian world.

    The biggest problem I have seen is a lack of leadership, discipline and initiative. I know I fight with these at times, but a wife should never get to a bitter end like the writer. It shows a lack of communication but more importantly a lack of commitment on the husband’s part to not just ask how he can help, but listen and take action.

    If more men took the initiative to simply ask how they can help their spouse and follow through, I think there would be a dynamic shift in the perspectives of women, and we would see a decrease in this sort of ‘hate mail’. The quote below regarding stress relates to this, and has brought me to ask my wife how I can help our reality meet her expectations. Not only can I help her with stress levels, but I can also promote positive changes in body chemistry. Never a bad thing 🙂

    A simple definition of stress: the gap between what you expect in each area of your life and what you are actually getting in each of those areas…If reality does not meet your expectations, worry and concern set in and cause unhealthy changes in body chemistry. – Dr. Gary Smalley

  2. 04/22/2010 at 6:28 am

    I think that is a tall price to pay just because of one stupid apple. Besides, Adam was standing right there!

    Being married has taught me how selfish I really am and how much work I need to do on myself as a man.

    At the end of it all, I want my bride to remember how I opened doors for her, spoke gently to her, and worked hard to serve her like Christ would- not that I was so busy that I couldn’t pick up a sock, hang up a towel, or take a few moments out of my “busy” world to listen to the women I pledged my life for.

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