The “good” wife

I was quite amused when I read the report of a supporter of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak extolling the virtues of his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, for making her husband a “great” leader at Umno’s Appreciation Night for Najib’s 40 Years In Politics.

I am sure it was an unreserved compliment, but it got me thinking. Just how many modern-day wives find it a compliment when someone praises them by saying they made their husbands “great” or “look good”?

Is it really a compliment or does it assume something not so positive about your husband? Is he a wimp who can’t stand on his own and needs you to prop him up? I, certainly, won’t be flattered if someone gave me a compliment like that. In fact, I would be slighted. Firstly, you are implying that my husband can’t make it on his own. Secondly, you are implying that I made a poor choice of a husband — one who can’t stand on his own and needs me to constantly buttress him.  I would find such a relationship terribly stressful! I don’t have my own life; I’m living for the man! That’s not the type of marriage I want. Maybe, that’s why I am not married!

Sure, I understand that some men genuinely appreciate their wives’ contributions and they express it by saying they make them (the men) look good. Fair enough. But, why don’t the men say the same of themselves and do their bit so that their wives look good, too?

I am not against supporting your spouse. I am against this thinking that a wife’s role is to make her husband “great” or “look good”. Often, women make a great number of sacrifices, particularly in limiting themselves from developing to their full potential, in order for their men to become “somebodies”. That might have been a role of women in the past, but, in the 21st Century, that would be terribly suffocating!

If ever I get married (believe me, that would be a miracle!), I hope no one ever makes a compliment like that to me because I wouldn’t consider it as a compliment! Firstly, the type of man I choose will certainly be of the independent variety; he wouldn’t need me to make him become whoever he wants to be. He would be pretty secure about who he is. That would free me to become whoever I want to be. That does not mean that we wouldn’t help and support each other. Of course, we would, but it wouldn’t be to the point that one has to give so much of yourself for the other person that you couldn’t live with yourself.

Secondly, wouldn’t it be better if we see husbands and wives as equals, helping one another to grow in the confidence that neither would have to make unbearable sacrifices for the sake of the other? Wouldn’t it be better for both to consider and make allowances for the other so that each looks good because of the sum total of the relationship?

I am all for making people great and looking good — but not at anybody’s expense.

NEXT WEEK: The Christian perspective

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