Forever as your loving wife.

Sometimes I see women my age identify themselves as “the Mrs.” or “the wife” and it always gives me pause. While I work hard to keep our house clean and I take very seriously the vow that I made to make our home my primary ministry, I don’t identify myself primarily as a wife. I don’t even like it when I am given the designation “Mrs.” as it sounds far too old (and a little too much like my mother-in-law). I don’t know what I would choose if I had to pick one word, but it wouldn’t be “wife.” Nor do I think Mike would choose the word “husband” as his primary identity. I don’t mind being identified that way, say, in an introduction (“Hi, I’m Mike’s wife”), but I don’t think my primary identity is in being a wife, and I think there’s a subtle difference there.

Some of that is probably because we don’t necessarily follow the “traditional” gender roles in our house. Mike is a much better cook than I am, and I’m the one who has been working on our broken toilet. There was a weird moment over the weekend when I had climbed in the attic to look at our air conditioner and Mike was on the floor below the attic opening, telling me about the stuffed peppers he was making. It’s good to know we clearly don’t have hangups about that sort of thing.

I think the most important thing is that since I’m working full-time, I see myself in terms of my profession and education as well as my marital status. And I have so many other identifications that are important to me: daughter, sister, Christian, friend, bibliophile. I’m just Kari, really. It’s good to be comfortable enough with myself to be able to say that, to accept myself as a whole rather than feeling that I have to compartmentalize. From time to time, I do wonder if my relationship with God ought to be my primary identification, but that almost seems like declaring the Bible to be my favorite book, which is something I would never do. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t be a Christian without those other designations, too. Friends, family, books, husband – all those things have shaped my faith, giving me reasons to believe when I am mired in unbelief. I probably wouldn’t be a wife without the other parts, come to think of it. I need all those different “legs” to be able to stand.

I have said before that what I thought I needed in a relationship ended up being very different than what I thought I needed. Mike’s personality and strengths mean that he can give me the space I need to figure out who I am and what my role in our relationship is supposed to look like instead of waiting on him to tell me. Sometimes this means he does the taste testing when I try making my own refried black beans and sometimes this means he gives me a boost into the attic so I can inspect the air conditioner.

But it never ever means he calls me his “little wife.”

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