If you’ve read Offbeat Bride the book, you’ll remember the final chapter is called “Getting Wifed,” aka dealing with people’s expectations about how your life will change after the wedding…
I’ve noticed something a month after getting married… I feel like I’ve totally been “getting wifed” recently, and not-so-much by strangers or friends, but by my family, who really should know me better. One of my sisters has asked me a few times “how’s married life,” even though she knows I lived with my husband before we were married, and nothing much has changed. Still, in that case, I know she’s just making conversation, and that part is really not bad.
The assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, is baffling.
My dad, however, has been saying all kinds of weird stuff to me lately. He felt the need to spend most of his speech at my wedding talking about having babies, which at the time, I really didn’t mind that much, plus the whole room had a good laugh at his speech and my reaction. But recently he made a comment that he was glad I was married and “settled down.” I answered that I was married, but not-so-much settled down. There’s something about the phrase “settled down” that makes me want to pull my hair out.
I also remarked that my husband and I are really not sure if or when we will ever have kids, as we have no desire to do so anytime soon. My dad went on to say he hoped I did, and implied that if I didn’t have kids and do everything I could for them, I wasn’t repaying my parents for everything they did for me.
But the big “wifing” stuff came out, when he was making a check out to me, asking which name to use. I told him to use my maiden name/his name and said “You’re not changing your name?” “Nope!” “How does David feel about that?” “He doesn’t care at all.”
What bothered me about that conversation is that the notion that a woman “should” change her name is still prevalent, and whenever a woman doesn’t, or a family has a naming-arrangement (for lack of a better term) that isn’t the traditional woman-and-kid-takes-husband’s-name, people assume there must be some controversy around it.
Then, when I was talking about some of my long-term opera singing/professional goals and traveling abroad for auditions, my dad felt the need to ask, “Well, how does David feel about that?” I answered that he was supportive and it was something we discussed at length. David was given ample warning ahead of time of the realities of sharing your life with a professional singer. Neither one of us is wild about being apart for likely a month or more at a time, but it’s what my career requires, and he wants me to have a career.
When I talked to my sister about my hopes to travel to Germany for singing in the near future, she remarked, “but do you really want to do that your first year of marriage?” Whether I want to be away from my husband or not is beside the point: of course I don’t want to be away from him, but do I want to follow my dreams? Yes, and he wants that for me as well.
I’ve gotten variations on this “but you’re a wife now!” theme from a few people. The assumption people seem to make that I haven’t discussed these things with the person I’m arguably closest to and will be sharing my life with is baffling. As is what feels like the assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, etc.
Without passing judgement on anyone else’s life, (because I don’t think that people who work in a more “stable” profession, have babies, or buy a house all have the same, traditional life) it seems so odd to me that, in this day and age, the fact that there are so many different ways to be married, to make a living, or to live your life, is news to so many people.