I’m reading A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom right now. It’s exactly what you’d think it would be, a historical account of the plight of the wife. Fascinating. Maybe I’m biased, being a wife and all.
Last night I found this in the chapter on the medieval period:
"In many German towns and cities, one of the requirements for full mastership in a guild was to have a wife, under the assumption that a workshop could not be properly run without her presence.”
Most of the time, we assume that wives today have it better than their medieval predecessors, and in many ways we do. But in a few ways we don’t.
As a modern woman who primarily defines herself by her role as wife, I’ve found it difficult to explain my own worth. I feel valuable as an asset to my husband, as a support, as a partner. But culture tells me I should find worth apart from my husband.
I feel pressure to forge my own identity. But, when I’m being honest, I realize I don’t want my own identity. I’m married. I am Justin Gerhardt, just as Justin Gerhardt is me. The one flesh thing isn’t just a pretty picture. I live it.
I am proud to be a wife. I’m proud to be defined, to some degree, by the successes of my husband. Because his successes are my successes. Because, let’s be honest, he wouldn’t have those successes without me.
When an entire community agrees that mastery of a craft is dependent on one’s having a wife, a powerful message is communicated: Wives are important. Maybe better said this way: Wifing is important.
Anyone can have a wife, but to have a wife who actively pursues the job of partnering with her husband is to have an invaluable asset.