Monday, August 6, 2012

The Dutiful Wife

I’m fascinated by women. 

Certainly the strong, smart, independent types that populate my novels and plays are of primary interest to me. I’ve always been attracted to that kind of woman, starting way back in high school. I’ve met a number of them along the way. It’s always been fascinating for an observer such as myself.

These are women who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. They scare the heck out of some men but they don’t really care. They’re focused, determined and seem to know exactly what they want out of life. While not all of them were a product of the enormous social and sexual changes that affected women in the sixties, a lot of them were.

So I’ll probably keep writing about those types of women because they intrigue me so.

But it’s those other women who also garner a part of my curiosity. Not because I find them attractive, which I don’t. It’s more a case of pity than analytical examination. If I do include a dutiful wife as one of my characters, it won’t be a flattering portrait. It’s the kind of woman Don Draper would want to date.

I’m talking about those women who haven’t yet realized that the world has evolved and changed and their role as ‘the little woman’ shouldn’t exist anymore.  I’m talking about those dutiful wives whose lives seem to evolve around their husband’s daily activities and existence. At social gatherings or in the company of other men, they simply become wallpaper. They’re an accessory or a detachable add-on. Their absence isn’t noticed and their presence is taken for granted by their spouse and others in the room. Their deference to their husband’s wishes is almost palatable.

But it doesn’t seem to be that way because they’ve got a real catch on their hands. But rather because their husband/partners shadow blocks out any light reflecting back on them. And they’re either OK with that or can’t or won’t do anything about it. Perhaps they once had something in that relationship but not anymore. Now it’s more a fear of the unknown and never asking themselves if there isn’t something better out there.

Some past generations told women that once they made their bed, they had to sleep in it. Perhaps it’s Catholic guilt, (pick your own religion here, if you want), fear of the unknown, complacency or not believing there could be something better out there for them.

I’m certainly not advocating they leave or divorce their spouse because times have changed and so has their relationship with the old man. Instead, I’m pondering if there isn’t something else in their lives that could take the place of the duties they feel en-cumbered to perform as the dutiful wife.

Life is too fleeting for these women to short-change themselves because of some antiquated notion that your spouse is entitled to be waited on. That’s about as meaningless as dumb blond jokes and man caves.

No woman should be ‘grateful’ to be married.

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