June 28, 2006

What makes a good wife

It took me two days to write about this. I wasn't sure if I should, if I would or even if I wanted to. Two days later, I'm still thinking about it. My sister was quite pissed off on my behalf. That's not to say that it didn't offend me. But it offended me enough to blog about it. So here it is. [Note: the chat was done alternately in English and in our language.]

I chatted online with a friend from my previous job. She asked how our weekend was; I asked about hers. After this and that, I mentioned (with much pride, I might add) that I cooked balsamic-glazed steaks with peppers. She commented, "aba! natututo na'ng magluto si Cecilia!" ["wow! Cecilia's learning how to cook!"]

Ordinarily, I would let such a comment from her slide. She's a good friend, but she and I are not the same feathers. You know that type? You don't agree much on anything...but you're still friends. After all, you don't have to think alike to be friends with someone, right?

Anyway, that comment offended me. I've known her since 2001. We met after I got married. We've invited her to parties at home where I prepared the food. Then she says something like that? I've cooked so many things since goodness knows when.

"Of course I cook. If I don't cook, we'd die of starvation." An exaggeration, yes, but I had to make my point.

Then she typed on, "well, it's always your husband who cooks"

"Well, I only mention to you when my husband cooks because I'm proud that he cooks. That doesn't mean that he's the only one who cooks. The assumption is that when I don't say anything, I'm the one who cooks."

"Good wife ka naman pala." ["Oh, you're a good wife after all."]

To which I retorted in English: "It takes more than cooking to make a good wife."

Then she apologized. I cheered inside. I got my point across that she offended me without actually spelling it out - YOU offended ME.

I've never been a big fan of the thinking that the way to a man's heart is his stomach. I mean, I look at guys as creatures capable of feeding themselves. It doesn't have to be gourmet meals, but heck, they will surely find a way to feed themselves, even if it's potato chips, a chocolate bar or what-have-you. Of course, they'd love to have someone prepare them a nice home-cooked meal. Who wouldn't? I surely want the same thing so why should I assume that they don't want that? But to "sell" yourself as good marriage material solely because you're a self-proclaimed chef? Not me.

So what offended me really?

1. "Oh, you're a good wife after all." That statement assumes that originally, she thought I was a bad wife because she thought I don't cook. Since I told her otherwise, she came to the conclusion of me being a good wife. Now, defining me as a good wife simply because I cook is something I don't agree with. As I told anyone who would listen or read my chats (hello husband! hello doggy! hello sisters!), I know so many girls my age who knew zilch about cooking when they got married. Yet they did get married and learned how to cook eventually. It wasn't something their husbands expected them to know before they got married. We attracted our men based on other things - our personality, traits, attitude, skills (if that's even the right word) - not only because we can whip up a fantastic spread.

2. The very concept of a good/bad wife. Goodness!

3. The judgement of me as a bad wife.

Now this friend of mine had only ONE disastrous relationship (which I blogged about eons ago) that didn't last long. She kept cooking and cooking for him. Eventually, that's what she was to him - his personal cook. I was tempted to lash out that "well, your cooking didn't make him stay" but decided against it. Too mean.

So what DOES make a good wife?

Heck, does it even matter?