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Caroline Rules: Wives

What Makes a Good Wife?

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: These days women do it all. From working full-time (even running companies) to raising their kids and keeping their homes running smoothly, we have little time for ourselves, not to mention our husbands. With that in mind, what do you think it takes to be a good wife? How can a woman still cater to the man she loves and make him feel special without compromising her independence and her life outside of the home? Is the solution to work less and spend more time with him? Or is being a good wife more about being the best person you can be and, therefore, making your husband proud to call you his?

Caroline's Ruling: Wow, this is a really interesting question. I think the definition of a “good wife” could be equated to a snowflake. Stay with me here; I'm about to make sense. They say that no two snowflakes are the same, right? Well, no two relationships are the same; no two marriages are the same. So how can we definitively define a good wife?

I have to address a scenario that I've seen in many marriages: The husband is out in the workforce, the wife stays home and manages the house and kids. Somewhere along the way, she loses her identity and sometimes, tragically, his interest. Do not fall into the trap. I've always kept one thought in the back of my mind: At the end of the day my children will leave and it will be just my husband and me alone, right back where we started. I don't want to be looking at a stranger when that day comes.

So what do you do? How do you keep the “magic” alive? You tell me: What made you fall in love? What attracted you to each other? What did you dream about? Talk about? You have to find the time, and make the effort to maintain, your boyfriend/girlfriend status.

Yes, you're married with kids, have a mortgage, bills, carpools, PTA, playing taxi, class mom, coach and diaper duty. I've been there, done that. Still, my husband and I always found time to be alone, just the two of us. What I'm trying to say is never forget who you were as a couple and, more importantly, who you are as an individual. It's not easy, but the rewards are great. June Cleaver doesn't have to wear a housedress. She can be a badass momma with a beaming, proud husband at her side.

Another scenario is that of the working wife/mother. Shouldering the responsibilities of maintaining a home and a family, along with being productive in the workforce, is a daunting task for sure. I remember going back to work when the kids were all in school.

I was lucky: As a realtor, I was able to make my own hours. I would leave the office by 3 p.m. and pick the kids up from school every day. As I was leaving I would say, “Time to put on my mommy hat.” I would pick up the kids, go home, make beds, clean the house, do laundry, start dinner, help with homework, and let's not forget taxiing kids to baseball, hockey, dance class, etc., etc. It was exhausting. The good news is I had a husband that respected and appreciated me for my efforts. That's critical. He made it easy for me to be a “good wife” because he was my cheerleader. He made me feel special, always told me how proud he was of me, and in turn I loved him more for it.

So let's revisit the question of what makes a “good wife.” I would say first and foremost to be true to yourself and your partner as to what you want out of life. Make sure you're both on the same page. If you want to focus on your career and he wants June Cleaver, there's going to be issues. There has to be a basic understanding of who you are as individuals and what one expects of the other in their roles as husband and wife. Communication, mutual respect and teamwork are key.

The basic foundation of being a good wife is having a good husband by your side. The rest is gravy.

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules: Wives
What Makes a Good Wife?
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