Carolyn Snowden: The Relationship Debate 2012

Article submitted to Emirates Woman  for The Relationship Debate

by ©2012 Carolyn Snowden (

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Unfortunately, the taste of cake – homemade cake – is quickly becoming a distant memory.

Though it is unfair to impose the evolution of a Western woman’s place in marriage, the present multicultural space that is the internet has set standards whereby countries pushing for developed façades find they have little choice but to adopt. If they refuse, they are labeled through ethnocentric eyes as backward and archaic.

The point of departure from the traditional Western housewife begins post-World War II, after women have returned -from the workforce where they filled vacancies traditionally held by then enlisted men– to what was once domestic satisfaction, now discontent. The push to be liberated from the home was credited to Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique (1963), a book that documented the housewife’s dissatisfaction with her domestic sphere.

Helen B. Andelin supposedly penned Fascinating Womanhood (1963) as a rebuttal to Freidan’s call to get out of the house. Andelin advised wives instead, to hone their feminine charms, pamper their husbands like kings, and stay happy as grateful homemakers.

Friedan’s marriage ended in divorce after 22 years.

Andelin’s spanned almost 60 years from her wedding day until her husband’s death.

It is important to note that the Women’s Liberation Movement, feminists and conscientious groups around the world continue to work for career choices to be available to women, but the distinction has to be made that being a wife is a career choice. It’s a full time job. Women are finding out that holding two jobs – one in the workplace, one at home is a near impossible feat, resulting in stress, a newfound discontent, and often, divorce. Instead of doing one thing well, two things are dispatched with mediocrity. It’s a half-baked cake.

The modern working wife – not the modern working single woman- is a specter of only 50 some years, set against the traditional wife of thousands of years, beginning from primitive times in the cave through various periods leading up to today’s homemaker. Sure, Hellenistic women had unconventional freedom, but look what Grecian men came to be known for? In the old days, wives – not women – were considered chattel property; women were traditionally seen as inferior, untrustworthy decision makers, thanks in part to the reputation left by Eve. Throughout all this however, a remarkable agreement was borne out of this disparity.

The traditional wife works to create a haven of peace and tranquility to which her husband can retire after a day’s work. The traditional wife will listen attentively to her husband describe his workday, including how he had to listen attentively to his boss’s ideas for restructuring. The traditional wife takes instruction from her husband much as he takes instruction from his boss out in the workforce. The traditional wife holds her tongue when her thoughts contradict her husband’s, just as he holds his when his thoughts contradict his boss’s. The traditional wife works hard to please her husband and satisfy his wishes much as he works hard to please his boss and satisfy his wishes.

Modern women will demand: “why can’t my husband take the role of the traditional wife and listen to my problems when I come home from work?” Let’s be honest. No woman would respect a stay-at-home husband while she slots away to pay the bills. It’s the difference of the sexes from time immemorial. The asymmetry of gender roles is the mystery that makes sex steamy and being a man or a woman mysterious. That’s why men are expected by women to keep working and fulfilling their traditional roles as breadwinner while women demand liberation to chase their dreams.

The modern husband, on the other hand, has been dulled by the constant grind of politically correct cries to the extent that he is led to believe he can do without the traditional wife. He returns to an empty home, bears constant contention from an equal, who has been seduced away from the achievement of a union, to the achievement of the self. The problem is that once he realizes that he can get by with so little, he really stands nothing to gain from staying married. As a reformed bachelor, he can return to an empty home, meet no resistance to his wishes, live free of deprecating remarks. If he wants sex, he can opt for one night stands, or call a prostitute.

This, is the true realm of a man’s world. Where it is still socially stigmatizing for women to experience anonymous sex, it is the oldest profession in a male domain. That is why books like Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman (1973) to the recent Seks Islam Perangi Yahudi Untuk Kembalikan Seks Islam Kepada Dunia (2011) by Hatijah Aam, urges women to acquire and excel in both homemaking and the lascivious skills of women for hire.

The modern marriage faces the ever-looming threat of internet porn. These days, men can actually stray without leaving the home. Studies have shown that men who watch pornography are more likely to have extramarital affairs. It is up to the attentive wife to reduce her chances of being cheated upon. She does this by giving in to her husband’s carnal desires. Even if she can’t stop his online participation, she can at least fulfill his fantasies and keep his imagination from wandering. The absentee wife by contrast, exhausted from a day’s work, or even still at work overtime, will have no such opportunity to keep her marriage from disintegrating.

Fundamental Muslims and Christians alike, anachronistic sects like the Amish and Fundamental Mormons, the newly formed Obedient Wives Club, and the Stepford Wives Organization have always supported the traditional wife, her submission to her husband’s wishes and her desire to please and gratify him. Contrary to popular modern opinion which champions the self, the partnership of one who works to provide for a home with another who works to furnish that home, is the most proactive approach to improving the chances of making a marriage last. Not only does she create an environment where a man feels comfortable, needed, appreciated, revered, and ultimately recharged to face another day of work among strangers, she also provides all the perks he would get if he were a single man on the prowl. In other words, she gives him no reason whatsoever to stray from the home. It’s a tall order to fill, a far cry from the scoffing frowns she is met with when she meekly announces she is just a housewife.

The truth is, there are no foolproof approach to keeping a marriage intact. One can follow all the rules, take all the necessary precautions, and still end up single again. Between the chaos of modern relationships and the increasingly trigger-happy tendency to divorce, a diligent woman in the profession of maintaining a happy, sound marriage will fortify her marriage by reducing interferences to her career goal.

Article submitted to Emirates Woman Group Motivate Publishing for The Relationship Debate

by ©2012 Carolyn Snowden (