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I am Considering Polygamy

October 28, 2010

I walk into my house after a long Monday at work, carrying four full bags of groceries.  The spring on the storm door is broken, so it slams behind me as I walk through and clips the back of my heel as I walk up the front step.  Blood is drawn.  I let my arms down and all four grocery bags fall – along with my purse, computer case, and work bag.  Blood is now soaking through the back of my sock.  I walk into the bathroom to get a band-aid and briefly glimpse at the little hairs around the edge of the sink from my husband’s electric shaver.  I grit my teeth and find my band-aid.  I go back to the kitchen.  The sink has several dishes to be put away.  There is dried food in the “drain catcher.”  Something sticky is leaking from beneath the coffee pot.  I hold back my impulsive reaction to scream and throw things like a child, and begin to put my groceries away.  I back away and sit on my couch.  I can see dust bunnies forming in the corner of my living room.  I can’t keep up with the constant vacuuming my old house requires.  I stare at the dust.  I think of the groceries and the little hairs and the bed unmade.  It is decided.  I need another wife.

A less analytical human being might just hire a maid.  This is an entirely valid observation, but my level of need goes way beyond housecleaning.  And because polygamy seems to be the hot-topic of popular media today, I decided that I would turn to “plural living.”  Why not have another wife to talk to?  Someone who I can share my feelings with and receive a sensitive response from?  Why not have a wife to know how I like to do the laundry, which vegetables need to be replaced, and where to mail my new insurance forms?  Why not have a wife who would notice all the little things I do – and act on them?

I realize neither myself nor the fundamentalist Mormons on TLC’s “Sister Wives” were the first brilliant minds to consider having another wife.  Judy Brady masterfully expressed every woman’s desire in her piece, “I want a Wife” that first appeared in 1971.  Brady talks about all the things her Wife would do, including everything from paying for her college to organizing her kids’ carpool schedules.  The essay is pure genius, and it has never resonated with me more.

When I get my Wife, I have already decided a few things for her to put in place.  I would like my Wife to fill up the gas tank in my car each week.  Now that I have a longer commute, I think it is something my Wife can handle lovingly for me.  I would also like my Wife to organize my closets.  If my Wife would like a place to put her clothes, then she will have to arrange the closet space for us all.  My Wife will remember that the trash men come on Thursday, our mail can often be found at the neighbor’s, and I need my outfits laid out for work before I wake-up at 5am.  I think this is all manageable, especially for my Wife who will willingly dote on me hand and foot.

This idea of a second wife will solve many issues for hundreds of marriages, including my own.  Instead of lashing out irrationally about all the things left undone and my husband who (truly, in his defense) just doesn’t notice, my Wife will take care of it all.  She will spare us the meaningless bickering about the things that really don’t matter.  She will give my husband and I time to enjoy each other, relax together, and not feel the constant strain of the “to-do” list.  She will allow me to feel like one normal woman, rather fail miserably at my attempts to fulfill five different roles at once.  I could be sane.  I could not feel so chaotic.  Her possibilities seem endless.

But alas.  There is no second Wife at my doorstep right now.  Just me.  Just my husband.  Just the two of us working very hard to figure out this balance of marriage and home and family.  Just the adjustment to this new role I have found myself in, one that brings joys and challenges that are never quite what I anticipate.  I know that we will get through this period with just one Wife, and that eventually I will come to understand and make peace with this new part of my identity.  It is one I admittedly don’t always know how to do well.  My husband certainly has his work cut out for him with just one wife, so perhaps it is best to just leave it monogamous for now.  But you can’t blame a girl for dreaming.

As Brady concludes, “my God, who wouldn’t want a wife?”

Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”

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