Wear The Lingerie (And 13 Other Ways To Be A Better Wife)

Here's a checklist on how to be the best wife.

Wife listening to husband Polina Zimmerman | Canva

Becoming a wife was a lot different than I had imagined. I was 22 years old, standing in the courthouse with my 8-month-pregnant belly bulging from my brown dress. Just like every little girl dreams.

Three years later, I’ve learned a lot. Mostly I still have a lot to learn.

As a girlfriend, you want to get comfortable, right? To make sure he’ll love you no matter what. He’ll say you look cute in sweats. He prefers you without makeup. You ask about exes and maybe even let your jealousy (or anger or any other unattractive emotion) go unchecked, just to see what happens.


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But as a wife, you suddenly realize that you’re going to grow old with this person — in all its wrinkled, sagging, grey-streaked glory. So why waste your youth in sweats? You suddenly realize that this person will be sitting across from you at the dining room table for the rest of your ever-loving life, so it’s more important to keep the peace than test your limits.


It’s hard to tell whether I’m learning how to be in a marriage or I’m learning how to be in an adult relationship — because they’re one and the same for me. And the pair of little eyes looking up at us, absorbing our words and habits as social norms, is even more reason to grow up. And fast.

At the risk of publishing something that I’ll laugh at in 10 years (oh the naivety!), here are things I do or think, in an effort to sustain my young marriage.

Here are 14 ways to be a better wife:

1. I’m very conscious not to say harsh, mean comments to him

Even in the heat of the moment. Damaging his self-esteem has no place in our marriage and I expect the same in return.

2. I’m also conscious of not saying mean things about him to other people

Especially friends. Girlfriends have a tendency to vent about their boyfriends, and then feel conflicted when their friends then hate their boyfriends. More than that, it's a matter of respect.


3. I'm clear on putting on a united front when it comes to our son

No undermining, no badmouthing each other, no questioning the other’s authority, etc. I took this example from the Huxtables. I’m not even kidding.

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4. I’m starting to accept his faults rather than dwell on them

There’s an interesting shift that happens when you realize that a situation isn’t going to change: you change the way you deal with the situation — proactively and logically. For me, that’s marriage. Quickly finding a solution instead of moaning and nagging. Or maybe that’s just growing up. Regardless, this has been a game-changer for me.

5. I save my pretty dresses for when he’s home on the weekends

Not to impress him, but because I want to feel pretty around him. Looking good makes me feel good, which makes me a happier person to be with.


6. I make sure he’s heard

For a while, my husband felt like his voice didn’t matter, especially when raising our son. Maybe it’s because we’re young, or maybe it’s just the personalities in my family, or maybe it’s just the realities of being a parent, but people haven’t been shy about voicing their opinions — whether it’s what kind of diapers we use or where we spend holidays.

But it’s important that my loyalty is to my husband over my other family members and to remember that we’re a partnership inside of the village-like team that’s taken to help us out. His voice needs to have just as much weight as my own. Period.

7. We have separate identities, separate interests, and separate opinions

I never want either of us to lose ourselves in the other, or to invest all of our happiness in each other. My happiness is entirely up to me.

8. I stopped expecting things from him

I stopped expecting him to pick up his godforsaken clothes off the floor when the hamper was four steps to the left. I stopped expecting him to compliment me on my housework efforts. I stopped expecting him to split all of the chores and parenting responsibilities 50-50 down the middle. I do things for myself.


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9. I finally accepted that just because he doesn’t do things the way I want them done, or at the exact moment I want them done, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t do them well

This has been a huge thing for me to learn and accept, and it’s still an ongoing effort on my part.

10. I buy prettier things to wear to bed

11. He has strengths and I have strengths — in parenting as well as marriage — and just because they’re not the same doesn’t make them any less valid

12. I’ve been recognizing my faults and working hard to be a better person — not just as a wife, or as a mother, but as a person

They mostly center on my control and stress issues, so I’m making a genuine effort — and that’s the best I can do.


13. I don’t care how much work I have to do, I can always spare time for some trashy Bravo with him

Always and forever. (Alone time with my husband, in general, is a top priority.)

14. I'm working on kindness

Of course, I'm not a perfect wife or a perfect person. Some of these are works in progress, goals that I strive toward. But I'm trying. And even though marriage requires more of a conscious effort than I ever imagined, I think it ultimately can result in a healthier relationship and a healthier self. At least I'm hoping.

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Michelle Horton is a freelance writer and social media specialist who founded the website Early Mama. She writes about advocacy, motherhood, and relationships.