As I was doing the dishes, a thought occurred to me - when a lady becomes a wife she enters a new phase of womanhood; she will enter a commitment that entails more sacrifice and more selflessness. Life is no longer about oneself and ones ambition, but dreams and goals with a partner, for a family. Of course I don't mean that married life will only be full of misery or self neglect. That's simply not healthy and I don't think anyone would want to get married if this is how they view marriage.
There is a thin line between selflessness and low esteem. I don't actually believe that one should be a martyr and stick it through when your husband is a jerk who hurts or abuses you. What I mean is that we begin to see that life is not just about us or our next shopping splurge or the next position and raise we are targeting. I mean, our priorities change, and we begin to see that we are here to live for others - for our family, maybe even our community. Of course if a woman is lucky her submissiveness and efforts will be rewarded with a mans love, respect and care. I think I am one of the lucky ones to have been blessed with a good husband who takes on this role very seriously.
I don't mean to sound like a feminist nor do I intend to trivialize the sacrifices of a man. I mean, I do see and observe how my husband is adjusting to the different demands of married life. How he too is thinking more about our family instead of himself and how he has been learning to take on the role that his dad use to play. Afterall, he too will be a father in the future. He too will be Mr. Fix-it, the stay-in handyman, for everything from home furnishings to shoes. Aside from that he is tasked to be the head and protector of the home and more importantly a Dad :)
Coming back to my point about women, I think what actually makes the adjustment harder for women and girls now is the clash of modern and traditional ways. For us women born in modern times, we are trained and used to independence. As singles we are able to carry our own weight and achieve success. We have our own goals and are able to compete or cooperate with men within the corporate world. A woman is highly regarded when she has 'beauty and brains,' but once they marry they are expected to learn the value of submissiveness. At some point we live double lives. A woman may be the boss in the office but once she comes home she needs to be able to change hats - willing and able to take on a support role. Here's one more thing to think about: Women in Manila (might not be applicable in other cultures and countries) change their surnames once they get married. Personally I don't have an issue with this, just the hassle of going to every government agency or corporate entity, to change your name is sooo tedious. (e.g. Drivers License, ID, Social Security... ooh and even ones email address)
In 1994 Ms. Universe winner, Sushmita Sen, described the essence of a woman, she said "Just being a woman is God's gift. The origin of a child is a mother, a woman. She shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman." These words never meant as much to me and they do now. Being a woman is hard but now I see the blessing that comes with it.
I now also understand that being a housewife is not for everyone. Some are best suited as working moms, others for single-blessedness. My sister-in-law explained to me when I asked her about her decision to stop working and be a stay home mom. I am newly married and am not an expert on this. Some people may not agree with me but this is just my perspective - a reflection actually of what I've gone through this year.
Maybe it is safe to ask future brides and single ladies this, "Are you ready to live a life that is less about you and your dreams? Are you ready to lose and give a part of yourself to blend with your future partner?" If the answer is yes, then maybe you are indeed ready for the challenging yet fulfilling new journey called marriage.
To all my fellow newly weds, I wish you well and God bless! May our marriages be blessed to inspire, encourage and make a difference.