Authors tend to write with their audience in mind; that’s why I’ve concluded that Christian authors that write about how to be a ‘good’ wife didn’t write with the black woman in mind.
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Your audience is your audience; however, I do believe these authors should be direct in their advertising. I can hear the uproar at that. It wouldn’t be politically correct or Christian to make such a declaration, and I agree, but what then is the solution.
As I read these books, I am more concerned that they do not reflect our stories. It’s a similar situation at some retreats. Often I hear the information then go home and sift it so that I can find what I can use. It’s exhausting. But that’s me what about the woman who doesn’t know how to sift the information. The author is writing from her own life and perspective; therefore, there will be irrelevant information.
Some women will take everything at face value because it’s accompanied by Bible verses and set about applying it in her life and home with frustration.
When the results, she desires fail to materialise some internalised that failure. When this happens, some women feel not good enough because the suggestions work for the speaker and so many others. Why can’t it work for her?
I’ve read and tried to apply enough of these books to know that I am not their target audience.
The suggestions mostly seem unattainable and leave one with a feeling of dissatisfaction and failure. The temptation to feel and think you are not good enough or worthy enough is strong.
When making suggestions to a group as broad and diverse as wives, context is crucial.
If you are going to read and apply these books, here are some things to keep in mind.
Your context is different: your home situation and dynamics might be different from that of the author. I often see where these authors stay at home moms whereas you and your husband might work shifts to keep a roof over your heads. A lot of black homes are two-income households as we try to build and create a future for our children that is different from the one we had.
Additionally, some families are trying to build wealth and create a legacy for the next generation.
The woman has to manage all those competing
demands and choices while being present for her husband, children and herself could become overwhelmed with more requirements.
- When you are a working mom, trying to apply these suggestions, it will be challenging to juggle work and doing all the things they intimate are essential.
- Burn out fatigue is real, and it’s already a struggle for the woman who is trying to balance work and a family. Adding more could be a tipping point.
What then is the option for black Christian women.
I know women want to be good wives, mothers, sisters, daughters. I know we want to serve in our communities and build legacies for our children.
Often the black woman does that at the exclusion of self.
We are still living in the shadows of the stereotype of the strong black woman. Coupled that with the teaching around what strength looks like for the Christian woman and she doubles down on hiding her feelings while diving into doing what everyone thinks she should do.
The multitasking trap
Women are excellent at managing multiple tasks at once. They are good at juggling balls and trying to balance a busy life with doing a lot, but that’s a trap. The subtle myth of “you can have it” all haunts many women, and they pressure themselves into doing more because it seems that this or that person is doing it.
Sometimes comments from husbands suggest that you are not enough not doing enough. Why can’t you work full time to help balance the budget and single-handled keep the house clean, the children fed and be all that I need?
Ladies, you can have it all but not all of what your neighbour or friend has. Your all will depend on a close evaluation of your life and how it functions. It will depend on your goals and what is right for you and your family.
Teach your family not to expect you to be all things to all people. Train the children early to be independent, let them help with the task as is appropriate for their ages, set expectations for your husband. Ask for the help that you need.
One damaging message the strong black woman stereotype sends is that you don’t have needs. Often some of us are raised in households where we never see our mothers expressed needs, and therefore we learn how not to make demands.
Additionally, the ongoing trauma that is always repressed means work sometimes becomes a coping mechanism. The ability to adjust and to work on fitting you in your schedule where you priorities you, your mental and physical health and your personal development might be a challenge, but it’s one worth undertaking.
When you take the time to train your household and manage the expectation of your children, it means that you can have time to develop you. Learn and understand who you are and come to a place where you are secure in that knowledge.
Make the journey to self-discovery a lifelong one. Make that a part of the balls that you juggle as opposed to the ones society expects you to handle.
Make one day a lazy day where you sit in the garden and relax. Seeing you take time for you will be a gift to your children. I heard something recently that had a profound impact on me. I know that many who are trying to fit into boxes designed by others miss this opportunity. Children benefit from seeing their mothers do things intended for personal growth and development.
Good is relative
Being a ‘good’ wife depends on the goals you and your spouse have. Remember ‘good’ is relative, so what works for your favourite author might not work for you.
Therefore being a ‘good’ wife is dependent on your life and the circumstances that you have to manage. And not about ticking boxes designed by people who don’t understand or know about your experience.
A woman understanding herself is a helpful place to start. Learn what makes you feel fulfilled and happy? Some of your needs will be met by you and some from the people around you.
Often being a ‘good’ wife means meeting physical needs, the focus in on the cooking, cleaning and meeting your husband’s needs. That’s a lot of pressure.
These books educate us to think a good wife is a specific thing – and that we are responsible for the happiness of our families.
Get to know yourself, be comfortable with who you are, be satisfied with what will help you to meet the needs that are present in your home. Then you will be the wife that required in your home.