I am a 31 years old woman, not married and feeling relieved for that. Honestly and wholeheartedly.
Unlike many other Indonesian women, I never have this dream to be married, have kids, build a family and all that. Yet, I had more than five men who asked me to marry them since I was 17 years old. But no one ever make me their wife.
Since my early womanhood, just like every young girl, I do like the idea of a wedding, the party, the food, the dress, the flowers, and the handsome groom… it’s all great and beautiful. But marriage happens not only for the party. It should last for life, “till death do us part”, they say. That’s heavier than the glitters.
The first marriage proposal I had was from one of my teachers in the boarding school, when I was 17 years old. He was relatively young, 10 years older than me, he is smart and handsome. But the idea of staying in the boarding school for life, terrified me to bits. Three years staying there is enough for me. So I fled for college and asked my mom to politely say no to the proposal. Now he is married to a beautiful wife, three years younger than me and has two kids. I am more than happy for him.
In college, I met this senior from another major. I knew him for only three months, which turned out, for him, it was a ta ‘a Ruf process. Sorry for not sorry, he was a handsome nerd and very religious, I liked everything about him. But being married on my 20 wasn’t my plan. So I let him married another woman six months later, now with four children (my genital thanked me for this decision).
I could go on telling you about each one of them but I don’t want to waste your time reading my relationship story. So I fast forward to the recent one, my boyfriend for two years, Danny. A person who is beyond a boyfriend to me. He is a family member (not by blood) before romance comes to us. A best friend who understands and loves me to the bone, he cherishes every single thought I have. He proposed to me a couple of weeks ago. And recently, he is been calling me “wife”.
I always find it cute to see a man who calls his wife, “wife”. Like, “hey wife, what do you think about having dinner at taco casa tonight?” Or when a man posts a picture with the caption “with la wife”. There is a slight sense of domination over the other person (the wife), but in unserious tone, it’s cute.
That slight sense of domination feels really heavy to me. I don’t like being called “wife”.
It feels like a job. Yes, a job. And I do understand why.
Growing up in a religious-Islamic family and in a patriarchy culture, I have been watching women around me being wives and mothers. They have to clean up the house, wake up early, prepare the food for husband and children, doing laundry, put the kids to sleep, buy produce in the market, doing home-industry business to help the husband, make the husband happy in bed, help the children to do homework, keep their beauty for the husband under hijab, doing parent-teacher meeting, etc..etc.. That’s a wife and what wife does. Wife is a second class citizen. A subordinate in a house. Wife lives to serve.
So clearly, being a wife by those definitions above, is not something I want to do in life. Definition of “wife” in common perspective doesn’t fit me both mentally and morally. Maybe this was the basic reason why I didn’t want to be a wife to someone who is very religious. As I knew they will impose that role on me and have control over my life. No, no, thank you very much!
So I told Danny about this when he asked me whether I feel comfortable or not when he called me “wife”. I would let him make me his partner, both on papers and in life. But not calling me “wife”.
As a definition of wife that fits me the best is the one that says:
“A wife is a life partner who shares whatever she wants to share, who loves you as much as you love her, who takes care of you and you take care of her, who chose whatever she wants to do with her body including her reproduction system. A complete-free human being who deliberately be there for you and you be there for her. Who walks side by side with you and share her thoughts with you.”
Good thing Danny is a Frenchman. He is familiar with the word: égalitaire. And I am grateful for that.
[SIDE NOTE: Turned out we have to end the relationship. Things are changing and evolving. And sometimes, it’s gone. I personally wish Danny the greatest life a man can have. A good partner to love and exciting games to play. We have chosen different paths and we will continue supporting each other in different ways. Just like family do].