Inevitably, as a species, we are given to excessive list making and category forming and this extends to the marriages we have. As much of our expectation is shaped through exposure to peer groups, the media and our own inner circle of family and friends the inevitable cataloguing that occurs tends to pigeon-hole almost every marriage.
Picking through the high-profile relationships we were exposed to in 2008 we can see the list of stereotypes the wives of the noughties tend to conform to:
1. SWAG - WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) was a term which came into vogue with the English tabloid Press who used to refer to any of the girlfriends or wives of the members of the English football team (predominantly) and which has since spread to represent a certain type of woman. Except this year we have an upgrade to a SWAG (a Smart WAG) who is a trophy wife with a career of her own. Beyond bringing elegance, charm and beauty into the relationship a SWAG trophy wife brings talent and ability. Her accomplishments reflect well upon her man and help him stand out from the crowd.
2. The Goddess - A goddess wife is almost all things to all men. Beautiful, seductive, nurturing and caring she is the shoulder her man can rely to cry on as well as the shoulder to nuzzle against. The perfect blend of mother, wife and business partner the goddess wife (think Nigela Lawson) is more than just a bauble. Totally focused upon her man she is there to make him feel the centre of her universe.
3. The Equal Partner wife - Hilary Clinton and Tana Ramsay perfectly embody the equal partner wife whose family business is the family and a common family ‘brand’ they run with the same steely determination as their man. Equal partner wives understand that what really matters here is the ‘brand’ which is invested in the family as it is an integral part of the business. They will (as Hilary Clinton and Tana Ramsay proved) overlook infidelity, lying and cheating and forge ahead standing by their man for the common good of the family.
4. The centre of the universe wife - The moment Michelle Obama stepped into centre stage and talked about what’s ‘real’ she became the centre of the Obama household. Sure her man may be the most powerful man on Earth but the universe of his household is ran by Michelle who brings humility mixed with a touch of glamour and resolve to hold everything together.
5. The pretend wife - When Madonna at the Turner Prize Awards ceremony in 2001 asked to be introduced as Mrs Ritchie she was sending a strong message (and a false one as events have proved) of being subservient to her husband and just a homely stay-at-home mum. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth but this does not stop pretend wives to continue to play a role which is patently untrue and usually the opposite of the image they present the world with.
6. The blend wife - This is the woman who likes her marriage to be “just like everybody else’s” (whatever that may really mean). She divides tasks in the house equally with her husband and likes to get everyone involved in family activities because that’s just “what families do”. While there may not be a lot of passion in this marriage there tend to be no manic ups and downs either.
7. The errand wife - this is a relatively modern style brought about by the fact that woman have more money, greater independence and the inclination to not break up their families just because sex has gone or the relationship has become platonic rather than passionate. The errand wife will have long-term, discreet affairs. She will satisfy her sexual urges but will also be careful to keep the whole thing quiet, keeping the homefront running smoothly and without disruption.
How long your relationship lasts or how happy it is however depends entirely up to you rather than the type of wife you are. There are certain ingredients which are needed to make a happy relationship. Intimacy, the ability to open up and be real with your partner and the opportunity to feel that home is a safe harbour, your circle of protection against the world.
There really can be no magic formula which will work for everyone. Provided you have a relationship which makes you really happy then what works for you, works.