Reality show extremes help husbands appreciate wives
I pointed to the tight-lipped, humorless, business-suited woman on the screen and said, “That’s who you’d get to live with if we ever signed up for ‘Wife Swap’.” I poked my husband Donnie in the ribs and laughed during last Wednesday night’s episode of one of my favorite TV shows. I like to goad him, teasing that I’m going to secretly sign us up online and he’ll just have to deal with whatever psycho nutcase they send to take my place.
If you enjoy watching people, you’d probably enjoy “Wife Swap.” The producers choose two families that are polar opposites, and send the wives to live two weeks in the other family’s house. During the first week, the new wife has to conform to the rules of the house. The second week, she gets to switch things up and make the family do things her way. I’ve seen atheists matched with the deeply religious, slobs paired with neat freaks, couch potatoes made to interact with professional athletes. It’s quite entertaining television.
The first time Donnie and I watched it together, I made the mistake of stating, quite seriously, that they probably couldn’t find anyone to pair us with because I am not extreme enough to have an opposite out there.
He stared at me with an expression of disbelief that clearly said, “Woman, you have no idea how crazy you truly are.” His reaction caused me to begin examining the ways that I do, perhaps, exhibit a few little extremes in my life. Maybe I’m not the neatest person in the world. Maybe my tummy more closely resembles a Jell-O mold than a six-pack. Perhaps I should exercise more, cut out that monthly trip to Chick-fil-A, and find some better medication to combat my PMS. I could resist the urge to go ballistic when someone puts a roll of toilet paper on the holder the wrong way. And for heaven’s sake, we homeschool — a fact that causes some people to file us away in the “major freak” category, regardless.
I’ve created two composites of the kind of wife Donnie would likely get. The first one would be a businesswoman, maybe the CEO of her own corporation. When she isn’t working, she is working out, maintaining a rock- hard physique. She has a nanny to shuffle her kids to their private school, polo lessons, tennis matches and tutoring. Her house is spotless and her schedule rigid. The entire family is expected to conform to her standards, and her children are harshly reprimanded for bringing home grades below an A.
Another possible opposite would be a radical environmentalist, anti-military vegan who grows her own food and eats it raw. She bathes once a week, to conserve water, and never shaves. She doesn’t clean her house, ever, because of the poisons lurking in cleaning products, and doesn’t kill insects because of the damage it could do to her karma. Her kids attend the commune’s school, and would condemn my use of paper products and consumption of non-organic food. I’d have to ride a bike everywhere because her family doesn’t own a car.
Yes, seeing my ample rear end astride a bicycle would be entertainment enough.
I don’t mean to condemn anyone who fits into any of the descriptions listed above. I’m just saying that I am not any of those things. I’m an at-home mom who dabbles in freelance writing, nowhere near enough to contribute to our very middle-class income. I hate gyms. My kids like being homeschooled and do ordinary activities, such as playing soccer and softball.
I clean my house once a week, if that, with toxic, disposable substances such as Clorox wipes and Swiffers. I wouldn’t know a schedule if it knocked me in the head, and as long as my kids are doing their best, I don’t fret over grades.
I eat meat, and cook it well. I like to smell pretty and shaving hasn’t been optional since 1980. I think I might’ve bought some organic carrots once last month. I believe that sometimes, Doritos and a Dr. Pepper constitute a perfectly good snack. And I would feel absolutely lost if I couldn’t drive everywhere in my gas-guzzler.
Even though Donnie’s initial reaction told me that I exhibit certain extremes, he always tells me how glad he is that I’m not like the women on “Wife Swap.” And that’s good enough for me. I think that show helps him to appreciate the good things in me, even when they might not be as obvious as I like to think they are.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to be married to a little ray of sunshine like me?