I am. Here’s how it happened.
I’ve been married for several decades, but I’m the one who has always been in charge of the daily business of family life. In my marriage, sad to say, I’m the only one who can cook a turkey and soup from scratch. I’m the one who bakes cookies and cupcakes, but I’m also the one who knows how to replace the fill valve and flapper in the toilet tank so it will flush properly. I’m the one who can fix Windows on the home computer and who can troubleshoot the satellite television system. I help our children apply for college and I hire the painters and the driveway repaver guys and I buy new pillows when the old ones die. My husband follows my lead, but has no desire to be in charge. Going to work, washing two cars a week, and handling some of the family finances are the only jobs he’s signed up for: in his mind, everything else is mine.
Thus, the story of the final straw, the one that inspired my Superior Wife theory.
A few years ago, I planned a celebration for our daughter’s graduation from college in Washington, D.C., an unfamiliar city. While staying in a hotel there, I asked my husband to pick up the cake from a nearby bakery. He protested that he should not have to perform this errand.
“I don’t want to have to think,” he declared, as if this were the perfect reason not to do what he doesn’t want to do. The implication, of course, is that I’m the one who has to do the family thinking. It’s the Wife-as-Sole-Family-Thinker theory.
Ever since that memorable day, I’ve been researching and writing about what I call “Superior Wives,” married women who are the most efficient, most organized, most on-top-of-things person in the marriage. I discovered, by the way, that 2 in 3 American wives are superior, whether they work outside the home or not. A superior wife is a married woman who does most of the cooking and the household managing; she tends to be the one who organizes the family finances, who arranges the family vacations, who figures out what the children will be doing during the summer, where to board the dog, how to get cheaper and faster Internet service. She might not be the one who mows the lawn or changes the oil, but she does nearly everything else.
A superior wife is a woman who does almost everything better than her husband—and not because she’s smarter or better or bitchier—but because it’s her default position. If there’s no one else to take charge, then she will. If the family driver’s seat is empty, she’ll climb in and drive, because she knows that if she doesn’t steer, the family vehicle is due for a crash.
Does this sound like you? Please tell your superiority story on my book site, THE SUPERIOR WIFE SYNDROME. And if you want to find out how much of a superior wife you are, take my do-it-yourself-quiz right here.
Later, I’ll fill you in on the many variations on wifely superiority, as well as what you can do about it.
If you want to learn more, follow me on Twitter. You can also become a fan of my book on Facebook, right here, which would make me really happy.
Are You a Superior Wife?
Are you the one in charge?
I am. Here’s how it happened.