Wife Swap is a reality television program that shows what happens when two wives, with very dissimilar personalities, change places to manage a stranger's home and family. The resulting clashes make for entertaining viewing, but aside from pure voyeurism, the show can teach us a few important lessons about marriage.
Of course, the show producers select the wives with polar personalities for the most entertainment value. How will the obsessive-compulsive germophobe deal with the hoarder's filthy home? Won't it be fun to see the religious wife freak out among the atheists? The workaholic mom swaps places with a stay-at-home mother and goes through Blackberry™ withdrawals. But it's not only the wife who struggles with the conflicting lifestyle but her husband and children. Married couples establish unique ways of living, and when they are forced to live by a stranger's rules, their comfortable routines erupt into chaos. By the end of the show, both couples typically are relieved to be reunited, and they have newfound appreciation for their spouses.
What Wife Swap teaches us
Although I have to admit that I don't watch Wife Swap regularly, catching a few episodes inspired some thoughts about marriage improvement:
Examine your lifestyle choices.Many of the wives on the show fall into what I call subconscious living. Most of the wives return enlightened about how they have been negatively impacting their own families. Reflect on the way you are affecting your marriage and family? What am I doing that's working? How can I be a better mate and parent?
Appreciate the one you married. Our hopeful natures keep us believing that the grass is always greener, but watching Wife Swap shows us that it could be oh so much worse.
You're more alike than different. When you've been married for a long period of time, the dissimilarities between personalities become glaring. Often, people divorce because they believe that they have irreconcilable differences. What they don't realize is that, over the years together, personalities, lifestyles, and habits actually begin to mesh. Wife Swap shows that while not every aspect of yourselves will become identical, most will meld congruently. As you watch episodes of the various types of wives and the families they create, you realize that like really does attract like-minded spouses.
I used to lament our differences until I saw that we do share the many of the same values, and together we've created the family, home, and lifestyle that we wanted. By comparison to the husbands and wives on the television program, we see that we are well-suited to each other.
You love each other. You really do. It's easy to let the years of day-to-day minutiae dull the sparkle in your eyes for each other, but love reawakens when you remember why you married in the first place. You chose each other for a reason. There's nothing like trauma, crisis or being forced to live with a bunch of weird strangers to remind you of this.
My family has discussed what type of wife would be the most uncomfortable living in our home, and we decided it would be the technophobe--or an Amish wife. My husband and son are IT professionals so our home is heavily wired (yes, we have a command center.) Without electricity, my entire family would be forced to power down. It would like a post-Apocalyptic scenario, and no amount of homemade preserves would help them survive. My husband appreciates my support of our computer-centric lifestyle. I endure the fact that we must sit in front of glowing monitors until the day computer chips will be embedded into our brains and we resume mobility. And he loves me for it. Thank you, Wife Swap.