While looking through some Facebook photos of a friend’s friend, I noticed that the friend’s shining new wife was looking a bit off. I don’t personally know them but I did get to see their wedding entourage heading for Durres as I was heading to Tirana to accompany my mother to the airport back in April. They were coming from Berat; To “bring” the bride to the husband’s home (town). An interesting coincidence.
About a year later, I noticed some details about her demeanor and dress that seemed inappropriate and oddly enough, I voiced my opinion to my friend. To which he replied:
– “Oh no she’s not vulgar. She’s a good girl!”
– Oh? What makes her a ‘good girl’ I asked.
-“Well, she lets her husband go out whenever he wants”.
– Oh, ok. What else?
“That’s all,” he said, completely satisfied with his answer and correct summation of what qualified for a good wife. I wondered at his provincialism but didn’t say a word more; And then it occurred to me that all that was of value in a woman, a life-partner, a friend, a wife, was that she let her husband do as he pleased, while she milled around the house with her in-laws and newborn.
I began to imagine this humdrum life. I realized that of course the women would ‘let’ their husbands go out whenever, as if still single. They have newborns. They have in-laws around. They have company other than their life-mate, with whom they spend copious amounts of time. In societies where families are tight-knit and life is inter-generational, it is quite normal to deal with life without your husband by your side at all times.
Who needs a pesky husband to care for? He will only be home for food anyway. And lovemaking? What? The romance phase faded a long time ago. So, yeah, to be a good wife, just be husbandless.