Goodwife Bundchen?

Hey, a celebrity marriage that might actually have some hope!

The problem of how to address women has been with us for as long as there has been junk mail produced by machines or typed by secretaries who did not personally know the individual people they were addressing.

In the first part of the last century, a female was either Miss. XX or Mrs. XX depending on her marital status.  In the late 1960's, various pressure groups began agitations to the effect that a woman's marital status was of no importance and disclosing it in her name violated her privacy.  After much discussion, the androgynous term "Ms." pronounced "Mizz" was invented.

Picture the joy of the direct mail industry - for decades, they'd agonized about sales lost to potential customers who were offended at being addressed in the wrong way.  They knew from letters they received that women could be rather upset at being addressed as Miss. when Mrs. was more appropriate and vice versa.  On the assumption that one angry letter represented between 10 and 50 people who were not quite angry enough to write, they looked forward to having one label, Ms., which would work for all females!  How convenient!

Alas, 'twas not to be.  When Ms. came on the scene, those who yearned to be addressed as Ms. demanded it.  Those who preferred Miss. or Mrs. were equally enraged to be addressed as Ms.  Instead of managing two emotionally-charged honorifics, address collectors now had to cope with three.

Days of Yore

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "Goodwife" was coined about 1375 and became a predecessor to "Mrs."  Unlike Mrs. which implies no qualitative assessments, "Goodwife" was bestowed on married women who were seen to be good wives, as distinct from wives who weren't.  This was fairly easy to assess by any impartial observer - was her husband happy, or was he not?

This whole man-woman thing is far simpler than modern columnists let on.  Back in the days of muscle-powered agriculture before the Industrial Revolution created opportunities for women to earn money in a factory, the only way a woman could survive was to affiliate herself with a man who'd feed her.  The happier she made him, the less likely he was to abandon her to starvation.  Over the years, women were selected for being able to please men; this helped them earn the title "Goodwife."

In the modern era, it's obvious that most men know very little if anything about women.  In spite of that, every man I've met is certain of one thing about women - he wants at least one.  Men know in their bones that women can give them the joys of heaven on earth.  Men hang around with women because they're seeking joy, though apparently not actually finding it with any degree of consistency.

What men don't understand is that being a good wife by a man's definition places great demands on a woman.  A woman burns out from emotional exhaustion if her needs aren't met.  It's hard to be a goodwife unless you're married to a goodman.

I've seen women last a few days, a week, ten days trying to be a man's treasure.  The men involved had a great time, then wondered what went wrong after their wives burned out and couldn't do it any more.  The bottom line is that although a woman can indeed give a man the joys of heaven, she can't make him any happier than he makes her.

It's still easy to identify goodwives by looking at their husbands and anyone who observes a wife can tell how well her husband's treating her.  I've seen women who know that they can't please their husbands no matter what; you can see death in their eyes, even in photographs.

A Modern Goodwife?

Happiness aside, the traditional marriage vows promised, "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."  With that in mind, consider the recent stories about Gisele Bundchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  He's a high-ranking quarterback in a high-paying sport and she's a supermodel who brings in large fees.  "For poorer" won't apply to them, but what about "for better for worse?"

Mr. Brady recently led the Patriots in the Super Bowl, a game which sports fans assure me is considered to be highly important by those who regard it highly.  The Patriots lost.

Quarterbacks tend to get a disproportionate share of the credit when their teams win, so it's only fair that they get an undue share of the blame when their teams lose.  The fans blamed Brady for a bad pass which, had it connected, might have won the game.

Sports fans can get pretty unruly - Boston fans rioted when the Red Sox finally won a World Series - and hordes of disappointed Patriots fans threw rather foul language at Mr. Brady.

This upset his wife, who quite correctly pointed out that it takes two players to complete a pass, saying that her husband can't "f***ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time."

This defense of her hubby earned her considerable criticism.  One of the opposing players said, "She just needs to continue to be cute and shut up." and claimed that her retort to the fans who criticized her husband was "ill advised."  Some even blamed her for the defeat, pointing out, "The Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since Brady‚Äôs been with Gisele."

For Better For Worse

Isn't a wife supposed to take her husband's side?  Isn't she supposed to be there for him "for better, for worse?"  Blowing a Super Bowl game clearly falls into the "for worse" category; wouldn't she have fallen short of her vows if she hadn't supported him no matter what?

Gisele came through just fine on "for better for worse" and she stuck to her position regardless of the personal criticism that rained down upon her.  Can it be that, perhaps alone among the glitterati, Tom Brady actually has a goodwife?

It will be fascinating to see how he and she do on "till death us do part."

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments


March 7, 2012 12:39 PM

Very well done!

March 7, 2012 4:56 PM

Boy, are you not a sports fan. The words used are "Win" and "Lose." "Win" needs no explanation, but "Lose" is really two ideas, "not win" and "lose."

"Not win" is when you play your best, do well, and your very best just ins't good enough. "Lose" is when you make some sort of goof that, had you done it right, you'd have won.

Brady didn't "not win," he "lost."

You are right, though, in saying that his wife is a good wife to stick by him. Is marriage a sport?

March 16, 2012 6:45 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...