Last Updated on March 18, 2024

On a recent Monday morning, I had turned on the Today Show to catch our local news and weather on the half hour.  As I listened from the kitchen I heard one of the hosts introduce an author with new research on wives.  The title of her book is The Superior Wife Syndrome.  When I heard the intro I grabbed my notepad and sat down to hear about the latest syndrome to afflict our population.  I was ready to critique.

But as I listened I found myself agreeing with some of what she said, though I wouldn’t go so far as to label it a syndrome.  The author, Karen Rubenstein, has discovered that millions of wives think they do everything better than their husbands.  They feel they are more responsible, more capable, and in a word, more superior.  Hmmm, I thought.

Sounds a little more like pride to me.

There is truth to this discovery.  Beginning in the 1970s, women have been instructed to do it all.  We’ve been told we can work full time and raise kids at the same time, all with great success.  Many have gone so far as to say we don’t need men.  Women’s drive to achieve equality in the work place has resulted in this attitude of superiority, I believe.

This temptation to exalt ourselves over our men is as old as the earth.  I find myself dealing with this attitude more than I’d care to admit. 

I load the dishwasher more efficiently than he, I fold the clothes better than he, and I pack the car much more neatly than his haphazard preference of just throwing it all in and slamming the door to keep it from falling out.  And when I focus on how much better I am in certain tasks and responsibilities I can quickly move to feeling superior.  

In addition I’m learning this is much more of a temptation in the empty nest.  When we had kids my corrective measures were directed at them and less at my husband.  Now he is the sole focus of my rehabilitation and retraining efforts.  Poor man.

Author Karen Rubenstein gave three tips for this syndrome which are not new, but they are good to remember because they are timeless.  First, ask for help.  He can’t read your mind.  Second, educate him with logic, not emotional outbursts.  And third, be willing to settle for less.

I would add a fourth tip: Let him be who he is. 

As my husband would say, and he is so right, there is more than one way to do a task.  My way isn’t always right and his isn’t always wrong.  Most of our conflicts aren’t about right and wrong anyway, but about personal preferences for how something is accomplished. 

In the end it’s not a big deal anyway.  Certainly not worth the damage to a marriage and your man that a superior attitude will cause.

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  1. Wow – thanks for this post. As a new wife, I find myself already falling into these patterns, so it's a good thing to be aware of and correct.

  2. June 2008, my husband and I were vacationing in Orlando with one of our daughters and her family. She and I had decided to take off for the Prime Outlet Mall. My husband was happy to drop us off there. My daughter announced rather indignantly that we did not need a man to drive us, because we could figure the map out. I must admit I raised my eyebrow to this announcement as she had not been raised to think this way. I, on the other hand, also had spent more time in the Orlando area and knew just how confusing those interstates, etc. can be. After a bit of a discussion, we drove ourselves to the mall. What should have taken us 10 minutes driving time, actually took over one and one half hours, and we ended up in Winter Park, FL. When we finally arrived at the mall, we had a grand total of 10 minutes to shop before we needed to get back for the evening. Needless to say, all of the desire to shop had gone out of both of us. Being a good mother, it was hard to resist making comments like, "a good man is a wonderful thing, especially when he offers you limo service". My 32 year old daughter learned a good lesson the hard way that day. We are better women when we allow our husbands to help us, especially when it is their idea.

  3. Kacey Brown says:

    I'd like it if I could share this on Facebook. I think it would bea wonderful blessing.

  4. Barbara Rainey says:

    i'm grateful for these comments and yes, Kacey, you may post this on facebook. would you please add a link back to momblog for those who might want to read more? thanks!

  5. Carolina Boulanger says:

    My husband just emailed this to me…I think he is trying (very nicely) to tell me something…already called the book store they are holding a copy of the book for me…thank you so much for bringing this up, I am sure it will help our marriage. I hope to become a better wife.
    Thanks so much for all you do.