Trophy Wives and Husbands
By Rev. Crystal Schmalz
When I was growing up, I always heard the phrase “trophy wife.” I would hear men joking about how they were going to get their trophy wife, and women would casually laugh at the conversation as if it didn’t hurt or mean anything other than vain words. However, the phrase trophy wife comes from a long history of stereotypes, generalizations, unrealistic expectations, and put-downs.
In the context of the church, trophy wives are those who can sing, play the piano, are quiet and submissive, who want to be stay at home mothers, who are beautiful, and who will stand by the side of their man while he pursues his dreams and ambitions. Unfortunately, this type of boxed in stereotypical woman doesn’t always exist, and it puts pressure on women who don’t fit this description to somehow magically adapt into this stereotype.
In the context of trophy husband, there have been a lot of unrealistic expectations put on men too. The trophy husband is one who is a loud authoritative preacher who is a manly man (whatever that means). This type of preacher-man should use a lot of allegory in his sermon, and is expected to be arrogant and maybe even a little rude in the pulpit. Women should fall at his feet, and there should be crowds of admirers around him at the altar call. Unfortunately, many men do not fit this stereotype, so what do we do with a quiet preacher-man or a man who isn’t called to preach?
We need to redefine what it means to be a trophy wife or husband. The roles we try to live up to are ridiculous. We need real women and men to stand up, and share their stories of how they do not fit these stereotypes, and how God is using them in miraculous and profound ways to build the kingdom of God.
In the Bible, we see several different examples of women and men.
One example in the Bible which comes to mind is the Proverbs 31 woman. I have heard women say they want to be like this, and I have heard men say they want a Proverbs 31 woman. But do these women and men really know who the Proverbs 31 woman was? Do they really want a Proverbs 31 woman?
The Proverbs 31 woman was:
Verse 10= Virtuous and Capable
Verse 11= Faithful and trustworthy
Verse 12= Brings Good, not harm
Verse 13= Clothes Maker (Fashion Designer), Creator, Visionary
Verse 14= Transporter and Provider
Verse 15= Preparer and Planner, House Manager
Verse 16= Realtor, Investor, Planter, and Builder
Verse 17= Energetic, Strong, and Hard worker
Verse 18= Wise with profits and earnings (Banker and Investor), and works late into the evening
Verse 19= Creating Artist
Verse 20= Helps the poor and needy, social activist
Verse 21= She doesn’t fear trials and tribulations, because she has prepared for her household
Verse 22= Fashion Designer, and “Fashinista”
Verse 23= Husband is involved in politics
Verse 24= Inventor and Small Business Owner
Verse 25= Character of strength and dignity, does not fear the future
Verse 26= Speaker and preacher of wisdom and instruction (uses kindness)
Verse 27= Watches household, and prevents laziness
Verse 28= Her children and husband respect and praise her
So, do we really want Proverbs 31 women? Nothing was said of someone who sings, plays the piano, and is quiet and submissive. A Proverbs 31 woman was so much more, she was a true trophy wife!
We need to re-envision what it means to be a woman, and especially a woman in leadership. Women, we have so much that we can be and do. We should not limit ourselves to traditions which have no theological significance, or to culture which will fade. We need to be counter-cultural when it comes to women in leadership. We need to strive to support women, and lift them up in their ministries. We need to support women in all different avenues of leadership and service. We need women lawyers, doctors, preachers, dieticians, politicians, community leaders, administrative pastors, writers, and scientists. We need women to bring all of their gifts, and give one-hundred percent.
My story is that I am a licensed minister with the UPCI. I work full time as a hospital chaplain. I went to seminary and now have my M.Div. My husband and I work together to clean and cook. We make decisions together. We work together to manage our finances. We don’t have children. I write and will one day be a pastor. I preach at nursing homes and occasionally at other churches. Neither, my husband nor I are loud preachers, but we do preach The Word and try to have accurate exegesis. I am creative, a builder, and a visionaire. I’m striving to be more like Jesus Christ, but haven’t made it there yet.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever heard the expression “trophy wife,” and how did it make you feel?
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