We continue up our somewhat arbitrary hierarchy of good wifery, with the Good Wife Level 2. This woman has some ambitions to be above average, and to exceed the norms of her time and milieu. These ambitions tend to be, themselves, somewhat conventional in their nature — they are things that everyone agrees are “better.” Most important, however, are her “negative virtues” — the things that she doesn’t do. Like the Good Wife Level 1, her contributions, in the “plus” column, are not offset by vices, in the “minus” column. This allows her to Create Value in the lives of those around her — her husband, her children, her community, her nation — instead of Creating Problems.
Our woman has some aspiration to look better than the average girl. She is a little slimmer, gets a little more exercise, is a little better dressed and has a little more ambitious hairstyle.
Cooking is central to the family contribution of the wife and mother (whether working or not). Our Level 2 girl aspires to be a somewhat better cook, with somewhat healthier food, than is the norm. She reads recipes with interest, and keeps track of various notions of dietary health and nutrition.
She admonishes her children to do well in school, and takes some interest in their education outside of school. She engages them in some after-school programs, such as sports, dance or music. Probably, she expects her children to go to college.
She makes some effort to beautify her home, and perhaps plants some flowers outside.
She may be engaged in a church, and follow the moral principles of the church, at least to some degree. Her ambitions lead her outside the minimal requirements of keeping house and childcare, and she becomes active in community organizations perhaps related to the church or school.
She supports and encourages her husband, building him up during his setbacks and disappointments rather than breaking him down with complaints and nagging. Her advice and guidance to him, regarding all the various decisions needed in the household, is valuable and appreciated. However, she never demands to have her way, and gives her husband the final say. Her husband recognizes her ability, and often delegates tasks to her with confidence that she will use her own good judgement to arrive at a beneficial conclusion, without his having to oversee the process.
As for her “negative virtues” — the things that she doesn’t do — the list in the Good Wife Level 1 applies here as well. While the Good Wife Level 1 might do such things somewhat instinctively or by habit, the Good Wife Level 2 begins to study good-wifery with conscious intention, for example by reading a website like this one here.
Unfortunately, with greater ability and ambition, many women today also become more contentious and problematic. “Can you handle me?” they ask in a swaggering tone. What man would want to spend his life “handling” such a woman? Too often, these women believe that a “strong, independent” woman is defined by the amount of quarrelsome difficulty she arbitrarily and needlessly creates for the men in her life. The Good Wife Level 2 realizes consciously that a woman that wants to be “independent” is not suited for marriage, and that no man should marry such a woman. After all, she may use her “strength” to achieve this goal. The Good Wife Level 2 separates herself from many other women who are also able and ambitious, and usually becomes conscious of this separation. This is what makes her Good — not her growing list of positive attributes, but the unusually small list of negatives.