Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Reality check for this Nordic showpiece wife

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Photos tell different story after night of being interesting, yet cool.

Did I really need to be showing quite so much of the dimpled thigh in that shot?
Did I really need to be showing quite so much of the dimpled thigh in that shot?

In my year-long challenge to be a supportive wife I have realised that there are other sorts of wife you can be.

You can be suspended wife, for instance, which happens when you're not really into being a wife at all so go on hold for a year and see what happens. Your behaviour is that of a zombie, simply going through the motions, unable to make a decision whether to leave, or put up with it for another 20 years.

Then there's submissive wife, where you throw away any semblance of independence in order to be the wife your husband wants and insists that you are. In some ways this is an easy life, never having to think for yourself but in the end it dulls the personality somewhat.

I am neither of these. But for a moment I was the third alternative, which is the showpiece wife. This is when you turn up on the arm of your husband looking a million dollars and everyone pats your husband on the back and says: "Lucky you!"

Showpiece wives walk into a room and leave an impression. It may be the showgirl platinum blonde, midriff suitable abs and tight sequin dress or it could be the showpiece I imagined myself being which was cool, remote, stylish and wafty.

For a brief moment in time I imagined myself to be the kind of woman I guess I always imagined I would become. Tall, elegant, swathed in black from top to toe, wafting around in the background remote, yet pleasant. Interesting, yet cool. I was channelling every remote bit of Scandinavian style I could muster from my Scandinavian genes.

I'm sure every woman has moments like these. When they think they are a certain person, look a certain way and act in a certain fashion.

I'm not sure why I decided to be this Nordic Noir character because as far as my husband is concerned I'm just me. He's far more interested in who I am than how I appear to people.

And so it was. This was who I was at a recent social occasion. But then the pictures came in.

A friend whose career involves being behind cameras shooting wonderful films and TV series and has done so for many years, likes to take lots of photos on his iPhone. Mainly when people don't know it. So there's never a chance to pose, put your best side forward and smile for the camera. Instead he roves, much like a reality series, capturing real time moments when you have no idea he is doing so.

When I saw the pictures I marvelled at his skill. The lighting, the composition and artistic skill.

Then I saw me. This wasn't the Danish-style maven I had imagined myself to be. This wasn't the showpiece wife I had styled myself on.

For a start I could have done something with my hair, which frizzed out at every opportunity, giving me the certain air of a wicked witch. The fact that I am growing the grey out also gives me a rather Cruella de Vil appearance which didn't help.

Then there were the clothes. Did I really need to be showing quite so much of the dimpled thigh in that shot? Did I really need to reveal my upper arm in such a way that my gorgeous fantail tattoo looked like something that had been done in prison while serving a life sentence?

And why oh why did I always have to have my mouth open? If I wasn't laughing my head off, I was stuffing it full of food or talking (probably very loudly) to the person next to me.

"This is not the person I imagine myself to be!" I complained to my husband as we scrolled through the shots.

"I'm supposed to be sophisticated and stylish and not have my mouth open all the time."

There was a brief moment in time when my husband paused to assemble the right thing to say in his head. If he agreed then would I be upset? If he disagreed could he really carry off the lie? In the end he simply said: "What I see is a very happy woman who is having a great time."

Note to self: when having a great time keep mouth closed, get your hair blow-dried, keep the black but not short dresses and be aware of the camera at all times.

- NZ Herald

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