Ever since the R&B group Next released the hit single ‘Wifey’ (2000), there’s been some confusion about the true definition of a wife.
Take the new VH1 series Basketball Wives, starring Shaquille O’Neal’s estranged wife, Shaunie O’Neal-“A show about 6 women who are best friends searching for stability in the unstable arena of being the significant other to a basketball superstar,” according to VH1.com.
On the show, Shaunie O’Neal and her gal-pals are all at various points along the wifey spectrum; Shaunie has filed for divorce from Shaq; Suzie is a co-parent of two with Michael Olowokondi; Gloria is engaged to Matt Barnes; Evelyn suffered a broken engagement with Antoine Walker; Royce is a serial b-ball girlfriend and self-described “firecracker”; Jennifer is married to Eric Williams. So, if my math is correct, there’s one actively married woman on the show. I hope more married women will come off the bench over the course of the season so viewers can see what it takes to sustain high profile marriages.
For the record, being a wife is hard work. It’s about being committed to your partner through the good times and the bad, whether they are famous, rich or neither. Being a wife requires forgiveness, compromise, and support. Being a wife means accepting your man, and his entire family as they are—never as easy as it sounds.
Now wifeys are a different story altogether. Women who haven’t made it past the engagement…wifeys. Women who shacked up…wifeys. Women who’ve been knocked up but haven’t been wifed up…do I even have to say it? Such women are not wives. They’re second string.
My marriage is by no means high profile or perfect. But I am happily married. Save for Jennifer, is there a viable marriage in this bunch?
I’m not one to knock the next woman’s hustle. I’m happy to see Shaunie handling her entertainment business as an executive producer. My point of contention is that the show is mis-titled. It should be called Basketball Wifeys. Calling it Basketball Wives is false advertising. They may have shacked up or co-parented, but they have not been wifed up. And until you have, you don’t know what it takes to be one. That’s why when things go wrong and promises are broken, wifeys get the shaft and the wife gets half.
Being married is serious business. It’s the most exclusive ‘club’ on the planet and a hot-button political issue for those in the club—and seeking entry. Sure, committed relationships can rock without the paperwork, but it’s not the same as being married. Just ask Alexis Phifer, who came thiiis close to marrying Kanye West. Or Katheryn Bigelow, James Cameron’s contribution to the First Wives Club.
On the flipside, there’s VH1’s What Chilli Wants featuring Chilli from pop supergroup TLC. According to VH1.com, Chilli decides to “take the reins of her romantic situation and launch an all out search for the love of her life.” The show is also a nice look for Brooklyn relationship diva and ‘Girl, Get Your Mind Right’ author Tionna Smalls.
It’s refreshing to see a bonafide celebrity looking for love utilizing a set of standards. Chilli isn’t hung up on how men earn money or whether they have kids already; she has a son herself. If this means a God-fearing, smoke, alcohol and pork free man who’s ripped and well endowed, so be it. More of us should be this specific and fearless in our search for a soul mate.
Chilli’s list is important. Without one, She could wind up off course and possibly bring home someone she’ll regret later kinda like grocery shopping while ravenously hungry. What Chilli Wants flexes real girl power because whether she finds a husband in 10 episodes or not, we all know she’ll be fine. “No one’s perfect; I know I’m not perfect, but I think women compromise too much.” Well said, Chilli! You are well on your way to adding happily married wife to all your great accomplishments. No waterfall chasing here.