Sophie Turner didn’t want to be known as ‘Mrs Jonas’ - GulfToday

Sophie Turner didn’t want to be known as ‘Mrs Jonas’

Joe, Jonas

Sophie Turner, Joe Jonas

Flic Everett, The Independent

Shortly after my first marriage, we received a belated card from some elderly relations, addressed to “Mr and Mrs My-Husband’s-Full-Name”. I was only 21, but being reduced to my new husband’s invisible sidekick horrified me. Thirty-odd years later, that sudden loss of identity is still happening for wives, as Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner explained to Vogue this week. Discussing her divorce from Jonas Brothers singer Joe Jonas, she said: “There was a lot of attention on the three brothers, and the wives. Well, we were always called ‘the wives’, and I hated that. It was kind of this plus-one feeling — and that’s nothing to do with him. In no way did he make me feel that. It was just that the perception of us was as the groupies in the band.” Anyone who has ever been with someone rich, famous or in some way important will know that feeling of being less-than, as the eyes glaze past you towards the real attraction. And if an actress as beautiful, regal and talented as Sophie Turner can be overlooked in favour of her teen-popstar husband, it can happen to anyone, whether they’re famous or not.

I’ve known plenty of dazzling, successful women get married and suddenly become a delicate watercolour to their husband’s bold oil canvas, who no longer stride into rooms but follow him, smiling apologetically, gathering with other Disappearing Wives while he conducts the important man-chat. I have friends who gave up their cherished careers so they could move elsewhere for the sake of his, or because “someone needs to keep things running smoothly at home”. They claim it’s an equal marriage, “it just makes sense if I do more childcare” — but they are not treated equally. It becomes a vicious circle as the Disappearing Wife becomes increasingly dependent and de-skilled, and the people around the couple find their gaze sliding past her and dress ever longer on the man whose ego she’s propping up.

“I just felt like a little bird trapped in a gilded cage,” says Sophie Turner, of her move to Miami with as Jonas’s wife. “It was amazing, yes — but I didn’t have any friends there.” Just as in the 1950s, when wives were expected to follow their husbands like baby ducklings and nurture his chosen friends, rather than their own childish social relationships, the Disappearing Wife still exists, even when she’s a star in her own right. Turner adds: “I was just never strong enough to stand up for myself.”

But it’s hard to do that when everyone in your life unwittingly conspires to centre the husband and sideline the wife. From his family sending cards addressed to “Mr and Mrs Joe Jonas” to the unspoken assumption that you’ll downgrade your career, to the gradual slide of time-consuming emotional and household admin in your direction, to the shearing away of old friendships in favour of couples’ dinner parties, it’s no wonder many wives of successful men still find themselves disappearing, still smiling, like the Cheshire Cat. The “plus-one feeling” is everywhere, in the sneering dismissal of Wags at the World Cup — or “women with careers who have taken time off to support their partners”, a less snappy acronym — in the paparazzi cameras that glide over the boring partner before the flash, in the way couples often move for his job ambitions but seldom for hers, in the endless in-law invitations because the family wants to see their beloved boy, and your company is the price they’ll begrudgingly pay. “It felt like I was watching a movie of my life that I hadn’t written, hadn’t produced, or starred in,” says Sophie Turner. That’s not a marriage. That’s the beginning of the long, subtle disappearance – and it’s vital to resist.

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