Well, we and Joo-hyuk got our happy ever after ending, after his third try at changing his fate (and his wife). And he definitely learnt the hard way not to take things for granted. The third time lucky Joo-hyuk is the Perfect Husband, he understands the difficulties of leaving the woman to juggle chores, work and kids, and he made sure he pulls his weight as a team player in the family.
While all perfectly rosy on the surface with all the lovey-dovey that comes in the end with Joo-hyuk’s picture perfect family, Wife seems to have some rather subtle messages for the women viewers…
1. Never marry young
Woo-jin version 1 likely married Joo-hyuk right after college, since unlike her versions 2 and 3 iterations, she didn’t seem to have a degree. At least not enough to warrant her a well-paid job as an overseas banking associate then later as a frontliner in the bank. Version 1 Woo-jin was saddled with two kids which she had to juggle on top of a lowly paid, but physically taxing job as a massage therapist.
So ahem…putting off that ring on the finger guarantees better financial independence.
2. And in relation to no.1: Don’t have kids that early
Again, likely due to her early marriage, the kids came in a time where both Joo-hyuk and Woo-jin were financially unstable. While the narrative did not dwell on their version 1 lives that much (we only see the effects not the causes of their problems), I suspect the issue lies in Joo-hyuk being the main breadwinner. Woo-jin may have a job, but her job (see no.1) isn’t a highly paid one — not enough to be able to live comfortably. Joo-hyuk remembers her scrimping on every penny, even drinking soured milk just to save on groceries.
And of cos, when Joo-hyuk flunks the promotion, and yet went ahead to splurge on the video game…that’s when Woo-jin (v1) loses it.
3. Work-life balance
While Woo-jin v3 lives a very hectic life, juggling both a career and her kids, she has her partner to rely on. Joo-hyuk v3 is as in it as she is. I love it when they played tag team to fetch the kids back from childcare and he having to rush off to take his promotion exams.
But things were very different for the v.1 couple. Woo-jin, likely cos of the nature of her job, spend more time at home than Joo-hyuk. While she wasn’t a full time SAHM (stay-at-home-mum), she was close to it. She had began to lose her identity, and her love of life…cos she was stuck at doing all the work at home without her husband’s help. And Joo-hyuk v1 felt that since he was providing the main source of income for the family, he needed to overtime at work more often. The result, two disgruntled people who thought the other was “better off”.
Woo-jin v1 felt her husband was always out drinking and socialising unnecessarily with his colleagues. Joo-hyuk v1 thought Woo-jin complained too much when all she did was to look after the kids and the occasional massage work at the spa.
Notice that all 3 points seem rather targetted at women? When Woo-jin v2/3 shakes off all the “shackles” that bound v1 to depression, she actually becomes more attractive and confident. And ironically, she becomes a better wife and mother.