...It seems that what a man wants in a wife has changes throughout the years. I remember learning/thinking/seeing that men kinda wanted a subservient type of wife. One that worked less, was available to him and the family, one that tended to the home and children. And now it seems that men want a more independent wife, one that doesn't NEED help, one that has her own life....
It seems most are talking about what is the current Cosmo-girl or Esquire vision of an ideal wife.
For me there is something far more profound in what you posted.
What I have wanted in a wife has changed over the 46 years of marriage as our situations have changed.
When I was a dirt poor college graduate student, my wife helped support us financially (I had multiple jobs at and outside the university and had a scholarship to do my part).
When we had children and she stayed home to take care of them, I wanted a wife who would take care of them so I could focus on being a good provider and make sure that the mortgage payments were always made on time.
When the children were in school she went back to work and she wanted me to be their sports coach after school, on weekends, and I wanted her to give me the time to do that.
When the kids left home for college and careers and we became empty nesters, I wanted someone to reconnect with and share time together. The concept of shared recreational interests became something that I really got to understand. She also wanted to go back to graduate school and really advance her career. I supported her financially and spent weekends doing things had helping proof read her thesis and research papers.
Now that we are established in both our careers and financially very comfortable and planning retirement, we each want a travel partner and someone to share grand-parenting duties with.
One of the things that David Schnarch points out is that marriage is one of the hardest things two people can do, if done correctly. The reason is that we are two separate people, who have come together to form a single social family unit. We each grow and emotionally mature at different rates. That creates conflict between us that stresses one or the other and pushes or pulls them to emotionally grow or to reach a compromise that both can live with.
Yes, your newly wedded friend is struggling with huge emotional growth, but more huge (since she didn't live wither her husband before marriage or have sex with him) is that she and him have had to change (aka grow) even more than most newly married couples in the first few months of marriage.
Marriage especially at the start is a huge change.
Now to transition to what most are talking about. If one partner in a marriage is a clear leader and the other a clear follower, then the transition is perhaps less. Once upon a time when both husband and wife lead a subsistence existence either on a farm or industrial city setting, then self-fulfillment wasn't really an option. In such times a clear marital leader and clear follower probably reduced stress and clearly defined gender roles helped reduce the stress of marriage.
Today, self-fulfillment is constantly being stressed in the media and culture. Gender roles are also more fluid with stay at home dads, and corporate executive wives. So in today's culture yes, Getting a Life allows for more self fulfillment, independence, etc.