John and Louise, April 1948
We Love You
There are times I feel like I live in a small, protective bubble. I'm not a marriage expert, I've only been at it for eight years. I don't have a perfect marriage - I couldn't even really say what that looks like. We fight, we laugh, we talk, we agree to disagree, and I could definitely live without the burping. My husband is my best friend, my soft place to fall, my security. I love him more than Elizabeth Bennet loved Mr. Darcy, when I see him gather our children in his arms, and love them and hug them and breathe them in. If the words I love you were currency, we'd be millionaires, and we are - in more ways than one.
But, recently I have connected with people who's views of marriage are drastically different from my own. It is their cage, their battlefield, their nightmare. Marriage is supposed to be a sacred, safe, loving place, and these problems between husbands and wives seem to be suddenly common. Cheating - the sanitized word for adultery, sexual addiction and deviation from marriage, rejecting children and destroying family, pulling away from the sanctity, the safe place in marriage for purely selfish reasons - no thought to the future. My heart breaks, and I don't know the answers, because I feel like I won the lottery, and how can someone who's indescribably rich reach out to someone who is poor? I only know that my heart breaks, and that I need to give.
For those of us who are so blessed, protect your marriage, keep the spark - the work is well worth the reward. For those of you who find yourselves in desperate situations, reach out. There are people who love you, who are ready to support you. For those of you starting out, a poem I read by Lena Lathrop when I was young really spoke to me, and stays with me even today.
A Woman's Question
By Mary "Lena" Lathrop
Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the hand above--
A woman's heart, and a woman's life
And a woman's wonderful love?
Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing
As a child might ask for a toy,
Demanding what others have died to win,
With the reckless dash of a boy?
You have written my lesson of duty out,
Man-like you have questioned me;
Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul
Until I shall question thee.
You require your mutton shall always be hot,
Your socks and your shirt be whole;
I require your heart to be true as God's stars,
And as pure as heaven your soul.
You require a cook for your mutton and beef;
I require a far better thing.
A seamstress you're wanting for socks and shirts;
I look for a man and a king.
A king for the beautiful realm called home,
And a man that the maker, God,
Shall look upon as he did the first
And say, "It is very good."
I am fair and young, but the rose will fade
From my soft, young cheek one day,
Will you love me then 'mid the falling leaves,
As you did 'mid the bloom of May?
Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep,
I may launch my all on its tide?
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
On the day she is made a bride.
I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give all this, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.
If you cannot do this -- a laundress and cook
You can hire, with little to pay,
But a woman's heart and a woman's life
Are not to be won that way.
For my dear Grandparents.