The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marriage 1920's Style - Part 1

I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Being married is not always easy, but it can be extremely rewarding for those who have the courage and tenacity to keep working to improve that marriage and to build a strong and lasting relationship with their spouse. Still, I see and have occasionally felt how tempting it can be to take the easy way out and quit trying to build a good/great marriage. I see how many people just surrender altogether and file for divorce. Most of all, I see how our core attitude toward marriage makes it more difficult for us to keep our wedding vow "'til death do us part."

One of my favorite secular authors is Emilie Loring. She wrote romance novels (stories about love overcoming adversity, not filthy, se*ualized stories) from 1914 until her death in 1951. Her books are clean; kissing is the extent of the romantic involvement depicted, and many of the books do not contain any swear words. (It wasn't until the 1960s that her male heroes were allowed to say d--n.) Reading her books is like taking a trip into another era, one in which character traits like honor, loyalty, bravery, and courage were valued highly.

I recently re-read The Trail of Conflict, which was originally published in 1922. The story is about a couple whose marriage is arranged and depicts the rocky path they follow on their way to a real, loving marriage. Because this book addresses problems rampant in today's society, I'm going to share relevant passages with you.

"...One doesn't take the vow 'and forsaking all others' to break it, does one?" gravely.

"I deduce from that that you do not believe in divorce?"

"Divorce! While I acknowledge that there may be situations where it is unavoidable, I hate the word. Always to me it takes on the semblance of Medusa's head in my school mythology, its snaky, hissing locks striking, stabbing, stinging, scarring indelibly. I believe in keeping covenants."

"It's hard sometimes."

"It is, but life isn't intended to be all joy-ride."

"Do you know, I fancy," with an exact imitation of his earlier voice and manner, "that the future first families of America's 'Who's Who' will be those who can count back at least four generations of ancestors who have, in spite of disappointment and disillusion, poverty or riches, sickness or health, kept their marriage covenants."
p. 35

This next passage follows the reading of a will which required the heroine to give up her family fortune and follow her husband to live on an isolated ranch for one year. Her father is speaking in the first sentence.
"Come, Jerry, give this thing up. Settle down here at the Manor and be happy."

For the first time since she had come into the lives of the Courtlands Jerry looked like her father. There was the same determination about her eyes, about her lips.

"Be happy! Does smooth going necessarily mean happiness? Does jogging along on the path beaten by our social set mean happiness? Do you know how I feel, Dad? It is as though Steve and I had come up against an enormous sign-post bearing the startling information, ROAD CLOSED: DETOUR. The detour may be hard going, detours usually are, but they also offer more thrills and adventures than the broad highway. I'm willing to take a sporting chance if - if Steve wants me--"
-pg. 45

More to come in Part 2.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Marriage Thoughts

I'm blessed to be married to an exceptionally thoughtful man.

Here's an example. For Christmas, Miss Muffet and Baby Bear both wanted specific fairy dolls (from the Tinkerbell movie). Unfortunately, many other little girls must have wanted them, too, because the ones they wanted were never in stock. So we got them different ones and promised to get the ones they really wanted later. While they were disappointed not to get the ones they wanted, they were okay once they understood that they would get them later.

On Tuesday, Mr. Incredible called to say that he was at Wal-Mart and that they had Miss Muffet's doll but not Baby Bear's. I told him to go ahead and get the doll and that we would wait to give it to Miss Muffet until we had Baby Bear's doll as well. About 35 minutes later, he called me back to say that he had made a special trip to the Wal-Mart in a town that was about 30 minutes away and they had Baby Bear's doll. So he got it for her and also bought one for Pookie Bear so she wouldn't feel left out.

When he got home and gave the girls their dolls, it was like Christmas all over again. Miss Muffet, particularly, was delighted. As soon as she saw her doll, she started squealing, ran over to her daddy, threw her arms around him, and thanked him repeatedly, saying, "I've been waiting for this my whole life!" (Totally cracked us up - she's only 4!)

How thoughtful was that? He not only thought to look for the dolls when he stopped at Wal-Mart for something else, but he also made a special trip to look elsewhere for the missing doll so that all of his girls would be happy. Honestly, I wouldn't have made the special trip.

But that's not all. I've been battling a cold and/or sinus infection. I woke up around 2:30 that night feeling beyond wretched. My ears hurt, my throat hurt, my chest hurt in front and in back, and I was running a fever. It hurt to breathe, and it was simply excruciating to cough. I was nearly crying, I was so miserable, and I don't often cry. Mr. Incredible woke up and got me medicine and made me as comfortable as possible.

When he got up at 6:00 to get ready for work, he asked if I wanted him to stay home. Since my fever had broken during the night and I was feeling much better, I said it would be nice to have his help but that I could make it without him. He called in to say he wouldn't be making it to work taht day and then sent me back to bed. When the kids got up, he did his best to keep them out of our room. I ended up sleeping until 11:00.

Here's my point. Mr. Incredible is human, which means that he is not perfect. (I'm not perfect, either.) Ofttimes, I remember the things he did that annoyed me or made me mad. I need to look for and remember these thoughtful things he does (and he is always doing something thoughtful).

If I focus on the negative things, that's what I'm going to see, and my perspective of our marriage will be sour. But when I focus on the good things, I realize just how blessed I am. I suppose that's why we are instructed to think on the good things.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. - Philippians 4:8 KJV
I know that I have been focusing more on the bad things than on the good things, and that has to change. Even if Mr. Incredible didn't deserve better from me (he does), the marriage vows I made to love, honor, and obey him will be next to impossible to truly keep if I don't focus on the good things.

How do you view your marriage? What are you focusing on? Do you think changing your focus would improve your marriage?