On Household Relations and the Natural Order of Things

 

There have been a number of posts on Ricochet lately, and many more over time, about relations and dynamics between the sexes, the state of Western Civilization and the role of men and women in it, and how soon the handcart we’re all bouncing around in will reach the gates of Hell (not long) because we’re going about everything so completely wrong nowadays.

I’m not going to try to solve all those problems in this little story. I’m simply going to give you a glimpse of what two people did in their own lives to try to manage the order of household relations, and why, and how it’s worked out for us.

As many of you know, I’m fond of history, of historical novels, of the English “locked room murder mystery story (encyclopedic knowledge of several authors) and also of the occasional tasteful bodice-ripper. But my first love, when it comes to actual literature and real history is the medieval period, especially that of late 14th-century England, and especially as it is reflected in the poetry of its preeminent poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. I love the richness of his verse, the ways he finds ways to weave history, Christian faith, and elements of mythology into his stories, and I love the earthy and homespun wisdom of the lessons that he teaches in the best of his poetry, and his characterizations of the people who teach them. He exemplifies the reason I like real literature and think it’s worth studying — because the best of it is true and universal. (The worst of it, a great deal of which has been written in the last century, is pretentious, long-winded, self-serving, and self-important claptrap.)

So, on to Chaucer’s “Parlement of Foules,” c. 1385, a dream-vision poem of 700 lines more or less, in which the narrator, a man who seems bereft of, and perhaps disconnected from, the emotion of love himself, is transported to the gates of a pagan paradise. On entering, he sees dozens of mythological figures relaxing, playing games, disporting themselves in an idyllic and perpetually green and flowering setting all ruled over by “Dame Nature,” and he settles down to watch the annual congress of all the birds choosing their mates. (The action takes place on St. Valentine’s Day, and the poem is usually credited with the subsequent setting-aside of that day as one for lovers). Things get off to a rocky start, however, when the beautiful young female eagle perched on Dame Nature’s arm is sought after by three competing males all putting their best foot forward and making their pitch for her affections. One of them is the noblest and highest-born; he thinks this makes him worthy of the lady. Another of them has loved her the longest; surely this secures his place? And the third, lower-born but no less loving, believes he is the most faithful; done deal, right, he’s the one?

So, we wonder. On which of these three suitors will Dame Nature bestow the lady’s hand? Not so fast, though. First, the great debate.

As is the custom with this literary device, sometimes called, a “demande d’amour,” or a “courtly love puzzle,” the spectators weigh in with their opinions. (Usually, such a device was reserved for high-minded and philosophical matters of the heart, and was debated by nobles and courtiers. Chaucer is turning it on its head here by giving it to flocks of birds, and by having different birds represent different social strata in English society.) So things turn into a bit of a brawl at times, as “lower-class” birds squawk their opinions and others interrupt, or as “higher-class” birds start to pontificate and are shouted down. Eventually, Dame Nature realizes that things are going nowhere, and she cuts debate off. She turns the attention of the rest of the birds back to the selection of their own mates, and issues her verdict to the eagles.

Which is: The lady must decide. (Oh, I love the Medievals, so much.) And all will be bound by her decision. And so the lady speaks:

My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature,
Soth is that I am ever under your yerde,
Lyk as is everich other creature,
And moot be youres whyl that my lyf may dure;
And therfor graunteth me my firste bone,
And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.’

(My rightful lady, Queen of Nature,
It is true that I am under your command, 
As is every other creature, 
And I must be yours as long as my life shall last; 
And so, grant me but one request, 
And I will tell you my desire very soon.’)

Nature agrees that she will honor the little eagle’s wish, and the eagle then says she would like a year to make up her mind, after which she will choose one of her enthusiastic suitors and the matter will be ended. Dame Nature acquiesces, telling the eagle that she takes her at her word and telling the impatient suitors that a year is not too long to wait for such a lady’s hand. Then all the other birds fly off with their mutually-satisfactory mates, and the poem ends with a hymn to love.

So.

What on earth does that have to do with household relations at Chez She almost 40 years ago? Just our very own demand d’amour (minus the cackling birds, it’s true, but a variation of the device nonetheless):

But first, another (very brief) digression. Mr. She and I are both extraordinarily strong-willed individuals. God gave both of us quite useful brains, and we’ve always thought it the height of ingratitude not to use them to the fullest extent. Neither of us sees one sex as superior to the other, and both of us believe that reducing every explanation of the social and personal dynamics between two individuals to a matter of the power one has over the other to be less than interesting, and not at all illuminating. We rarely speak of the “patriarchy.” We do talk about a sensible order of things, and the fact that “someone has to be in charge.” And we recognize that different people have different strengths and weaknesses, and that it is better for some to be in charge of some areas, and others to be in charge of others. (This is one of the reasons I enjoyed the debate between Camille Paglia and Jordan Peterson [which I embedded in recent post] so much. Paglia essentially rejects the term “patriarchy,” and the reduction of everything to the power dynamic, in favor of a common-sense explanation for the way society and Western Civilization has evolved, one which makes impeccable sense to me.)

So, back on point. For now. One day, Mr. She (a Medievalist by profession. Go figure) said to me:

“Look, if we’re going to do this (make a serious commitment to each other), there will be times that we argue and fight. And times we can’t agree on things. If the things we can’t agree on are significant and important, that’s going to be a problem. I don’t want to live a life where we’re in constant conflict. Do you?”

Me: “No, I don’t want that either.”

Mr. She: “So I have a proposition for you: When we come to one of those times, we’ll argue it out. I’ll make my best case. You make your best case. I may convince you. You may convince me. If that happens, great. We agree, and we’ll move forward. So far, so good, right?”

Me: “Yes . . .”

Mr. She: “But, if we ever get to a point where we can’t agree, I’ll listen to, and think carefully about, everything you’ve said. And then I’ll make a decision, and we’ll go forward. Can you agree to, and if it comes down to it, will you give in, to that?”

Me: (Long pause.) Yes.

Mr She: Then I agree with, and give in to, your decision!

The lady gets to decide. And so I did. Actually, we decided together. Because we thought that was the natural order of things. Free will. Two people. A decision. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in. It’s served us well for the past 37 years. (That, and the separate checking accounts. Mustn’t forget the separate checking accounts. Very important, separate checking accounts. Likely mandatory, actually.)

Seriously, though, it’s worked pretty well. I’ve “won” some in that many of those important decisions have gone my way. I’ve “lost” some, in that many of them haven’t. In neither case have I tried to second-guess, or hold a grudge if things don’t go well, knowing that the decision at the time, whosoever it was, was made by a smart person with the best information, doing the best he or she could with it at the time it was made. And so we move on.

I think that’s the best “natural order of things.” For me. Free will. A decision. Two people. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in. (And yes, for sure–bumps in the road along the way. Some from the inside, and some from the outside. But here we still are, and I don’t think we’ve contravened any tenets of our shared culture, faith and history in our perspective and attitudes on this as we’ve muddled through life.)

How have you resolved the unresolvable in your own life? If there is more than just yourself involved or affected by major decisions, how, and who, makes the difficult ones? All serious and/or humorous suggestions welcome. It’s probably too late for me to change, but you might influence some others with your excellent ideas. Please share.

There are 27 comments.

  1. Henry Racette Contributor

    She: I think that’s the best “natural order of things.” For me. Free will. A decision. Two people. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in.

    This is an interesting summary in that it leaves out the one point of your previously quoted dialogue that clashes so charmingly with modernity: the ultimate authority you ceded to the man in the relationship to resolve the unreconcilable.

    So the “natural order of things,” if you were to include that final detail, would read more like this:

    “Free will. A decision. Two people. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in. And, if it comes to it, submission.

    And that does sound like a sensible arrangement, to me.

    • #1
    • September 2, 2018, at 10:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She: I think that’s the best “natural order of things.” For me. Free will. A decision. Two people. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in.

    This is an interesting summary in that it leaves out the one point of your previously quoted dialogue that clashes so charmingly with modernity: the ultimate authority you ceded to the man in the relationship to resolve the unreconcilable.

    So the “natural order of things,” if you were to include that final detail, would read more like this:

    “Free will. A decision. Two people. Commitment. Cooperation. Communication. Mutual trust. Mutual giving-in. And, if it comes to it, submission.

    And that does sound like a sensible arrangement, to me.

    Well done, @henryracette. First comment, too.

    “Submission,” or the acknowledgement that there comes a point at which someone has to be in charge, is just another choice. I could have said, “No” to Mr. She’s wild idea. And to anyone else’s for that matter. And gone about my business. And continued doing so for the rest of my life.

    For me, it always boils down to a matter of trust, and whether or not it’s total, and two-way. Commitment without complete trust is doomed to failure, IMHO. I just don’t see how that works. So, I had to trust. And so did he.

    And that trust has been borne out. Because, you see, sometimes the decision Mr. She makes is to go with my decision. Even if he’s not fully on board with it himself. Because he thinks I am in a better position to make one, and that I probably know more about this particular matter, than he does. Ego isn’t part of it. Power isn’t part of it. Domination isn’t part of it. Submission really isn’t even part of it. What is best for the two of us is all of it.

    That’s what I mean by “mutual giving in.”

    It’s not necessarily a one-way street, you know?

    • #2
    • September 2, 2018, at 10:27 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Henry Racette Contributor

    She (View Comment):

    sometimes the decision Mr. She makes is to go with my decision. Even if he’s not fully on board with it himself Because he thinks I am in a better position to know, and that I probably know more about this particular matter, than he does. Ego isn’t part of it. Power isn’t part of it. Domination isn’t part of it. Submission really isn’t even part of it. What is best for the two of us is part of it.

    That’s what I mean by “mutual giving in.”

    It’s not necessarily a one-way street, you know?

    As much as this topic interests me, I want to be careful not to run away with your thread and with your delightful post. I also don’t want to make too much of this one aspect of what sounds like a wonderful and richly communicative relationship. But it does interest me, the matter of male/female roles, including how they affect conflict resolution.

    Going back to your quoted dialogue, I was amused by this portion of the exchange:

    She:

    Mr. She: “But, if we ever get to a point where we can’t agree, I’ll listen to, and think carefully about, everything you’ve said. And then I’ll make a decision, and we’ll go forward. Can you agree to, and if it comes down to it, will you give in, to that?”

    Me: (Long pause). Yes.

    Long pause, indeed. Mr. She proposed something so far removed from the regnant sexual egalitarianism of our day as to seem positively reactionary. You had to consider it, to wonder (I am assuming, here) if it was a condition you were willing to accept and, having done so, one you would be willing and able to uphold.

    But you didn’t respond by engaging in the dialectic for which you’d both expressed support. Rather, you acquiesced, recognizing (again, assuming here) an appropriateness to this particular hierarchy — and hierarchy it is that Mr. She proposed and to which you, albeit with brief hesitation, acceded.

    I think it’s beautiful. I wish more husbands would take on the responsibility of being the ultimate authority within the family, and the duties — in particular, of support and child discipline and hard decision making — that spring from that. Well done, Mr. (and Mrs.) She.

    • #3
    • September 2, 2018, at 10:47 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    This is perplexing. As odd as it sounds, I’m not sure how we make decisions, at least important ones. Certainly I’d like to think we are both open to each other’s opinions. But if we can’t decide (and it’s not a question of money), I think the person who objects to taking a step wins out; in some cases, the other person can go ahead on his or her own. (That would usually be me.) So when it came to owning guns, I didn’t want either of us to own one. Eventually, since Jerry felt so strongly about it, I couldn’t object to his having one (since he researched it, received training, etc.) Then he wanted to be sure I could at least handle a gun, so I used his to try it out (also getting minimal training). Then I found it liked it, and got my own gun. To make a long story shorter, we practice together twice a week and are going to a gun seminar at Hillsdale.

    I would describe our decision-making as fluid, most of the time. Thanks for a post that has caused me to reflect, @she!

    • #4
    • September 2, 2018, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    I let my wife run the day to day things, and only bother with the important decisions, such as what I have for lunch.


    This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series under September’s theme of Order. We still have sixteen openings on our schedule and sign-up sheet, including tomorrow, yes Labor Day. You all want to write about order or disorders on Labor Day, don’t you? Sign up now.

    • #5
    • September 2, 2018, at 11:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Well, Hank, you’ve said so many nice things. Perhaps I should just submit to the delightful sound of your appreciation and kind words, and call it a day.

    But this was in about 1980, after all, and the “sexual egalitarianism of our day” wasn’t quite as regnant, or quite as rampant as it is today. In addition, Mr. She is a good bit older than I, so he’s even less steeped in it than I might have been were I one to have paid much attention to popular culture, or to the latest emanations from the college English Department in which we first crossed paths. (Speaking of a relationship dynamic that would raise more than an eyebrow or two today . . . .)

    I’m really interested in how others handle difficult decisions in a relationship, though. This is what we did (and trust me, a lot went through my mind during my “long pause,” with, I think, the correct decision at the end of it).

    Just as important to agreeing how to handle what might otherwise become irreconcilable differences, I think, was good-faith handling when (as our politicians like to put it) “mistakes were made.” No backtracking (unless a rewind or a second chance was a relatively simple option), no second-guessing ever, and no grudge-bearing or backbiting. Doesn’t mean we didn’t acknowledge some absolute howlers, or some utter disasters. It just means we forgave and moved on, we learned, and we tried not to do the same dumb thing, in the same circumstances, ever again.

    I guess what it all boils down to, most especially in the early days and the first years of a committed relationship, is whether or not one is willing to put that commitment and that relationship front and center, or whether one considers the commitment less than total, and one is going to let distractions get in the way. We chose option one. Certainly, as we’ve aged, and settled in, and got to know each other even better than we did at the start, our life together, and the way we handle things has matured, and I expect it will continue to do so.

    • #6
    • September 2, 2018, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    I let my wife run the day to day things, and only bother with the important decisions, such as what I have for lunch.

    “O wise young judge! A Daniel come to judgment!” Well done you! And Mrs. A.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    So when it came to owning guns, I didn’t want either of us to own one. Eventually, since Jerry felt so strongly about it, I couldn’t object to his having one (since he researched it, received training, etc.) Then he wanted to be sure I could at least handle a gun, so I used his to try it out (also getting minimal training). Then I found it liked it, and got my own gun. To make a long story shorter, we practice together twice a week and are going to a gun seminar at Hillsdale.

    I would describe our decision-making as fluid, most of the time.

    Thanks, @susanquinn. It sounds as if you and Jerry have a good process. Communication and openness to the other person’s point of view is a key requirement, and the two of you obviously have a lot of that going for you both.

    • #7
    • September 2, 2018, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Henry Racette Contributor

    She (View Comment):
    No backtracking . . ., no second-guessing ever, and no grudge-bearing or backbiting.

    Add to that “never say anything disrespectful of your spouse,” and you probably have three quarters of the recipe for marital success — at least so far as communication is concerned.

    • #8
    • September 2, 2018, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    I give this post the three E’s: enjoyable, educational and excellently presented.

    And I am also enthused you mentioned a Paglia/Peterson post somewhere – I knew those two would have to have a discussion, I just knew it.

    • #9
    • September 2, 2018, at 6:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    CarolJoy (View Comment):

    And I am also enthused you mentioned a Paglia/Peterson post somewhere – I knew those two would have to have a discussion, I just knew it.

    Yes, they did. I linked to it in this post. And I thoroughly enjoyed the results.

    • #10
    • September 2, 2018, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Skyler Coolidge

    You have a very wise husband.

    I had a girlfriend one time who told me that a woman needed to be told what to do, that a man should impose his will on her, kind of like in Taming of the Shrew. She was the most intelligent woman I’ve ever known. Maybe she was onto something, but it seeemed odd for a woman to ask for that.

    • #11
    • September 2, 2018, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. KentForrester Coolidge

    She, I’m sorta with Susan on this. I’ve never really given the matter of precedence in our marriage much thought.

    I think we have a “modern” marriage, despite being married for 55 years. If it’s terribly important to Marie, I give in. And vice versa. I chide her for not paying attention to prices. She chides me for not cleaning the lint trap on the dryer.

    I’m neat but dirty. She’s clean but messy. So it’s a wash. 

    We’ve always shared tasks. She cooks; I load and empty and put away the dishes. She dusts; I wax the floors. And so on. I think it comes out about even. 

    I haven’t gotten to your central question: Who has the final say? I haven’t gotten to it because I can’t think of a situation in which Marie and I have needed a final arbiter. When she wins on a big one, I sulk for a day. When I win, she sulks. We both get over it quickly.

    Thanks for the post. “The Parliament of Fowls”? My goodness, She, you are such a brain! If I read British literature these days, it’s in prose, has a plot, contains a murder, and ends with Flavia solving the crime. 

    I did enjoy reading Middle English again. I used to read it easily when I taught Survey of English Literature courses. Now I’m slow and occasionally unsure. 

    • #12
    • September 2, 2018, at 8:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Henry Racette Contributor

    Skyler (View Comment):

    You have a very wise husband.

    I had a girlfriend one time who told me that a woman needed to be told what to do, that a man should impose his will on her, kind of like in Taming of the Shrew. She was the most intelligent woman I’ve ever known. Maybe she was onto something, but it seeemed odd for a woman to ask for that.

    I think you’ve just expressed one of the most politically incorrect truths: women like being told what to do.

    Not all women, of course. And not all men like being in charge. But, in general, I think it’s an aspect of femininity that women want to let men make decisions for them. I think it has a lot to do with the difficulty women have in compartmentalizing their thoughts and not revisiting decisions from a hundred different angles.

    I remember the first time I ever heard this from a woman. She was a co-worker of mine at a software company in Colorado Springs, in 1986. She was recently married, and she said she wanted her husband to tell her what to do — not in a sexual sense, but just in general: she wanted someone else to make decisions for her. I’ve heard it countless times since, from all kinds of women.

    It’s beyond paleo to suggest it now, in this age of the emasculated man and the vanishing woman, the age of the universal eunuch. But I think it’s true, nonetheless, and that men and women will be happier when they admit it to themselves.

     

    • #13
    • September 2, 2018, at 8:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    women like being told what to do

    I like being told what to do only by the person who has the authority to do so, namely my husband. If I were working, that would include my client or boss who is paying for my work.

    But I don’t like random men thinking they can tell me what to do just because I am a chick. Having boobs does not make me one, and I have no reason to trust the judgement of a stranger. I prefer my own. 

    As was mentioned previously, the key is trust. I trust the people I give decision-making power to. And then I submit gracefully. 

    Papa Toad and I used to rock climb a lot. We’d be top-roping at a popular site, and the constant chatter from most of the men to their wives/girlfriends telling them where to go next or which handhold to use was so annoying.

    I made it clear to my own man that I appreciated advice when I was at a loss and asked for it, but in general, keep it quiet and let me climb. Maybe those other chicks liked it, but I doubt it.

    • #14
    • September 3, 2018, at 3:22 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    women like being told what to do

    I like being told what to do only by the person who has the authority to do so, namely my husband. If I were working, that would include my client or boss who is paying for my work.

    But I don’t like random men thinking they can tell me what to do just because I am a chick. Having boobs does not make me one, and I have no reason to trust the judgement of a stranger. I prefer my own.

    This brought to mind (and it wasn’t all that pleasant a feeling) some of my less-than-enjoyable excursions to Lowes and Hope Depot over the years. I’m quite handy at home repair (my collections of power tools, plumbing tools and electrician’s gear are quite impressive). So there I’d be, standing in front of the circuit breakers, looking for exactly the one I needed, and some guy I’ve never seen before, a fountain of useless and incorrect information, just couldn’t wait to clog up my bandwidth with his nonsense. Or there I’d be, mulling over the difference between, or the relative advantages of, one sort of plumbing pipe or another, and some daft brush who wouldn’t know a spud nut wrench from a toilet seal, had to come and give me the benefit of his inexpertise. One particularly annoying guy in the compressor tools aisle is lucky I didn’t staple his feet to the floor.

    Then there are the men who are secure in themselves and who actually know what they are talking about. Most of them, I’ve found, aren’t threatened at all by a mouthy woman who knows whereof she speaks, and they are delightful and nothing but helpful.

    As was mentioned previously, the key is trust. I trust the people I give decision-making power to. And then I submit gracefully.

    This.

    Papa Toad and I used to rock climb a lot. We’d be top-roping at a popular site, and the constant chatter from most of the men to their wives/girlfriends telling them where to go next or which handhold to use was so annoying.

    I made it clear to my own man that I appreciated advice when I was at a loss and asked for it, but in general, keep it quiet and let me climb. Maybe those other chicks liked it, but I doubt it.

    Well, fellow “used to rock climb[er]!” Ever been to Seneca Rocks in WV? I agree with you. A bit of patient instruction is one thing (I needed that at first, myself), but it crosses over into “showing off” pretty quickly, and I saw a lot of that, too. Think you are right on all points above.

     

    • #15
    • September 3, 2018, at 4:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I had a girlfriend one time who told me that a woman needed to be told what to do, that a man should impose his will on her, kind of like in Taming of the Shrew. She was the most intelligent woman I’ve ever known. Maybe she was onto something, but it seeemed odd for a woman to ask for that.

    I think you are right. That’s odd. I think a woman who needs to be told what to do has a problem. But then, there are various degrees of telling someone what to do.

    My favorite boss ever (it could have been a disaster, he was younger than me, and shorter than me) used to tell me what to do. And sometimes, perhaps in relation to a project involving several million dollars of the hospital’s money, dozens if not hundreds of staff members, and thousands of hours in implementation and training time, his telling me what to do consisted of saying something like, “take this ball, run with it, and get ‘er done.”  I was good at my job, and so I did. Of course, I issued regular updates and progress reports, and we talked about it at our status meetings, but he pretty much let me get on with it.

    Micro-managers and I don’t get on all that well, either in my business life or in my personal life. I’m quite good at partnerships though. And yes, there are times when it’s nice not to have to be the one in charge. But I almost never need someone to tell me what to do, and I can’t really see how that works as a successful relationship dynamic over time.

    • #16
    • September 3, 2018, at 4:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Not all women, of course. And not all men like being in charge. But, in general, I think it’s an aspect of femininity that women want to let men make decisions for them. I think it has a lot to do with the difficulty women have in compartmentalizing their thoughts and not revisiting decisions from a hundred different angles.

    Or maybe it just has to do with knowing men like to have their egos stroked . . . I’ve known a few men like that myself.

    I’ve always thought that one of the most celebrated wives in our cultural tradition, the Proverbs 31 wife, must have been a pretty independent sort. I suspect her job description said something like “Responsibilities include management of all aspects of domestic and family life: Insures that all areas run efficiently, effectively, and smoothly. Identifies areas needing improvement, and formulates strategic and tactical plans to address them. Manages projects designed to promote the happiness, satisfaction, success, and wealth, of family and household members. Implements ongoing maintenance strategies to keep all household matters current and up-to-date.”

    I don’t see anything, anywhere in there, about her sitting around waiting for instructions from Headquarters before being able to make a move. It says:

    She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

    She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

    She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

    She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

    And more.

    It also says this: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.” Presumably to make decisions without extensive input and meddling from him. At least, that’s the way I read the chapter.

     

     

    • #17
    • September 3, 2018, at 5:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    It is sensible in any relationship to welcome the informed and respectful input of the other person, across a wide range of things. I talk things over with my wife – sometimes to validate my decisions, sometimes to seek better solutions. And she does the same.

    Actually, my mental unwillingness to engage in the advance planning through which Mrs. iWe squares away the world, frustrates her. I’d rather just get on with things and see how they go; she would rather have a schedule, even if we have no way of knowing if it will play out that way.

    It helps that we are crazy about each other. That smooths over a lot of differences!

    • #18
    • September 3, 2018, at 6:16 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Henry Racette Contributor

    She (View Comment):

    She Post author
     

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Not all women, of course. And not all men like being in charge. But, in general, I think it’s an aspect of femininity that women want to let men make decisions for them. I think it has a lot to do with the difficulty women have in compartmentalizing their thoughts and not revisiting decisions from a hundred different angles.

    Or maybe it just has to do with knowing men like to have their egos stroked . . . I’ve known a few men like that myself.

    Snort.

    I mean, yes. Certainly we do like having our egos stroked. And mansplaining is a real thing, an awkwardly complementary counterpoint to the female tendency to talk through issues without really wanting to engage them at that moment and seek a solution. (Standard advice to young men: don’t assume that she wants you to try to solve the problem she’s describing.)

    Men and women are wonderfully different. I remember the first time I went paint shopping with my wife. I thought there was such a paint color as white. An hour later, I appreciated how mistaken I had been.

    I decided then and there what the title would be, should I ever write a book introducing newly wed men to the strange universe they had just entered.

    Ten Thousand Shades of White

    For obvious reasons, that’s no longer a suitable title.

    • #19
    • September 3, 2018, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. The Reticulator Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Men and women are wonderfully different. I remember the first time I went paint shopping with my wife. I thought there was such a paint color as white. An hour later, I appreciated how mistaken I had been.

    I decided then and there what the title would be, should I ever write a book introducing newly wed men to the strange universe they had just entered.

    Ten Thousand Shades of White

    For obvious reasons, that’s no longer a suitable title.

    You would never have made it onto the Supreme Court if you had written that book. So be glad.

    • #20
    • September 3, 2018, at 9:51 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Henry Racette Contributor

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Men and women are wonderfully different. I remember the first time I went paint shopping with my wife. I thought there was such a paint color as white. An hour later, I appreciated how mistaken I had been.

    I decided then and there what the title would be, should I ever write a book introducing newly wed men to the strange universe they had just entered.

    Ten Thousand Shades of White

    For obvious reasons, that’s no longer a suitable title.

    You would never have made it onto the Supreme Court if you had written that book. So be glad.

    Darn. And I was so close. . . . ;)

    • #21
    • September 3, 2018, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. GFHandle Member

    This lovely essay reminded me of John Winthrop’s  little speech on liberty. Natural liberty, he said, is the liberty we share with beasts, that is, the liberty to do whatever we want. It is certainly not the same as civil liberty, in fact:

    This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast, which all of the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it. The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The women’s own choice makes such a man her husband; yet, being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honor and freedom and would not think her condition safe and free but in her subjection to her husband’s authority. Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride’s ornaments; and if through forwardness or wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, Let us break their bands, etc.; we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates.

    Winthrop’s view of marriage would strike most moderns as old-fashioned or abusive. But it shows that the common claim that men in the past disdained women utterly, beat them according to a “rule of thumb,” and regarded them as creatures bereft of any dignity is on a par with the academy’s until recently accepted claim that Victorian doctors used the newly invented vibrator to stimulate the clitorides of hysterical women, thus saving time and money.

    • #22
    • September 3, 2018, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    She Post author

     

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Not all women, of course. And not all men like being in charge. But, in general, I think it’s an aspect of femininity that women want to let men make decisions for them. I think it has a lot to do with the difficulty women have in compartmentalizing their thoughts and not revisiting decisions from a hundred different angles.

    Or maybe it just has to do with knowing men like to have their egos stroked . . . I’ve known a few men like that myself.

    Snort.

    Yes, indeed. On the other hand, here’s a poor guy with a blog who’s worked himself up into some sort of approach-avoidance analysis paralysis while contemplating this puzzle: 
     https://secularpatriarchy.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-natural-order-of-relations-between-men-and-women-at-the-personal-and-political-level/.
    I ran across this when I was doing a bit of due diligence prior to writing my post.

    A woman who fills in the void doing for the man what the man should be doing on behalf of others runs the risk of creating a long term problem. The man should be pressured and forced to live up to his responsibilities in the family rather than the woman taking on a masculine role in the family to make up for the dereliction of duty on the man’s part.

    So, let’s say a man is on active duty, laying his life on the line for his country, and his wife is at home, managing things and taking care of the kids. And let’s say the toilet backs up. Should she grab the plumber’s helper and clear the clog? Or should she just sit back and let things fester for months if not years, and wait till Superman gets home?

    Poor guy. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but am leaning towards “cry” at the moment. Good grief. Is that a common point of view, or a widespread worry, do you know?

    • #23
    • September 3, 2018, at 11:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Duane Oyen Member

    I think that it works well if you simply don’t pay any attention to “who’s in charge”. I don’t know that Rubber Duckie and I ever had a disagreement (we’ve been married for 45 years) where one of us didn’t simply cave naturally as part of the discussion if it had to be resolved Right Now (we are fortunate, I admit, that we see financial things the same way, so (cliche alert) your mileage may vary). Punting the football (mixed metaphor alert) down the road is exactly the right solution where the issue does not need to be settled Right Now- and it is surprising how few times you really end up with true urgency drivers. The disagreements often simply dribble away if you decide to punt.

    • #24
    • September 3, 2018, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Henry Racette Contributor

    She (View Comment):
    So, let’s say a man is on active duty, laying his life on the line for his country, and his wife is at home, managing things and taking care of the kids. And let’s say the toilet backs up. Should she grab the plumber’s helper and clear the clog? Or should she just sit back and let things fester for months if not years, and wait till Superman gets home?

    We both understand the difference between a principle broadly applied and the occasional exigencies of daily living. Shoot, I think that was addressed by at least one other author fairly recently. . . . Yes, here it is: Luke 14:5.

    ;)

    • #25
    • September 3, 2018, at 12:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    So, let’s say a man is on active duty, laying his life on the line for his country, and his wife is at home, managing things and taking care of the kids. And let’s say the toilet backs up. Should she grab the plumber’s helper and clear the clog? Or should she just sit back and let things fester for months if not years, and wait till Superman gets home?

    We both understand the difference between a principle broadly applied and the occasional exigencies of daily living. Shoot, I think that was addressed by at least one other author fairly recently. . . . Yes, here it is: Luke 14:5.

    ;)

    Of course, we both do, and I agree with you (should think the general tenor of my post would make that clear). I’m just not sure, putting such an example into the context of the rest of his musings, that this poor fellow would join our number . . . 

    • #26
    • September 3, 2018, at 12:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    I think that it works well if you simply don’t pay any attention to “who’s in charge”. I don’t know that Rubber Duckie and I ever had a disagreement (we’ve been married for 45 years) where one of us didn’t simply cave naturally as part of the discussion if it had to be resolved Right Now (we are fortunate, I admit, that we see financial things the same way, so (cliche alert) your mileage may vary). Punting the football (mixed metaphor alert) down the road is exactly the right solution where the issue does not need to be settled Right Now- and it is surprising how few times you really end up with true urgency drivers. The disagreements often simply dribble away if you decide to punt.

    This is lovely (especially the parenthetical asides). Thanks for dropping in!

    • #27
    • September 3, 2018, at 12:28 PM PDT
    • Like