Friday, March 26, 2010

Proclamations - Martha

This post comes from my friend Martha. I've known her since 7th grade, before she was entirely aware of the numerous health issues that would come to define much of her life. She is an awe-inspiring pianist (with a Master's Degree), and is capable of following the special diet her health requires with a thorough exactness that humbles me. She is very happily expecting her first baby, a boy, after 9 years of marriage (A waiting period she did not expect, but has born beautifully).

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Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

Equality in marriage has become to mean a great deal to me over the course of my marriage. I did not realize at the time I married my husband how truly blessed I was to marry someone who treats me with equanimity. The equality we share has been expressed through many forms during our 9 years of marriage. From the beginning of our relationship, my husband encouraged me in my schooling, to fulfill my goals and dreams, as I encouraged him. My pursuits were not second to his, but equal, and even sometimes encompassed his as he would help me whenever I stumbled or couldn’t keep up as I desired. He does not treat me as his servant or house-slave, but rather helps out around the house as much as he can, especially when I am having a bad day. Decisions that concern our family, our future, and even our own personal selves are made together. We rarely make a decision until we both agree, which sometimes can take a bit of time since both of our opinions are counted as important.

It is vital that a couple treat each other with respect and equality. Marriage is about balance and sharing in the joys of living. It takes work and sacrifice, especially when life throws a curve ball or two. The roles and duties of each spouse molds and changes over the course of time, and we need to adjust our lives and ideals accordingly. Most especially when our loved one becomes ill or pursues a lifelong dream. My husband and I have learned that open and frequent communication about our needs and wants, our abilities and limitations, and the changes that come into our lives is extremely valuable, creating feelings of love and support, and minimizing feelings of being overwhelmed, angered, or resentful.

Being from a large family and having many married friends, I have witnessed the tenderness that is created when equality in marriage is rendered. I have also seen the many facets of equality. What might be considered “equal” in one marriage may not work in another marriage. Who does the dishes, cooking, cleaning, money-earning, homework help, bath time, bed time routines, bills, etc. completely depends upon each couple and their own situation. Being “equal” doesn’t mean that if you tally a list of what each person does during a day or week the lists should match in length, but rather, that as a couple, each person’s needs, wants, abilities, and desires are taken into account in establishing routines of living.

(editor's note: if equality is considered "we divide the labor equally" it won't work. If equality is considered, "I value my spouse's needs and desires equal to, if not slightly exceeding, my own", then it is the kind of equality I can get behind.)

These routines need to be flexible, though. I am always touched by my husband’s kindness as he helps lighten my load when I’m having a hard day. He doesn’t complain when I’ve slackened in my roles, but rather he buoys me up, gives me encouragement, and helps out where he can.

Over the course of our marriage, illness has been our constant companion. My ideal role as a wife and mother has not even come close to reality. Throughout our journey, the support of extended family has been essential. I have learned there must be a balance in their support verses the support a spouse renders, but the help of loving family, and friends when family is not around, can ease the burden prolonged illnesses place upon a marriage. During these times of struggle, my husband and I have learned the importance of equality, love, and selflessness.


hairyshoefairy said...

Very nice, Martha. I especially like that you pointed out "equal" differs from couple to couple and it's more about helping meet one another's needs than tallying up a list of responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

My wife said to me last night, as we were discussing things like this, "I'm so glad I married someone who was willing to let me be myself."

She out-earns me, ran a daycare, homeschooled our kids while earning a master's degree, got her special ed certificate after she went back to work while I was running a business (which failed), etc. etc. etc. "Let" her be herself? It never occurred to me to want her to be anything else. Like you, I am so lucky. I wish more people had that, and could live those words of the Proclamation and understand them in everyday life.

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