A Portrait of Marriage via Little Women

Marriage is not easy. There are days that I wake up and I wonder just what I must have been thinking: Who is this man and what is he doing in my bed? Other days I marvel over the idea that he actually fell in love with me: Yhy not the other girl/the prettier girl? It takes a lot of patience, understanding, love, and sometimes years to "understand" each other...

A few years ago I read one of my favorite books to Lucy--Little Women. It is such a wonderful book—so true and honest. There are so many good messages in this book written so long ago, yet, the messages still make perfect sense in today’s world. A favorite chapter was titled Domestic Experiences. In this chapter, Meg and her new husband, John Brooke, have their first little spat. You see, Meg is a new bride and wants to impress her husband so that he believes he has the best wife in the world. How many of us were like that when we were newly married? So Meg works herself ragged keeping house, mending clothes, and, in her words, “make his home a paradise”.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to be the ultimate wife, Meg declares that if John should ever desire, he has her permission to bring guests home with him for dinner without any warning whatsoever. After all, she is a good wife. She’s ready for anything. She will greet her husband at the door with a smile, looking charming of course, and have a wonderful meal prepared. John never thought anything of it…and for a long time, he forgot about her declaration.

One day, Meg tries her hand at making jellies for her husband. She knows that he favors them and is desperate to please. It doesn’t matter to her that she knows nothing about making jelly. It seems simple enough…

Of all days, John chooses this one to bring a friend home for dinner. You can imagine his surprise when he proudly walks up the sidewalk to find that his beautiful wife is not standing at the door with a smile on her face. Instead, the smell of something burning greets him. He excuses himself and runs to the back of the house, afraid that his wife is injured. But John only finds Meg in the floor weeping—pot after pot boiling over with a sticky mess all over the floor. When she sees him, she throws herself in his arms declaring that if he doesn’t help her she will surely die!

John finds the entire scene amusing. He sees her as a beautiful woman that loves him so much that she is desperately trying to make him something that she knows he loves. What more could a man want? Even though her attempt has failed miserably, he loves her even the more for her effort.

When Meg realizes that there is company, she is furious at her husband and tells him to take the man away! The house is a mess! There is no food! And she is in a wretched state of mind! John is confused. What happened to her declaration? What happened to the freedom she gave him? But not only that, Meg accuses him of thoughtlessness!

In the end, both parties are furious with the other. There were some things that they both did wrong. You have to read the book. But the part that struck me was the forgiving part. At first, pride kept them both angry. They sat in awkward silence for a long time—both waiting for the other to be the first to apologize. But it was the words of Meg’s mother that brought the young bride before her husband with forgiveness readily on her lips.

“Watch yourself, be the first to beg pardon if you both err, and guard against the little piques, misunderstanding, and hasty words that often pave the way for bitter sorrow and regret.”

How true those words are….

I believe that a small part of the reason people shy away from marriage is because marriage is hard work. You have to be willing to sacrifice pride once in a while. You have to be willing to accept the weaknesses in your spouse and believe that, perhaps, even you have weaknesses. In marriage, you have to be willing to work, to fight, to mend bridges, to shake hands and call it good, to surrender, laugh, cry, accept your wrongs, support and defend, and most of all…never, ever, give up.

The most sacred and precious things in our lives are the things that are the hardest to keep together if we aren’t willing to fight for it. Marriage means fighting to keep things together when the rough winds of life’s storms pick. And they will. They always do. And if you solemnly promise to hold onto each other when the storm clouds gather…you will find yourselves still standing strong when the clouds roll away.

I standing in the former right now. I'm desperately clinging to my husband's hand, facing the storm dead on, and trying hard not to tremble. But the strength of my beloved stands beside me. I know he is trying just as hard not to be afraid, to keep a steady chin, and to shield me from as much pain as possible as he takes the brunt of it. I'm sold. I will never give up on him because of that. And I marvel again...why me?

Lord, for him, for the man you created only for me, I am thankful. He may still drive me nuts and make me angrier than anyone else in the entire world can, but he's mine, I'm his, and we're not going anywhere.

Thanks, Meg and John, for the reminder. ;)


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