While Mac store employees transferred data from my old laptop to the new, I sat in Panera, sipping herbal tea, nibbling a blueberry scone, and reading a little pink book. I figured it was worth waiting to save a second trip into town. And I would have been reading the book anyway.
The little pink book was an odd choice because it was prescriptive, and as a perfectionist, I’m all too suggestible. I make exceptions, as in this post from a year ago. But my current decision had been guided by a series of nudges and God winks.
In January, Keith placed a section of a newspaper he subscribes to on my chair in the great room—a common occurrence. He’d folded the paper to an advice column. “Want Some Magic in Your Marriage? Try Appreciating Your Husband,” by June Kellum.
She advised: take time to reflect on your husband as he is and the qualities you love then let him know. Do things for him that he cares about. And give him space and freedom to be himself. Kellum wrote, “…in all likelihood, he will start doing what you want and more once he feels the warmth of your respect and appreciation.”
Kellum said she took most of her inspiration for this particular column from Helen Andelin’s Fascinating Womanhood. So, out of respect for Keith, I felt nudged to order the little pink book.
The second nudge or God wink came in February while reading Worthy by Denice Turner, a memoir about the Turner’s mother, a devotee of Helen B. Andelin’s Fascinating Womanhood. Turner wrote, “As far as I could tell, the whole point of the book was Thou Shalt Be Charming. And if you were not utterly charming—and if your marriage ran aground or splintered on the hard edges of disinterest or disillusion—it was your own fault.”
My 60s feminism rose to the bait. Urgh, not my cup of tea. But why the coincidence?
The answer came in March via Instagram: a wedding picture of a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. What was the secret to their long marriage? Making the decision to commit to each other, they told their daughter, the author of the post. But that’s not how they’d started.
After ten years of marriage, before children, the author’s Mom had felt neglected—likely Dad did, too. Mom wanted a divorce but first consulted her priest. He said, “I will help you get this marriage annulled if you promise to do one thing first. For the next 30 days, give 100% to your marriage. Whether or not your husband gives anything back, whether or not he deserves it, put your heart into it. At the end of 30 days, if you still want a divorce, I will help you through it.”
She agreed to the terms and during those 30 days of attentive loving care to her husband, noticed how tired he was, how hard he worked, and how important it was for him to provide for them. Her heart went out to him, and he responded in kind. The rest is history.
Luke 6:31—Do to others as you would have them do to you—and obedience.
An Instagram God wink.
The prescriptions in the little pink book made me chuckle. An ideal woman understands a man’s need to be accepted at face value; his need to be admired; his sensitive pride; his need for sympathetic understanding for pressing and constant responsibility to provide a living and inborn desire for status, position, or acclaim; his need to be number one in importance to his wife; and his need to be the guide, protector and provider for his wife and children. Needs no different from mine.
Born in 1920, Andelin grew up in a Latter-Day Saint family and met her husband at Brigham Young University. They had eight children. He was a dentist, and they founded a book company and sold her anti-feminist book, first published in 1963, out of their garage. She also taught classes until her death in 2009. Now the organization is led by the oldest of her four daughters.
I was amused that Andelin believed women should stay home and not work or handle finances and, because only men are leaders, not lead. Yet her mission was a marital partnership—with both working and earning money to support their family, and she leading others.
My new laptop wasn’t ready, so I drove home then back to town the next morning. Walking across the parking lot into the store, I noticed the sole of my right boot flapping loose. I added a shoe store to my list of errands.
At home, I showed Keith my new boots and said, “I noticed how worn my old boots were at church last weekend but thought I’d get more wear out of them.” Keith feigned horror and placed a hand over his heart.
“What will people say? That I can’t afford for my wife to have proper boots?” A man’s constant responsibility to provide a living and inborn desire for status, position, or acclaim.
My husband winked.
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