Saturday, November 8, 2008

He Leadeth Me

I really enjoyed this post from A Maiden's Wreath blog about marriage as a kind of dance. I have been a partner in the marriage dance for the last 29 years. I have a great lead, but I am just learning to avoid stepping on his toes.

Born in 1960 and publicly schooled, I was steeped in the feminist culture as I grew up. I didn't even realize it. My mother tried to show me the right way, but I would have none of it. After I married I remember her trying, on many visits to my parents' home, to get me to "fix Herb a plate". I thought that was ridiculous, and I would retort, "Let him fix his own plate!" I would not serve.

He, bless his heart, sided with me.

The years rolled by. The children came along. My husband, my children were all Catholic, and I was Nothing. I went through the Novus Ordo RCIA program and converted. Becoming a Catholic was like waking up in someone else's clothes that were several sizes too big. There was always a lot of extra fabric flapping around that I didn't know what to do with. This may have been because I had spent a year in the RCIA program without being taught one thing about practicing the faith. I started learning it along with the children as I homeschooled them.

Eventually, our family found its way to the traditional Mass, and I was confronted with a "no pants, no bare heads" dress code for women. This was no problem for me, but as I read more about the reasons for the dress code, I realized that I wanted to dress that way all the time. The book, Immodesty, Satan's Virtue, was a tremendous help to me. Emma and I both read it and gave up our "trousers" together.

Wearing dresses made me feel different. I had read that it would. I had not really believed it. After a couple of years it even changed the way I saw other women. I would feel cheered when I saw another woman in a modest dress. I saw with new eyes that blue jeans were a kind of uniform, and actually unattractive on most women. It shocked me to realize it, as I had worn them almost exclusively for years, topped with a t-shirt, my feet shod in Birkenstock sandals. At this point I began to realize that a lot of the dresses I was wearing were not much more than glorified jeans. Emma and I talked it over, and we began a slow transition toward finding feminine dresses. Somehow this change in my outward appearance was working a change on the inside. I also had the benefit of good sermons on modesty and on the husband's headship of the family.

I joined a Yahoo group book club for traditional Catholic women. One of the books we read was Fascinating Womanhood. I was leary of the book at first because it is not Catholic, and I was afraid that I would have to be constantly on my guard for conflicts. That was not the case. There were really just a few places that were problematic. Overall, the book was an eye-opener for me. A lot of it I found extremely difficult, but the groundwork in my heart had been done, and I was finally able to actually embrace my role as a traditional wife. The last vestiges of feminist plaster cracked and fell away. I'm by no means perfect, but at last I realize it when I am messing up the dance.

Now, I can't wait to do things for my husband, to kneel at his feet and listen as he tells me about his day, to look for ways to pamper him, to serve him and find such joy in it.

No comments: