I suppose this term has fallen out of favor in the last century or so, but whatever the currently accepted cultural vernacular, the meaning is unchanged. The fact is, I am completely dependant upon my husband for my survival and that of my children.
This is not news to me, of course.
I entered into this arrangement voluntarily, fully cognizant of the position I would be putting myself in. I was acutely aware that I would be rendering myself invisible to and seperate from those who are publicly perceived as worthy, useful and significant people.
But my husband is a rare sort; one who believes quite earnestly in the value of and wisdom of my choices, whatever they may be. He has never dictated to me the kind of wife and mother that I should be. He has never attempted to define my role according to his own standards or societal ideals. He simply waited for me to make my choice, and then supported me. And he has continued to do so throughout our thirteen years of marriage.
As a result, I have always felt undeniably equal in our relationhip. I have never felt diminished. I have never felt unimportant. I have never felt irrelevant.
Well, for the most part. There are those days when doubt comes creeping in and I begin to think that surely I was meant to do more. But those days are often balanced by moments of startling clarity, wherein the value of my choices becomes abundantly clear.
But in terms of practical matters, it can sometimes present a problem. Gift giving for example. I do not begrudge my husband gifts. On the contrarty. He rarely, if ever, buys anything for himself and when he does, it is most likely something that we can all enjoy. There are any number of things he wants and deserves. The question of what, is not a question at all.
But no matter what the gift, be it simple or extravagant, it will be paid for out of his own pocket. So the charm and excitement of a well chosen gift is, for me, somewhat mitigated by that.
But I do have one thing that is truly my own to give him. Words. Words are my currency, and I can lavish them upon him with no fear of overexpenditure or indebtedness.
Today is not only Valentine's Day, but also the anniversary of the day that he proposed to me 14 years ago. For everyone else, it's just another Valentine's Day, but for us, its a day to remember a promise, a leap of faith and a beginning.
I was not in distress but you rescued me.
I was not in pieces but you unified me
I was not bereft, but you heartened me
I was not suffering but you succored me
I was not faltering but you sustained me
I was not alone, but you completed me
I was not unloved, but you cherished me
And you love me still though I am not the woman you married in body or in spirit. We have grown up together, you and I. We have laughed, cried, feared and raged together. We have brought children into this world, and fumbled through the raising of them, united in the awe of their existence. And now, together, we venture into the next phase of our life.
We are no longer a young couple with small children. Who are we then?
It hits me sometimes, that we are that couple everyone talks about, everyone admires. We are that couple that will grow old together. And when we are old and wrinkled and gray, we will still touch each other, though perhaps the ardor will have cooled into the simple and innocent need to feel unalone. And when one of us breathes our last... it will only be a temporary disruption...a mere inconvenience. The one who is left behind will simply bide until we are one again; confident, eager. And the final line in the poetry of our life will read....
And I went because I love you.