The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Someone to Know Pt. 2: Thoughts on Marriage

I am in one of my periodical fits of loathing the food at South Parks Road, which is unfair enough!  But does anyone ever say, at 9:30, 'Wouldn't you like something to eat?'  No. I miss even working to the sound of someone doing things about the place, and even being interrupted by a voice saying: 'Darling, what about a cup of tea?'  These things have been nine-tenths of my life.' (Charles Williams in a letter to his wife Michal, during a time of separation due to work. From the book, The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter).

Charles Williams was a contemporary of C.S. Lewis.  His marriage to Michal was strained and not a model to be imitated. However, as you read their story, it is evident that there were drops of grace sprinkled throughout their marriage that are instructive to us today.

During their five-day a week separation, Williams missed his domestic life with Michal.

Charles Williams Writing
Carpenter writes of the letters that Charles wrote to Michal, ...letters that were full of affection and of nostalgia for the domesticity of their flat. Nor was this simply a pose adopted to placate Michal, for he really did miss that domesticity, and in particular the small snacks of tea and cake and sandwiches on which she had so often fed him while he was working late in the evening.

In Michal's act of leaving snacks for her husband she was displaying thoughtfulness and sensitivity to him. Perhaps much of the brilliance in his work can be attributed to Michal's keen insight into her husband, her caring enough to know that tea, cake and sandwiches after dinner would delight him. Michal knew her husband in ways that those who cared for him during their separation did not. Her thoughtfulness in this little thing was large.  It made him miss home, his wife and the affection that they shared together. Michal knew Charles would be encouraged in his writing by the snacks of tea and cake and sandwiches that were offered to him as tokens of love.

Isn't it interesting the sorts of things that encourage others?  The only way to know those things is to know the person.  That sort of knowledge comes through observation, interaction and conversation.  For some its a look, for others it is a cup of tea offered at various times, for some it might be chocolate, and for others it might be little snacks strategically placed that makes the house more of a home.

The place where Charles Williams lodged at Oxford, while his wife was sixty miles away, insisted on regular meal times. That was no big problem, but Charles was accustomed to the tokens of affection, left by his wife for him, at various times in the evening.  Michal's knowledge of Charles in this area helped to keep his heart close to home.

Do you know your spouse?  Do you know how you might encourage them in their work, their play and in their normal duties?  Do you love them enough to know? At the very heart of marriage is knowledge. Marriage is having someone to know.