Twenty years ago my husband and I found ourselves in the office of a marriage counselor. It was our fifth year of marriage. The only reason we were there is because we couldn’t afford to sit in a lawyer’s office. We look back on that now and call it the grace of God.
This counselor did help save our marriage, but I look back now on some of the ideas of the times and question. One idea in particular regarded fairy tales. Our counselor said fairy tales were an abomination to women. They taught young girls that there was a knight in shining armor out there, a prince charming. He went on to tell me I should forget about all that, it was only in the fairy tales, not going to happen in real life. I needed to take the bull by the horns and make life happen for myself. (Very feminine thing to do, right?) And yet, at the same time he told me if I wanted my husband to be the head of the household, get out of the way and let him. Somewhat of a mixed message, don’t you think.
So for about the next ten years we struggled trying to properly discern our roles as husband and wife and live in harmony. It really wasn’t until just around five years ago that we found the understanding of just how to do that. It was when we began studying Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. There we learned just how God had created our masculine and feminine hearts and how when we embraced our own design we could live as a complementary couple.
I found in this amazing philosopher’s writings that we should believe in fairy tales. There are knights in shining armor and prince charmings out there. They are the men who understand their own masculine hearts. They are the men who understand the teaching in Genesis that they are to “tend and keep” the garden. To tend the garden is to care for it, cultivate and nourish it so that it can bear fruit. The Hebrew translation for “to keep” is shamar. The literal translation for this Hebrew word is “to guard.” So Adam was called to care for and guard the garden. Where else is a fertile place that when seeds are planted, it is cared for, nourished and guarded that new life will come forth? The womb of a woman, right? This is man’s created design, his masculinity, his living out the knight and prince.
So it turns out that Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White actually understood their own feminine hearts and their dignity as women because of those feminine hearts. They waited for the knight and the prince rather than making do with whatever bozo came around, told them they were hot and wanted to disappear into the woods with them. Sure we women are strong, we are called to be. So was Cinderella. Look at the hard labor she did every day. We’re planners and organizers so that the tasks of caring for others are completed, much like Snow White with all those little men. And we’re beautiful, simply because we are women, made so by God not by anything we have done or will do. Like Sleeping Beauty, we need to recognize our feminine beauty and expect to have that feminine beauty recognized by a knight in shining armor or a prince charming.
You, like me, may have been married for many years and are asking yourself, why didn’t I wait for my knight or my prince. My bet is, that you did. He might not realize he is that knight or prince. I once heard a lady say, “If you want to be treated like a queen, you better be treating your husband like a king.” This certainly doesn’t mean you treat your earthly king as a servant would. You are his wife, not his servant. By your very dignity you have what Blessed John Paul II called your “feminine genius.” This is your own personal feminine way of sharing God’s love, appreciation, approval and acceptance with the caretaker and guard of your heart. When we remember our number one goal in marriage is to get our spouse to heaven (number two is to be open to all the children God wants to give you), we realize we have to be that “helpmate” for our husbands that Eve was created to be. There is a huge difference in helpmate and nag. As a helpmate we desire what is best for our husbands from our heart. A nag desires our husbands to do what we want him to do when we want him to do it out of our own selfishness. I know, I have been there and done that and got the heartache.
Each of our heroines in these fairy tales understood they had a job to do all the while awaiting, dreaming about, and hoping for that knight in shining armor or prince charming. He came, for each one, he came. Cinderella’s prince came and rescued her from a life of utilitarianism by her stepmother. Snow White’s prince came and rescued her from all the little men in her life, those who couldn’t love her as she deserved to be loved. Sleeping Beauty’s prince came and woke her from her lifeless slumber to a life of joy, excitement and love.
Yes, these fairy tales have a story that is somewhat make-believe, but, really? Isn’t there some reality in them as well? Is it really an abomination for a woman to believe there is a prince charming that understands his own masculinity and will come to take her away on the white stallion and do his best to “tend and keep the garden”?
Copyright 2011 Diane Schwind