If you have followed my blog for any length of time, then you have caught brief glimpses of the man to whom I am joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. You most likely have a hazy picture of a strict, unyielding, dominant man. All of this is all very well and true. Yet, what you know is not the full picture. Today, I wish to honour him by painting a portrait of my Traditional Husband.
My Husband grew up as the eldest of three children in a much larger, ethnically Lebanese extended family. As the only male child, his father saw to it that he was pushed very hard, that his highest potential might be reached. One of my most favourite stories to illustrate this point is how, when my Husband was a young teenager, he once so dreaded a poor school report that he convinced his father and mother to let him travel to Lebanon on holiday, alone and whilst the country was under Syrian occupation, in order to visit with relatives. His strategy almost worked. When the report arrived, his parents still had several more weeks with which to digest the news and to calm down before his arrival. Even the welcome home seemed cordial. On the way home from the airport, however, his father had asked how he had liked Lebanon. My Husband replied that it had been a wonderful experience. "Good," said my father-in-law. The family patriarch went on to stress that if, after the next term, my Husband did not receive perfect marks, he would have to quit all of his extracurricular activities. If anything was lacking after that, then it was a good thing that his son had found the "Old Country" so pleasant, because he would be sent there to boarding school.
It is no small wonder, then, that my Husband graduated within the top ten of his class. He then proceeded to finish his undergraduate degree a year early, graduating summma cum laude from a top university. He was only twenty years old when he entered his Ph.D. program. After taking a year off from the program to teach physics at his former secondary school, my Husband returned to the program and was awarded his doctorate this past April. He was all of twenty-six years old.
When I met my future spouse, I was unsure of what to think of him. At that time, he had been in the latter months of his undergraduate degree. I was at another university and about to be received into the Catholic Church. Our meeting place was a Catholic singles site. Things seemed to match up on paper-- even the "feelers" I had thrown out with regard to traditional marriage were well-met. Yet I could not shake the feeling that he was not real, that it was a friend playing a joke upon me. He was too perfect. So, I told him that I was not interested. Although I had not known it at the time, I had broken his heart. He had fallen for the sweet, eclectic, traditional, almost-Catholic girl who proudly wore a mantilla in her profile picture.
A year later-- just after the election of the new Holy Father-- my Husband and I reconnected. The surprise of it was so great, and truly something of a miracle. Our first telephone conversation ended in prayer, lead by my Husband. Every conversation thereafter followed suit. Soon, we were praying both the rosary and traditional Night Prayer together. Although we became serious quite fast, it was not without a full awareness of who the other person was. We each threw out our strangest, most deeply-held views on life, love, marriage, family, politics, etc., in the expectation that the other would find them to be too extreme and run for the hills. The result was quite the opposite!
Just who is my "Traditional Husband?" My Husband is a Maronite Catholic by baptism with a great affinity toward the Tridentine Latin Mass and the more traditional expressions of our faith. Politically, he is an ultra-conservative monarchist. His greatest loves include coffee, cigars, classical music, politics, statistics, the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and serving at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With regard to choosing a wife, my Husband wished to find a woman who also preferred traditional Catholicism. It was his desire to lead her in all things. She would not be thin, for he had never found those types of women particularly appealing. She must not wear trousers or pants of any kind, but only skirts and dresses of the most modest cuts. Her hair must be kept long. She, as his wife, would not have a career, although she would be allowed to pursue hobbies and intellectual interests as she so wished. Her place would be firmly in the home. What is more, her conduct toward him must not be anything other than absolutely respectful, obedient, and subservient.
All of these things were music to my ears! I was not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination. In addition to all that my Husband had said, I confessed that, as a woman, I did not particularly wish for the right to vote. Yet, since I could, whomever God would bring into my life as my spouse would be receiving two effective votes. My other contribution to the discussion was the issue of domestic discipline within a traditional Catholic framework. This surprised my Husband, but he quite agreed. At long last, he had found a name for that toward which he had always been inclined.
Today, my Husband is the same man he always was, but the four years of our marriage have succeeded in shaping and refining him in his dominant role. While my Husband might indeed be a very stern disciplinarian, not hesitating to use his hand, his belt, my hairbrush, a leather "rat's tail," the Lebanese rattan cane, or even the new English leather riding crop against my backside, thighs, or calves-- to say nothing of his requiring me to kneel to him whilst being lectured, enduring corner time, writing lines, having hot sauce placed upon my tongue, feeling harsh slaps across my face, suffering my palms to be lashed mercilessly, or having my bare back flogged on occasion with our relatively new, short single-tail leather bullwhip-- he is at once both strong and gentle. My Husband's correction proceeds from a deep place of love for my soul. He is firmly resolved to helping me live my life in Christ to the fullest, and he is unwilling to allow me to be my own worst enemy. Truly, I am grateful for such a wonderful, loving leader.
Somewhat ironically, my Husband's patron saint is Saint Joseph and the name I took at baptism is Mary. Like that holy couple, may we continue to follow God's perfect plan for our lives. May my Husband continue leading me and guiding me in this life, and may I follow the example of the Blessed Mother in her humility, simplicity, and obedience to God's will as it is expressed through the voice of my Husband. May our journey together-- as it has always been-- continue to be one toward heaven. And, in all things, may God be pleased.