Monday, May 03, 2010

The Art of Marriage

Proverbs 24
3 By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
4 by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.

Enjoying life “with the wife that you love” is your lot in that futility you call your marriage. Be advised that a married couple can and often do differ from each other and from other couples in their complexity of eye and understanding. This will make homes different from each other in how artfully humane the home’s environs become.

Certainly there are some dear Christians whose vision of life is that of an engineer or a mathematician. Their homes will be, if godly, always neat, and it will look like someone works there as “a lover of the home”. Since the “desire of the eyes” is a vanity and not intrinsic to holiness it ought never supplant the love we have for God or be a standard of judgment by which we assess another Christian’s walk. If both parties to the marriage are artless, then the accidentally Bauhaus living room and abhorrent color schemes chosen will have no negative effect on “sustaining a socially avowed sexual relationship” nor on the holiness of their hearts. Such lives can be tranquil, when both can’t cook, if neither can taste the food.

But many people do have a degree of taste, and hope that life will become more beautiful than it was. That means that there can be the temptation of divergent levels between the spouses. How often has the wife been the most moved to “art”, but the least equipped? How frustrated is a man going to become when he has to live with “cute” decisions? And how tempted can a woman become when her husband can’t (or won’t) wear a tie that matches anything within a hundred yards?

Civilization is the increase in the intricacy of a culture’s order. Affluent civilizations increase in the realms of art. But many men think that civilization is an attack on their manhood. They have considered that the raw demands of life should be met in aggressively raw form (therefore the manly form). Women don’t make it easy by trying to define the “civilized” as delicate and passive. It is as if you have a party and you want the theme to be “bunnies” and you ask the poor sap to die cut rabbits and flowers out of paper bags and put them by your driveway with tea lights for the whole world to witness and bewail. Imagine his pleasure, ladies, when he asks what will be the theme of your next party, and you say “Ragnarok. Could you build me some heavy iron, flaming tripods to go out by the driveway?”

Women, it is possible that a thinking and artful man, while shopping with you at Bed, Banal, and Beyond, could suggest (hold on to your seats, ladies) that, given the intimate nature of the bedroom, satin is preferable to canvas as a bedspread. And maybe a watercolor landscape would be nice instead of the Spinal Tap poster he had framed with plastic while in college.

This is a decades long arena of joint government of your marriage. Art is an objective communion between the Other and the Self entering sensually but enjoyed mentally. Within a marriage each party must remember their duty to the sense and enjoyment of the other. The husband serves his wife as a member of himself by considering her “eye” and her enjoyments. The wife serves her husband as head of herself by submitting to his “eye” and his enjoyments.

Proverbs 31
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

Song of Solomon 3
9 King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the wood of Lebanon. 10 He made its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; it was lovingly wrought within by the daughters of Jerusalem.


Remy said...

Thinking of you recently as I've embarked on an imprudent project. I've decided to write a Romantic Epic for my wife, charting the budded woo.

Recently I wrote our meeting (which happened at the Big Haus, if you remember) and since you make an appearance I thought I'd drop that portion here for your enjoyment.

It all remains very first draftish and just so you aren't jolted previous lines have introduced an Alice in Wonderland theme:

Dominican tobacco screens the air,
our friend, the caterpillar sage, holds forth,
puffs puffs of bluish cigar smoke,
Saturnal fog descends around his leather chair
where a brandy glass sweats and matches choke.
A brigade of books lean into the breach and stretch
from floor to up just out of reach, where smoke
thins to spider web. He speaks of art in the deep
hum of gravel, a loamy dulcet, the scrim of words
evenly flows...

Evan B. Wilson said...

He could not, dear heavens, be a mere man!

Evan Gunn said...

this is good. It should be a much longer description. There is so much more you could say.

Remy said...

After that you take a distant seat to a much more lovelier subject. I'll leave it to other men to sing more expansive praise.