I quickly wrote to Maggie letting her know that the reason I had not written for a while was because I was so busy and it had nothing to do with my feelings changing. I told her that I was still crazy about her and would write whenever I was able. I hated it when my job took so much of my time that I couldn't write anything other than a short letter. I promised Maggie I would at least do that.
In another letter to Maggie, I wrote to her about my thoughts regarding the marital relationship between a man and a woman.
I believe in a very definite relationship between man and woman: not one which is 50/50 either. The man must be the master, a benevolent and understanding master. He must be the one who does the leading – not one who follows… Both the man and the woman must understand their roles and each must act in accordance with them.
I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. I don’t mean to imply that the woman is merely a servant who must always cater to the man. I don’t mean that it’s above the man to do what is considered “woman’s work.” What I do mean is – the woman must realize what is “woman’s work” and what is the woman’s role. I don’t doubt that I’ll often help with the dishes; I’ll often help with the child; and I’ll often cater to wishes. So long, that is, as she realizes that the woman’s work which I am doing is woman’s work. That when I cater to her wishes I am catering because I want to and not necessarily because she wants me to. When she ceases to see “woman’s work” as such and expects me to do it that is when I cease doing it. When she ceases to look upon my catering as an act of love and misconstrues it as acknowledgement of her power over me, that is when I cease catering. I expect to be the man in any man and woman relationship.
(When I read this letter, after finding it fifty years later, I couldn’t believe what my beliefs were in 1968. If I didn’t see this in my own handwriting, I would have denied ever feeling this way. I’m sure at that time I was heavily influenced by my experiences in my family, the neighborhood in which I was born and raised, and the prevailing attitudes regarding the roles of a man and a woman in marriage. I certainly never acted on these beliefs after marrying Maggie).
Maggie’s answer may surprise you. When I read it now, I know that she really did believe this – even fifty years ago. I think her assessment of a “leader” is very perceptive.
Yes, the man is the leader. This I believe with all my heart. Leadership is the biggest factor I look for in a man. I’ve found some that I could string along endlessly. What happens? I lose respect for them and all feelings other than pity. I’ve found some who were leaders (they thought), tyrants (I thought). If it’s one thing I can’t stand is a man who must constantly prove to me and to himself that he’s a man. I know what a man is! You know, the extremist who believes woman is the ground on which a man walks. And that’s not a man at all! I’ve also found those with just the right touch of leadership, but something else is usually missing and (poof) all is lost. So you see, I’m fussy too --- sometimes too much so.
And then Maggie talked about the role of the woman in a marriage. And this blew me away:
A woman must be versatile. She has to be first of all a wife; cooking, keeping house, managing the things her husband puts in her care. She must be a mistress; someone dressed nicely to greet her husband when he comes home, never refusing his passion. She must be a nurse; sympathetic and helpful when her man isn’t feeling well. She must be a friend; friendship in the true sense of the word must never be lost. Although certain things are a man’s worry alone, a man still needs someone to turn to as a friend --- someone there to stand by him right or wrong. In time, she may be a mother too. The only comment I have on that (as I don’t really know how it is to be a mother) is that the man in her life must never be neglected because of children and that’s saying countless things.
(And throughout our entire marriage, Maggie lived these roles - she was a wife, a mistress, a nurse, a friend, and a terrific mother. I know this may sound strange, but Maggie was all of these without being submissive. I didn’t rule the house and she didn’t bow to my every request. She was a strong woman who loved being all of what she believed a woman should be. Being a mother and a wife was what she loved most, and our marriage was a true partnership).