One morning, a few months ago, I stood next to my husband, Dustin, in front of the mirror in our bathroom. I think we were both brushing our teeth. My thoughts for the previous several days had dwelt on men and women, their roles, their differences. You see, I had just read a book that was set in a different time when men had to be warriors. A time when they had to protect and defend their wives, families and country. Dustin and I were both bare shouldered because it was morning and we weren’t dressed yet. As we were standing next to each other in front of the mirror, I couldn’t help but observe the differences between him and me, a man and a woman. His shoulders are broad, well-muscled and strong. While I am a fairly strong woman, I relished the study of his shoulder versus mine. I looked so small next to him. So delicate. So… feminine.
As I marveled at these differences, I made him turn sideways next to me and I said to him incredulously, “Look at that! Look how small my shoulder is compared to yours. I bet you could fit three of my little shoulders into one of yours!” He laughed, his mouth full of toothpaste, but didn’t say anything.
Did this difference bother me? No! Did I wish for his shoulders, his musculature, in myself? Of course not! To wish such a thing would, in my opinion, be a physical obscurity. I like my small, feminine frame. Dustin’s broad shoulders could be a warrior’s shoulders if the need arose. They could defend his wife and his children. These thoughts stirred up feelings of security and safety in my heart.
A friend of ours recently passed away, leaving behind a wife and two small children. As we went to the viewing and hugged each of his family members who attended his body, his newly-widowed wife hugged me fiercely and, through her sobs, conveyed to me that this just isn’t fair! She didn’t want this! This wasn’t supposed to happen! They were supposed to grow old together! She isn’t supposed to be a widow at 28 years old! Her feelings of confusion, anger, heartache and sorrow washed over me. All I could do was sob and tell her, “I’m sorry.”
I’m sure anyone in my situation would’ve done just as I did, hug her back and cry with her, but as I did, I couldn’t stop the images of myself, just three years older than she, mourning the loss of my own husband. What would that be like? I pray I will never know.
The weeks have passed since that day but the memory of it has not left me, nor have the feelings and questions evoked by the event. As time moves on and these thoughts hover just outside my awareness, I have been filled with gratitude for the roles we play, gratitude for my husband and his willingness to provide for his family, his willingness to love and cherish me, his willingness to be a man. Not only willingness, but fervor. Ferocity. Total dedication and devotion. I know that as long as he is here on earth, by my side, I will never have to worry about food on our table, clothes on our back, shelter over our heads or love in our hearts. My husband is our provider and he feels validated by this role. He is proud to be a man, bearing the weight of his responsibilities across his broad shoulders.
If tragedy were to strike my family as it did our friends’, I know I could take care of myself and that I could provide for my children if the need arose. I’ve always known that and I have confidence in myself and my capabilities. That being said, the events of the last few weeks made me realize that I cherish being taken care of. It is a joy, a privilege, and a blessing. I treasure that my husband’s main desire is to provide for his wife and his children. I honor the fact that he is a man who wants to be the breadwinner. I relish my role of being a feminine woman who knows she can take care of herself, but allows her husband the honor of doing it for her.
And, for me in my life, the complete awareness of my own capabilities coupled with the choice to be dependent on my husband, despite what I can do or be, is a choice I make willingly and gratefully. A choice that has born the sweet fruit of joy and mutual respect between him and me, a husband and a wife.
Clancy grew up right in the middle of her family of seven… mom, dad, sister, brother, Clancy, sister, brother. She is now the happily married mother of three and a half children ages 9, 7, 4 and a baby due in March. Her interests include (but are not limited to) writing, singing, being with her family and playing Ultimate Frisbee. Having been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints her whole life, she is currently enjoying the fulfillment of her calling as Ward Choir Director.