Give a warm welcome to today’s guest poster, my dear friend and Fountains of Carrots partner in crime Christy Isinger!
Like all beautiful, mysterious, and true things in life marriage is a thing that never fails to disappoint in providing surprisingly new and interesting revelations. And I’m not just talking about my own marriage.
Lately I keep seeing a common trait of marriage appearing to me which I can’t stop loving. It’s this remarkable way in which one partner so compliments the other that a new level of creativity and passion, love and happiness results.
I think the perfect example of this happening in a marriage is the marriage of G.K. and Frances Chesterton. In her remarkable biography, The Woman Who Was Chesterton, Nancy C. Brown shows the picture of the Chesterton marriage to be one of intense self-giving on the part of Frances that not only supported G.K.’s famous writing career but provided him with inspiration, stability, and a shared purpose between the two.
It wasn’t as if Frances was forced into a raw deal where she was her husband’s servant and typist, but it was as if her talents and skills when devoted to G.K. opened up his world. He was free to write without the worry of practical matters like directions to the train station or the time of his next lecture. She was his support and constant stability that his personality so desperately needed so that he could express his genius through writing.
His love and devotion to her was also clearly evident, he didn’t take her for granted he loved her and knew completely how much he owed to her confidence in him. Together his work became important and timeless. Their marriage a bulwark of creative force as much her accomplishment as his.
After reading that incredible book I thought that maybe a marriage like the Chesterton’s is a one in a million thing only happening once in a generation when the stars align properly. But more and more I see this mutual self-giving in the lives of famous creatives. It may appear as if only one spouse is reaching great heights in their chosen field, but when we look behind this genius we see that it is as much the accomplishment due to the one as the other spouse.
I recently watched the terrific documentary series Chef’s Table and in the episode telling the career of famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura I was moved by the story of his marriage. He described his wife in the same touching and heartfelt devotion of G.K. talking about Frances. His wife Lara is the heart of his restaurant, his inspiration in his cooking, and the one who wrote down his new recipes, and chose the paintings for the dining room. It was the same mutual love that fostered amazing creativity.
It wasn’t as if there was simply an amazing woman behind a talented man, it was as if their marriage and love fuelled Battura’s talent to a new, previously unseen level as a joint accomplishment and shared goal. Battura closes his episode in commenting that it’s not simply important for him to create and succeed as a chef, but that his creativity and success is shared in the love of his wife and family.
And of course there’s Hamilton. (Everything comes back to this amazing musical for me right now.) The marriage of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton is not a perfect one. Alexander carries on an affair, then consequently publicly admits it to Eliza’s humiliation, but Eliza forgives Alexander in an amazing example of love and reconciliation. The conclusion of the play ends with the dramatic song sung by Eliza about how she carried on her husband’s work after his death and hoping that she did enough for history to see his legacy.
I’m moved by the way Eliza devoted herself to Alexander and to his work. Her virtue and love for Alexander is known by Alexander himself and it’s vital that this support was behind him over the course of his tumultuous career. Would he have been able to do as much for the country at such a crucial time in history if he were without this marital love? Would he have had confidence in himself through various disagreements and discouragements if he didn’t have such a wise, insightful confidant in Eliza? Eliza was fully committed to her husband’s work and to him as a person even when he betrays her, it is an intriguing example of how the virtue of one spouse bolsters the other even when they fail.
I think these marriages are singular examples in the type of talent and historical importance they achieve, but that creative force that these marriages foster is something that should be the goal of all marriages.
We all want marriages in which we work together for a common goal. It doesn’t have to be a trendy career path, it can be the passions we have for our families, communities, hobbies or faith. But we all want to be that completely supportive inspiration to our spouse. We want to be that core support that kindles love and inspiration in what our spouse does and how they live. I think that’s possible for all marriages, but it’s inspiring to see it in action in the lives of creative geniuses and historical figures.
Christy Isinger blogs random thoughts about family, books, living the Faith, and the joys and tribulations of keeping five kids aged 9 and under alive everyday. She has a penchant for Chesterton, mystery novels, British drama, and most alcohols. Come say hello at fountains of home or on Facebook!