From A Jane Austen Devotional
APPRECIATING YOUR SPOUSE
Charlotte laughed heartily to think that her husband could not get rid of her; and exultingly said, she did not care how cross he was to her, as they must live together.
It was impossible for anyone to be more thoroughly good-natured, or more determined to be happy than Mrs. Palmer.
The studied indifference, insolence, and discontent of her husband gave her no pain; and when he scolded or abused her, she was highly diverted. “Mr. Palmer is so droll!” said she, in a whisper, to Elinor. “He is always out of humour.”
Elinor was not inclined, after a little observation, to give him credit for being so genuinely and unaffectedly ill-natured or ill-bred as he wished to appear. His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding, like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman,—but she knew that this kind of blunder was too common for any sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it.—It was rather a wish of distinction, she believed, which produced his contemptuous treatment of every body, and his general abuse of everything before him.
It was the desire of appearing superior to other people. The motive was too common to be wondered at; but the means, however they might succeed by establishing his superiority in ill-breeding, were not likely to attach any one to him except his wife.
-From Sense and Sensibility
Mr. Palmer, as Elinor observes, “through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty . . . was the
husband of a very silly woman.” His wife might well be good-natured, quick to laugh, and determined to be happy—but she is nearly unbearably silly, a fact that goads Mr. Palmer at every turn.
Readers are quick to note that Mr. Palmer’s ill temper hardly renders him a prize husband. The superiority he asserts over his wife is constant and inexcusably rude. Oddly, Mrs. Palmer’s grand political aspirations for her husband (he will be prime minister, if she has her way) blind her to his faults: he is only “droll,” never bad mannered or ill-tempered. Neither has a clear picture of the other.
Perhaps this is because in Jane Austen’s culture, marrying well could ensure material comfort for a lifetime; whether it meant marital happiness was nearly beside the point. It is this fact that causes Elinor to marvel at “the strange unsuitableness which often existed between husband and wife.”
As Christians, we know it was not intended to be so. Marriage is sacred before God, and romantic love is a gift ordained by Him. Furthermore, it is a picture given by God reflect His Son’s devotion to the church—a willingness to lay down His life for her.
The benefits to showing honor and respect toward the one you love and to whom you commit your life are many. Think about your marriage. Do you appreciate your spouse as a God-given gift? Do you treat him with the honor accorded by the sanctity of marriage?
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine.
–Song of Solomon 1:2 NIV
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