When I was really little I used to watch James Bond films with my Dad. On the weekend we watched Xena the Warrior Princes and Hercules, but when Bond movies came on, it was a) the one time Dad actually stayed awake long enough to see it passed the theme music, and b) well they were priceless quality times. The Bond movies were also the initiation into the now entrenched strain of (not radical but present) feminism that permeates my character. I remember seeing how every woman Bond met, whether that was Connery or Brosnan (my personal favourite), in the space of…less than a scene, he had turned on the charm and they were in bed together. At the ripe old age of 9 it really annoyed me, and I saw these Bond girls as being, well, slightly useless. It also made me not want to get married – I figured Bond was the only ‘real man’ out there, and was very aware that if I did marry him I would have to welcome his many girlfriends. As I grew older the idea of marriage and what it stood for didn’t seem to grow in my estimation. The woman had to ‘cook and clean, look after the children,’ and by default the husband was the ‘head of the house, his word was final,’ etc etc. Some of these ideas were culturally stimulated, some were indoctrinated. Marriage seemed to be a cage to me, a cage that prevented said woman from being able to fly her own course, and fly it at high altitude.
Being older I have now realised those ideologies do no constitute the beautiful institution that is marriage. Having just sung at a friend’s wedding I was touched at the deep love, affection, and respect the newly weds had for one another. Of course, they were in the honey-moon stage, where even night-time doesn’t eclipse the glory of the soon-to-rise Sun. Yet, over this weekend I also had the privilege to see the autumn, winter and perpetual springtime characteristics of marriage. I, more importantly, noticed a fine but pivotal demarcation between Christian marriages and other marriages. There was a real generosity of spirit, of home, of food and nurturing that seemed like a natural outpouring in these ‘elderly’ married couples, who housed and fed me. There was a concordance of spirit, a mutual respect and deep love that extended past familial boundaries to anything that came over their thresholds.
Witnessing the interactions of a family of 5 children with 3 ‘intruders’ and two adults, of course there was bound to be conflict and argument. Yet the peace with which the parents dealt with all juvenile assaults was, perspective shifting. They neither implemented Captain von Trapp’s military rule, nor did they require Super-nanny. Yet a calm love, control and respect between the parents and the children created a complex harmony that was functional. Seeing the ease with which another family, after coming home from traipsing to Manchester, entered their door at 1am to found 2 strangers who needed to spend the night – and simply nodded in acquiescence. The next morning a full breakfast was served without expectation of gratitude nor a desire to impress. It was just calmly taken in their stride as though my sister and I were a natural part of their biological family. And then finally, the love in which another family treated their own parents, the care, the attention, emphasised to me how these statutes of matrimonial living, these characteristics were intra-generational.
Each of these lovely families and couples had impressive homes, spacious, yet warm. They weren’t imposing but welcoming. I saw how family can be such a precious structure, and more importantly from where I stood as a conflicted ‘young adult’ trying to tread the mire of Life, how a mutual love and respect between the parents, the family and the foundation of their Faith took something beautiful and made it sublime, in a warm, welcoming, unimposing way. I’m sure other faith or non-faith marriages are beautiful and captivating in their own way, but I got a glimpse yesterday of a tangible manifestation of the Bride and Groom, Christ and the Church, the ideal and the real, which evoked how lacking Bond’s relationships were, and how much more the idea of marriage could become to me.