Character: Build It Here
With a clink of the glass, Fabian stood up, looked around the dining room, and saw that he had everyone’s attention. “Thank you all for coming. My son, my youngest of six, is getting married tomorrow to a beautiful young lady. My son is, indeed, a lucky man to have found Allison. Forty-eight years ago, I was in your shoes, Arnold, as I listened to my father give a speech at my rehearsal dinner. I remember how nervous I felt, wondering if I would be a good husband. Your mother made it easy for me. Not a day went by that she didn’t assure me of her love. All I could do was hope that she knew how much I loved her. I wish the same for you and Allison.”
Fabian sat down and put his arm around his wife, as she gently pressed her cheek against his tear-streamed face. I glanced over at Arnold to see him discreetly dab his eyes.
When Allison first met Arnold, she told me that he was about to finish law school and had served as president of the wine club. I told Allison that it was impressive to hear about law school, but what really took it to an even higher level was Arnold’s presidency of the wine club! We laughed. Then she told me that his family has Midwestern roots in Iowa as farmers and proudly added, “And Arnold knows how to drive a tractor!” We laughed some more.
A few weeks later, Allison called to share a story about Arnold’s parents. When Fabian first married Patricia, he set up an arrangement to pay her weekly for housekeeping and childcare. This allowance was not to be used for household expenses. She could invest it, spend it, or give it away.
Is Fabian’s approach to marriage quaint and starkly old-fashioned? Some would think so. But if you look across history, you’ll find all sorts of stories about successful marriages. Not all played the traditional roles that we tend to think of. Some were powerful partnerships of great community leaders; some doubled-teamed to explore the world, discover new fields of science, and other academic pursuits. Some marriages allowed one partner to take center stage while the other worked a supporting role. In ancient Persia, for example, women held high political offices, ran international trading ventures, and established major manufacturing companies. They rose to positions of prominence in the military as generals and led entire armies into battle.
Not all women would be pleased to take Fabian’s offer of a weekly paycheck to keep the house and mind the children. Some women just aren’t cut out for that sort of work. Some are much better off running a multi-national corporation, taking on political leadership or cultivating their creative prowess.
However, I can say from experience, that housekeeping and childcare require many of the same skills needed to run a major corporation or govern a nation. My hat goes off to Patricia for accepting Fabian's offer.
We all have our propensities. The trick is to recognize the potential in one another and allow for autonomy.