Previously in Flourish, the Husband Formerly Known As Prince and his Fair Maiden valiantly fight for their romantic marriage in the face of pregnacy, tears, sickness, and frequent moves. (OK, well, maybe not valiantly. And kinda not both of them, but I can only do so much with the script I've been given.)
The end of my last post ended with the entrance of a new nemesis, cryptically named Warring Maiden. I have no idea what her origin story is, but her superpowers seem to include (checks notes) "enchanting handsome princes" and "cleverly laying traps."
How will our intrepid heroine and the HFKAP face this challenge?
Let's find out.
Then Little Prince was born with complications, resulting in an extended hospital stay and a weak Maiden. Oh, how Little Prince cried! He cried day and night, and no doctor or massage or pill would make him stop. Prince and Maiden, though still in love, could hardly spend any time in uninterrupted conversation. Maiden's tears fell more and more with all the pressure of Baby Number 1 still being a baby and Little Prince's continuous wails. If only there had been someplace to live with family nearby who could come help out. She missed the closeness and endless snuggles with Prince.
Suddenly, much to Maiden's anxiety, she observed another younger maiden with evil intentions trying to enchant Prince with her charms. Presumably these charms included things like 1) not being tired all the time because of a screaming kid, 2) not crying because post-partum depression, 3) being someone new.
Now Prince truly loved his own Maiden very much, and couldn't see the traps Warring Maiden cleverly laid for him. Prince thought his Maiden was making mountains out of molehills, and this caused Maiden to shed more tears, leading to more layers of metal on Prince's armor.
OK. One of the things I try to do on this blog is spend a lot of time leavening these heavy subjects with humor, because sometimes laughter is the only thing that truly helps us heal from the insanity of these things, but this right here is freaking heartbreaking, and it's pretty hard to be jokey about any of it.
Here's this woman who's been uprooted twice in less than two years, and had two babies in about that amount of time, far away from almost everyone she knows, with a sick baby who cries non-stop, and her husband chooses this time to start flirting with another woman, and she has to justify it to herself. Tell herself it's just a mistake. He doesn't know how bad it is. He really loves me. Doesn't he? I know he really loves me. It's Warring Maiden's fault for enchanting him. It's my fault for crying and being sick. It wouldn't be this way otherwise, right? Cuz he loves me.
She's not trying to convince us, the readers, of his love for her. In the end, it feels like she's trying to convince herself. Because, and I realize that this is a controversial position to take in some places: If you love your wife, you don't do that kind of thing.
Look, I understand they were young, maybe they didn't believe in birth control, maybe they didn't expect things to be quite this difficult, maybe the second baby was an honest surprise. And yes, many husbands and many couples deal with stresses and strains in their marriages with the arrival of babies, and that's part of growing into it, and I'm open to the possibility of mistakes, because many people make them. But emotionally abandoning the woman who you promised "to love and to cherish from this day forward" and to "forsaking all others keep yourself only unto her as long as ye both shall live" in favor of another enchanting Maiden is not loving your wife.
I'm someone who likes to see both sides of the picture, and give people the benefit of the doubt, but homeboy here doesn't get any benefit of the doubt from me. He gets a great big "Wrong on you!"
Let's assume ad argumentum that Prince was truly as innocent and naive as he's made out to be here, and that his intentions in regard to Warring Maiden were pure and wholesome, and his wife truly was making a mountain out of a mole hill. (If you believe this, it is highly possible that you also still believe that a fat man who lives above the Artic Circle flies his herd of magical caribou around the world and delivers presents in honor of the solstice, ho ho hoing all the way.)
But let us set aside our cynicism for a few brief moments, and consider this possibility. Even if that's true, this man looked into the tear-streaked face of his overwhelmed exhausted wife, the woman he loved, as she begged him to walk away from Warring Maiden because she didn't like it and it made her anxious, and he ignored her. And then he (directly or indirectly) blamed her tears for increasing the distance between them.
OK, I'm gonna need that cynicism back now. This guy is horrible.
If he were truly acting in good faith, he would have told her, "Look, you don't have anything to worry about. She's a good friend and that's all. But I know things are really overwhelming for you right now, and I'll back off from my friendship with her if that will help you feel better, because nothing in the world matters to me more than you, and it looks like you need some extra attention right now." Or words to that effect.
The story goes on to describe that eventually the baby stopped crying all the time, and things got better and they were happier, but...
But Warring Maiden kept on trying to charm Prince, and Prince's Maiden kept on fighting for her marriage.
Sorry to break out so soon, but have you noticed that not even once ever has she mentioned Prince fighting for his marriage? Like, why's she got to be the one fighting for it, especially what with him being the Prince and all.
This is unprecedented, but I am going to have to award Prince a second "Wrong on you!" for this one.
Never in the history of By Thy Words have we awarded two "Wrong on Yous" in a single article, but that's unfortunately necessary with this level of wrongness.
More and more tears fell and more layers of metal strengthened Prince's armor. All the while, because Maiden had once made the decision to always respect her husband, she was sure that her misery was all his fault.
The logic here isn't totally clear, but I think she's saying that she thought that making the decision to respect is once and done, but really you have to continue to make that choice, and sadly she wasn't respecting him anymore, because she was making the mistake of thinking that things that were his fault were, in fact, his fault.
Then Prince started his own business venture. Prince and Maiden moved again to be closer to work and church and friends.
I could have plainly affirmed that the reason they moved the last time was to find a church and friends, and now they need to move to be closer to those things. This is all weird. But maybe the story is complicated and there's good reasons for it, so we'll not speculate too much.
To Maiden's relief, their new home was almost an hour away from Warring Maiden.
But her relief was short-lived, for Warring Maiden was not about to give up. More tears fell, more laters of metal were added, and pride showed its face.
Prince began to realize that maybe Maiden was right about Warring Maiden's intentions, but after a couple of years and the discomfort of Maiden's tears, his layers of metal had turned to tempered steel.
It was also around this time that Prince cottoned onto the fact that the Pope had been Catholic this whole time, and the bears were using the woods as a giant al fresco Porta-Jon.
Poor, dear, misguided, innocent Prince. How hard it must be to be in his metal armor shoes, surrounded by wiminz who desperately crave his attention, while he sits dumb-founded at the painful tears of the woman who is failing to give him the respect due to him. How sad indeed! A man would doubtless need armor of tempered steel to bear up under the load.
And then, she says this...
WARNING: If you are landing a plane, please make sure that you have finished safely taxied to the terminal before reading the next quote.
The only form of appeal the ignorant Maiden knew was tears. And though tears are not wrong in themselves, they only attract an unmarried Prince, definitely not a married Prince when there is trouble in Paradise.
I warned you.
Like, they just come out and say it: "Womenz cry because it's a way to get results, but it only works if you're single. If you're not, and your marriage isn't great, and she cries, it'll push him away.
Prince was working very hard at starting his business, and often Maiden felt lonely and overwhelmed. From marriage books and other sources, (what other sources do you think it could be... Hmmm... We’ll think on that and get back to you later.) she became convinced that if Prince really loved her, he would not work on Saturdays. If he truly loved her, he would help her
wash dishes in the evenings and more often take care of their little children so she could have time alone. Such attention from Prince sounded attractive to Maiden, since Baby Number 3 had joined their little home before Baby Number 1 was quite three years old.
Apparently, there’s only one kind of attention Prince knows how to give.
I apologize for those of you who are waiting for the arrival of emergency personnel after reading that last bit, but please do not blame me for the apoplectic stroke you have experienced. I recommend contacting CLP, as you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Prince can’t wash dishes, Prince can’t take the kids, Prince can’t spend time with Maiden. Prince can’t even cook meals (except obviously for keeping buns in the oven.) Yes! That’s the ONLY WAY that Prince can show the great love he experiences for his dear Maiden.
Sheila! Grab your broom and get over here!
Someone needs a Great Sex Rescue! Hurry!
Around this time, Prince had several talks with Maiden about her Facebook account. He saw it was only making the struggles in her heart worse. (AHA! That’s where she was getting all these crazy ideas about husbands not being an entire tool shed. Well! We can’t have THAT, can we?) He wished she would close her account, but he left it up to Maiden to decide.
She was very afraid that if she closed her account, she would be isolated from her friends, many of whom were on Facebook, and that she would become a hermit. With three little children, it took a lot of extra effort to go and see her friends in person. But Maiden wanted to please her husband, so she closed her Facebook account.
This is unbelievably enraging. And it’s also classic abuser behavior, isolating the victim from contact with the outside world as a means of increasing overall control. Notice, too, that she wanted to please him, so she did what he asked, but he never once in the entire story is shown to have done anything because he wanted to please her.
And so it is that we must award, for the first time in history, a “Wrong on You!” hat trick, because it has been a very long time since we have encountered this level of Wrongity.
Wrong on you, Prince! Wrong on you!
Fortunately, help is on the way, in the form of a book that will set Maiden back on the strait and narrow. But this post has been long and exhausting, and some of you have jet fuel to clean up and CT scans to get to, so I’ll leave you to it.
Until next time!