Damsel in Distress

The fairytale princess in the tower, being rescued by her knight in shining armour, evokes images of “happily ever after”, with all the sweet and colourful imagery of a children’s book.
But not every damsel in distress wants to be rescued. Some damsels devote the whole of their life to distress, no matter how hard their shining knight tries to make them happy. Instead of riding off to “happily ever after” they end up at a place called “Why can’t you make me happy?!”

What’s the Problem?

Why is the damsel in distress?
The fairytales suggest that damsels are both beautiful and happy, but are prone to being locked up by ogres, cruel step-mothers, dastardly uncles, dragons, witches, jealous queens or the like.
So the fairytale blames an external source for the damsel’s distress.
If only she could be saved from her home, her restrictive parents or some similar external constraint she would sing like a lark.

In reality, however, there are many damsels whose distress is completely self-inflicted. They have fallen prey to their own emotional vulnerabilities, selfishness and untamed spirit.

Stay Home White Knight

If the dear damsel is in distresses of her own making, then the knight in his shining armour, on his trusted steed, should head home immediately and close the shutters until some unsuspecting fool effects the rescue.
Let someone else trouble his life with a complaining, implacable creature who is ruled by selfishness, irrational feelings and untamed will.

If the damsel can’t come to terms with her present circumstances, then she will continue to fail in that area.
She will fail to come to terms with her disappointments with her ‘all too human’ knight.
She will fail to happily come to terms with the hard moments and tough challenges of married life and raising a family.

The poor fool who thinks he can rescue such a damsel will find himself seeking solace in the commiserations of his drunken companions. Only failure will rain upon him for decades to come.

Immune to Distress

The best bride to find is one who can sing her way through her limitations and the frustrations in her present circumstances. A damsel who accepts today’s problems with faith, courage and cheer will never truly be a damsel in distress. She will be a damsel in delight.

A damsel who is immune to distress will bring her cheery presence into her marriage, family and home. She will be a delight to her husband and a blessing to all who know her.

Knight Beware

So, dear young knights scouring the hillsides for maidens trapped in towers, please heed the following warning.

If she is in distress – take heed – she may be happy to live there. If distress is her tune, she will likely play it again and again. If she can sing a lament, how can you be sure that won’t be her favourite tune for the rest of her life?

If she is immune to distress, then she won’t really need you. She will not try to manipulate or control you. She will not demand that you make her happy.

The problem with young knights is that they love the fairytale notion of saving the maiden in distress. Her cries for help and her dependence on his strong arm, fire the young fool’s imagination with visions of grandeur.

You’ve Been Warned

What you do is what you will do. I take no responsibility for your determination to avoid happiness. Go and seek your desperate damsel. But just remember, if she is in distress, you may never rescue her from it!

My wish for you is that you will accidentally stumble across the woman in delight, who doesn’t need you, but chooses you as worthy of her great strength and enduring qualities.
When you find her, don’t dump her because you hear the faint cries of someone in a tower!

Un-Charming Prince

What does a woman do when she wakes up one day and realises her Prince Charming is a dope? Or maybe he is irresponsible, opinionated, ineffective, vain, shallow, insecure, unreliable or otherwise less than charming. What does a wife do when she discovers that her hero is, in reality, an Un-Charming Prince?

I have seen at times the look of exasperation in the eyes of a young bride. I have heard the sighs of resignation. I have heard the sharp words or the hurt rebukes of a wife feeling sadly done-by as her husband heads off on some irresponsible or self-indulgent endeavour. My own sweet Susan expressed those very things herself, as she confronted my irresponsibility and general failure to be what she had hoped.

The process I am describing is, in fact, to be expected in every marriage. We all see in our beloved a range of things which are born of hope more than reality. We impose upon them our own biased view of who they are. We even overlook the evidence of their shortcomings. We may think that those things are just incidental glitches in an otherwise idyllic person. Or we may think that once we are married those negative qualities will smooth away. “She only needs someone to love her”, or, “Once I get him away from his friends he’ll be a much better person”, are the types of thoughts that can beguile us about our future spouse.

The initial phase of marriage is oft referred to as the ‘Honeymoon Phase’, where everything is seen with rose-coloured glasses. The ‘In-Love Phase’ is full of hopeful expectation. The ‘Honeymoon Phase’ is sweetened by new levels of relationship and intimacy. But eventually both the In-Love experience and the intoxication of the new intimacy must yield to the growing body of evidence. The weaknesses of the spouse continue to show up and the accumulating evidence becomes increasingly compelling. The small annoyances begin to loom as proof of deeper problems.

Just as the husband often proves to be an Un-Charming Prince, the wife equally proves to be other than her husband once hoped. As and when this happens, don’t be alarmed. This is an important step toward maturity and toward the deepening of your marriage and your joy. I don’t say that to be condescending, but I speak from sound personal experience. So in a few days I’ll share some of my own journey with you, in order for you to see that the ugly realisation of an Un-Charming Prince or a tainted Cinderella is a step toward greater blessing. Keep an eye out for further posts referring to the Un-Charming Prince – that will point you to my further discussions on this important issue.

This post is part of a series on the Un-Charming Prince: