Lover vs. Beloved

I love to read. I’ve had a library card since I was very young and it gets lots of use! I am currently reading The Great Man by Kate Christensen. During lunch I was reading and came across an interesting idea on page 67: lover vs. beloved.

I am not going to give you a review on the book so far, but here is a little synopsis so I can explain what I am talking about. The book is about a deceased artist, Oscar Feldman. Oscar had a mistress for over forty years named Teddy. Teddy and Oscar have twin daughters and while a biographer is interviewing Teddy and one of the daughters, Ruby, Ruby describes Teddy as the “lover” in the relationship and Oscar as the “beloved.” Ruby describes the lover as the one who “adores and pursues,” the one who has the power in the relationship. The beloved does not want to be separate from the lover and does not have a life without them. Ruby says that her mother’s lack of possessiveness over Oscar was an illusion – that Teddy controlled Oscar by giving him free rein.

This particular part of the book struck me as very true as I can see my own relationship with my husband (you can call him M.) in it. I would describe myself as the “lover” and M. as the “beloved.” Not because I feel I hold all the power in the relationship – we have a fairly egalitarian marriage – however if one of us has even a slight bit more power over the other, I think I would come out on top of that one.

It is just an unspoken rule in our household that things are pretty much going to go the way I want them to. I ended up handling all the finances and how the money – M.’s paycheck included – is spent. M. has always felt that he needs to ask me before he makes a purchase, even a very small one. I’ve told him he doesn’t have to do that, but he still does. The house is decorated according to my tastes. I do all our activity planning.

Despite this slight imbalance in power, I do see M. as having free rein over what he wants to do – the fact he defers to me is pretty much his choice. In this way I do have control over him as Teddy had control over Oscar. However, this has come about naturally in our relationship and with his consent to things being this way.

In my love to read one of the things I like most is when something I read makes me think about my own life and how it correlates with what the author is saying in whatever I am reading.


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