Helen Keller and Your Marriage


We all know who Helen Keller was, and what she became: a brilliant writer, lecturer, and inspiration to millions. But do you recall her beginning?

If you’ve ever read her biography or seen a movie or play about her life, you must remember the famous breakfast-table scene that took place when her parents brought in Annie Sullivan, the woman who would become Helen’s teacher and friend for life.

Helen, the object of her parents’ sympathy (and no doubt, their feelings of helplessness) had been allowed to grow into an uncivilized little tyrant, doing absolutely as she pleased. Her own will was all that existed in her mind.

When her new teacher, Annie, refused to allow Helen to grab food off of Annie’s plate with her grubby little fingers, a brawl ensued that lasted all day, and changed the world for Helen Keller.

She didn’t understand the words Annie was trying to spell into her palm—not yet—but the beginning of all her knowledge was the realization that there were other people in the world whose feelings mattered, and that she could not always have her own way.

To have a happy marriage, we all need to learn to reign in that selfish child who screams, “I want, I want… and I want it MY way.” Our husbands, much like Helen’s parents, may give us our way because they are soft-hearted, because they love us, or maybe just for the joy of making us smile for a moment. And in response, rather than being grateful and seeking to bring happiness to them in return, we may come to expect indulgence, and grow ever more demanding, ever more convinced that our own selfish will is the only thing worth considering.

How easy an existence would that be? “I do what I please and nobody dares to question me or stop me.”

And yet it would not exactly be a good thing for us to be allowed to go on that way. Suppose Helen Keller’s parents had never brought in Annie Sullivan? And what if Annie Sullivan had never fought that battle over breakfast with her little student?  A frustrating six-year-old would have become an incorrigible twelve-year-old, and the twelve-year-old would have eventually become a large, strong, overpowering adult woman…miserable in her complete isolation, screeching and muttering, eating with her hands, having no conception of hygiene, much less manners. Let’s face it; she would have wound up in an early 1900’s mental institution, suffering brutality and neglect, her brilliant mind wasted.

Instead, she became the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree. She read books and wrote them. She met authors and presidents. She campaigned for causes she believed in. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame…and all because she learned, little by little, that other people mattered, too. That there was more to living than being given whatever she craved at any particular moment.

So consider that, and then tell me, ladies, which will you choose to be? A childish brat, ferociously battling to prevail over someone who loves you and wants life’s best for you? Or a wise, graceful, dignified lady who knows what deeper victories may come from working with him, not against him, and from loving him even more than you love yourself?



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers