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?



Whatever’s going  wrong in your marriage today does not HAVE to be a deal-breaker. That’s the main thing I want to tell you.

When you’re going through something in your marriage that’s very hard, very painful…you can survive it, you can get through it, and you can come out happy and fine in the end.

It makes a big difference when you’re able to take the idea of divorce completely off the table. Yet I hesitate to make a broad statement and say you MUST approach it that way, for a couple of reasons–one being that certain things (such as child molestation) should probably never be gotten over. I haven’t been in that situation, thankfully, but I would think that would be a time to cut your losses and run far, far away. Most things, though, can be overcome if it is your desire to overcome them. If you’ve ever read the “About Me” section, you know that I am both a divorced person and a person who has been married nearly twenty years. I’ll give you some background info so you can know that I’m speaking to you from experience.

I married my first husband in haste, because I thought I was getting older (ha, 25!) so I grabbed the first candidate who came along. I was told later that he cheated on me, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time, so I can’t say we divorced for a biblical reason. We divorced because it soon became apparent that we could not STAND each other. Everything either of us said or did was wrong in the eyes of the other one, and we were miserable. Looking back now, as a Christian, I can see that I myself approached a lot of things wrong in that relationship, and maybe if we had both sincerely wanted to try and had received some strong Christian guidance, we might have eventually found a way to make it work. Maybe we’d be sitting here right now, happy as clams, saying “Remember those early days when we used to fight all the time?” I’ll never know, and like most divorced people I don’t exactly relish that thought, because he lives in my mind as somebody I do not like or wish to be around. But still. We could possibly have worked it out, if we’d wanted to.

When I met my now-husband, from day one it was clear that we were on the same wavelength, we spoke each other’s language, we were just sympatico right off the bat. Made for each other. Meant to be. There has never been an atmosphere in our home of disliking one another; never that feeling that I wasn’t accepted or that everything I did was wrong. But it has been no bed of roses, either. Both of us have done things wrong–and I don’t mean just a little bit wrong–I mean big, bad, Ten Commandment-breaking wrong. Bottom line, though, even though sometimes we screwed up big time, we just loved each other so much. It was always worth it to slog through the pain and get things hashed out and stay together. You have to be the judge of whether what you’ve got is worth saving.



When you’re going through a bad time, support from friends can be great. But friends are often so much “on your side” that they will advise you to do whatever they think will end your pain the fastest. He cheated? He ran up a bunch of debt behind your back? He hit you, God forbid? Get out of there, girl, nobody has a right to do that. You deserve better. That’s what friends will tell you, and they mean it in the best possible way. They are trying to look out for your best interests. But they may not be right. You don’t HAVE to leave, and you don’t have to apologize to anybody for staying. (A good way to avoid this dilemma is to not blab all your marriage troubles to your friends, by the way. Pray about them instead.)

I understand the pain you’re going through. Trust me, I wrote a whole book about the pain.

(You can get if from Amazon if you want to; click the link below.)



Like I said, we’ve BOTH done things wrong, but the first big occasion was my husband’s. Loving him as much as I do only served to make it doubly devastating. I fell to pieces for a while. I was a kaleidoscope of changing emotions for a good TWO YEARS. Did you read that? TWO YEARS, I’m telling you. Two years that it lurked in my mind, that it still caused pain, that I could not stop looking for it happen again, that I could not stop making digs at him about it. And I thought we were ruined, we’d never be the same, I could never trust him or even look at him the way I did before. (Incidentally I am not even talking about a sexual affair, here. It was something different, but that’s not the point.) I am just telling you that there was a HUGE incident that rocked us to the core–and there have been other incidents and rocky places–yet here we are. Happy. No, not just pretending. Really sincerely happy.

I can’t write down the “steps to happiness” for you, not knowing your particular situation. In our case, part of it was just sticking it out long enough that some things resolved themselves. Part of it was turning to God. We learned to apologize to each other sometimes. I learned to submit and he learned to return that gesture with responsible leadership. We learned to sometimes just swallow our pride and let the other person win the argument.

I just want you to know that if there’s love between you, if there’s a desire to work things out, it can happen. New and improved ways of living together can become the norm, and the pain can become a distant memory. I promise you.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers