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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

The matter is only complicated by your desires. The right way is quite simple to determine, and you know that.

Let us take it from first principles. You agree that she is “flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone” – for that is what our Lord intended. Put more simply, her body is yours to do with as you please. She is to grant you your marital pleasures on every occasion.

Do consider, however, that with possession comes responsibility. You would not abuse your own body; why hers, which is yours? Indeed, the matter is more severe than this. If her body is yours, then likewise yours is hers. For this reason alone you are to have no other partner in sexual relations. But do you not see that by the very claim you make on her body she has an equal claim on your own?

So then, how do you propose to use “her” body – if not for her benefit, pleasure and indeed delight? If she has an obligation to provide for your sexual desires (and she does) then you are to provide for hers – sexual and otherwise. Therefore you are not permitted to abuse the body in any way. Indeed, you are the steward of her body – the one you are walking in. As steward, you may not do as you please with it – you must do as she pleases with it.

It seems difficult to you, I know. It is easy for you to say that she should not deprive you of sexual relations without your consent, and this is so. Our Lord is quite specific on this point. But do recall the reason for this – your desires. She is not to be used as a dog would worry a bone; it is your weakness which places this obligation upon her. Have the humility and respect, therefore, to refrain from abusing the privilege.

She has equal power over your body, for you are one flesh. Make every effort to woo her to the marriage bed; never command it. Grant her the respect which is her due. Never presume upon her favor, but in all circumstances seek to know her desires. Then gently fulfill them. Your body is hers.

Do you not know that your insistence will breed her resistance, reluctance and even revenge? You are not to be a tyrant; rather, a noble lord in your own house. A man of noble bearing is never harsh, but kind and caring. Seek always what is best for her. You will soon find that she delights in giving you pleasure.

May an old man share one other grace, learned of long experience? It is easy to be gentle before entering the marriage bed, but after the moment of passion your character is shown. Grant her full honor; speak kind words to her; cling to her in affection. No woman wishes to think of herself as a man’s toy; all desire to be his great love. When your passion has exhausted you, then be careful that your words are tender – for then will they be most remembered.

One last: remember that the bedchamber has a door. When you are on the outside, be as gentle and courteous as on the other side of that door. Women mark such things. Happy is the woman whose husband respects her, and shows it in his courtesy.

I am an old fool now. You may think my advice less likely to satisfy your lusts than would the word of command. But consider: when those in authority over you command what is their due, in what manner do you prefer to hear the command? Is it not with courtesy and respect? If this is so, how much more should you grant courtesy and respect to your wife? Do as you would be done by.

I remain,

With a modicum of tact,

Isaac the Alchemist

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