Amelia Earhart on Marriage. {Letter to future husband.}

 

“Please let us not interfere with the other’s work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.”
Did Amelia Earhart write these words in a letter to her future husband, George Putnam, before tying the knot, or was it you? Or maybe it was me! It sounds only too familiar to our postmodern feminist dilemma.

The imperfect, independent, different kind of freedom of an unconventional marriage seems to be as news today as it was in the 1930s. For the largest part of history, marriage seems to have been taken hostage by One unhealthy idea, almost like One religion, One dogma, One credo — to which you either belong or you’re unsaved and unfit and unprepared and impossible.

But seeing, with a loud amen, how brave and intelligent women of all time have resisted this definition, rather than write it off altogether—I can’t help but, like Amelia, imagine the alternative options:

A deal where You are more than before, not less; where both of You add to a fuller, more complicated (and interesting) equation, where no one steals freedom from the other. A win-win. 

Because one has things to do in life, you know? Like be the first female aviator to fly a solo transatlantic flight, or write books, make documentaries, or babies, save the monkeys, find a cure for cancer, start a revolution. And it gets busy on the way. And lonely.

After resisting six failed proposals from George, Amelia finally said yes and (un)tied the knot on February 7, 1931, after stating her disclaimer in this unusual prenup. They were together until her tragic disappearance, in 1937.

 

Transcript: 

Noank
Connecticut

 

The Square House
Church Street

 

Dear GPP

 

There are some things which should be writ before we are married — things we have talked over before — most of them.

 

You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means most to me. I feel the move just now as foolish as anything I could do. I know there may be compensations but have no heart to look ahead.

 

On our life together I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. If we can be honest I think the difficulties which arise may best be avoided should you or I become interested deeply (or in passing) in anyone else.

 

Please let us not interfere with the others’ work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage.

 

I must exact a cruel promise and that is you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together.

 

I will try to do my best in every way and give you that part of me you know and seem to want.

 

A.E.

 

 *Thanks, Feministing.com.

 

As a faithful believer in this type of non-dogmatic relationship and a lover of Rainer Maria Rilke’s solitude wisdom, I can’t help but be reminded of his brilliant and equally unconventional notion of marriage:

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.

 

A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development.

 

But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.” 

{Letters to a Young Poet}

And here is a third, more lyrical, renaissant version of the same type of freedom, via Kahlil Gibran, another one of Amelia’s rebel contemporaries:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

 

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone. Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

 

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

{The Prophet}

Thank God love wasn’t made in Hollywood. 

 *****

 

More Loving Independence: 

>> “My life had stood a loaded gun.” {Emily Dickinson}

>> “Come closer to me, come closer, I promise you, it will be beautiful.” {Anaïs Nin}

>> Nine signs you might be Anna Karenina.

 

{Unmarry me?}

 

 

 P.S. Sign up for my Museletter: FREE creative resources, soulful life tips & game-changing inspiration.

 

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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.

10 Comments

  • Michael Beck commented on December 19, 2012 Reply
    The door propped open promises trust (inspires wings). True true embrace not a knot,despite confusing tangles. A weaving, a tapestry in progress, that both work the play of as-if there were no other world outside that room with the door cracked.
  • Kristi Stout
    kristi commented on December 19, 2012 Reply
    Wow, this is fantastic! How amazing that in that era there was a woman with the courage to be true to herself in a society that typically demanded women be something else. And an amazing woman at that! This is very inspiring and is a matter that very much reflects some thoughts close to my own heart. =)
  • Clara Gutierrez commented on December 21, 2012 Reply
    Smart and honest! I love it.
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on December 24, 2012 Reply
    I love it when she says that they should be free after a year if it doesn’t work out. They were together for seven, interrupted by death. Maybe that’s the type of freedom that real commitment needs. There should be a way out of any situation. Being finite, we can only be free when we’re aware of our impermanent condition (me thinks). I’m going to use some parts of this letter in my own prenup.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 26, 2012 Reply
      *Edited to add Rainer Maria Rilke & Kahlil Gibran quotes.
  • Proudly Unaffiliated commented on February 1, 2013 Reply
    Oh. But she never loved him. This seems so sad. Why did she bother to marry him? And sending him this letter which is more like a memo, nothing from her heart to his…. Poor woman, she wanted to fly but could not fly where it really mattered.
  • Seth Newfeld
    Seth commented on August 13, 2013 Reply
    I love this but I agree with PF. It’s as if she’s acquiescing, resigning herself to a union she abhors. Rilke and KG had more of the truth, I think. 2 Hearts cannot , and mustn’t become one. As 2 Wholes they’re twice as powerful. One BIG <3 to you, AB!!
  • Shavawn M. Berry
    shavawnb commented on January 27, 2014 Reply
    Gosh, Andrea — several of my most favorite, favorite people all quoted in one post! I love Earhart’s spirit. She was honest about who she was and what she could give. Her hubby didn’t enter matrimony thinking she’d be his ‘little woman’ — but instead received her as an equal partner (IMHO). That’s agape love. Spiritual love. That’s what I want. That’s what I will get. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been thinking about these very issues during this Venus retrograde. Perfect time to reflect on and do the work needed to build the connection that will feed your soul. Blessings. ~Shavawn
  • Philip Bond commented on March 3, 2014 Reply
    In my opinion, marriage is just a legal covenant. A true relationship is offering respect and dignity unconditionally bound in love.
  • M commented on March 30, 2015 Reply
    This is fantastic. I needed this 25 years ago. Now I know I was right to feel the way I did then and again now. Breathing room. It’s important. And that, let me go in a year, clause should be a yearly thing. Seriously.

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