- Castles & Gowns Commentary
This poem isn’t really about living in the past, although it could be one of the themes. The main thrust of the poem is the difficulty the wife has respecting her husband if she has a tendency to compare her “prince” to her “king.”
If her dad (“king”) was rich, it will be very hard for a “prince” to compete. If her dad was smart, her prince may be on the dense side. I think the husband feels this pressure to try and measure up, but how can a “prince” measure up to a “king?”
Some women may never find a suitable husband because the “prince” just can’t be near the man that their Daddy was. As a woman they may fall in love with a prince, but as a little girl their “prince” may never be good enough to usurp the throne of the “king” (who still rules their past life and memories of growing up).
The “most admired man” is always in question because there is a conflict between the views of a little girl and a woman. The childhood “king” is hidden in the depths of the heart of a woman who is learning to love her “prince.” I think unintentionally the wife can put forth expectations of her “prince” that are unfair and that place undue pressure on her spouse.
The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, and wives, respect your husbands” (Ephesians 5:33). I think it is very difficult for a wife to respect her husband after living together for several years, especially if her husband has given her some good reasons not to respect him. I also think that the thing that husbands need most is respect and the thing that wives need most is love. Respect doesn’t mean that you don’t have your own opinions, or that you are less than the man is. It is just acknowledging the good qualities about your husband and dwelling on those. If a woman had a really good Dad, then it may be hard to respect her husband because of wanting to compare them.
Building a life together is very hard, very complicated, and very discouraging sometimes. Maybe what both partners could do is sit down and come up with realistic expectations given the situation they are in.
When we leave our homes, the good memories tend to dominate our thoughts, and we might wish we could go back to the past. This could be amplified if your father has died.
When we live with someone, we face their flaws and their good side every day. It is like being on the battlefield some days.
If you are expecting your “prince” to be as great as your “king,” you are comparing apples to oranges. Your husband may feel a lot of pressure to measure up. But he will never be your Dad, and he will never be able to give you the security and wonder you had as a child. That is a precious memory, but now you are an adult on the front lines with a “prince,” not a “king.”
And hopefully, with time and patience, you will both make a significant contribution to the world around you as you leave the security and wonder of “castles and gowns.”