A Balance Of Vows | Sojourners

A Balance Of Vows

Can one be faithful to justice and to marriage vows? Can one be a parent and still work for peace? Can one live on a limited income and still be open to the world's suffering? Can one change sex roles and still maintain a balance of tasks necessary for running a family? We have been wrestling with these and other questions for the past 19 years of our marriage.

We met doing civil rights work. In addition to the wonder of falling in love, we found that we were attracted to the same goals of peace and justice. On our first real date we helped position police to protect a black family moving into a previously white area where there was concern about a riot. During our honeymoon we had to come back into the city so Dick could make a speech to a Quaker gathering about civil rights.

We did a lot of traveling and marching together--until our first child was born. Then everything changed. Phyllis no longer found herself going out of the home to work for justice. No longer was she able to be caught up in that stirring movement for equality of the '60s.

We developed very rigid sex roles. Phyllis stayed at home caring for Danny and, later, for our adopted daughter, Debby.

Dick continued to work outside the home, and even had the wonderful opportunity to work directly with Martin Luther King, Jr. as a staff member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Phyllis' concerns hadn't changed, though. Her inability to express them took its toll. She felt a lot of tension and sadness, which of course affected Dick too.

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