What a fascinating thought! LitLove at Tales from the Reading Room analyzed Twilight with this view I’d never seen before; basically that the ideal romantic partner is as all-powerful, all-providing, all-protective, and all-loving as a good mother is to her young child.
So naturally I had to return to my story and see if that is in my “ideal” world as well, because, however well it worked for Twilight and vampire romance it’s not something I want to promote.
Even so, my main trouble with the idea of calling these romantic notions “maternal” is finding (or defining) the line between the healthy mutual dependence and the unhealthy. I completely reject the idea of hubris and total autonomy (it’s actually one of my novel’s themes).
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A quick mental review of my story does show a bit more give-and-take than I would imagine for the maternal model: Yes, the husband rescues the wife, but she’s already saved his life too, so I see it as a reciprocal relationship.
At one point early in the relationship he actually scolds her for depending too wholly on his (underprepared) judgment.
“Tykone didn’t want us to go,” said Kennett.“He thought the king and queen would come up with some solution for a useless crown prince.”
“He didn’t call you useless, and you said you wanted to go.”Linnea was shivering and angry, wishing the sun would hurry up and rise so she wouldn’t be so cold.They had moved away from the warmth of their fire and shelter so they wouldn’t waken Hale, but the ground of the barren clearing was completely frozen where they stood and Linnea could feel the cold seeping up through the soles of her simple boots.
“You said you would go where I go.That’s all you said.You’ve been human longer than me.You knew you’d be cold out here without the proper gear.Why didn’t you say so?”
Linnea closed her eyes, pinching out tears of cold.“It’s that— I thought you knew what you were doing?”
She looked over her shoulder and saw Kennett staring at her, open mouthed.“You can’t be serious,” he said, finally.She looked away.
Now it was Kennett’s turn to sound angry.“As soon as Tykone was gone I told you I have no idea what I’m doing.You’re the one with all the experience being human!”
In contrast it’s the fellow she’s forced to depend on while in hiding who takes the (more controlling) role that might be labeled maternal.
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Speaking of relationships in general, my limited education/experience leads me to mistrust such one-sided power/surrender in a relationship. Not because I believe men and women are the same (I believe there are distinct roles), but because I see that one-sided relationship as half a step from a controlling, then abusive, relationship.
And either could look the same from the outside.
But for all that I still see couples for whom the “total dependance” model seems to be working for. Whether or not that stems from elements missing from her childhood could be irrelevant. After all, “compatible neuroses” seems to be an utterly sufficient alternative to two “healthy” people when looking at the levels of peace and happiness in a marriage.