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Lessons in Wifery from Gift from the Sea

Young Woman with a Red Umbrella by the Sea by Alfred StevensWritten during a beach vacation in the early 1950s, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea is a series of thoughtful essays about what it means to be a woman in the modern world. My three favorite essays, “Double-Sunrise, “Oyster Bed,” and “Argonauta” reveal important truths about the journey through love and motherhood toward transcendence.


“[The double-sunrise] is a valid image, I think, for the first stage [in a relationship]: two flawless halves bound together with a single hinge, meeting each other at every point, the dawn of a new day spreading on each face.”

In the beginning of a romantic relationship, two separate but matching halves make a complete, entire world to themselves. It is the nature of romantic and sexual love that two become united as one. New couples often want to spend all of their time together, content with each others’ company alone.

The double-sunrise kind of love is a beautiful one, but it can’t—and shouldn’t—last. Powerful love naturally moves outward, into families and communities. The world of the double-sunrise “is a small world, that must be inevitably and happily outgrown.”

Oyster Bed

Oyster by David Monniaux via Wikimedia“The oyster shell is a good one to express the middle years of marriage. It suggests the struggle of life itself. They oyster has fought to have that place on the rock to which it has fitted itself perfectly and to which it clings tenaciously. So most couples in the growing years of marriage struggle to achieve a place in the world.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote that “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” The beginnings of a romantic relationship lead to marriage and shared involvement in home, family, and community. The years of oyster shell love (which I’m only just beginning) aren’t pretty, symmetrical, or simple—but oyster shell love works.

Like the double-sunrise kind of love, oyster shell love cannot last forever. (Frankly, as much as I’m learning to love my life now, I wouldn’t want it to.) When life empties a woman’s home, she and her partner have the chance for a new kind of love.


Argonauta Hians via Wikimedia“I believe there is, after the oyster bed, an opportunity for the best relationship of all: not a limited, mutually exclusive one, like the sunrise shell; and not a functional, dependent one, as in the oyster bed; but the meeting of two whole fully developed people as persons.”

The argonauta takes its name from Jason’s ship on his mythological quest for the Golden Fleece. And the relationship Lindbergh describes here is itself like the Golden Fleece—tantalizing but almost elusive. At the end of courtship, marriage, and family a couple has the chance for something beautiful: a loving relationship based in contentment and peace.

Want to win a copy of Gift from the Sea? Leave a comment by Tuesday, February 27 for a chance to win a print of Kindle eBook copy. (Your choice!) Keep following along with Twelve Months to a Better Woman and February, our Month of Self-Reflection. Be sure to check out the first post in this series to get involved.

7 responses »

  1. I love this book. My sister-in-law gave it to me several years ago, saying I should turn to it whenever I get too stressed or worried. I was just thinking that I needed to pull it off the shelf again when I saw your post. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I would love to win this book. I greatly admire Anne, though I know very little about her. She is on my “to learn” list.

  3. I know I’m not a regular commenter, but I always follow your posts and find them really helpful. I’d love to read this book. Reflecting on life and the shape it’s taking isn’t something I always make enough time for, but whenever I do sit down to devote serious time to reflecting on where I’ve come from, what’s going on now, and what aspects are puzzling or problematic, I always come away feeling refreshed and with a better sense of how to cope practically.

  4. That looks like an interesting book. I can identify with the first phase or two!

  5. Everywhere I go, I read about this book. Whether or not I am lucky enough to win the drawing on your blog, I will be reading this book soon.

  6. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Two Speeding Tickets | Experimental Wifery

  7. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after looking
    at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking
    it and checking back frequently!


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