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Once on a modern time, John Spratt and his wife lived alone. The Spratts were not religious people. They didn't regularly attend worship services. However, when Martha decided she wanted to do so, there was little doubt that they would. John wasn't likely to stand up successfully to her demand. He never had. Whatever Martha wanted, John provided. Provided, of course, that it was in his power to do so.
You see, Martha had what the intellectual community called an aggressive personality. John was nominally a member of the intellectual community. He knew Martha's nature. He had known it when he married her. John had a submissive personality. John recognized that theirs would be labeled a complimentary relationship.
Martha's late father had been Dean when he hired John as Instructor of English. John was working on his dissertation at the time. Once John married Martha, he stopped working on the dissertation. He received tenure at the college anyway. He, but not Martha, had resigned himself to being an Instructor of English forever.
He had not, however, resigned himself to obeying Martha completely. They had a younger couple over for dinner that Friday night. When Martha announced that they were going to worship that weekend, his resolve stiffened.
"It's not a holy day!" said he.
"It is to me!" She said and turned to their guest, "It's our baby's birthday."
The guests were agape. "I didn't know you had a child!" they said in unison.
"We don't," said John and changed the subject.
Of course, John's denial only spurred Martha to greater dominance of John throughout the evening. Eventually, he screamed at her, "Stop it! I can't take it anymore!"
She looked him straight in the eyes and calmly said, "You can take it. You married me for it."
So they went to worship that weekend. However, John's resistance continued. He didn't do as she wished as quickly as she desired. So, their bickering continued before the service, at times during it, disturbing the worship, and as they were leaving the building.
Outside, they were approached by a woman who they recognized as a friend of Martha's father, a Faith Moon. She said to them:
You really need to get help!
A marriage shouldn't be like a bramble bush!
Nor should it be like boulders leaning one on one.
The husband is submissive and aggressive is the wife.
Assertive you both need to be.
For neither of you listen; you just talk.
Instead of focusing on what you want,
You need together to consider your joint goals.
Yes, let your marriage be as one reflected by the cypress and the oak, separate and strong.
Yet, let your leaves unite to provide shade for good mother earth who nourishes us all.
Together, She and you can nurture seeds of your relationship whatever they will soon produce.
Yes, eat from your own plate,
But do be mindful of the other's plate to tend.
For only then will yours be a complete relationship,
And only then will your meal be one of togetherness!
The Spratts did not listen to Mother Moon. They did not change their behavior toward each other. Yet, who is to know? Perhaps they lived happily ever after.