The Lover and the Beloved

If you want to understand what’s happening in the world right now, just read William Manchester’s Winston Spencer Churchill: The Last Lion Alone, 1932-1940.

This superb volume book chronicles Churchill’s courageous and lonely battle against pacifism, disarmament and appeasement. Churchill was politically isolated in Parliament, often jeered and scorned when he warned of the growing Nazi threat.

He fought men who had stooped to the acme of gullibility and self-delusion.

And it’s happening once again as Islamic imperialism darkly threatens western civilization.

But I want to veer away from politics for a moment.

I want to ask a question — about love.

Early in the book, Manchester writes about Clementine Churchill, Winston’s loving and mostly loyal wife, and her brief three-month affair with a wealthy art dealer, Terence Philip.

Manchester quotes La Rochefoucauld: In any affair one partner is the lover and the other the beloved.

Long afterward Clementine conceded that the initiative had been hers.

Clementine said: “He made me love him.”

Thus Philip, seven years younger, was the beloved.

The question I pose to my wise readers is: In marriage does this maxim also hold true?

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21 Comments

  1. David Eisenberg
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Like everything in human life – for some marriages yes, and for some no. And sometimes the beloved becomes the lover later in life too.

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  2. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 9, 2006 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Kishke:
    Yes, Winston and Clementine were utterly devoted to one another. Just read their letters–it’s soooo obvious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. kishke
    Posted October 8, 2006 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I too recall that comment about WC being undersexed. As I remember, Manchester himself was not at all definite about WC’s possible adultery. It seemed to be only speculation.
    Robert, you’re probably right about why their marriage seemed odd to me. They certainly did seem to be devoted to one another.

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  4. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Solomon:
    Yes, Manchester says that WSC was undersexed, perhaps a reaction to his mother’s, ahem, many adventures.
    Winston’s “affair.” I was not sure. It seemed that some woman threw herself at WSC, but that he was not quite biting–or maybe I just didn’t read it properly.
    In any case, Winston and Clementine were utterly devoted to one another and would never think of separating over such “trivial matters.”
    Footnote: Code of Jewish Law is just one of many halachic works.
    Not sure “slander” applies to historical figures in this context. Probably not since we are discussing an already published book.

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  5. Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Robert, if we hadn’t re-arranged my study to accomodate the holiday I would pulled the book out of the box and answer your q’s most accurately. All I have to go on is memory. I read the book – twice – about seven months ago.
    Of course, I read it with the purpose of learning more about Winston Churchill, and not his wife. That makes a difference.
    As I recall, Manchester relied heavily on personal letters and even oral accounts of past events. That is the stuff of tabloids!
    I remember Manchester repeatedly wrote that WSC was “undersexed”, and that he had had an affair, but also that WSC liked a bit of mystery and exaggeration about these matters, perhaps thinking they would enhance his popular appeal. We know nothing about WSC’s feelings about his own affair, and Manchester would certainly have published such if he could. Could the same have been done for Mts. Churchill? There was more about Mrs. Churchill’s lover, yes. But I can’t recall that, except for some holiday travel choices, it ever made an impact on their lives.
    The overall message I received was, “OK, we each had affairs, but we’re English, so we’ll carry on and let it go at that.”
    Footnote: been reading Code of Jewish Law, translated. The definition of “slander” is very, very wide. It would probably shut the mouths of everyone on the internet if we ever forbade it…

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  6. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Kishke:
    Winston and Clementine’s marriage was actually quite normal — for the Edwardian age. Let us never forget that Winston hated the 20th century, pined for older, finer days. His home, Chartwell, was built, mostly, in the 11th Century. His marriage to Clementine reflected this sensibility–though he refrained from committing adultery. He was completely faithful. Thus they took separate vacations and slept in separate bedrooms. But all in all they loved and adored one another. Save for Clementine’s one sad lapse into adultery when she was in her middle years, much like a Maugham heroine.

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  7. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Solomon:
    Manchester’s sources are Clementine’s private letters — not British tabloids.

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  8. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Lisa:
    Yes, you more than answered the question. Lovely, just lovely. Thank you.

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  9. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Yael:
    Agree with you completely. Have you ever heard Rabbi Akiva Tatz on the subject? He also talks about the centrality of “giving.”

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  10. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Siobhan:
    Goodness gracious, now that must be a wonderful marriage indeed.
    A quick mystical aside: The Kabbalah tells us that in the afterlife husband and wife are fused together into one male/female being. Looks like you and your husband will be quite comfortable.

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  11. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Kishke:
    Yes, truly sad that Manchester did not live to finish the bio.

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  12. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Tamara:
    As you say: “ideally.” I wonder how many people live that ideal. Lovely thought, thank you.

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  13. kishke
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Lisa: I’m not sure you’re right. Winston and Clementine had an odd marriage indeed.
    Solomon2: It was not underemphsized at all in the book. It stands out in my mind quite clearly. (Although that may not prove anything, seeing that I’ve read the book two or three times at least). At any rate, why do you assume that this information came from a British tabloid? Did Manchester source it as such? It’s true that Manchester often sensationalizes his subjects (which is partly why he’s such fun to read), but I think he’s generally quite trustworthy.

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  14. Posted October 6, 2006 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    It seemed like a very minor, unemphasized part of the book when I read it and I trust it as much as I trust any British tabloid. We can assume that accuracy wasn’t as important here as was shock value.
    It’s a blurb only a screenwriter would zero in on to pull something out of context, isn’t it? :) Do you have a specific studio in mind for the script, Robert?

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  15. Posted October 6, 2006 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Clementine said: “He made me love him.”
    For what it’s worth…I think Clementine is a liar. She wanted to stray more than she wanted to stay faithful and she chose to “love” him. Her statement is an attempt to blame someone else for her choice.

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  16. Posted October 6, 2006 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    For me, love is commitment. An act of the will. Some days are easier than others and I’m sure my husband would say the same. When the “goopy” (that’s a technical word) feelings subside and the difficulties of life set in that is the true test.
    There have been times when we have disappointed eachother but I have no better friend and ally in the world. I would die for him and (I think) he for me.
    There have also been nights when I’ve lain awake plotting how to club him with a 2×4 and make it look like an accident. (kidding) Love and hate are separated by such a fine line and forgiveness is key.
    We also deal with health issues here that I think many people would have abandoned so once again it goes back to love being a choice.
    Your Robert and Karen series always makes me feel wonderful because it takes me back to the initial feelings of infatuation that took root enough to hold this whole thing together.
    Did I answer the question???

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  17. Yael
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I believe a lot of what people experience as “love” is not true. Often, it is an image – a psychological need or neuroses that one projects on another. Unfortunately, that could happen in a marriage as well, but it is not a healthy dynamic. True love is giving (and a healthy dose of taking.) Giving, giving and giving some more, regardless of what the recipient “does” for a person or how they “make them feel.” Love is kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, rooting for the other. It’s the opposite of Clemeninte’s approach, where she believed love was an expression of self; of her own needs and feelings.

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  18. siobhan
    Posted October 6, 2006 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    My mum has always said that in a marriage, one always loves more than the other. I’ve been married for 14 years and I still haven’t figured out which one of us is which.

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  19. kishke
    Posted October 5, 2006 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I loved, loved, loved Manchester’s Churchill bio. I was so looking forward to reading the final volume. How disappointing that he died w/o being able to complete it.

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  20. Posted October 5, 2006 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    It better not!

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  21. Posted October 5, 2006 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I think of King Solomon’s words, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” I think that pretty much answers the question, for me. Ideally, we are each lover and beloved to our spouse.

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