Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Chivalry? Just Do It

on September 26, 2011

I have a question. Is chivalry really dead? To me, chivalry means being kind to others and doing something without being asked. Holding a door is a simple example and can be done by anyone being polite or considerate of the person coming behind them or allowing someone to go in ahead of them. It’s not limited to men. I do it all the time. Or maybe you envision the man offering his jacket to his date/lady friend who’s chilled. I gave my sweater to my daughter yesterday in church. See. we can all do it.

Here’s something I didn’t know about chivalry: it dates back to the 14th century, probably King Henry VIII since he was such a stickler about appearances. Chivalry by definition relates to knightly behavior, qualities expected from knights. Huh. I’d never have guessed. I thought knights rescued damsels in distress, jousted and basically did whatever they wanted or the king ordered them to do.  The first definition of chivalry in Webster’s dictionary is mounted men-at-arms. Not exactly what comes to mind when I think of chivalry. how about you? yeah, I thought so. The third definition is a gallant or distinguished gentleman. That’s a little closer to what I think of. Then it says the qualities of the ideal knight: chivalrous conduct. So….what exactly does ‘chivalrous conduct’ mean? According to my friend Mr. Webster, chivalrous = valiant. And not only that, but marked by honor, generosity, gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration especially to women.

I suppose the basis of it is why we almost expect to see it from men. Standing when a lady comes to the table (not so much these days, but maybe in our parents’ day), pulling out her chair, taking off a hat indoors. In movies, when there’s only one room left and the two people who are traveling together, but heaven forbid they should be romantically involved, the man always offers the bed to the woman to his own discomfort.

Every girl, no matter where or who, has dreams of her knight in shining armor coming to rescue her from whatever dread thing she has to go through, be it an evil step-mother, a pile of laundry, a dreadful boss, i could go on, but you get the picture.

We always like to think of our partners as being that person for us. So, what do you do when your spouse/partner/significant other has an opportunity to display true chivalry (gracious courtesy or high-minded consideration) toward you and just doesn’t? And not for lack of knowledge of what the situation is, it’s just a decision to not choose chivalry.  If it’s something that’s not normally displayed, you probably just go on, since you haven’t come to expect it anyway. But when it’s an aberration, it’s very disappointing, particularly when it’s more than just opening a door. Opening doors is nice, but not a big deal, I can do that myself. However, when this act of chivalry has to do with the parter/spouse/significant other directly, and it affects you in an adverse manner, it’s a real disappointment.

I say to you, don’t let chivalry die. Think of others before yourself without being asked to. Do something nice for someone else, just because. It doesn’t have to involve money either, holding the door for the person behind you, make a phone call just to say hello, a foot rub, doing something you can see that needs to be done before being asked (pick up your dirty socks, empty the dishwasher, you know the basics). Take the opportunities to show how much you care when they present themselves. I promise, it will not go unnoticed, no matter what you think, and it will be appreciated more than you know. Go on, give it a try, all that can come from it is good.

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