“He Cracks His Knuckles Constantly.” -Alice von Hildebrand


From By Love Refined, Alice Von Hildebrand

Dear Julie,

Your irritation at Michael’s absentminded knuckle-cracking has my sympathy. It’s a small thing which it would be best to ignore, but small things sometimes get on our nerves.

(Be grateful that your problems are small: the kind that only get on your nerves but don’t shatter love. You’ve been fortunate to fall in love with a noble man who also loves you, and your union has none of the grave problems – such as brutality or infidelity – that afflict too many marriages.)

Still, even a good marriage has its problems. Now that you’re privileged to share in Michael’s intimate life, seeing him day and night, you’re becoming conscious of many of his odd traits – comical, clumsy, or irritating as they may be.

All of us, when examined under the microscope of daily living, reveal quirks of our own that strike others as strange or annoying.

One of my acquaintances had the habit of often scratching his head. One evening his wife remarked to us, “I never knew I was going to be married to an ape.” This wasn’t a very loving way of regarding his in-nocuous habit. It was unkind of her to ridicule her husband (especially in front of others) and it was doubly humiliating since this wound was inflicted by one who had the special mission of nurturing and protecting him. It could have been otherwise.

Marriage constantly offers opportunities which we can use for love or against love. Michael’s knuckle-cracking is just such an opportunity. When you isolate his habit and pay great attention to it, you mentally equate his personality with his mannerisms and begin to view him more as an object than as a person.

It’s a bit like taking a picture of someone when he happens to be yawning. During those few seconds, it’s true that he looks the way the picture represents him; but the actual yawn which lasts for only the twinkle of an eye has been prolonged by the photograph and therefore deformed and caricatured.

To see anyone “from the outside” is a lack of charity; to see the one you love from the outside is a kind of betrayal. For it belongs to the “pact of love” that you promise Michael (and he promises you) not to isolate single expressions or mannerisms from the totality of the other person — the totality you’ve seen so clearly in Michael precisely because he’s chosen to reveal it to you, and because you love him.

When you suspend your Tabor vision of Michael and look at him from the outside with the critical, unloving attitude of a stranger, the sweet intimacy between you is shattered. You’re no longer concerting with him in love; you’re conspiring against him.

That’s why a lover worthy of the name always strives to look beyond mannerisms and to see her beloved from within, against the background of his lovable personality. Through love’s intuition, she grasps her beloved in his depth.

I know you firmly intend to fight against the devastating tendency to see Michael from the outside, and to remain faithful to your Tabor vision of him. The more you succeed in this, the more Michael’s minor quirks will lose their irritating character and even grow some-what endearing to you.

With love,


“The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage and continues that development during marriage. By personality here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life than physical beauty. In fact, without personality, beauty often tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty. None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it all the days of their lives.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s

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With his facile pen and from the wealth of his nation-wide experience, the well-known author treats anything and everything that might be included under the heading of home education: the pre-marriage training of prospective parents, the problems of the pre-school days down through the years of adolescence. No topic is neglected. “What is most praiseworthy is Fr. Lord’s insistence throughout that no educational agency can supplant the work that must be done by parents.” – Felix M. Kirsch, O.F.M.




Necessary advice to Catholic parents building a Catholic home. Reliable advice that is almost completely lost today, from people who know how it’s done. How to make it. How to live it. How to keep it. This book covers every aspect of Catholicizing your home–from spiritual matters like prayer and catechism to nuts and bolts topics like Keeping the Family Budget, Games and Toys, Harmony between School and Home, Family Prayers, Good Reading in the Home, Necessity of Home Life and much more

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