The highs were high.
The lows were loaded. . . And Clementine (Die-on-this) Churchill knew how to make an exit.
“On one occasion after Clementine had swept off in a fury, [Winston] mischievously declared himself ‘the most unhappy of men’, only for the staff who had witnessed the incident to burst out laughing,” records HistoryExtra. “It was clear to everyone present that this was patently untrue.”
Even as I smile, I shake my head. How did this couple possibly last?
If the Churchills aren’t old friends to you as they are to me, allow me to make introductions. This is a couple that vacationed separately yet wrote each other compulsively. Clementine (like everyone else) questioned the identity of her father. Winston questioned his mum for honeymoon tips. Where he spent, she scrimped or pawned heirlooms. His surprise purchase of Chartwell drove her to claim a bedchamber three times the size of his. (More breathing room from his larger-than-life personality.) Rarely did he receive a naughty note inviting him to “come hither.” When he did, her pillow talk was laced with a liberal perspective and sometimes an agenda for his conservative policies.
So when I tell you “they had problems,” they had problems from A to Nazi.
In the late 1930s, their home-safe-home became a bunker, okay? A bunker. London crumbled overhead. Winston was depressed. The pain from hoping. The trauma of bombs thundering nearby. The ringing in her ears. Clementine refused to bicker with a man who was already gunning against half the world. She changed tactics and keenly surrendered in three practical ways like so. . .
“If I were doing it. . . “
No more “You should do this and that.”
Clementine offered her ideas to Winston with the phrase “If I were doing it. . .” Brilliant, right? The lead-in is perspective and respectful. Think of it. All day long her guy is hounded by competing voices of commanders and cabinet members. He doesn’t need another person telling him what’s next.
Win your temper
According to Clementine, “If you find yourself in competition with men, never become aggressive. She who forces her point may well lose her advantage. You will gain far more by quietly holding to your convictions. But even this must be done with art and above all with a sense of humour.”
Quietly holding doesn’t sound like wearing a smug expression to me. You?
Slow and steady will win your temper. Slow your breathing and steady your voice. Ladies do not shout.
Surrender your thoughts on paper
Because quietly holding is hella hard, in cases where Clementine could predict a knock-down-drag-out, she avoided face-to-face conflict. She wrote instead. Draft by draft, her words lost sting. What was rash became rational. A letter exceeded any response pelted at her husband in the heat of the moment. The Telegraph states by the same token, “This allowed him to consider it calmly, and so avoided arguments.”
. . . How did this couple possibly last? By humility.
As one of the more prideful and stubborn women (takes one to know one) I’ve had the pleasure of studying, Clementine was a relatable and exceptional source for lessons in peacekeeping.
How do you avoid contention without avoiding conflict?
Proverbs 25:24It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
6 surprising facts about Clementine Churchill. HistoryExtra. (2020, November 26). https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/clementine-churchill-facts-winston-churchill-wife/#:~:text=That%20they%20loved%20each%20other,incident%20to%20burst%20out%20laughing.
Staff, N. P. R. (2015, December 31). How Clementine Churchill Wielded Influence As Winston’s Wife. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2015/12/31/461480007/how-clementine-churchill-wielded-influence-as-winstons-wife.
Purnell, S. (2016). Clementine: The life of Mrs. Winston Churchill. In Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (p. 75). New York: Penguin Books.
Smith, J. Y. (1977, December 13). Clementine Spencer-Churchill, Prime Minister’s Wife, Dies. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1977/12/13/clementine-spencer-churchill-prime-ministers-wife-dies/080a95a5-c308-4167-bee3-c0c3356d71ac/?utm_term=.ca21ad4dd754.
Mason, M. (2014, February 19). The Winston Churchill guide to relationships. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/10638692/The-Winston-Churchill-guide-to-relationships.html.