When My Husband Became My North Star, I Lost Myself

He set the course for both our lives — until I started navigating for myself

Karie Luidens
Human Parts
Published in
19 min readJul 26, 2019

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Photo: Busà Photography/Getty Images

ItIt wasn’t until months later that I remembered: My husband didn’t want me to get a tattoo. By then the wound of it had long since stopped weeping interstitial fluid, a thin amber tinged with blood and ink. My skin had scabbed over, gone dry, flaked. The tattoo was set. There was nothing he could do about it.

I. Due North

I didn’t enter into marriage expecting to be a defiant wife. It’s not that I subscribed to the verses I’d learned in eighth grade Sunday school: Wives, submit unto your husbands. Even at age 13, I laughed at that notion. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body. I knew the boys in school well enough to know none of them would ever be the savior of my body. My teacher told me I was a heretic; I laughed at him too.

No, I chose to marry a man who wouldn’t try to bend me to his will. This man would never, would he? He was first drawn to me because I was a free spirit. Independent. Creative. I spent hours in the art studio on our snowy northern campus, painting with oils that smeared the thighs of my jeans from stonewashed blue to ochre and crimson. Before long he spent hours there too, sitting across from my easel with his own homework in his lap, pretending not to watch me work my brushes over the canvas. He studied Italian. We discussed Dante. One day after a painting/studying session, we were walking from the art building to the Center for Global Communication when, halfway across the parking lot, he surprised me with a kiss.

We talked for hours about all our past travels, and how someday we’d go abroad together and taste the spice of new countries.

He wasn’t my first kiss. But he was my first real kiss, and my first real boyfriend. We fell fast and hard for each other. He gave me a book of French pastry recipes and every Thursday night we’d try one together in the kitchen of my campus housing, dusting our hands with flour and smudging sugar across each other’s cheeks and mouths while sweet steam seeped…

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Karie Luidens
Human Parts

Writer & Artist. My first book is forthcoming from Left Field Publishers in May 2024. IN THE END: A MEMOIR ABOUT FAITH AND A NOVEL ABOUT DOUBT