Gather Ye Rosebuds

Now that I’ve pretty much overdone the discussion of whether people can change, and we’ve reached the conclusion that there will be some change, but probably not too much, we can look at what attributes these characters have that should be good for their marriage. Despite Louisa being a woman who likes small town and middle-class life, especially in Portwenn, and Martin being a man who has an affinity for London and the more upper crust life, there is much that they have in common.

Previously I wrote about whether Martin and Louisa should stay together. I questioned the whole notion of bringing up that issue because I am the type of reader/viewer who takes the storyline as something to accept as written. I tried to make allowances in a second post (“Ambiguity”) for those who read/watch as if they are looking through a keyhole rather than looking into a box. I want to be open to those who like to imagine what might happen “if.” This post is different because I can use the information we’ve been given in the show to discuss why Martin and Louisa are well matched. In my opinion, the writers have given us sufficient evidence that this couple could be compatible.

I have my own ideas about what criteria might be used to determine compatibility, but I thought I should see what the established guidelines are. Psychology Today published keys to functional compatibility (as opposed to dysfunctional, which I assume means those couples who stay together but have a very problematic relationship).

Key #1: basic values. These values reflect one’s moral standards, one’s religious beliefs, and one’s sense of gender roles. (I would add one’s interest in having children, although this subject could be folded into several of the keys.) From what we’ve seen of Martin and Louisa, they have very similar feelings about morals and religion, but may have somewhat different views about gender roles.

Both Martin and Louisa are concerned about others and make the time and effort to help the townspeople whenever called upon. As a doctor, M would be expected to take care of any medical problems, but he frequently goes well beyond that. (The “Kindness” post from last November delineated much of that behavior.) L demonstrates concern for her students, for their parents, and for others in the community, including Roger Fenn, Mrs. T, Morwenna, and Ruth. She worries about her friend Caroline as well as Mark and Al.

Religion plays a very minor role in their lives. They get married in a church but do not participate otherwise. They both react with surprise and derision to Danny’s regular invocation of God.

Their differences regarding gender roles may coincide in theory, i.e. they both think women should have the same opportunity to work as men and can handle the same positions. (Surely Martin’s aunts have been an influence on him.) Where they differ is whether women should work once they’ve had a baby, most especially when the baby is very young. Louisa’s desire to return to work within a few months of having James is contrary to Martin’s beliefs and a source of conflict between them. They never really resolve that issue; however, Martin takes on the care of James despite his objections to Louisa’s decision to work and in spite of its inconvenience to him. He deals with childcare at least as much as Louisa and hires Michael to help with James.

Key #2: degree of being ego-centered. This refers to a willingness to compromise. The way I understand this is that each partner can have strong convictions, but it is their ability to be tolerant of each other’s positions that is important. Thus, when Martin attends the school concert with Louisa he is sublimating his disenchantment with this sort of event to satisfy Louisa. Similarly, when Louisa wants to go to a social event that she realizes will not appeal to Martin, she doesn’t press him. Another example would be helping out as receptionist until Martin can find someone else. Or accepting his interest in fixing clocks even if it takes time away from her and James. (To be honest, in the show Martin is more often the one who does the compromising. That circumstance actually bolsters our sense that he is not stuck in a gender rut.)

Key #3: shared insight and perspective. Here we are talking about having comparable intellectual abilities such that both members of the couple can comprehend ideas, issues, and problems in a reasonable and thoughtful manner. In this show we have seen Martin and Louisa handle issues jointly and reasonably. There are many examples that come to mind, e.g. when Allison’s daughter acts hyper and ultimately badly injures herself. Louisa brings Allison to apologize to Martin and mediates the conversation between them. Louisa displays her problem-solving prowess and Martin and she have a meeting of the minds. We could also point to their handling of the porphyria addled headmaster; many cases with students, especially Peter Cronk and Theo Wenn; Mrs. Tishell; as well as their agreement about the personal traits of Mrs. Wilson and the Oakwoods. Indeed, this category is the one that stands out to me as demonstrating excellent compatibility in this pair.

Key #4: shared interests. I suppose we could suggest music as one activity they both enjoy, although Louisa doesn’t have any in depth knowledge of classical music or the instruments. After their sojourn to the concert, they clash over the children’s music Louisa has on in the kitchen. Other than that, the only truly shared interest they have is their son, unless we once again include shared concern for the townspeople.

Keys #5 and 6 are where we hit a major snag. These have to do with the temperaments of each member of the couple and their ability to relate authentically. We have spent quite a bit of time discussing how much Martin and Louisa need to talk to each other about their inner thoughts and probably their histories. To be in a truly functional marriage both parties should feel comfortable disclosing things to one another and leveling with each other. We haven’t seen much of this sort of behavior so far. We’ve gotten snippets, e.g. when Louisa can’t sleep because she is concerned about Mrs. Tishell’s return and Martin tries to reassure her. Most often they have been unwilling to share their most personal thoughts and troubles. It seems clear that Louisa would like to reach a deeper level of sharing and that Martin is the one who has the most trouble with this. Early on we see her try to get Martin to talk to her and in S6, she tells Martin she’s available to talk about his father’s death, and she suggests taking a weekend away presumably to have time to talk to each other.  On the other hand, there is much that Louisa has not told Martin (or us). We could speculate that she’s hesitant to be too open because of his apparent lack of interest in hearing it or in reciprocating, or because she’s being self-protective. Whatever the reason, their inability to be more authentic with each other is a major source of trouble in their marriage and the area that needs to change most.

Key #7 is whether the couple is attracted to each other. This seems rather ridiculous unless the marriage is arranged or something, but I guess it is a factor. Martin and Louisa fulfill this requirement; they have been attracted to each other from the moment they met. Martin never stops wanting to catch a glimpse of Louisa, he has a different tone of voice when talking to her, and he agrees to do almost anything she asks of him. That is hardly the case with anyone else. Meanwhile, Louisa defends him to others, and becomes jealous whenever there’s another woman around. She worries about him, and she invites him out and finds ways to bump into him. Also, they are the best dressed people in Port Wenn and appear to have the same interest in good grooming habits. If Louisa weren’t clean and neat, Martin would have trouble finding her attractive. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone marrying unless they are physically attracted to each other, but we can’t deny that attraction is important.

In addition to the above, I would like to add that they both are very trustworthy. They can be secure in the knowledge that neither one of them will stray. They’ve made a commitment to each other, and from what we know of them, they will keep that commitment. To me that is an essential ingredient to a good marriage.

Furthermore, I think it’s important to remember that their marriage is starting with a baby already on board. They have had no time to get acclimated to living with each other without the stress of a newborn. The fact that they have been shown complementing each other throughout the early months of James’ life shows a strong foundation for their union.

Another thing that seems to be fairly common is that, for some unknown reason, many people who love each other hurt each other. Whether this is some sort of test or hurdle, I can’t be sure. (The Carpenters actually had a song called “Hurting Each Other,” it’s so  unexceptional. Here are the lyrics. I think they sum up what we see with M and L quite well.)

I can’t end this post without stating that falling in love has many ineffable aspects about it. We can’t always define what captures our interest and desire. Sometimes we just know that we have met the person we want to be with because there is something deep in our hearts and minds that gives us that signal. To a certain extent, that is what has happened to Martin and Louisa, and we want them to embrace that. Neither of them had found the right mate before and now Fate has brought them together. Isn’t that a strength in itself?

One final thing…This will be my last post until June. I will be traveling in May and can only reveal that I hope to have a lot more posts to write when I get back. I won’t be leaving for another week and will be checking the blog until I leave and while I’m away. Thank you all for hanging in here with me. It’s been a demanding endeavor to keep the blog going throughout the long break between series! I couldn’t have done it without your help. I plan to continue until we’ve seen S7 and added our analyses of its episodes to our discussions. After that, who knows?

Originally posted 2015-04-30 17:28:42.

16 thoughts on “Gather Ye Rosebuds

  1. Santa Traugott

    First of all, Karen, you’ve left us with a tantalizing hint. Dare we hope for fresh insights into our favorite show based on real time research on location?

    Second, thanks for the interesting post. I agree that the show’s basic assumption is that Martin and Louisa DO ultimately belong together, although it will take some work on their part and considerable trial of the audience’s patience, to get there.

    I don’t know where this belongs in the “keys” but often, there are scenes which show them united against a threat of some kind, or working together seamlessly to solve some problem. When they simultaneously turned on the midwife as Louisa threw her out, you could see them framed together in the shot. Similarly, as they confronted the badger burning Mrs. Oakwood — framed in the shot as they elucidated their common values. And of course we have the scene in the ambulance in Haemophobia, plus the operation on the carotid artery of the grumpy old man in the wedding episode. So, I think the show is constantly telling us that they do belong together, and when push comes to shove, they will always unite. They know they can trust each other.

    BTW, was that Martin’s biggest violation on Sports Day? He let her down and humiliated her in public, something a trustworthy spouse should never do. It may take a while for Louisa to recover her trust in him.

    I agree that they hide from each other. Their communication troubles stem not only from the device of continual, annoying interruptions, but from their unwillingness to be open — whether from insecurity, British reserve, or what, we don’t know. Hopefully they will be counseled to change that behavior.

    ” Sometimes we just know that we have met the person we want to be with because there is something deep in our hearts and minds that gives us that signal. To a certain extent, that is what has happened to Martin and Louisa, and we want them to embrace that. ” Amen to that. And it isn’t as la-la romantic as it sounds: I truly believe that people have some kind of inner radar for someone that will “fit”, regardless of how unlikely it seems on the surface. There are ways, I think, in which Martin and Louisa need each other and complement each other.

    In this connection, I vaguely remember a discussion by Plato about how there was some mystical joining of pairs, but cut in half at birth and then people are on a quest to find the missing half. Or something like that. This couple sort of reminds me of that.

    A last thing — we were having dinner with a couple who like us have been married well over 40 years. We were speculating on why marriages lasted. any my friend remarked, “in one word, tolerance.” I think that’s a pretty good one word summary. We’re told that that’s what Louisa will develop through S7 — the understanding that if she wants to be with “the love of her life” she will have to learn to accept him as he is.

  2. Abby

    Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking post, Karen. I agree with your points on Martin and Louisa’s compatibility but would like to add one more. I think the complementarity of their deep seated needs is a driving factor in their relationship. These needs develop early in life based on a person’s experiences and temperament.

    Louisa learned early on that she couldn’t depend on others to care for her, so she never felt completely safe. Given her resilient nature, though, she was able to do well in life, except in the area of intimate relationships. Her deep seated need then is to feel completely safe with a partner, to know that he will always be there and will not betray her.

    Martin was never “seen” or accepted from the time he was born. As a result, he never developed the ability to connect with others, always walling himself off. I think within him is a deep seated need for someone to “really see” him and accept him for who he is. Like Louisa, Martin is a strong person, and so has been able to do well in life, except in the area of personal relationships.

    So, we have Louisa with a fear-based need and Martin with a connection-based need. I have always felt that they have been drawn together in part because they sense that the other can fill this need. Martin is solid and reliable and can provide Louisa the groundedness and safety she needs. Louisa has been able to get glimpses of the “real” Martin and has loved what she sees. I think Martin senses that.

    So I think, in addition to all of the areas of compatibility you addressed, there is a complementarity of needs that can make this marriage work.

  3. Post author

    I absolutely agree that they are often depicted as working together, especially when there is a medical problem, and I would put it in the Key #3 category. There are many examples of this: Peter Cronk, Danny’s breathing difficulty, Tommy’s methanol poisoning, Isobel’s baby’s delivery, and Holly’s emergency. We should probably include Eleanor’s abdominal hernia too. Your example of jointly turning on the mid-wife is excellent because they have been at odds so much about the prenatal care and Louisa has deliberately challenged Martin by working with the mid-wife. Then she realizes that Martin’s prescription for her is proper medical care and that the mid-wife has been poisoning her mind with all sorts of hokum. This is where Louisa shows her reasonableness and ability to think clearly, while it also brings them together. The Oakwoods are such a good example because in facing them, Martin and Louisa practically finish each other’s sentences, they are in such close alignment when it comes to handling children. When a couple has children, it’s extremely important to be consistent, and this scene makes clear that would happen with them.

    Tolerance is big in every way. Even though your comment about tolerance was placed with the most recent post on “Change,” I want to mention it here because it’s so much a part of being functionally compatible. I totally agree that Louisa “has to accept that much of his behavior isn’t really about her, in the sense that, it doesn’t mean that he’s attacking her, loves her less, or is deliberately being provoking. Similarly, how his patients and the villagers regard him is really his problem, and not hers. She has to get her ego out of the way.” Your comment really speaks to Key #2 and being willing to show restraint when it comes to something that matters to one’s partner.

    I love how you put together the idea of change with what happens at the end of S6. Louisa has been trying to change him, or at least draw him out, for the length of the show while he’s been claiming he wants to change and always falling back into his usual behavior patterns. Now he is convinced that he must change and she may have given up after so many broken promises. However, they are both in agreement, after this new medical trauma, that they can’t just go back to how things were. Whether Louisa remembers Martin’s entreaty that he needs her help to be a better husband or not, he knows that is the next step and she knows that he takes their dissension seriously. There are more rocky roads ahead, but the outcome seems likely to be some sort of meeting in the middle.

    What great remarks!!

  4. Post author

    Thanks so much for your comments. You make a convincing argument for how they fill each other’s deficiencies or needs. I can’t agree more that the way these two have been portrayed is that Louisa admires Martin’s medical ability and recognizes how much his values coincide with hers, and Martin appreciates how much she relies on him to arrive at solutions and likes her companionship. Even in the car heading to chase down Mrs. Tishell and JH, Louisa says that she’s counting on Martin to find their baby. They’ve been living apart at this point, but she hasn’t lost her faith in him.

    They are both strong, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be an obstacle; they can draw strength from each other in those areas where they each struggle. I like it!!

  5. Linda D.

    I was unable to open the lyrics in your post Karen, so I posted them here. You are right. This song suits them very well.

    Carpenters – Hurting Each Other Lyrics

    No one in the world
    Ever had a love as sweet as my love
    For nowhere in the world
    Could there be a boy as true as you love
    All my love
    I give gladly to you
    All your love
    You give gladly to me
    Tell me why then
    Oh why should it be that.

    We go on hurting each other
    We go on hurting each other
    Making each other cry
    Hurting each other
    Without ever knowing why.

    Closer than the leaves
    On a weepin’ willow, baby, we are
    Closer dear are we
    Than the simple letters “A” and “be” are
    All my life
    I could love only you
    All your life
    You could love only me
    Tell me why then
    Oh why should it be that.

    We go on hurting each other
    We go on hurting each other
    Making each other cry
    Hurting each other
    Without ever knowing why.

    Can’t we stop hurting each other
    Gotta stop hurting each other
    Making each other cry
    Breaking each other’s heart
    Tearing each other apart.

  6. Linda D.

    THIS is the song I would have suggested ………

    If You’re Not The One Lyrics

    Daniel Bedingfield

    If you’re not the one, why does my soul feel glad today?
    If you’re not the one, then why does my hand fit yours this way?
    If you are not mine, then why does your heart return my call?
    If you are not mine, would I have the strength to stand at all?

    I never know what the future brings
    But I know you’re here with me now
    We’ll make it through and I hope
    You are the one I share my life with

    I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
    If I’m not made for you, then why does my heart tell me that I am?
    Is there anyway that I can stay in your arms?

    If I don’t need you, then why am I crying on my bed?
    If I don’t need you, then why does your name resound in my head?
    If you’re not for me, then why does this distance name my life?
    If you’re not for me, then why do I dream of you as my wife?

    I don’t know why you’re so far away
    But I know that this much is true
    We’ll make it through and I hope
    You are the one I share my life with

    And I wish that you could be the one I die with
    And I pray that you’re the one I build my home with
    I hope I love you all my life

    I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
    If I’m not made for you, then why does my heart tell me that I am?
    Is there anyway that I can stay in your arms?

    ‘Cause I miss your body and soul so strong
    That it takes my breath away
    And I breath you into my heart
    And I pray for the strength to stand today

    ‘Cause I love you whether it’s wrong or right
    And though I can’t be with you tonight
    And you know my heart is by your side

    I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
    If I’m not made for you, then why does my heart tell me that I am?
    Is there anyway that I can stay in your arms?

    Read more: Daniel Bedingfield – If You’re Not The One Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  7. Linda D.

    This was a great post Karen! I have also enjoyed the first comments. The “keys” you suggest will lead to much new discussion.
    Santa, I think your observation about the lost of trust over how he behaved is a major problem is very realistic. It was a very “un-Martin” thing to do, however. It was a HUGE red flag about his state and if there had not been so much other stuff happening in that episode, she might have realized that he was VERY troubled. They packed a lot into that episode didn’t they? Now it feels, to me, that they tried to jam everything in just in case it was the last series.
    I am so glad they have not lost faith in one another Karen. I don’t think they’ll give up on each other in spite of the great challenges ahead!

    I hope you enjoy your travels Karen! I am off to Port Isaac on May 20th – a bit dismayed to see the filming schedule for my time there but I know it will be fun anyway. Thanks for a wonderful post! You amaze me with how you keep things coming at us which are so relevant and interesting! Thanks to everyone who comments too!
    I certainly agree with the fact that their communication with one another is not good. I think they are both insecure about revealing their early life experiences for fear of rejection. Interestingly, they BOTH had vile, disinterested, disappointing parents although his situation was much worse, (certainly bordering on abuse), I surmise. And, I reiterate, that Louisa knows NOTHING about his terrible childhood and he knows only a few snippets about hers! The fans know a lot more than they do. In truth, both need to “get it out on the table”, talk about it, then kick it to the curb. Then they can build a family life which has all the hallmarks that neither of their lives had. In creating a happy family for James and any future children, they will discover how much happiness it will bring to them as well.
    Abby – your observation that Louisa has fear based need for a relationship and that Martin has a connection based need is SPOT ON. Truthfully, I think they can give this to each other.
    I think “tolerance” is a big to success in a relationship Karen! I was thinking today about the fact that Louisa has no sense of humour. Martin has none, and we all agree about that. Fan Fiction writers would have us believe that she is playful with him and teases him in sexual ways. She is quite stern with her students. She has a bit of a playful side when dealing with James Henry although we don’t see her actually playing with him much. Her voice changes and she talks right to him in sort of a baby talk way which shows us how much she enjoys him. In the episode when Martin is trying to show her the inner workings of the clock he is working on she gets miffed when he doesn’t “get” her when she reminds him it is their second week anniversary. He sees it literally and is right that it is not really an anniversary. This is Martin. He won’t get that she may have been suggesting they carry on upstairs – wink, wink, nod, nod. She could have grabbed his eye loupe and suggested that he bring it up stairs and examine her inner workings then towed him upstairs! Instead of teasing him, she huffs off. Indeed, they need to find some common interests and ways to come together as a family in a way everyone would enjoy.

    I agree that she has to learn not to take things so personally but to realize he just doesn’t think the way others do. I don’t think he ever means to demean her or hurt her feelings. If she teased him, or nuzzled him and made suggestive comments, I think he WOULD get what she wants and respond accordingly. They really need to have some fun with each other and learn to share some laughs. She’d have to teach Martin but he is always willing to learn new things. They could start by getting down on the floor with James Henry and laughing at what he does!

  8. Post author

    Thanks for your comments Linda. I thought the post would generate some discussion, but so far you, Santa, and Abby are the only ones who’ve commented. Maybe the timing was off or something. I’m glad you liked it and the comments that you all have made have been excellent.

    I actually do think Louisa has a good sense of humor and we’ve seen it a number of times, e.g. after the wedding, when talking to Peter, Danny, Mark, Mark’s sister, and the time she spoke to Martin about surfing. It’s hard to stay cheerful around Martin, although she seems to retain her sense of optimism more often than not. I think you’ve hit on something important though. There needs to be more joy in their lives period. Most of the humor in the show stems from awkwardness and absurdity. It all certainly makes me laugh, but I can see what you mean by this couple having more fun with each other. Finding something James does they can both be amused by would be good.

    As Louisa tells Martin early on, he needs to “have a laugh” on occasion. He wouldn’t have to guffaw, just a little chuckle under the breath would do.

  9. Linda D.

    I thought more about Louisa’s sense of humour last night and I too, recalled some of those moments you talk about. She WAS amused both times when Martin made a “pirate” reference about her. In S3E3, when he was holding the eggplant and the3 tomatoes, we saw Martin CLUNES at his best. That was very funny! She did tease him about her wearing Prada but of course he was clueless. Her jokes when discussing the wedding at Bert’s and also during the “honeymoon” were also very funny – to us, but not to Martin. The comment about seeing him out of his suit and in a wet suit definitely falls into the awkwardness category you mention! I guess I see that her sense of humour is quite subtle. She is quite the opposite of me. I am much more overt – perhaps to my detriment at times. Not everything makes me laugh but when it IS funny, I am likely to let it out BIG TIME! Perhaps she is afraid to REALLY laugh at Martin because she knows he is not on the same wave length and might even be offended? I was APPALLED when she told Mark’s sister about Martin’s blood phobia and then laughed just as he turned the corner! She was embarrassed, for sure but didn’t really apologize for her less than stellar behaviour. Someone talked about her losing her trust in him at Sport’s Day but this was an example of how SHE might have lost HIS trust. It was quite unlike her. Perhaps we should try to list activities that would entertain and amuse both of them, (beginning with sex,) and make a list of things they would both enjoy doing with James! That could be quite challenging!

  10. Linda D.

    Oh ….. forgot ….. what did you think of my song choice Karen? I love this song!

  11. Linda D.


    “Baby Can I Hold You” by Tracey Chapman

    Is all that you can’t say
    Years gone by and still
    Words don’t come easily
    Like sorry like sorry

    Forgive me
    Is all that you can’t say
    Years gone by and still
    Words don’t come easily
    Like forgive me forgive me

    But you can say baby
    Baby can I hold you tonight
    Maybe if I told you the right words
    At the right time you’d be mine

    I love you
    Is all that you can’t say
    Years gone by and still
    Words don’t come easily
    Like I love you I love you

  12. Post author

    Linda, I think there are many songs we could find that would be related to their predicament in some way because so often songs are about love, lost and found. The theme is pervasive and universal, you know? I’m not being dismissive; I consider the love story a means of accessing so many other areas of interest.

    It’s fun to play around with the lyrics and I like music a lot. The songs you reference would work well too.

  13. Linda

    I was re-reading this post and comments from the few. I was wondering if his expectations about her returning to work were also partly based on the fact that they had not found suitable childcare?

  14. Linda D.

    It appears with Karen on a well deserved holiday in June, and others intently following the posts coming from Port Isaac where Series 7 is being filmed, that the blog is on temporary hiatus. Everyone is interested to get a glimpse of what may be happening of course. It appears that the crowds of visitors are very large there this year. Possibly, many, like me, are afraid that this is the last Series! I am impressed that the writers are doing such a great job at keeping things under wraps. In my experience, the “spoilers” are usually WRONG which makes it fun for the actual viewing! Well, I am off to England on Wednesday and I’m excited! I arrive in Port Isaac May 25 – 29. Unfortunately, it appears they are not filming in town much if any that week so that is disappointing. What were the odds of that happening? I will be working hard to sleuth them out and of course enjoying Port Isaac anyway! I’m so excited!

  15. Post author

    Hi Linda. I am taking a break until the end of May and will be back to writing more by the beginning of June. Have a great visit in PI. You never know what can happen with schedules and filming. Please keep checking the blog for more posts!

  16. Linda

    Hi all! Just a note to say I am in Port Isaac this week – having a wonderful time! There are SO many fans about that there is a great air of excitement. They are not filming in town unfortunately, but I got GREAT pictures at Port Gaverne on Tuesday. It was a lucky break to meet Chris who was on a coffee run in town and told me if I could hold 12 cups of coffee on my lap, he’d take me to where they were filming! We didn’t even know they were filming so would have missed a great day. John Brown at May Contain Nuts is the guy in the know here and he has great souvenirs too. His walking tour is not to be missed. Great value for 10£. See my pics on Facebook – Series 7 Spoilers. I met Ian Mc Neice on his street yesterday. Everyone is SO friendly and patient with fans – cast and crew alike. Ian McNeice carries a sand pail and collects a quid in exchange for a picture. It is for charity. Neat idea. I’ve seen everyone but Mrs. tishell and Auntie Ruth. SO EXCITED!!!!!

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