Knights: The poster children of chivalry and all that is good. Society has different versions of knights, most of them introduced to us through storytelling, such as:
Knights of the Round Table via King Arthur
Batman’s Dark Knight.
Jedi Knights (Star Wars!)
The Black Knight (A Kid in King Arthur’s Court – Daniel Craig certainly has got better looking eh?)
and then you have the Red and White Knights in Alice in Wonderland.
There are many more types of knights I could on about in my full geek-dom, but…
The point is, everyone wants their own knight in shining armor, right? Whether it be in the form of a person or not depends on who you’re asking (it could be money or some other object), however, my problem isn’t so much finding my knight in shining armor as it is being a White Knight myself.
I was introduced to the term “White Knight” when I was getting asked by the hundredth person why my last boyfriend broke up with me. As the conversation progressed from me smiling through the usual sympathy and explicit language, onto other things like the “why’s”, my friend said to me, “I love ya Em, but I think you’ve got White Knight Syndrome.”
I was taken aback by this for a moment, but, partially because I’m a book nerd and geek, I knew what she meant without her having to explain it. There are some really great things about being a White Knight, but you DON’T want to be a white knight in relationships. Let me explain why, while addressing my own WKS.
White Knights usually end up unhappy. Growing up in Mormon culture, there’s a stereotype put on returned Sister Missionaries who look to marry and save/change the guy. Mormons, in general, can fall under the white knight category. They want everyone to be able to have the joy and knowledge they have and go where they want to go: home, with their Father in Heaven. And no, I don’t mean by the same way the KKK did things. It’s usually done through more peaceful ways like missionary work, baptism, etc. (I could address all the controversy and accusations attached with this, but let’s stay focused on dating! But please, go here or grab a missionary with a black name tag to address those questions The latter part about Mormons is the good type of white knight – all tooting of my own horn aside. The first part about being a white knight in your marriage usually only leads to misery.
So far there are two strikes against me: I’m a Mormon and returned sister missionary (Maryland Baltimore mission = the best mission in the world – just sayin’). Then there’s my family situation. I’m the oldest of seven kids. I helped my angel mother raise my brothers and sisters and myself (though I give a 100% of the credit to her and if I could go back in time to help her more, I would). This has made me ultra protective of my siblings, and has pretty much guaranteed I’m going to be my children’s white knight alongside my husband. You can go ahead and pity them now. There’s strike three.
Fourth strike: I’m a teacher at a Title 1 Turn-Around School. I work with kids who are a part of poverty-level families. Most of my kids live in Siegel Suites, are homeless, or are moving from place to place depending on what type of jobs the parents have, or where they can traffic themselves, or drugs, most profitably. Do I want to “save” those kids from the poverty cycle through education? Duh.
The fifth strike? I inherited my mother’s “too nice” gene. Though a “too nice” gene varies from person to person, it often includes the person not making a decision for their well-being, but for the happiness of others. People who are too nice are usually “people-pleasers” – they generally hate it when people are unhappy or when someone doesn’t like them. Personally, I am willing to take a lot of crap and persecution before I do something about it in the name of peace and no confrontation.
All these things taken into consideration, it’s easy to see why White Knight Syndrome could be no bueno.
The conflict and resolution in this story is one in the same: When it comes to dating and marriage, I will not marry someone I have to put on my White Knight armor for.
Those stereotyped sister missionaries or girls who keep hoping and praying that their husband will change and that she’ll have the strength to “deal with it” in the meantime? Not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do everything within my power to be the person I should be to make it a good relationship, be as good to the person as I want them to be to me, serve and love them selflessly, and FIGHT for them. But when all else fails and the other half won’t meet me halfway, or my eternal happiness stands on the brink of compromise, the armor comes off. My marriage is the one place where this White Knight will put up her white flag of surrender.
IMHO, yes, you should marry your knight in shining armor, and both people in the marriage should be chivalrous and serving and loving and fighting to the death for their love for each other. But for the right reasons, to the right person, at the right time.
Finding and waiting for that knight is the hardest part.
When a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint gets close to the end of their 18-24 month service, the president or leader of the mission has a closing interview with them. This meeting has a lot of different purposes. but one of the main purposes is to help the missionary with the transition from “mission life” to the “real world”. The president will often give advice, address concerns, and ask about the missionary’s plans when they go home. I’ll never forget my last mission interview. One of the topics was dating and marriage, also a very common topic in these interviews. My mission president gave me his usual bright smile, crossed his legs, grasped his knee with his hands and said, “Just don’t be too picky, Sister Wilson”.
If I could go back and sit across from that blessed man again today, I would say to him: “Define TOO picky.” I’ve been accused of being picky for NOT marrying guys who: a.) have porn addictions b.) are abusive c.) are homosexual d.) have a criminal record e.) fall under the category of “douche” for reasons A-Z f.) aren’t members of my faith g.) are “mostly” Mormon and break only a “few” rules (no sex before marriage, drinking, smoking,etc)….this is yet another list I could go on with, but again, ain’t nobody got time fo dat, either. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what “too picky” means, but I do know whoever I pick, and whenever, will be based on my trust in the Lord and lots of prayer. And some good ol’ common sense too
So what is one to do in the meantime, whether you be dating, married. or single? Is it better to be like the Dark Knight or more like the White Knight? By all means people, be yourself. Be a Jedi Knight, a Dark Knight, a Knight of the Round Table, a Knight in Shining armor. If we look closely at these knights in these stories, much of their moral code can be summed up like this: commitment, love, and service.
What’s your opinion? Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be “the white knight”? What is TOO picky? What have you seen in relationships/marriages that does and doesn’t work? Comments are appreciated!