This week, I wanted to discuss something that both comes up fairly often on this blog, and is relevant in my own life right now: Masonry, marriage, and divorce. Most often, when folks search out information about this topic, they come across one of two websites; the Phoenix Masonry Masonic ritual, and the ever popular “Masonry- A Marriage Wrecking Ball” website. Unfortunately, neither of these websites are affiliated with regular masculine Masonry, and so everything on them must be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the questions couples have about the topic are scattered across the internet, I would like to bring them all together.
Who is a Masonic wife? How is it different from a Mason’s Lady?
As I have said before, Freemasonry was created officially in 1717, with the formation of UGLE. Although the world has changed since then, Masonry has not always changed with it. Most women during it’s inception were married before they were 21, obviously this is no longer the case. However, within Masonry, most invitations and benefits continue to be extended to a Mason’s wife, not his long time live in girlfriend. For instance, unless you are legally married, a woman who has no other Masonic relationships cannot join the Order of the Eastern Star. If you think that’s kind of dated, welcome to Masonry.
A Masonic wife, and a Mason’s Lady are often used interchangeably. However, I do not feel that this is truly the case. A Masonic wife is simply the wife of a Mason. That’s it. Being married to a Mason does not obligate her to anything, Lodge dinners, appendant bodies, in fact, she may not even like the fact that he is a Mason (more on that later). A Mason’s Lady, however, I feel is quite different. A Mason’s Lady can be any woman who supports a Mason, and Freemasonry. This can be his wife, his girlfriend, his mom, grandmother, neighbor, etc. A Mason’s Lady may chose to show her support by joining appendant bodies, attending Lodge dinners and other events, or any other way she can think of. You can be a Mason’s Lady without being a Masonic wife, and vice versa.
What are the benefits of being a Masonic wife?
Becoming a Mason’s wife opens you up to a world of possibilities. Being married to a Master Mason grants you the ability to join any of the Masonic bodies that allow women: Order of the Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, Order of the Amaranth, and more. Usually this is the only requirement for the groups that allow women. For example, your husband does not need to be a Shiner in order for you to join Daughters of the Nile, although you may get more out of it. You can learn more about these organizations here.
if you choose to support your Mason by being active in Lodge activities, you will never find a lack of something to do. We live in a moderately sized Midwestern city, and there is a Masonic function going on almost every night of the week. There also many travel opportunities, especially within the Shrine. I know that our potentate is organizing an Alaskan cruise this year, and the Grand Master is hosting a Florida getaway.
One of my favorite parts of my SO being a Mason, is that I have an excuse to get all dressed up and mingle, fairly often. If you and your Mason plan on being fairly active socially, I would recommend investing in some nice dress clothes. One or two suits and a tux should be just fine for him. I know we ladies do not get off that easily; but, if you enjoy shopping, think of it as a bonus. If you enjoy being social and meeting new people. Masonic functions are perfect for just that. If you are more introverted (like myself), Masonic functions can serve as a test ground for the “real world”. I’ve become more relaxed with meeting new people and improving new social skills since being more involved with Masonry.
What are the disadvantages to being a Masonic wife?
I will be the first to admit, it is not all sunshine and rainbows all the time. T is Master of his Lodge this year, and this is added stress for both of us, making sure there is a candidate, food, organizing meetings, it can be a lot of work. In addition to this, sometimes the jealousy monster rears its ugly head. It can be hard to give up your SO for 2+ (at our house, more like 6 with bar time) hours to people you may not know on a weeknight. I’ve found that the best cure is for Lodge night to become the nights that I pamper myself. As I’ve said before, I usually treat myself to a nicer dinner and watch a horror movie (which T hates). I do my best to make it my “me” time.
If you choose to get involved with Masonry, you may have to limit yourself and your Mason how involved you really are. Remember when I said there are activities every night? That can have it’s downsides. We usually go to 3 activities a week (DeMolay, Lodge + one other), and even that feels like it can be a lot. As a Masonic wife you need to be able to say no, even if that game feed put on by the Dave Crockett Club does sound super awesome.
What about this marriage ritual? Are there Masonic wedding rings?
You may have seen pictures of a Masonic wedding floating around on the internet. Actually, you can find the entire ritual here. While it is a very interesting read, this wedding (if I recall correctly) was preformed in Puerto Rico. This ritual is only sanctioned by the Grand Lodge of Turkey, so unless you have a Turkish Lodge in your area, you are probably out of luck if you wanted to use this ritual for your wedding. From what I have found, no other couple have been married in this fashion.
One question that many Masons ask is if there is such thing as a Masonic wedding ring. There isn’t really. You may, however, use any Masonic ring that you hold the degree for as a wedding ring. This practice is not common, and is really not recommended. The reasoning is that if you were to become divorced, you may still associate Masonry with those feelings toward your ex, which may lead you to be less active or leave the craft.
To be a bit PG-13 for a moment, if I may, there are a number of websites out there that discuss becoming a Mason’s
“red star” and are all about becoming submissive to your Mason. This is all based in fantasy of course, and have no relation to actual Freemasonry.
How does divorce factor into all of this?
One of the things that the sensationalists want you to believe is that Masonry will ruin your marriage and steal your man. And probably your goats. Or something like that. It simply isn’t true. I have found that some women really struggle with their SO being a Mason. The best advice I can give to people in this situation is communicate with your partner, and get involved. You may feel that he is spending too much time at Masonic events and you would like him to be home more. Tell him that, or he won’t know. Often, the biggest fear is the fear of the unknown, if you get involved with Masonry, you may find that it squelches that fear.
If, for some reason, you and your Mason become divorced, this has no bearing on your memberships in organizations that you are currently a part of. However, you do lose your eligibility to join a new organization unless you have a different Masonic tie (father, uncle, etc). You may find strength within the organizations if this happens. This is one of the benefits of hanging out with women much older than yourself – many of them have been there.