She Doesn’t Think She’ll Keep Him

I know. I know. It's nearly Christmas. Ho, Ho!

Still, if you looked back on yesterday's playlist you'd see that Mary Chapin Carpenter's "He Thinks He'll Keep Her " is really high on my playlist. This is really Leslie's album and despite the fact that I don't much like country western except early "rock" singers like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Charlie Rich, I can't quit listening to this particular song, apparently 19 times in the last two weeks since I first imported it.

I don't know why this song has been haunting my playlist. Since I keep playing it, I assume it embodies some hidden truth that I must resolve before it engulfs me, once again.

I'd like to convince myself that it's just the driving beat that I like, but I fear it's the lyrics,

HE THINKS HE'LL KEEP HER

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was twenty-one she wore her mother's lace
She said "forever" with a smile upon her face

She does the car-pool, she PTAs
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was twenty-nine she delivered number three
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family

Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression upon her face
When she was thirty-six she met him at their door
She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore

Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage

Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

not the music that compells me to keep listening to the song. The line "Everything runs right on time," particularly haunts me. Does it merely mean our heroine runs the perfect home or does it imply this divorce was preordained?

Is the inevitability conveyed in the implied arrogance of "He Thinks He'll Keep Her?" Or, is it some kind of malevolent force out there heading for us, no matter what we do? Some day it'll just hit, like one of those sharks in The Old Man and the Sea? Is it some sort of cancerous growth secretly eating away at all relationships, emerging just when you feel "everything is so benign?"

I know I'm bothered by the line "For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay," implying we do everything in life for pay, that doing something simply out of love is old-fashioned or meaningless.

Hell, maybe I'm just haunted by the lines "With no expression upon her face ... She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore."

4 thoughts on “She Doesn’t Think She’ll Keep Him

  1. i’m experiencing her song. it is so tiring. i’m so depressed. i’m now at the middle of her song. was nearly preparing for the time i will pack my suitcase and leave. i had married a conceited man. i’m about to give in and surrender but still holding back for our son. the first time i heard this song is just yesterday and was able to relate to it at once. then, i researched it in the internet at once.

  2. tiredcareerhousewife,

    Since reading this comment I felt I needed to make some kind of response.

    Turns out that the reason I haven’t replied is simply that I don’t have a reply.

    I found the song frighteningly depressing while I sat listening to it. Your comment doesn’t change that feeling; it simply compounds it.

    I’m not naive enough to believe that everything in life is for the best or that everything turns out fine in the end. I don’t, and far too often it doesn’t.

    That doesn’t make it any less painful when you’re the one who it turns out badly for. I’m sorry you’re feeling that kind of pain, and can only wish you the best in your attempts to discover what you need to do with your life.

What do you think?