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Love For Better Or Worse (Ross and Demelza Poldark: The Love Story Pt7)

Art work of @veraAdxer_Art

If it is true that the greatest love stories are those that bring the reader (or viewer) on a complete emotional rollercoaster with the couple, then the love story of Ross and Demelza Poldark should be in this league too. The last blog 'Love To Cherish, Forgive and Forget' documented how their love had an almost divine quality to it in their ability to forgive each other for the disappointments they caused to each other over the years. Also in addition to that, this nature was found in their not holding on to past wrongs and though they may have been upset and bitter at circumstances, it was also found in their ability to eventually move forward without any underlying bitterness directed towards the other. At the end of 'The Angry Tide' they spoke of keeping on with 'living, learning and most of all, loving each other' but this seventh blog in their love story series looks at just how they truly demonstrated this credo and continued to always beat the odds stacked against them to bring them down. So as well as enjoying the good times they were able get through the bad and remain in love throughout. Where other marriages might have collapsed under the pressure (and some did), theirs stood its ground in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in good and in bad and always for better and for worse. 

An Unbreakable Blue Print 

To start with it is not hard to see that Graham laid down the blue print of a partnership in Ross and Demelza that would become unbreakable and therefore would then be able to weather the 'worst' parts of their life and love together and yet to remain still standing. After all, the start of their relationship actually began during the worst periods of their lives and through their connection they brought each other through that to better times. This was simply by the impact they had on the other. The 'Falling in Friendship' blog documented that from the start they were each other's saviour in some respect. From friendship grew a love with the rare nature of being true and steadfast. The first half of the well known bible passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13 was cited in the previous blog on forgiveness as it reflected qualities in Ross and Demelza's love which made them able to handle their disappointments of each other in a loving way and as if their love was real. The remaining half is that 'Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstances. Love never ends..' (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a) Going on to look at how or why Ross and Demelza were able to get through their bad times together it seems that this passage holds the answer. Simply because theirs was a love that was the real love described there.

An Undercover Love in the years of strife.

So what exactly were the dark and difficult times for Ross and Demelza? Primarily even though they faced difficult times across the saga (including during the later books too), there is no doubt that the third book 'Jeremy Poldark' was the one book that from its beginning to its end covered one of their most trying and depressing periods in their married life. It was relentless for them there. It covered part of what was essentially a rather dire three and half year period. That is counting from the collapse of the Carnemore Copper company and where Ross's financial problems as a consequence started from July 1789 in the second book 'Demelza'. Their financial troubles ran through to September 1793 in the fourth book 'Warleggan' when their mine started to yield a profitable lode. Aside from the fall out with Francis over Verity and Blamey, and the Carnemore Copper Company collapse, the other major traumas that Ross and Demelza faced in this period were the devastating loss of their first child Julia in January 1790 and Ross's court trial which followed later that year in September. Julia's death within the context of their love story is explored along with Jeremy's in the blog 'Love in Loss' but these were probably the most tragic, upsetting and difficult blows for them. Certainly their loss of Julia was such a loss at this early stage in their marriage.
To add to the marital tensions there were the miscommunications between them which prompted Demelza to hide her pregnancy of Jeremy from Ross for three months. As Ross was under stress to provide for his family in desperation he partook in risky and illegal ventures such as smuggling and aiding and abetting the escape of a man wanted for murder (Mark Daniels). Thus Demelza was on edge with stress and worry that he might end up before a court again. Also Ross feeling concern that Demelza was more detached from him and she in turn fearing that he was being drawn in more and more to Elizabeth's eager snare were additional stressors that made this difficult period even more gloomy for them. 

Love- For Richer or Poorer

Ross and Demelza's downward spiraling finances were a struggle casting a shadow over the marriage from the second to the fourth year in. In the hey days of the first year or so Ross, though not rich had at least been financially comfortable enough for instance to throw two christening parties for Julia or to spend a fortune on a dress and brooch for Demelza to wear to her first ball. However after the collapse of his Copper Company venture their financial position became very desperate and he came close to bankruptcy. At a point he and Demelza feared he might eventually face debtor's prison as it seemed unlikely that he could pay off his mounting debts and high interest loans. However, true to the idea of standing with him for better or worse and at the height of Ross's anxiety over his finances, Ross found he had a wife that sought not to be a burden to him. Instead she sought to lighten his load and provide reassurances to him. For instance, as to impending poverty, in 'Warleggan' she told him "You do not need to fear for me, I was used to living on nothing, and can do it again. And Jeremy I shall see for. Don't worry about us." Before then and even after a frosty tiff over Hugh Bodrugan's flirting of her in 'Jeremy Poldark', Demelza not only showed herself to be a support and counsel for Ross by trying to resolve their financial difficulties, but also self sacrificing.
Her first suggestion was to offer up things for sale that were hers and that she treasured, but which would liquidate funds for him. Despite his reluctance she insisted the brooch he brought her for her first ball should be sold. Then she proposed that she was prepared to commute by walking and that her horse could then be sold before eventually suggesting that some of their farm animals should be too. Although this did not resolve their financial problems overall, it did mean that they could buy some time and breathing space by paying off a substantial loan interest payment. And so here, even in the midst of tension and misunderstanding they maintained a solid partnership in their troubles. 

A Love, Flaws and All

Demelza's support and partnership with Ross was unwavering. This was to the point of some reluctant acceptance of his innate need to take risks for survival. She counselled and discussed his ventures with him. This included his decision to travel to France to meet Mark Daniels for information on the whereabouts of a profitable lode in his mine and on return partake in a smuggling venture of contraband goods. Where she felt she had cause to she did raise objections but up to a point 'She would say no more in criticism..' knowing that he knew her views. Instead she tried to demonstrate forbearance for his wishes whilst also trying to be positive and wishing '..that he was a man less prone to attract trouble.' And when his ventures failed or involved a near miss (as was the case when a secret cache saved him from being arrested for smuggling), there was no word of Demelza berating him for his acts of desperation. Instead she revelled in relief and continued to support and stand with him. Demelza put her tolerant love of Ross into words best in 'The Angry Tide' when after discussing him risking his life at their mine she said  "I can bear you as you are. But I don't want to lose you as you are."

Love You First, Love Self Second

In her further show of support Demelza's focus was always to privately put Ross's welfare ahead of her own. This is just like her worry of her father turning up at Julia's Christening being less about herself and her own embarrassment but more because of her thoughts that 'Ross would be the laughing stock..' Even when she thought he was distracted by a renewed attraction to Elizabeth and possible plans to run off with her, she thought of him and was consoled thinking 'Count your blessings. He's safe from the worst things, from debtor's prison for another year, from the hangman or transportation....' With love being unselfish in nature, Demelza in her lack of ego and lack of selfishness showed that first and foremost her focus and therefore her love of Ross was what drove her in good and bad times. Even when she doubted his love and faithfulness towards her it was her concern for his welfare that completely overpowered any ill thought of him. In fact she hardly had any ill thought of him at all.

But also, for Ross, even when he was distracted by the doom and gloom, low spirits and temptation by Elizabeth, he always remained committed to Demelza too. It is true that he couldn't quite get over his frustration at George's success in putting him under financial pressure by crushing his company. However his upset with this and Demelza's part in the events which led to Francis's betrayal in this, did not cause him to hold resentment towards her. Instead, taking a positive outlook he still considered that 'his own happiness lay with her (Demelza) and little Julia and having leisure to labour on his own land...' 

When life sent more disaster Ross's way, and in the knowledge of his own admissions and reflections of being a morbid character who was less hopeful and pliant than Demezla, his inability to cope well with the trauma of her being on her death bed with the putrid throat disease and then losing his first child to this is what prompted him to engage in reckless acts on Hendrawna beach in January 1790. Of course this is what led to his arrest and charges for rioting, wrecking a boat and assault on an officer of the crown. Losing his fighting spirit, it was in depression and detachment from all his troubles that Ross became emotionally closed off to Demelza while awaiting trial. Nevertheless she was still his main consideration and at the back of his mind he thought that 'Demelza had to be clothed fed and cherish-...,' Acknowledging his temporary deficiencies in this he did also think that this was '-so far as it was in his scope to cherish anyone at this stage.' Indeed with the trial not concluding until nearly half way through 'Jeremy Poldark' there was a huge lack of overt cherishing of Demelza through attentive affection. However, whilst slightly numbed by his traumas his love language then was in the practical. He made sure to put his affairs in order to ensure she inherited all his assets if he was imprisoned or hung by noose. Even though she disobeyed him, he was concerned to protect her emotionally as far as he could and to minimise her distress and trauma by insisting that she did not attend his trial. 

Love- Strong When You Are Weak

So with Ross facing the brunt of their marital traumas, as a testament to her proactive love that was ever hopeful, never giving up and which would endure any circumstance and fight for his benefit, not only did Demelza attend Ross's trial but she came up to Bodmin and tirelessly sought to find ways to be a help to Ross behind the scenes. Despite her ongoing insecurities about mixing with the higher classes and in particular very powerful men she threw herself outside her comfort zone such as by hustling her way uninvited to exclusive venues and trying to influence the judge sitting for Ross's case. It may have been frustrating to see that in spite of that, whilst Demelza was busy fighting for Ross's survival at trial, Ross himself seemed to have given up and at times almost seemed to want to be found guilty. 
It was not until he was waiting for the jury to announce their verdict and when he then saw Demelza's twitchy hands as she sat in the gallery, that he then thought of her as his 'darling' as if this was a fact he had forgotten or put to the back of his mind. Then he wondered whether he should have sought more mercy for her sake. He also had regrets that he had not thought to write to Verity asking that she look after Demelza. Obviously this highlighted how in his depression he had been so very detached and in his own world at the time. However the strength in this couple was that when Ross was weak Demelza was his strength. When he had given up, she had not and she was prepared to fight all she could for him. In this way she was very much a woman who was keeping the faith for him. 

Love in Sickness of Spirit

When Demelza was on her death bed Ross was by it too. When she was weak and fragile he was tender with her. He was also very loving and comforting when he broke the news of Julia's death to her. Demelza in the twelfth book (Bella Poldark) sat by his bed as he recovered from his episode trying to save Valentine from a burning building. However they did not just care for each other when they were physically sick but also sick in spirit. As will be explored in the 'Love in Loss' blog Ross did much to raise Demelza's low spirits after Jeremy's death. Demelza tasked herself with the same when he returned home from his trial. Even Ross seemed to recognise that he was emotionally down and he could see that Demelza perceived this too. Unexpectedly a free man, now back home from the trial Graham wrote that Ross had a moment of warmth and gratitude for Demelza and Ross thought that 'She might not understand the causes, but some instinct told her that spiritually he was still-at the most-a convalescent. It would take time...'
Indeed for all their difficulties, Ross had a wife that was patient, understanding, loving and would be a support to him even when she did not quite understand why he had reacted the way he did. She did this even when it meant setting aside her own feelings. For instance though she was overjoyed that he had been found not guilty, gauging his inner resentments and frustrations she suppressed her own outward joyful relief and instead focused on being a comfort to him and easing him back to life. Therefore in this she served those marriage vows in nursing him from his lowness and sickness in spirit. Their bond, partnership and their overall unity in their trials would be a major key to their success and Graham reminds us of this again when for the closing scene of the book 'Jeremy Poldark' he wrote that as Ross looked into the house and saw Demelza's face 'He realised that all the struggle and anxiety of the next few months would not be his alone. She would bear her share of the burden. She was bearing it already. He went in to join her.' Whilst that may have seemed an unfinished ending, it really says a lot about them as a couple. It screams out that through thick and thin they could always rely on each other's support and get through bad times together. They would always been united. 

Unity in all the book endings 

As it was, the ending dialogue for 'Jeremy Poldark' was quite satisfactory closure for that book. But actually so were all the other endings or otherwise Ross and Demelza's final scenes in the first seven books. That is remembering that the first seven really focused on their love story whilst the later books combine theirs and their children's stories. If there was any worry by the reader of Ross and Demelza being detached from each other, Graham ensured that by the end of the books their unity and commitment to each other was reaffirmed and emphasised for the reader. This is actually a common feature with the endings and is probably a consistent and reassuring reminder by Graham that regardless of reader doubt during the course of the story, Ross and Demelza were always written to be together with an unbreakable bond. To finish each of those books with that message is unlikely to have been a coincidental and consistent feature by Graham. Especially in light of his comment about his general outlook on the Ross and Demelza love story which was that he "...wanted to do a love story with a happy ending..." (*) Certainly these break points in the whole love story were indicators that this is what they were destined for. The idea that this was foretold in all the book endings will be explore in the upcoming blog 'Love Always, No Matter The Weather, No Matter The Ending'.

Still More To Me Than Any Other

Love Without Question- Whatever The Weather

One thing that is clear from Ross and Demelza's love in better and worse times were the previously explored concepts of them meaning more to each other than any other person and therefore being each other's greatest real love. The rather strained relationship between them from 'Jeremy Poldark' lasted for some time. The miscommunication between each other and doubts about the other are unimpressive and render them a hardly perfect couple. However, despite their detachment and their lack of complete understanding about the other, there were still reminders from Graham to the reader that they carried a love for each other that was stronger than even they knew, would overcome their imperfections as a couple and ultimately was one where they valued each other above anyone else. 

Demelza- Still living only for Ross 

When Ross had speculated that Demelza would be hot property for remarriage if his trial did not go well, together with insisting that she would never remarry she declared to him for the second time, (just as she did on her blue dress seduction night) that "I live only through you." The profoundness and total devotion and commitment in that statement should not be underplayed and is probably more significant at this stage in their relationship where it was not made to a new and exciting lover but one rather rundown and depressed from life's disappointments. Older and more impoverished too. Demelza's love was far from conditional or seasonal. In 'Warleggan', worn down from years of financial anxiety and upon Ross gifting her a comb and white garters Demelza cried and in her explanation told him "I'm sorry. It was the relief. You see- I love you so much." Again this confirmed that despite what they had been through by then, her love for him had not waned and was always there in the good and bad times.

Ross: Demelza- The woman that still meant more than all the rest 

Equally despite Ross's state of detachment and self absorption, unbeknown to Demelza, as they rode home from his court trial with him as a free man, Graham as narrator reported that though '...Julia was not there, but riding beside him was the woman whose love and companionship meant more than all the rest;...' At this point in the saga irrespective of his feeling for Elizabeth that was the third time of text documenting Ross's feelings or Graham's confirmation which placed Demelza above any other person to Ross (including Elizabeth). It was a shame that following this '..unexpected reprieve came the old cursed constriction on his tongue, blocking up emotional expression.' Therefore when Demelza most needed to hear this for reassurance shared only with the reader, Ross instead kept this reaffirmation of her importance to him to himself. It is not surprising then that for this reason in the next book 'Warleggan', Demelza was eventually compelled to ask Ross outright if he still had a 'feeling' for her. Ross's astonishment and exclamation to Demelza that "Good God, you should know that!.....You should know that I love you....." should serve yet again as a confirmation on his part to the reader that despite what they had been through in those difficult years, just as it was for Demelza his love for her had been unfaltering and intact all the way along. If the reader had questioned it at points it seems that Ross certainly had not. 

Bricks of Friendship 

Going back to their 'unbreakable blueprint', perhaps the magic of the Ross and Demelza union and their ability to demonstrate a love that did bear all and is written of in 1 Corinthians 13:7-was due to a bond established before lust, marriage and love came into play. Hasn't it often been suggested that the best relationships are those founded and based on a solid friendship first? 
Unlike many of the marriages of their day, though Ross and Demelza had an unorthodox and frowned upon union it was nevertheless on less superficial grounds than the 'good match' on paper approach. They at least had a genuine companionship to begin with formed over a three and half year period. This seemingly was a strong foundation. They had a positive regard for each other from their first meeting based on the traits that are typically characteristic of a solid partnership. It was Demelza's loyalty as observed towards her dog that appealed to Ross and defending and protecting her from her father he too showed the same to her and both did going forward. This ongoing loyalty together with the love that followed was solid root making their union in the words of adult Jeremy a 'rare kind'. Such that they would remain standing and in love when they faced troubles and disasters that could easily have knocked them out. 

Amongst other themes the blog in this love story series 'Love in loss' and upcoming blog 'Surviving Romantic Temptations' continues the theme of the strength of Ross and Demelza's love. This is no doubt a factor in how they managed the crisis of bereavements but also their falls from grace into infidelity with Elizabeth Poldark and Hugh Armitage respectively.

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