When Dorothea of Montau, a fourteenth-century married woman from Gdańsk, experiences visions in which she sees Christ as her divine bridegroom, she is faced with a dilemma: she is being called to action by her human husband, yet would much rather follow the calling of her divine bridegroom:
wene sy wente, das is bilcher wer, daz zy gote zcuhorte, waz her mit ir rette, wen daz sy noch dem geheise irs erdischen manees von dem gekose gots sich zcoge und wer bekummirt mit uzsirn dingen.
[For she considered it better to listen to what God was saying to her than to obey her human husband and tear herself away from her interchange with God, and to worry about external things.]
Dorothea's conflict illustrates how acutely aware she is of the fact that she is experiencing different temporalities simultaneously: her rapture has taken her out of human time, yet the call back to mundane tasks highlights that she remains aware of the ordinary time in which her husband makes demands on her and has expectations about the tasks to be fulfilled. She is clear about the difference in value attached to external human things when measured against the experience of direct interchange with the divine bridegroom, and yet remains aware of the calls of earthly tasks. Unlike her human husband, who punishes her failure to fulfil her external tasks on time with brutal blows, her divine bridegroom is both loving and understanding of the dilemma. He therefore advocates:
‘Czu stunde enzcuch dich von meynem liplichin gekoze und bis gehorsam dem gebote dines mannes.’
[‘Tear yourself away at once from my loving words and be obedient to your husband's commands.’]
As is well known, Margery Kempe, whose life shares many similarities with that of the less familiar Dorothea, also struggles in her attempts to bridge the gap between earthly and heavenly temporalities. And, as with Dorothea, these struggles often manifest themselves in the context of the apparently conflicting demands made on her by human and divine spouses. At one notable moment, late in her Book, Margery finds herself required to assist with the care of her husband, ‘a man in gret age, passyng thre scor yer’ [a man of great age, over sixty years].