It does not seem as though anyone could tell Margery what to do. She insisted on wearing the white of purity in spite of being a married woman and having borne fourteen children. After her husband died, when she wanted to go somewhere and her confessor forbid it, she declared that Jesus himself told her to go and off she went. She was accused of heresy many times, a charge that could have lead to her execution but her sharp wit and tongue saved her every time she was tried.
How do we know so much about the life of an ordinary woman from the 14th and 15th centuries in England? Jesus commanded her to have her life story written down and so she found someone to write her autobiography for her since she herself was illiterate. It is rare to hear the voice of a woman from the Middle Ages so this book is a treat. In spite of the point of this book being to inspire others to follow Christ, this book inadvertently tells more about her life, her neighbors, her husband, the behavior of pilgrims and the dangers of travel in the Middle Ages. She went to Rome and Jerusalem and even took a pilgrimage to Santiago (she took the route by sea instead of walking over land for Santiago).
She repeatedly tried to get her husband to let her take a vow of celibacy insisting that sex was 'very painful and horrible' to her. Men and women had a legal right to sex from their spouse and one could not take such a vow without the consent of the other. Eventually she succeeded.
After the vow, they continued to live together and her husband took sick. Margery tells how as he grew old, he 'turned childish' and in his senility lost the ability to control his bowels. He would sit by the fire and "voided his natural digestion in his linen clothes". She was a little irked at this since cleaning him up kept her from her contemplations as she needed to change his clothes, wash him, make fires, and clean the soiled clothes. These are the days before Depends and indoor plumbing or toilets even. Margery then goes on to say that she would then think about all the times she had "many delectable thoughts, fleshly lusts, and inordinate loves" for her husband and she was glad to be punished for it by the same person.
Like so many human emotions, Margery's feelings about sex are complicated. She must have liked it and him; they had fourteen children together. His death freed Margery to travel even more whenever her confessor would allow her to or she could sneak off. Women could not travel freely in the Middle Ages and it was required that a woman have a man to accompany her to go anywhere or Margery would have gone all over the place. As it was, she travelled far more than we suppose ordinary people to have done in those days.