THE MAN FOR HER
by LEO J. KINSELLA
Published by VALIANT PUBLICATIONS
421 South Halvey Avenue
Oak Park, Illinois
Imprimatur: +Samual Cardinal Stritch
Archbishop of Chicago
Nihil Obstat: Edward Brueggeman, S.J.
Copyright, 1957 Leo J. Kinsella
Many wives who read "The Wife Desired" felt that their husbands had
been neglected. They would like to see a book for them. "Wouldn't
work," I always said. "They would never buy or read a book for self-
improvement as husbands."
"I'll bet you mine will read," one wife replied. "I'll get the book, say
not a word to my husband, and read a chapter or so each night.
Occasionally I'll burst out into laughter. Soon he'll wonder what's
going on. I'll leave the book lying around. If I know my husband,
curiosity will have him into it in not time."
So that is the reason why there is "The Man for Her." I could not run
forever from all the wives who had read "The Wife Desired."
A few chapters have appeared in several magazines: "Town
Spendthrift--House Tightward," "Eschewing Thistles," and "Mouse
Trapped Husbands" in "The Way of St. Francis"; "Husbands Treated
Like Dogs" in "The Messenger of the Sacred Heart". Reprints of
"Mouse Trapped Husbands" and "Husbands Treated Like Dogs" in
"The Family Digest."
My gratitude goes out ot so many for their help and suggestions,
especially to Zita Smetko for her help on the manuscript.
Dedication To My Father and Mother
1. Husbands Treated Like Dogs
3. Mister Fix It
4. Town Spendthrift
5. Eschewing Thistles
6. Mouse Trapped Husbands
9. Positive Listening
10. Masterful Man For Her
11. Adventure, Romance, Enthusiasm
12. Make Believe
13. Tit For Tat
Doctors, lawyers, and other professional men study and train for
years before they practice. Likewise, tradesmen of all sorts must
slowly learn their trade. But who needs any preparation to be a
husband? He is fitted by nature to be the answer to any discerning
maiden's prayer. All he has to do is pop the question to the
fluttering girl, stand before the altar, and he has it made.
"Oh, yes?" all the ladies sing out in chorus. There do seem to be a
few dissident voices raised to the statement that all males, just
because they are males, naturally slip into the groove of the
perfect husband. Some never seem to hit the groove. Others, after
brief success, jump out of the groove and wobble all over the
For women marriage is a full time job. For men it is a part time job.
A big part of his time and energy is spent in making a living. No
doubt that is why most of the advice found in magazines, Sunday
supplements, and so forth, is for wives. In fact, most of the
women's magazines devote a considerable amount of space to the
end of improving m'lady. How to wear clothes more elegantly, how
to make better use of "make up," how to be the best Cook on the
block, how to be a successful and happy wife--these are the topics
which help to sell magazines to ladies. Has anyone heard of a
man's magazine devoted to his self-improvement?
Even the Bible in its numerous references to husband and wife
gives much more advice to the wife. So, perhaps, husbands should
be let go blissfully on their way. After all, what wife would wish to
destroy her husband's self-confidence? I certainly do not intend to
trifle one bit with that male ego.
The only effort in subsequent chapters will be to observe
successful, happy husbands in action. How does a husband
manage to have the wife desired, and in having her, reach the
pinnacle of earthly happiness? We hope to find the answer to this
question as we read on.
The most miserable people in the world are those who bring
unhappiness to others. Contrarily, the happiest of all are they who
make others happy. Has anybody ever seen a miserable,
cantankerous wife with a joyful husband in tow? So, husbands, if
you would escape a fate worse than death, cultivate a happy wife.
The Man For Her is smart enough to keep his wife purring. And
should he stumble into the doghouse he knows the way out.
One day three golfing companions and I were witnesses to a very
amusing situation. A real duffer or "hacker," as we used to say in
caddie parlance, was manfully swinging away on the first tee.
These were not practice swings. He had blood in his eye, and had
his golf ball been a living thing it would have been in danger of
being hacked to death. Finally he dribbled the ball off the tee. As
he stalked down the fairway he pulled out of the caddie cart a
nationally read picture magazine. In that particular issue there was
an article by a famous professional giving away the secret of his
long domination of the pro tournament tours.
"If somebody else can drive two hundred and seventy-five yards
down the fairway, why can't I?" was written all over his face as he
glared at the magazine. We were skeptical of the results of his
determined reading. Only an experienced student of the game of
golf could understand the article, much less put it into practice.
Yet, the duffer was reading it avidly as he trudged over to the
rough after his ball. The incongruity of the situation made all of us
Many tens of thousands of men, many of whom are husbands, do
wish to improve their golf game, otherwise there would not be so
many books on the subject. Hardly a season passes without one of
the leading professionals coming out with a book on how to play
Everytime a person goes to school or reads a book to learn
something it is an act of humility. It is a healthy admission that he
does not know everything. We have humble golfers. Can't we have
Countless happy marriages are mute testimony that there are
humble husbands. However, divorce courts, marriage counseling
services, family relation institutes, and aggrieved wives are
testimony (and not so mute) that many husbands could learn a
thing or two. Here I must be allowed the indulgence of a word or
two to the wise. My own experience as a marriage counselor is that
failures seldom indicate any realization that there is anything to
learn about playing the role of the successful husband. At best, if
the light ever came, it came too late. The wife was through, gone.
The purpose of this book is not to attempt to revive dead
marriages. If, however, through the grace of God, the reunion of
one husband with his wife is accomplished, all this ink would be
justified. Yet, I am not appealing to hopeless, psychopathic
"duffers." I am not capable even if I wanted to deal with them. The
hope in these pages is that some young men may become more
aware that, as there are a few tricks to every trade, there is
something to be said for preparing to be a husband. Also, perhaps
some husbands could pick up a tidbit here and there whereby they
could bring a little more happiness to those wonderful girls they
married some years ago.
Once I heard a wife say that her husband was the most wonderful
man in the world and that she adored him. What husband is there
who could be indifferent to such praise from the one he loves?
What husband worthy of the name would not literally stand on his
head to merit such esteem?
Full happiness can come to a husband only through his wife.
Success in business and the social world are as ashes in his hand,
if he fails to win the love and admiration of his chosen partner for
life. The unsuccessful husband is sometimes the successful
business man. Frustration at home drove him to find his niche
elsewhere. And it is a niche he would gladly vacate were not real
happiness denied him in his own home.
So many happy husbands and so many miserable husbands. What
is the reason? Different wives, of course! The reader who thinks
that to be the only answer should drop this book and go quietly to
sleep. On the other hand, if he knows this ungallant answer is at
least an over-simplification, in subsequent chapters he may find
many different types of happy husbands and how they were
During the months I spent collecting the material for this book I
asked quite a number of young ladies to give me, in a few hundred
words, their picture of a real husband, a flight of fancy, if they so
desired. I have come to realize that the task was far from easy. Not
one of the young ladies produced a thing in spite of several
reminders. One, upon being asked by her mother why she had not
begun writing, replied that if she could get down on paper the
things in her soul people would think she was looking for God, not
1. HUSBANDS TREATED LIKE DOGS
I had heard that honeymoons were an ecstatic interlude, so I
should not have been too disappointed that life with Grace had
settled down into a humdrum affair. After five years, I had an
uneasy feeling that our marriage was getting threadbare like our
first parlor carpet, which would not take many more brushings. It
hurt my pride to sense that my wife was not in seventh heaven
either. The baby and four-year-old Bill gave her quite a time along
with the household chores.
Grace was beginning to take on that expression of weariness tinged
with self-pity. We were budgeting like mad for our own home, and I
guess both of us felt that we were not having much fun. Life was
all work and no play.
What really began to tee me off was Grace's attitude of resentment
over my taking it easy around the house after work. Gradually I
developed a deaf ear to her requests and commands. The order
from the kitchen, "Jack, come here," no longer brought me to
instant action. "Jack, bring the paper in from the porch" was like
an anesthetic. Even if her mentioning of the paper made me want
to see the sport page, I stalled around before getting it.
Guess I never had been a fireball around the house, but these
orders were making a shirker out of me. What I considered a tone
of command in her voice made it more difficult for me to do what I
knew had to be done.
Then one day a change took place. I was reading the newspaper
and trying not to hear Grace calling from the kitchen.
"Jack, dear," her voice was different, "please come here for a
I took my sweet time, finally getting to the kitchen as though I had
some business there. After a moment I grumbled, "Well, what do
Grace turned and threw her arms around me, kissing me warmly
and repeatedly. Then she gently scratched me behind the ear.
"Gosh," I managed to say, "is that all?"
"That's all. I just wanted to be with you. I spend too much time in
this kitchen away from you."
As I hugged her again, my eyes landed on the window she gave up
struggling with the minute I entered the kitchen.
"Wait a minute, dear," I said with some strength coming back into
me. I jerked the window up with five times more force than was
"My!" Grace exclaimed, "you have tremendous strength in your
"Anything else I can do?" By this time I was walking around the
kitchen like the Strong Man of the Circus, with my chest out
"Not a thing, dear," she chirped.
And this was just the beginning. Grace was a different person. She
had a winning, confident charm about her. The command in her
voice was gone. No longer did she have to ask me two and three
times to do things for her.
The milkman hardly had let go of the half-gallon bottle of milk
when I scooped it up. As I made for the refrigerator, Grace
intercepted me and tickled me in the ribs.
"Taking unfair advantage of me," I reproached her, as I struggled
to get away like Mohammedans fighting to get away from Mecca.
When I caught the evening newspaper on the first bounce, I
returned to be trapped by Grace. She usually hid behind the front
door, as I pretended to think that she was in far-off Tibet. When
she pounced upon me, I got the message. I didn't spend three
years in the Signal Corps for nothing. The newspaper dropped to
the floor and sometimes remained there.
When Uncle Ed left me a few thousand, I spent little time trying to
figure out why he singled me out in his will. I was too busy
spending the money. Likewise, I was having too grand a time with
Grace to bother too much over the reasons for our new attitude
toward each other. For two weeks or so I went merrily along on my
dumb way. Then the day of awakening came.
I had to stay home from work with a terrible cold. Really it was a
blessing in disguise, as so many of my imagined ills turn out to be.
Late in the afternoon, being alone, with the children asleep and
Grace having run out to shop, I became restless and picked up one
of my wife's magazines. It was one of the well-known women's
magazines. "Treat Your Husband Like a Dog" was a challenge to
read on. It became clear to me, sentence after sentence, what had
happened during the past weeks. Grace, I was convinced, had tried
the article out on me. She had treated me like a dog.
YOUR PUPPY, the article said, MUST ASSOCIATE THE COMMAND,
COME HERE, WITH SOMETHING PLEASING. AFTER HE COMES, PET
HIM, AND SCRATCH HIM BEHIND THE EAR. YOU'LL FIND THAT
HE'LL WANT TO COME AGAIN FOR SUCH REWARDS .
"Well, I'll be darned!" I almost woke up the children. I could almost
feel her fingers behind my ear as I thought back over a number of
pleasing experiences of recent days.
The article continued: DON'T FORGET, PRAISE GOES A LONG WAY
IN THE TRAINING OF YOUR PUPPY.
The magazine dropped to my knees and memory carried me back
to the kitchen. "My, Jack, what tremendous strength you have in
those arms of yours." I laughed out loud as I recalled that, if I had
had a tail that day, I would have thrashed the kitchen with it.
"That little rascal," I mused. "Wait till I see her!"
Then an angel of light gave me a brilliant idea. Why spoil the game
and the fun? Continue to be--ahem--to play dumb--it takes little
effort for you and you are so good at it.
Just to check, I then bolted out to the kitchen and tried the
window. Sure enough. I smiled knowingly like Sherlock Holmes. A
baby could lift it. I pulled my bathrobe off one shoulder and held
my arm up to the light of the window. I made a fist, and my muscle
looked like a knot in a cooked string of spaghetti. And Grace had
made me feel like Hercules.
I hurried back to the parlor, replaced the magazine, and turned on
the TV. Thank heavens, the angel of light got through to me and
gave the angel of darkness no chance to get in his digs. I felt no
resentment that Grace had been treating me like a dog. On the
contrary, I was glad to know that my wife was making a studied
effort to make ours a happy marriage.
Several happy weeks, the like of which we had not experienced
since our honeymoon, attested to her finesse. Grace was a clever
girl, God love her. Not many women could have put over her game
so well, I prided myself.
When Grace returned, I was seized by a little imp and by the desire
to further test if I was on the right track. I gathered up all the
magazines in sight and said, "Grace I'm throwing all these out."
"Now, Jack, you're sick. I'll take them to the basement."
Wouldn't I have been crazy to squelch a game like this? I thought
that I could detect a faint quiver in her voice as she said, "Besides,
I want one of those magazines. It has an interesting recipe for
Zucchini squash. And I bought some this afternoon."
As I sat in the parlor, I formulated my strategy. If Grace could plot,
so could I. If she could maneuver me into jumping all over the
place for her like a puppy--and what is more, like it--couldn't I play
a game of my own? Don't women also have a few week points in
As we sat down to dinner, I decided to make my first move. I
gingerly led off with, "Grace, this Zucchini casserole is out of this
world." It really was delicious, and perhaps that fact helped me. I
hadn't said a word of praise like that for ages.
What a boob I had been for so long! Grace came up like a hungry
bass for my plug. "You like it?"
"Like it? It's wonderful."
"I was afraid. First time I tried the recipe." She struggled to be
nonchalant and keep the cooing out of her voice.
"First time or not," I said, "it really hit the spot, and I didn't have an
appetite when I came to the table."
As I ate dessert, Grace jumped up and got a long untouched bottle
of blackberry cordial. "A glass of this will be good for your cold,"
As she handed me the glass, her eyes never showed more
solicitude--even when she gave our baby its bottle. Although I had
forgotten about the cold, I managed a cough. "Wonderful stuff.
Throat feels better already."
My quickly formulated strategy was working like a charm. My first
play had scored a touchdown. One word of praise, and I had her
ready to serve hummingbird wings on toast. No question about it,
she had me eating out of her hand like a big, brown-eyed cocker
spaniel. The spaniel was not going to stop eating out of her hand
either, but he was going to pick and choose what would be on that
The next morning at breakfast, I was hoping that the egg would not
be completely hard-boiled. My wife had heard me grouse often
enough about my egg. Up till that wonderful cold, it always had
been a mystery to me why my egg could not be a three-minute egg
once in a while. It had exasperated me why the egg had to be a
half-minute or a ten-minute egg.
Those days are gone forever. A master stroke put an end to those
detestable hard-boiled eggs. Socrates could not have carried the
field before him with a more brilliant statement. "Grace, this three-
minute egg is done to perfection. Just right," I said
enthusiastically, smacking my lips in true Indian style.
I never said a word the next morning nor thereafter about the egg-
timer perched on the stove. Now my eggs get stop watch attention.
No Olympic racer ever had his time clocked more accurately.
As I pretended to hurry more than usual that morning, Grace
sprinted ahead of me to the door. She threw her arms around me
and kissed me. She kissed me. And not a little peck, either. There
actually was a look of gratitude in her eyes. "Hurry home, Jack,
dear; I miss you during the day."
I walked out of the house without touching the steps, and sold
three cars that day. I had the world by the tail as never before. My
game was clicking like Hogan's tee shots. Life was getting exciting.
Here I was playing two games at once and did not know which I
In fact, when I got home that evening I hesitated whether to pursue
my game or let her get in a few licks. I was warming up to the
possibilities and with recklessness come of success wanted to rush
Grace off her feet.
During dinner I held back from extolling everything on the table
and kept the conversation rolling along about my luck in selling
I had not finished the paper after dinner when I heard Grace
calling from the basement. "Jack, dear, could you come downstairs
for a minute?"
"Ah," I grinned to myself, "wonder what lesson in the training
program she wants me to exemplify tonight?" Happy that she had
not forgotten about her own game, I held back from rushing
downstairs. After a respectful delay, I sauntered down like any
"What do you want?" I managed as best I could in my
unenthusiastic tone of yesteryear. Grace was well into her act,
tugging at a large box.
"Just was wondering what you thought about this arrangement,"
She was developing fast as a charming animal trainer. Indeed, I felt
that even wild lions would have had a time of resisting her. With
effort I held back from taking her in my arms. She rattled on about
what I thought about this and that regarding the arrangement of a
section of the basement. All I could see was a pile of junk.
As I began to help her with the box, she asked, "shall we put it in
I resisted looking into her eyes for the mischief they must have
contained. She knew the coal-bin was for coal as well as I did. The
whole plot was to gct me to decide where to put it, and then, of
course, I would be the one to put it there--just where she wanted it.
It takes two to play at most games. So I began swinging at
everything she pitched up. "No, Grace, this box should go over
here. And watch out for those old boards. They have nails in
"MAKE YOUR PUPPY THINK HE IS HAVING HIS OWN WAY WHEN HE
IS DOING JUST WHAT YOU WANT. REWARD HIM REPEATEDLY AND
HE WILL CONTINUE TO ENJOY DOING WHAT YOU WANT."
I could see what lesson she was teaching her puppy and I was
curious to see her technique in making the fitting reward for my
cooperation. She pretended to stumble over a board and fell right
into my arms. With her head on my chest, she looked at me. This
was always the best part of the lesson and I carried it off like a
prize-winning cocker spaniel.
"Grace, do you think it possible a woman's eyes can grow more
beautiful with the years?"
"What do you mean?" she asked, snuggling closer. She definitely
was interested in my line of thought. Her eyes told me to rave on.
"Well, lately I have been wondering about it," I said as I looked into
her eyes. "Must sound awfully foolish."
"Of course not, darling," she purred softly, as the light in her eyes
raced up toward one-million candlepower.
Her eyes were becoming more beautiful with each expectant heart-
beat. Manfully I resisted saying more. Grace was already limp in
"Well, Grace," I broke in upon our reverie, nodding to the junk on
the floor, "guess I better get back to this debris."
"Let it wait, Jack. There's no rush."
"You are in a lovable mood, Grace. It would be cruel of you to
expect me to turn from you to these boxes. In fact, I prefer
carrying you around tonight." The thought was no more suddenly
expressed than the action followed.
She felt so cozy in my arms as I walked slowly up the stairs, not
wanting the experience to end. What a dullard I had been so long
for not having done it before!
On reaching the kitchen, we became aware that we had two
children needing a little attention. We smiled knowingly at each
other as she said, "It won't take long, Jack, to get them to bed."
Since inspiration is the most important contribution a woman can
make in married life, one might expect that young men on the
prowl for a wife would be alerted for the presence of inspiration in
their dates. Your steady date may be a slick little chick of good
character and background. But does she inspire you? Does she
arouse in you a desire to do big things for her? Does thinking and
dreaming about her make you a better person, a less selfish
You may be spiritually and physically attracted to her. Well and
good. But do you lose sleep planning all the things you are going
to do to make her happy? The thought never enters your mind how
you are going to be happy. You have forgotten yourself
completely. She is all that matters. If you think of yourself at all, it
is only as to how you can improve yourself to make her happy and
proud of you. She is precious to you. To protect her you would
wrap her in cellophane. To glorify her you would clothe her in
spun gold and crown her with jewels.
You would stoop to nothing base. A glance of pain and
disappointment from her would kill you. A smile of love and
appreciation from her would act like strong wine and sends you off
vibrating with the joy of being alive.
One moment you are in an agony of frustration because vou
cannot provide her with all the things she rightly deserves. The
next moment you could break telephone poles for her. Her
presence or her image in your mind gives confidence that you can
do anything for her. No obstacle can prevent you from laying the
world at her feet.
It does seem that you are in love, that the girl inspires you. Marry
her if you want to live. If you want only to go through the motions
of living the rest of your life, let her slip away from you. The girl
who not only can step up your pulse, but also can inspire you is a
pearl of great price.
Many a young gallant marries unaware that such a word as
inspiration is in the dictionary. During courtship days he never
thinks to look for the faculty of inspiration in his future wife. After
living together a few years the same man wonders what is lacking
in his marriage.
Unfortunately, too many young ladies know nothing about
housekeeping and cooking before marriage. Happily, many of
them rise to the occasion and become good cooks and housewives.
Similarly, many a girl finds herself after marriage and becomes a
truly inspirational wife.
Why should young men gamble their whole future happiness?
Because, I am afraid, so many young men do not realize how
important it is to look for a wife who will be an inspiration to them.
Beauty, personality, and all the virtues may lose much of their
luster without inspiration. As a marriage counselor I have no
recollection of a single unhappy failure as a husband who was the
recipient of inspiration from his wife.
The best TV in the world cannot produce a picture without
electricity. Most husbands present a sorry picture without
inspiration. Turn on the electricity, and the TV comes to life. Turn
on inspiration, and the husband sparks up and catches fire with
the will to do big things for his wife.
Husbands merit inspiration by actively responding to their wives'
effort. Few women are able to continue a course of action in the
face of constant failure. No woman can inspire a lump of dough.
The object of her inspiration must be receptive, must want to be
inspired. Every teacher has experienced great differences of
reaction to her efforts. Some students will respond at once, for
example, to the teacher's effort at a witticism. Others will sit in
their seats like cabbages. A teacher could stand on her head and
juggle six text books with her feet and get no reaction other than
stupid stares from some pupils.
Many of these listless little boys become husbands. How often has
a wife looked at her husband with a glow of love in her eyes; but,
because he was not in the mood for sex, there was no response.
Normal routine for him was to go into suspended animation or
hibernation. From his lethargic state he sprang forth once a week
or so for an hour of love-making. Then he spent the following days
back in his shell.
An exceptionally gifted and energetic wife might, with all her
inspirational faculties in high blower, lead a husband of this type
to a semblance of animation. However, less clever and less
determined wives become discouraged. Dissatisfied and confused
they frequently degenerate into shrewish and nagging wives.
Many a husband has only himself to blame, if he finds little
incentive in his wife to make something of himself. It takes two to
tango. Husband and wife react strongly upon each other. Even an
enthusiastic wife soon runs out of gas if she is constantly
presented with the spectacle of her husband curled up on the sofa
like an over-fed hound dog.
There is nothing spectacular about a young blade flexing his
muscles before his wife of a Sunday afternoon on some beach. Full
of pep and virility he cannot resist "showing off' for the one whose
esteem he prizes above all else. What is spectacular and wonderful
is to see a dumpy little balding middle-aged husband "showing
off." Surrounded by his children and wife on some beach he
cavorts like the young colt he is not. In danger of rupturing
himself he enters a high jump contest with his growing children. I
love to see a display of this nature for I believe that it is,
conscious or not, a play for his wife's admiration. Years of
marriage have not dulled his anxiety to win the attention of his
He is not too mature? Who wants to be too mature? That can be
senility, an affliction very common in many husbands grown old
before their time. The urge to "show off" is characteristic of
children and the young of heart in love.
Our high jumping husband is reacting to a definite stimulus, the
presence of his wife. "Now, George, be careful," or "Watch out,
George, you'll hurt yourself," are well-meant, solicitous
admonitions. But they only spur him on to greater heights, because
he has her attention and concern.
I feel sorry for a husband never inclined to "show off" for his wife.
He is either a sad sack to begin with and incapable of being
stimulated by his wife's inspiration, or he has been so deflated by
his wife that he drags his weary bones along a dull road with no
The husband is our subject, and we must resist sounding off on
the wife. Yet, we yield to the temptation to comment on some
wives. Any wife who ignores, or ridicules, or spurns her husband's
"showing off" for her benefit on the beach or anywhere else is a
dumb bunny. The spirit which leads her husband to high jump for
her on a beach is the same spirit that will carry him to the heights
in any field of endeavor.
Is not bringing home a Cadillac or a mink coat "showing off" on the
part of a husband? Many wives like this type of "showing off"
much better than high jumping. Seldom is George admonished for
this kind of display. Yet, getting the Cadillac was a greater strain
on his cardiac muscles than his exercise on the sand. Well, men, I
guess all that we can say is that some women are funny and hard
Husbands should be warned that "showing off" is often regarded
by wives as egotistic. Obviously, it does not have to be. Husbands
are not so inhuman as not to want a little attention. Wives have
their little methods of attracting attention; and nobody accuses
them of being egotistic.
Any form of inspiration is fundamentally a building up of the
husband's ego. If a wife wants her husband to bounce she cannot
deflate him. Deflated balls do not bounce. Yet, many a wife is
restrained from "blowing up" her husband, because she feels that
his head is already swollen to the breaking point. At least a
hundred wives have complained to me that they find it going
against the grain to flatter husbands already evidencing exalted
ideas of themselves. Although I have no proof, I always have felt
that many of these wives were not very inspirational. An inspired
husband is spared the ignominy of trying to raise himself by his
own boot straps. His wife does the job for him. On the other hand,
a "blow off" generates his own steam. He does not get it from his
Since a conceited man is difficult for all, it is no wonder he
presents a special problem to his wife. She knows that inspiration
is one of her principal contributions to the man she married. Yet,
she cannot be blamed if she feels that it is like carrying coals to
Newcastle or shipping beer to Milwaukee to promote the ego of an
A conceited man is so full of himself that it is hard for any one
else to get inside him. I tried once and failed. I once worked with a
young couple whose main marriage problem was the husband's
towering conceit. The man had no particular accomplishment to
his credit, nor did he evidence more than normal abilities.
Perpetually obsessed with himself, his first concern toward his
wife seemed to be that she always realize how lucky she was to
have captured him. Relentlessly in devious little ways he never let
her forget how empty her life would have been without him.
Humorless and deadly serious, he kept his wife in a dither lest she
wound his vanity. Needless to say, she frequently failed to
measure up to the demands of his pride. The resultant
recriminating outbursts were distressing to her refined and
Because the world did not appreciate him and lay honors and
material rewards at his feet, he became a bitter young man. He
could not suffer the loss of his grandiose image of himself. Others
were to blame--his dumb boss, the incumbent political party, the
governor, the President. Critical of everyone, he could tell exactly
what was wrong with everything from the local dog pound to the
U.N. Eking out an existence on a subsistence salary, he could
blame no one but the whole world. Finding fault with everyone, his
wife included, he hoped by this defense mechanism to ward off
censure of himself.
This unhappy husband came to see me not to seek any advice
about his marriage troubles but only to prove that his wife was
sadly wanting. She was no inspiration to him. She never showed
appreciation, never complimented him, never made him feel that
he was tops for her money, never sparked for him. To no avail I
tried to point out how difficult it was for his wife to set on fire
what already was a 3-11 blaze.
His wife admitted that she was incapable of inspiring him because
of his repelling conceit. It is interesting here to speculate on what
might have been the reaction of the proud husband had his wife
been able to overcome her repulsion. Would her wifely praise and
admiration have brought him the beginnings of humility sufficient
to destroy or mitigate his conceit? Would he have begun to enjoy
her attention to the extent of forgetting about himself? Would he
have noticed that the less he strained his own arm, the more she
patted him on the back?
Here it is important to note how husband and wife react to each
other. A conceited husband may so cut the ground from under his
wife that she is unable to fulfill her duty of inspiration. A humble
husband invites admiration and praise. The more she builds him
up the more he responds with love and deeds performed to merit
such an inspirational wife. Evil begets evil and good begets good.
An unhappy husband always finds the cause of his unhappiness in
his wife. This or that is wrong with her. So often he is too ignorant
or self-centered to realize that he is greatly to blame for his wife's
Once a wife admitted to me the truth of her husband's accusation
that she didn't put her heart into her cooking. "Wasn't he asking
just a little too much?" brought a sad smile from her.
"Well, I'm not putting my heart, I'll admit, or much else into
cooking for him now. I once did. I gave it everything I had. When
we first married I was dying to win a little praise from my husband
for my cooking. For awhile I felt that I was too much of an amateur
to merit any praise. As time went on I became a good cook. I
learned to appreciate good food well prepared. The better the
meals became, the more he took them for granted. About the only
comment I ever heard was 'The meat is tough' or 'The soup is too
"Aren't wives ever supposed to receive a little nod of appreciation
from their husbands? Is this business of inspiration a one-way
street? Am I supposed to buzz with enthusiasm about my work
around the house and with the children just because he doesn't
beat me? Wouldn't a little positive encouragement and
appreciation help? I realize that I'm supposed to inspire him, to
send him off to work with his head back and tail up. But what
about me? I'm human too."
The woman we have listened to at some length was not a bad wife.
She loved her husband; but she wanted to love him much more.
She felt that his lack of interest in her work and problems was
sapping her enthusiasm and making it difficult to be a good wife.
Most people pay back in kind, love for love and neglect for
neglect. This wife was paying back neglect. Her husband long had
neglected to encourage her efforts over the stove. He had no right
to complain. He was getting back from his wife what he merited,
the baloney blue plate special. He was getting the can opener
treatment and wondered what had happened to the boiled dinners,
casseroles, and home-made pies.
Consideration of this sad husband's plight brings up the subject of
the husband's obligation to inspire his wife. So far we have dealt
with the way a husband responds to his wife's inspiration, how he
avoids placing obstacles in her path as she tries to be an
I have never met a wife who denies her duty of inspiration. Also, I
have met few who have failed to remind me that inspiration is a
Married people make a mistake when they become so casual or
careless that they flaunt human nature in their dealings with each
other. We like to know that people do things for us because they
want to, not because they are duty bound or feel that they have to
pay a debt. They enjoy exerting themselves for us and this brings
us the happy knowledge of their love. No master ever receives
happiness from the servitude of his slave.
When a wife says, "My conscience bothers me because I haven't
sewed the buttons on your coat, dear," she intends no hurt, but she
is being pretty dumb. Her concept of inspiration is minus zero.
Her words might be paraphrased thus: "Sewing buttons on your
coat is a pain in the neck. I know it's my duty and I must do it.
Because I've been putting it off, my conscience annoys me."
The husband tingles with excitement and, inspired by his wife,
rushes off to work to set the world on fire for her. Like Fun!
Love manifests itself by wanting, not having to do things for
another. Christ did not have to die on a cross for us; He wanted to
because of His love.
Inspirational husbands give the unmistakable impression that they
are eager to do things for their wives. The kitchen sink drain is
leaking, and the lady of the house is not happy over it. Her
husband wants to fix it, not because he loves to tinker with
plumbing but because he wants to do things for her. He derives
pleasure from fussing for her, not from messing with old pipes.
The Man for Her does not look upon a broken electric switch in the
basement as a duty to be faced. It is an opportunity to evidence
his love and care for his wife.
To ignore completely the switch is smarter than to acknowledge it
is an onerous job for her to which he will get some day. Giving
excuses repeatedly for not fixing it can leave his wife with no
other impression but that he is avoiding a distasteful job.
It is no boost to the wife's ego to realize that her husband does
things for her because he must. Sadly she remembers the time he
looked for excuses to perform little services for her.
Once a wife told me that the greatest joy in her marriage probably
came from her acceptance of her husband's kind deeds and tokens
of service. "He wants to do little things for me and derives a real
pleasure in the performance. It's evident in his every action. There
are times I could bite him I love him so much. He has never
indicated any sense of obligation. I think that would kill me.
Maybe he has spoiled me; but I love it."
3. MISTER FIX IT
"Listen, dearie," Mabel said to Margie in familiar, friendly tone over
the back yard fence, "What are you moaning about? The only
difference in my husband on week days and on Sunday is that on
Sunday he rests with a clear conscience. My husband really takes
to heart the Sunday rest. No servile work on the Sabbath is one
Church Law he goes for in a big way. I think he goes to Church
every Sunday just hoping to hear something about keeping holy
the Lord's Day. If his ass fell into a pit on Sunday, he wouldn't
draw it out."
Not to be out-done, calorie loving Margie holds up a plump arm
and keeps the conversation rolling along by saying, "My husband
does so little around the house to help me with the heavy work,
that I'm getting muscles where I shouldn't have them."
Mabel took a discreet glance down at Margie's full and rounded
hips and declined to make any comment on the local muscle
situation. After all, neighbors do have to be friendly and get along.
After another half hour of small talk, both Mabel and Margie
agreed that their automatic washers and dryers had long ago run
their cycles and needed attention.
Let us turn our attention to Mabel's and Margie's husbands. After
all, the husband is the subject of this book. Both neighborly wives
might have thought that their husbands were relaxing down at
work, building up a reserve of energy to be let loose on some home
chores. Quite the opposite was true.
Mabel's husband, a foreman in a nut and bolt factory, was having a
time of it trying to get the men and machines to turn out bolts to
fit into the nuts. Margie's husband was up to his ears in paper
work, getting out a statistical report sufficiently involved to baffle
the other departmental heads for hours.
As both husbands fought their separate ways home through the
rush hour traffic, the same thought was upper-most in their minds-
-a good dinner and a quiet evening of relaxation at home.
Mabel and Margie had other ideas. Both had given some thought
during the day to several home projects for their respective
husbands. Any husband is familiar with the ability of his wife to
maintain a good backlog of schemes to keep him busy around the
At the most unsuspected moment, when he is comfortably seated
with the evening newspaper, or is watching his favorite TV
program, then she pounces upon him. The kitchen sink is leaking.
The front door-bell does not ring. If nothing is out of order, the
husband still can not be too sure of his evening rest. Ladies like a
change. All day, week after week, they look at the same
arrangement of the furniture. Any husband unsuspectful of what is
coming now, should step to the bottom of the class. Sure enough,
the furniture must be rearranged. And who can do that unless it be
the big, burly husband?
Down through the ages, husbands have been meeting, with varying
degrees of success, these inroads of their wives upon their fireside
comfort. How can husbands successfully resist these onslaughts?
Believe it or not, there are some proven methods which should fit
your own particular circumstances. Ingenuity will enable each to
modify or add embellishments to enhance the effectiveness of the
The simplest and least painful method is one followed by my
brother. Some years ago, my sister-in-law informed me that my
brother would not do a thing around the house. "Why," she said,
"he will not try to fix a thing. In fact, he won't even drive a nail."
Ostensibly this was in the nature of a complaint. Yet, there was a
wifely pride in her voice. "He says that he doesn't know about
these things. Call a plumber or an electrician. They have the
proper tools. It's their business."
Her pride was not too secret that her husband was very successful
in business and could easily afford to call in the tradesmen to take
This is the most relaxed method of playing Mister Fix It. We might
name it, the method "Fix It By Proxy." There can be some
procedures by proxy in domestic relations not too satisfying. But,
in this instance, little can be said against the system.
The incredulous may think that they detect a weakness in the
method of "Fix It By Proxy." Before mentioning a criticism of the
system and the devastating answer, I must drop a caution. Any
method of keeping the wife happy, proven though it be by the past
experience of innumerable ideal husbands, can be muddled up by
a stumble bum. Finesse is the watchword and can never be laid
aside in dealing with the wonderful little lady.
About the only trouble with the method of "Fix It By Proxy" is that
the wife might begin to think that her husband has an "in" with the
Treasury Department. She orders new fixtures at random. She toys
with the idea of remodeling the bathroom. The kitchen sink
ensemble is the latest creation; but the unit does not escape her
effort at improvement or change. A new type of faucet advertised
in one of the "Home Beautiful" type of magazines catches her eye.
She must have it. (Incidentally, this class of magazine has done
more to disturb the rest of husbands than can be imagined.
Husbands should take them off to work, never failing to leave
them on the train or at the office.)
The well-heeled husband can tell his wife to call the usual
plumber, the one whose children he is practically putting through
college, and then forget all about the matter. Or he may decide to
have a little fun in the process of slowing down his wife with her
projects. He takes the plumber aside, slips him a few dollars, and
hatches a plot. (If men do not stand together in this world of
women they will fall separately.) The plumber is to make an awful
mess of the kitchen and slop around the place to a fare-thee-well.
The husband then trots off to work and in mid-afternoon phones
the little lady that a sudden business dinner engagement will
prevent him from coming home that evening.
When he arrives home that night, his wife has had enough
improvements around the house to last her for a while. She is
definitely out of sorts and needs a little comforting.
"I'll tell that plumber a thing or two when I call him in the
morning," the old boy assures his wife. "What can you expect of
workmen these days! You must have had a terrible day. Why don't
you call up Susan in the morning and run out to the club for a
swim?" By the time the lights are out in their bedroom he has his
wife purring with contentment and the assurance that she has the
man for her.
"All this sounds just peachy," swells the chorus, "but what if you
haven't that kind of money?" Fear not. There are methods of
avoiding the slave role of Mister Fix It, suitable for even the ne'er-
Everyone should know that the best defense is an offense. This
truism has application in other phases of marriage, as well as in
the problem at hand. No husband should come home from work on
the defense with his guard up, hoping that he can sneak through
the evening without his wife presenting him with some
reconstruction task on the house. This attitude invites attack.
The man for her keeps one jump ahead of his wife. He senses what
projects she might stir up. For example, if the roof is leaking like a
sieve he can, with reasonable certainty, foretell that his wife will
be after him, ere many rainy seasons come and go. If the back door
falls off its hinges and every stray dog in the vicinity looks upon it
as an invitation to take up residence, the wife will probably
become unreasonably demanding and ask that it be fixed.
The second method of playing at Mister Fix It could be called "Fix
It With Wife." The motif of this method revolves around the truth
that if a job is worth being done it needs a superintendent. Does
anybody have to guess very long who is better qualified to fill this
Let us see how the method works by taking an example at random.
The wallpaper in the children's room is peeling badly. The
husband knows that the wife would prefer a washable paint. So, let
us face it, a job has to be done. But who says the task has to be
done by the husband alone?
The husband bounces into the house after work and suggests to
the wife that they get after the children's room after supper. "We'll
have fun working together, dear. Remember the time of it we had
getting our first flat ready when we were married?" With a gentle
hug and kiss he continues, "And if you get up on the ladder with
those dark blue shorts I once saw you in, don't blame me if I pinch
After the work gets under way in earnest, anv husband could be
tempted to wander quietly off to the TV. To succumb thus is fatal.
The wife will be screaming for him in five minutes. The best
method of escape has been found to have a reason to run out to
the store for some item to carry on the work. For this reason, it is
the biggest mistake in the world to have all the materials and tools
on hand necessary to finish the job.
There is a tavern right next to the hardware store.
After a quick purchase, the husband can drop into the tavern and
watch the TV fights for half an hour in perfect comfort. It is best
not to overdo the pleasant excursion. He can rush back into the
house muttering something about traffic and parking difficulties.
A careful search through my notes discloses no suggestions about
the next hour or so. It does look as if the husband may be in for a
little work at this juncture. The man for her is a good sport and
knows when he is temporarily licked; so he makes the best of it.
However, he does not abandon ship. He has humility enough to
admit that his wife knows much more about removing wallpaper
"I'm afraid, dear, that you better get up on the ladder and do that
part. You know how you want it to look." With similar self-
abasements he keeps his wife running up and down the ladder.
This can be tiring. Before it gets too late, he executes the master
stroke of the evening. Suddenly he lifts his wife off the ladder and
says, "we've done enough tonight. I'm going to carry you upstairs
to bed like my little baby girl that you are."
This maneuver is devastating. It is the coup de grace to an
evening's campaign brilliantly executed, he thinks. Moreover, the
sudden departure leaves the room in a mess with pails of dirty
water, sponges, and mops strewn around. Next morning a survey of
the scene by the wife brings misgivings that she had ever
mentioned the wallpaper's bad condition.
As she lingers over her second cup of coffee and has time to
reflect on the gyrations of her husband the previous evening, it is
possible she may realize that she was taken in by a Casanova. As
her temperature mounts with the task of cleaning up the mess she
savs to herself, "wait till I see him tonight."
This is a very possible reaction on the part of a wife to the manner
in which the husband of our example played his part in "Fix It With
Wife." It looks as though he made it a one night stand.
If too much space has been given to illustrating the several
methods of having fun playing at Mister Fix It, the indulgence of
all husbands is implored. However, it is my feeling that the
problem merits much attention. How many serious quarrels and
open fights; how many hurts and strains on the family tie have
been brought about over this business of the husband doing or not
doing work around the home. Indeed, the inability of the husband
to steer a happy course in this regard has scuttled many a
marriage. So bear with me if I seem to drag out the examples of
preferred husbands having a barrel of fun playing at Mister Fix It.
By way of parenthesis I must inject the thought that I designedly
keep repeating the expression of playing at Mister Fix It. This
particular phase of marriage under discussion must be kept in the
nature of a game, as all of marriage should be. When husband and
wife lose the concept that marriage is something of a game to be
played with the exuberance of children, then that marriage
becomes a drab, hangdog affair. Keeping marriage something of a
game keeps a marriage tingling with life. The only difference
between many married people is that some of them have had
formal obsequies performed over them at the graveyard.
Now that this observation is off my chest, let us get back to the
consideration of a few more methods of playing at Mister Fix It.
A visitor to the Holy Land may frequently observe an Arab man
and wife making their way along a road. The wife is literally loaded
down from the top of her head to her heels. The husband walks
along unimpeded. Should he, in a moment of tender regard for his
wife, help her in the least, he invites other male Arabs to yell out
at him, "coward, coward."
At most, the Arab husband tends his flock of goats, while the wife
does all the household, or "tenthold," chores. Since the Arab
husbands have never even heard the expression "Mister Fix It," we
are at a loss what to call this method other than the Arab Method,
which does not seem to be any method at all, but more a lack of it.
One result of the Arab's attitude is easily observed. All the Arab
wives look as slim and lithe as a fawn. However, we are afraid to
recommend the Arab Method. In a Christian country, husbands
simply could not get away with it for a moment. In fact, now we
regret that we ever mentioned the Arab Method.
Another method with numerous happy and satisfied followers is
known as "Let the Neighbors Fix It." As with the other systems this
one requires finesse, perhaps more so, because more people have
to be involved.
Suppose that the wife has had enough of climbing up and down
the double decker beds of the children and demands that the attic
be finished off into a bedroom or two. The husband is about as
able to do the job as he is able to create a formal evening gown.
The wife does not seem to realize this sad fact. She hints at the
project, begs, cajols, and even nags the husband about the much
needed bedroom space. This is the only period of pain for the
husband during the whole operation. It is a necessary time of
"taking it on the chin." During this period the neighbors are
becoming aware of the attic bedroom project. Friends and relatives
are brought into the picture.
Some advocates of the method are of the opinion that this is the
time for the husband to get started by himself. The less he
accomplishes, the more the neighbors and relatives itch to get into
the picture, and show how clever and handy they are. Because the
wife wants the work done, she beams upon these helpers and
sparks them on with compliments. The huband evidences no
jealousy. After all, he wants the work done too--by someone else.
His magnanimity will pay off later with the wife, as we shall see.
As work progresses the husband steps more and more into the
background. He lets the neighbors take over. Pride in their work
keeps them banging away at every opportunity.
The wise husband does not turn these work periods into a beer
party by plying his friends with drinks. He keeps all liquid
refreshment out of sight--under lock and key, if necessary. Only
when a worker drops from exhaustion should the husband revive
him with alcoholic stimulant, sufficient to get him out of the
house and on his way.
At this point the clever husband is sitting pretty. These well-
intentioned helpers begin to get on the wife's nerves. They come at
inopportune moments--when she is busy with guests, or a child is
sick, or she wants her husband to take her out. Some of the helpers
get too earnest in their work and become cranky and ill-tempered
when things go poorly. Conceit in their handiness is in glaring
contrast to her husband's humility. The more she imagines that
the helpers are looking down their noses at her husband, the more
she wants to take them down a peg or two and rush to his defense.
At this stage of the game, the husband is well over the hump. He
has the work nearing completion and he has his wife looking for
good points in his make-up. What husband could wish for more?
He has scored a grand slam. He has his wife magnifying the strong
and minimizing the weak features of his character.
All because he could not fix up the attic, the clever rascal has
educed from his wife a greater love. There is no surer sign of a
growing love, than the effort to find and magnify good qualities in
another. The tell-tale death rattle of a dying love is the opposite
inclination to find fault.
Once two old friends were sitting in a row boat discussing the
problem one had in getting along with his boss. It was dusk and
both were in a jolly, expansive mood. The pre-dinner martinis were
sitting well. Some friends of theirs decided to have a little fun with
them and almost swamped the row boat with the wake of their
speed boat. As the wave hit the small boat broadside, one became
momentarily alarmed and grabbed on to both sides of the boat.
This action elicited from the other the advice, "don't fight it, roll
Over his sudden surprise, the second gentleman countered, "don't
fight it, don't even roll with it, play with it."
This sage bit of advice has never been forgotten and has helped
one of these men through a number of tight spots.
In applying the above advice to the husband in his role of Mister
Fix It, obviously he should not "fight it." By fighting it, he produces
little more than an unhappy home. To roll with some irresistable
physical force like a wave is common sense. All familiar with the
operation of small boats know this fact. Merely to roll with a
problem of human relations may be an easy and relaxed method. It
may also be a weak method. Rolling with the impact of a problem
of human relations may connote surrender rather than solution.
There will be times when the husband may have little choice other
than to "roll" with the problem of working around the home on
major projects. Yet the wise husband is on guard lest this become
habitual. In always merely "rolling" with it he is in danger of
becoming just his wife's "Man Friday" around the house. He is
much more. He is her husband. Etymologically even, he is head of
Because he is head of the home, every house-wife within sight of
this page, no doubt, is reminding us that his is the first
responsibility in the home. Conceding that point, husbands have
all the more reason for they themselves choosing whether they will
fight at, roll with, or play at being Mister Fix It.
Although we have been joshing the husband some in our examples
of how to play at Mister Fix It, yet we are most serious when we say
that the best method of dealing with the problem at hand is to play
with it. Playing with a problem does not signify running away from
it. To play with a task means staying with the job, not letting the
job stay with the husband like a black demon on his back. In other
words, the husband is master of the job, not its slave. For example,
he can play a game of golf over the week-end before the attic is
finished without the roof caving in, or the wife having cause for
apoplexy. The job of being Mister Fix It does not master him; he
masters it by playing with it. He brings a little ingenuity into the
picture, as did the husband in the example of "Fix It With the
In playing at Mister Fix It, the husband is conscious that his
ultimate purpose is to bring happiness and contentment to his
wife. In succeeding, he will be a happy husband. Happy husbands
have a way of going with happy wives. Any desired wife worthy of
the name will give her husband credit for having enough sense
and integrity to discharge his responsibility in manner best suited
to his abilities and opportunities. A hen-pecked husband is an
intolerable disgrace to his calling as well as a fitting reward for the
wife so degrading him.
Being head of the home, it is the husband's responsibility to bring
home the bacon. The wife, as queen of the home, has the
obligation of looking after the multitudinous little tasks about the
house. Although the large, overall demarcation is clear, the
specialized duties of husband and wife overlap at times. It is in
this area where misunderstanding and consequent trouble arise.
Who should put up and take down the screens and storm windows?
Unless he was an invalid, no self-respecting husband would shunt
this job off on his wife.
I remember a case in which husband and wife were close to a
parting of their ways. Other difficulties, besides dispute over
home chores, were in the picture. Yet, their squabbles over this
matter had contributed greatly to the alienation of their affections.
"If I take down the screens then she wants me to wash the
windows. Then it's take out the garbage or wax the kitchen floor.
For a while she even had me in the kitchen sink. What the devil
does she do all day? Seems to me she springs into action only
when I get home from work."
From the other side of the desk came the rebuttal, "Is that so?"
(Any wife can supply the remainder of her response.) Both these
people were immature and not capable of much love. The husband
used a pretty weak excuse for not doing a thing in the home. The
wife expected him to do everything, so he did nothing.
This husband and wife were trying to out-loaf each other. Neither
would do one iota more than the other. What a contrast to the
happy, because unselfish, couple always trying to out-do each
other about the house.
How many girls have married a young blade never known to help
his parents with the care of the home? To him home was a
convenient place to eat, sleep, and have fresh laundered clothes. Is
a pampered person of this type supposed to change character after
marriage? Most do not. The main function of others in his little
orbit is to wait on him. The over-hopeful wife is in for double duty.
The husband truly in love wants to identify himself with his wife,
to lose himself in her. She is precious and all he has. No wonder he
desires to protect her. He will not see her tug and strain at heavy
When I was hardly more than a boy, I witnessed a mischievous wife
deliberately drawing out her protective husband. She began to lift
a heavy bushel basket of fruit from a table. The husband rushed
over and grabbed the basket, all the while angrily scolding his
wife. As she stepped aside her eyes betrayed her plot. The
indignant husband turned to face her and was met with twinkling
eyes softening with love. They ended in a fervent embrace. The
husband did not have a chance. What man would want a chance?
4. TOWN SPENDTHRIFT
"How about another beer on me, fellows?" is a familiar refrain
heard at the local tavern or at the nineteenth hole rendezvous of
has-been golfers. The cheerful invitation to further conviviality
emanates from the local joy boy and town spendthrift. He never
gets tight himself because he is too busy getting tight the free
loaders of his friendly group. A regular fellow, he is found in and
adds color to most every community.
The only shame of it is that he is broke by the time he arrives
home. A lad of this type should never be out of pocket, for then he
is not himself. This bankrupt condition ill becomes him, and he
appears to great disadvantage in the home circle. In his cranky
mood he may even be heard to snarl at his poor little wife, "What
did you buy that for?" or "Where do you spend all the money?"
He just simply is not himself. The four walls of his home seem to
crowd in upon him like a debtor's prison. Some people become
mean when they have a sore throat or a sin-vexed conscience. Not
our Charlie. Nothing really annoys him except this lack of cash
around the house.
The town spendthrift never worries about money matters while out
with the fellows. He needs the quiet of home to concentrate upon
such an intricate subject as finances. Even trained economists
have wandered astray in their theories about money. How then can
a person be expected to grapple with such a knotty problem in the
hubbub of a tavern? Curiously the tranquility of home provides
the best environment.
"Why the devil does it cost so much to feed this family? Wonder
how others manage," he moans out loud as he stares off into space
with just a wee little side glance at his bewildered budgeteer.
As he frets his way off to bed he racks his brain for a solution. If
only old Ed, his bachelor uncle, would die. He is loaded and does
not even know what to do with his money. It sometimes happens to
others. Why could not he or his wife be left a regular income from
some trust fund?
After he runs the gauntlet of these far-fetched escapes from the
damnable financial straight jacket, he ponders over a more
realistic entry to the land of solvency. Maybe he could hire his
wife out where she could grapple with the world of commerce in
some bargain basement and bring home a few dollars.
Charlie had a busy evening at the club hustling those beers and
cocktails to his buddies, so he soon slips off into the land of
Charlie's wife tiptoes into their bedroom and gently kisses the
troubled forehead of her husband. Why not? She had just come
from the children's room where she had kissed her other little
Charlie is no cad. The spectacle of his wife wrestling with a mob of
women over economy-priced ladies' apparel brings him no joy in
Every marriage counselor can remember numerous cases of the
type described above. So often he is of a generous nature and a
likeable person. His gyrations from the sort of Dr. Jekyll--town
spendthrift, to the Mr. Hyde--house "tightwad," provide the
background for much humor. But tragedy lurks in the shadows, the
tragedy of a suffering wife with ill-fed and shabbily clothed
It is as normal as breathing to want to be held in high esteem, to
be loved and to be considered generous. No one wants to be hated,
to be despised as stingy and selfish. Stingy and selfish people
resort to all sorts of stratagems to hide their shame.
The trouble with the town spendthrift is that he seeks his high
regard in the wrong place. He should look for it from his wife and
children. These fast friends he is regaling will drop him like a hot
potato when the flowing liquor dries up. These good time pals will
come and go, forget and be forgotten very soon. His wife and
children remain the real part of his life. They merit his attention
and will provide the love and respect he much wants and needs, if
he but give them a chance.
Years ago I walked into the washroom of a Pullman. The car porter
sat there alone looking dejected. I struck up a conversation with
him by asking if things were as bad as his face indicated.
"You saw that car, didn't you? Well, it's half empty. You are the
only man in it. All women. Lots of bell ringing and no tips."
From past experience the porter knew that he was on a dry run.
Women, of course, are notorious for little or no tipping. It is
difficult for a woman constantly to marshal nickels and dimes in
order to stay within a restricted budget and then turn around and
hand a porter a dollar tip for a night on a Pullman.
Similarly she senses no great elation at observing her husband
handing out an over-generous tip. Before marriage he might have
impressed a few of his dates in this manner. Now his wife
considers it evidence of softening of the brain. Nor does his easy
manner with money spur her on in the everlasting search after
bargains in shopping. Why should the wife spend an hour of time
and energy saving a half dollar in her grocery shopping only to see
her husband flip it away to some stranger in a moment of human
I knew a husband, a preferred one for sure, who kept close tab on
his tips. For every tip he put aside an equal amount in a little
secret fund of his own. As the dimes and quarters accumulated he
got a little gift for his favorite waitress, as he used to say.
Once his wife tried her hand at home-made bread. He was so
tickled over her effort that he, with mock pomposity, bestowed
upon her a cash prize and blue ribbon as the cook of the year. His
wife entered into the game and struck a pose holding a loaf of her
prize winning bread.
That little family episode was the beginning of a new era for
another family. Home-made bread came back into its own and
replaced the store-bought chaff and straw facetiously called bread.
I am fully aware that this lucky husband had a wonderful wife.
Strange, is it not, that wonderful wives have a way of going with
5. ESCHEWING THISTLES
A minister in the hill country was giving a Sunday sermon. During
the discourse he used the unfamiliar word "eschew." A hand went
up in the congregation and a voice asked for the meaning of the
"Well, brother," explained the minister, "we all know that Jones
sitting next to you has a fine pair of mules. We also know that
Jones feeds his mules hay. Hereabout thistles have a way of
growing with the hay. The mules chew the hay and eschew the
Each human being has his own little garden of life in which he
reaps what he sows. The wife is no exception. In her garden there
are roses pleasing to the eye and peaches delectable to the taste.
Because she is human she will scarcely avoid producing a few
thorns and thistles.
Her husband saw her garden, liked it, walked into it, took her unto
himself as his wife, and settled down for life. In the beginning he
so liked the roses and peaches that he ignored the thorns and
thistles. Like the mule he wisely chewed the peaches and eschewed
Then, as the all too frequent story runs, time and fallen nature
began to take their toll. His wife brought forth neither less peaches
nor more thistles. The imperceptible change was in the husband's
failure to distinguish. He became more conscious of the thistles
which always existed. Only now he began to chew them. Perhaps
we should say that they began to eat on him.
Little idiosyncrasies and foibles, present but ignored in his wife
during courtship and early days of marriage, can grow into
mountainous aggravations. This change can take place if the
husband falls into the stupid habit of concentrating on the faults
of his wife. Once he centered his attention on her virtues and good
qualities. Such an attitude brought him love and happiness. Vexing
himself over her imperfections brings him nothing but a
diminution of love.
In the early days of marriage counseling I was surprised to learn
many marriages came to an end or were unhappy because of petty
things. For a time I misjudged fault-finding as a minor nuisance to
be handled with dispatch, until I found it to be the only real
difficulty between many couples. Mulling over the imperfections
of a partner has destroyed many a marriage.
A case comes to mind as an illustration of how not to be a happy
husband through fault-finding. The couple had been married only
a year and a half. The husband was in his middle twenties. Of a
serious nature and already on his way to success in business, he
found his marriage was not working out as planned. He was prone
to label as a fault any activity of his younger wife that did not fall
into his preconceived plan of action for her.
Evidently he had spent many hours day-dreaming before marriage
as to how his wife should behave. He had envisioned his saintly
wife kneeling in evening prayer with him at bedside. The actuality
after marriage was a shock. His wife knelt on the bed above him.
The astonishing sight was not conducive to successful prayer.
Quite the opposite. He continued to talk but not to God. Something
had come between him and God. It was about a foot in front of his
Get down on the cold, bare floor with him she would not,
especially after he had excoriated her.
From her narration of the episode there was an indication that she
merely had been trying to be mischievous. She resented his rebuff
at her effort to be coquettish, became stubborn, and would not
kneel with him on the floor then or any other time.
He accused her of being an immature, brainless, little glamor girl.
Glamor girl she was, as well as very young, gay, and immature. Yet,
of the two he was the more immature in spite of all his efforts to
make their marriage a serious, business-like affair.
He was the more immature, if for no other reason, because he set
upon a definite program of fault-finding. He had not matured to
the extent of realization that life is a give and take affair. Little
faults have to be overlooked, forgotten. Neither overlooking nor
forgetting real or imagined imperfections of his wife, he magnified
and nursed them along in his brain.
Her singular posture for prayer was not his only complaint. He
rattled on for half an hour narrating his wife's shortcomings. When
he stopped for breath, her only comment was, "you make me sick."
I could not say in their presence that she took the words out of my
mouth; but I felt a little sick too. Seeing love die always makes me
sick. And her love was dying.
Although he wanted to keep his wife, her love was far gone--more
than he realized. He was not only too observant of her faults; but
he was also on the watch for them. When a husband begins looking
for reasons to criticise his wife, it is a far cry from the days when
he looked for excuses to praise her.
The husband in this case once recognized many virtues and fine
qualities in his wife. Because of them he was attracted to her. He
was eager to praise her, and his effort was rewarded with a
happiness no less than hers. If he was at all aware of any thistles
in her garden before marriage, he sensibly eschewed them. Only
when he foolishly began to chew on them did his marriage develop
a big stomach ache.
Will Rogers once said that he had never met a man he could not
like. There are, after all, very few Fagans and Sykes in real life.
Most people have some attractive, because good, qualities.
Habitually, reflecting on the favorable side of a wife's personality
makes for peaceful, contented living. Stewing over the failings of
his wife puts the husband on an expressway to unhappiness. The
road is broad and well-traveled.
The sooner a husband makes up his mind to dwell on his wife's
attractive features both in the natural and supernatural order, the
sooner is he guaranteeing himself happiness. Besides, if a husband
must ponder over flaws, errors, and blemishes then let him turn
his thoughts in upon himself. He should be able to discover a few
of his own. Confession is good for the soul because, among other
reasons, it makes us more forgiving and tolerant of others. Seldom
will a husband do a good job in the confessional only to return
home and snap at his wife. The best psychiatric treatment in the
world for most of us is a little self-examination. And it does not
cost ten dollars a visit. For many a husband five minutes a day
spent regarding the beam in his own eye would lessen his pep for
finding the mote in his wife's eye.
When people live in close proximity to each other for a
considerable length of time, they learn of each other's
shortcomings. After a few years of married life a husband, unless
he is completely blinded by love, knows only too well that his wife
is human and has her faults. There is a danger that he begins to
compare the wife he knows with the women he hardly knows.
Because he is ignorant of any defects in the woman of casual
acquaintance, his wife may fare poorly in comparison.
Little Susie Q may be a neat trick down at the office, but how does
she look in the privacy of her home? She always looks very
fetching with her well-kept hair? Yes, but most husbands would
cry to high heaven were their wives to spend on their personal
appearance the money Susie Q lays out each month. All the girls at
the office seem even-tempered and agreeable? But they are among
comparative strangers, aren't they? Besides, they have a job to
keep. If they were partners, wouldn't they talk up once in a while?
The way some husbands vex themselves with the minor faults of
their wives, one might think that they would prefer living with an
artistic plaster of Paris concept of sanctity. A man of sense prefers
a real, living human being for his wife. If she is alive with blood
coursing through her veins, she will have her share of human
imperfections. He accepts her as she is and loves her for herself.
Indeed, her very peculiarities may become, to the husband in love,
I am acquainted with a couple happy together today because a
wonderful man "carried" his wife through a few rough years. Their
troubles developed gradually and reached a peak after fifteen
years of marriage. Both were well-educated, intelligent and social
minded. Gifted with winning ways they were a popular couple in
whatever circle they moved. His business prospered along with a
considerable amount of entertaining. Since both liked a good time
their lives, if hectic at times, were happy.
Then the shadows began to fall. Her social drinking got out of
hand. Things went from bad to worse until she became a
borderline alcoholic. Before she stumbled into the bottomless
abyss her husband rescued her. He saved her by his patience and
kindness. He dearly loved her for all she had been and still was in
so many respects. He never lost sight of her many virtues. Unlike
so many of us, he would not let one defect hide from him
numerous excellent characteristics.
During those dark days he would have been surprised to have been
thought noble. Her aberrations must have caused him much
suffering. Yet, as she told me later, his utter unconsciousness of
the martyr role gave her no choice except to quit drinking. "My
husband never condemned me. He protected me and continued to
praise me for the things he loved in me. He should have lashed
me. I knew I was a worm. He made me want to be an angel. How
could I fight a man like that?"
When I hear husbands complaining of petty faults in their wives
and making mountains out of them, I always think of the above
case and the contrast.
To paraphrase St. Paul's famous words on love, this husband's love
for his wife was patient, was kind, was not ambitious, was not self-
seeking, was not provoked; thought no evil. Love is not always
rewarded in this life, but seldom is this true of love between man
and wife. Not being deceived by a self-love, this husband truly
loved his wife. Today he reaps the reward of his loyalty to her.
Because he stood beside her as a strong and understanding man,
now he revels in her wifely adoration. Once again they are walking
6. MOUSE TRAPPED HUSHANDS
A Notre Dame fan yelled, "Watch out for the mouse trap."
My wife edged a little closer to me on the bench and asked, "Bob,
what is the mouse trap play?" Between us the mouse trap play was
a standing joke. So, when Mary asked the question with the mock
innocence of a little girl not knowing what was going on at a
football game, I knew that our spat was over. I put my arm around
her and almost missed the third quarter.
To see the game we had driven almost two hours hardly on formal
speaking terms. For nearly an hour before we had left home I was
the fretting husband desperately trying to get the show on the
road. Mary was like a cat on a tin roof running in circles not
knowing where to put down, whatever it was she had in her hands.
When I figured that we were already too late for the kickoff, I
began to sulk. "Don't you think that you ought to scrub the kitchen
floor before we go?" was my opening thrust for our little fight.
In a huff Mary ran upstairs and began banging drawers. After eons
she came down, now I remember, looking like a million dollars. At
the time she did not make sense to me. In as sweet a manner, God
love her, as she could manage under the circumstances she asked,
"Now what is your honest opinion of this hat?"
I am positive that my wife had no intention of setting a mouse trap
for me, and I was just as unaware and off guard. Of course, I
rushed right into the trap with the answer, "It looks kind of queer
to me." No one needs to be told why our conversation on the way
to the game was monosyllabic. I was more irritated with myself
than I was with her for making us late. My opinion of her hat was
not an effort to get even with her. It was a quick, honest opinion
given in a moment of preoccupation over the necessity of driving
like a mad fool in order to be on time for the game.
"Now what is your honest opinion?" has led many a husband
besides me into the mouse trap. Even a husband initiated to this
type of mouse trap can make a fool of himself, besides irritating
his wife. Off guard and very pleased that his wife wants his
considered opinion of her hat, his ego bounds into the
stratosphere. Leaning back in his chair and imagining himself
another Dior he studies the hat being hopefully modeled by his
Expectancy is written all over his wife's face. Does this put the
husband on the alert? Only one guess allowed. The new-born hat
stylist criticizes the hat. His wife flounces out of the room
sputtering something about blindness and stupidity.
Her husband was not blind, but he did act stupidly. He could see
that the hat was queer, but he had no suspicion that his wife was
fishing for a compliment.
Whenever a wife asks for an "honest" opinion about herself, her
clothes, her cooking, let all husbands be on guard. The mouse trap
play is coming up. Give a quick, honest opinion and nine times out
of ten the husband will be slapped down.
The wife is not looking for an "honest" opinion. She expects a
compliment. Now that she is married six months she has to
maneuver to wheedle a compliment out of her stingy husband.
Back in courtship and honeymoon days compliments came
spontaneously. For the rest of her marriage she must angle for
most every compliment doled out by her husband.
No wife should be expected to beg openly for a little inexpcnsive
praise. Are wives supposed to ask, "Isn't this hat stunning?" or
"Don't I look just peachy?" or "Isn't this the tastiest apple strudel
you ever chopped into?"
"Now what is your honest opinion" has got many a husband into a
jam simply because he did not tread warily. Apparently the word
"honest" is their downfall. Any wife would be surprised at being
considered dishonest for the wording of her question. Has not a
wife the right to her husband's full flattery and praise? Then why
should any husband be misled by, or balk at, the word "honest?"
When a husband gives his "honest" and favorable opinion about
his wife's hat, appearance, or cooking, she knows that he is all for
her. She needs and has a right to that assurance from time to time.
This is no time for him to cavil over objective truth. Moreover, how
can there be any question of objective truth when there is question
of only an opinion?
Another mouse trap many of us husbands rush into could be called
the "News Bulletin." Before we discuss the manner in which we get
into trouble over the "News Bulletin" one fact should be
mentioned. Wives do not consciously set these mouse traps.
Indeed, their allergy to mouse traps is well-known. Few women
know what to do with the mouse once it is caught. So the closing of
the mouse trap on us brings no more joy to our wives than it does
The "News Bulletin" works something like this. Dinner is about to
begin. Mary pauses at the table on her last trip to the kitchen stove
and gives out to me an exciting news release. "Did you hear that
Mabel had twins?" Many bulletins are released by our wives in the
form of a question. In fact, the outstanding scoop of the year
would likely be couched in the form of a question.
If Mary would merely announce the news, I might grunt some
response and stay on safe ground. It's not likely I would rush into
the trap. "Did I hear? Sure, I heard about it a week ago," I usually
reply casually, as though the news is ancient history.
The last time I bit on the "News Bulletin" Mary considered for a
moment plopping the mashed potatoes on my head. The children
might have been alarmed and made to feel insecure over this
procedure, so she did a slow burn instead. A caustic, "Well, thanks
for telling me," was about all she could manage for the time being
as she stomped over to the stove. Several hours later in the
evening I wondered why Mary was so sour and uncommunicative.
Perhaps she had an upset stomach or one of those mysterious
"This is your favorite dessert" usually indicates that Mary has
made a special effort to please me. It is possible that she had a
brain storm that particular afternoon and made Uncle Roscoe's
favorite dessert. However, the odds would be against such a
mistake. We must assume that she did make a dessert for which I
had expressed a weakness. She can well remember me extolling the
cherry tart of the last birthday dinner over at my mother's.
Imagine the charge she got out of my comment between gulps.
"Cherry tarts aren't my favorite dessert. It's strawberry parfait." All
can see that I was a clown for saying so. I had blundered right into
the mouse trap. The "favorite" was my undoing.
"So . . . you don't like them? Well . . . you liked them at that last
birthday dinner over at your mother's."
"I didn't say that I didn't like them. Besides, liking cherry tarts
doesn't make them my favorite."
"Of course I can't make tarts like your mother."
"You said that. Now, let's forget all about it."
"I'll not forget about it." And so on into the night.
Thinking of all the mouse traps I had charged into distracted me
somewhat during the rest of the game. Thank heavens Mary was
just as expert in extracting me from the mouse traps as she was in
getting me into them. That day at the football game was a good
example. She pounced upon the excited fan's yell to the linemen to
be on guard against the mouse trap play.
The complete innocence of face fading into arched eyebrow over
mischievous eyes as she asked what the mouse trap play might be
turned a sour day into a glorious one. We left the stadium like high
school sweethearts kindly teasing each other about past mouse
On the way home we stopped off at a good restaurant and had one
of the best dinners out I can remember. During the dinner I could
not tell Mary often enough how beautiful she was. The more I told
her the more beautiful she became. By the time dessert arrived I
was ready to jump upon the table and proclaim her beauty to the
As we walked up to our car in the parking lot Mary at first puzzled
and then alarmed me by her actions. She appeared to be pushing
with all her might the car ahead of ours. No sooner had I grabbed
her and begun to scold her for endangering herself than I realized
it was a game. As she relaxed happy and triumphant in my arms I
accused her, "This is the second mouse trap today. I like this one."
As I held her close to me and nudged her ear with my nose, she
whispered, "I wish we were home."
Years ago the newspapers carried an item about an eminent
psychologist. The man had published a study on the
understanding of women. His work was well received by the
universities and intellectual circles. One day in utter frustration he
strangled his wife to death.
We are on dangerous ground, for who can understand a woman?
But, men, let us get on our knees and in all humility submit the
proposition that we may come to understand a few things about
women. Further we dare not propose.
We cannot hold brief with those who regard a woman as a complete
enigma. Mysterious, yes, in her moods and at times as
incomprehensible as God. Today she can be cajoled to sit on her
husband's knee and purr as a little kitten. Tomorrow is another
day, and it may not work. So what? The wind does not always blow
south. And we would get mighty tired if it did.
A great deal of the agnosticism in the world is due to a failure to
see through God. The individual made an effort to understand the
workings of God. He expected it to be as simple as two and two
equal four. Perhaps he could not get through high school
geometry. Yet, because he could not see right through God, he
became indifferent and shunned any practice of religion. The idea
never seemed to enter his cranium that if he could see through
God, He would not be much of a God.
Husbands do not have to be able to see through their wives. They
would be pretty shallow wives were that possible. If all wives were
an open book, how could there be any curiosity about the format?
Although human nature is the same, each husband has a different
type of wife to figure out. If there were no mystery about her, she
would be much less intriguing. Has anyone ever read a mystery
Life can become as mysterious as the dark night. We are
encouraged to keep playing the game of life for we know that the
night will be followed by the noon-day sun. Yet, light without
shadow can grow tiresome. A husband can be thankful that his
wife is not all light, that there are a few dark corners where he can
easily get lost. Getting lost can be fun. Many little children get lost
frequently with great glee. When we know all the answers, or
worse, when we think that we do, life loses its fascination; and we
lose our charm. When a husband knows all there is to know about
his wife, or worse, when he thinks that he does, marriage can lose
Furthermore, just when he thinks that he has his wife all figured
out, she jolts him with the unexpected. There is something for the
theory that a husband should face every day with his wife like a
wide-eyed six year old. Each day is a new day with unexplored
horizons. The football is played the way it bounces. Now it may
bound right into out-stretched arms. Then again the ball may fly
out of reach.
Realization of the woman's unpredictableness guarantees the
husband against disillusionment. If she bounces into his arms
today, he runs with her for a touchdown. If she bounds away from
him tomorrow, he knows that is all part of the game. There will
always be another tomorrow. Besides, too many touchdowns can
spoil the game.
So, if a husband leads off with the realization that he cannot know
everything about his wife, he is on sound ground to explore what
he might be able to understand about her.
One of his first concepts should be that she is different from
himself. Most of us have the tendency to judge others by
ourselves. If we react thus and thus to such and such stimuli, we
suppose that others will follow the same line of action. Often we
are fooled. One boy, on being told by his teacher that he is a dumb
idiot, goes home fighting mad with the determination to return to
class the next day with proof to the contrary. Another boy will be
beaten down deeper into despondency.
Many young husbands are surprised and disappointed to find that
their wives differ from themselves in so many respects. The
alarming realization actually should be cause for satisfaction.
Identical gears would clash. Different gears mesh together and
constitute a unit. Man and woman were made different by God that
they might mesh together and bring fulfillment of their natures in
close partnership. So, men, take it easy. God knew what He was
doing when He made woman. Do not try to make her over after
your pattern. Accept her as she is and she will dovetail into your
life in as perfect a harmony as will be found in this life.
Once launched on the sea of matrimony a husband wiIl be assured
of happier sailing, if he has a chart of the hidden reefs. For certain,
he will have to learn much the hard way, simply because marriage
is a personal, individual experience. Yet, unless he is armed with
fundamental truths he will be in danger of floundering.
Most of us get our necks in a wringer by ignoring or trifling with
obvious pitfalls. God, His justice, His Providence are obvious
realities. Yet, how many are, to their ultimate misery, oblivious of
these basic facts. There is nothing startlingly new about the
observation that emotionally woman is different from man.
Nevertheless, countless young husbands come to grief by ignoring
the woman's emotional nature.
A woman's emotions generally are stronger than a man's and
invariably are closer to the surface. Sudden frights will cause her
to take off like a bird. A mouse scampering across the kitchen
floor can energize her into an athlete of no mean ability. At the
mere sight of "wee tim'rous beastie" she can pass the current
He wastes his time who tries to reason with her about the silly fear
of a harmless little mouse. Her reaction to mice is entirely on the
emotional plane. Cold logic leaves her just as cold. A husband
expecting his wife to be rational about mice is himself most
unreasonable. She ticks the way she does because the great Watch
Maker so designed her. She is twenty-one jewel, and runs smoothly
and unerringly--in her own element. Husbands unwilling to have
their wives remain all woman should be herded into some Trappist
monastery. There they could stew with pure reason to their hearts'
A man cannot begin to understand a woman unless he keeps in
mind that she is designed by God to be a mother. As a little child
she plays mother to dolls. She never really arrives as a woman
until she is a mother. Her emotional nature is so ordained by God
to enable her to fill the role of mother. Because babies and little
children must have constant love and affection manifested to
them for their proper development, a woman's emotions are close
to the surface. She is as well equipped to care for babies as she is
to bring them into the world. A sense of security and well-being is
given the baby by outward signs of love--kisses, hugging, cooing,
and so forth.
Is it any wonder then that the wife is emotional, intuitive, and
herself in need of affection? Yet, some husbands are either so
stupid, callous, or incompetent, that they never give their wives a
show of affection, unless it be through sex.
Unless a woman has warped her nature by some phobia such as,
for example, fear of children, she accepts affection as the sun
flower accepts the sun. During pregnancy this is all the more true.
A husband alert to the needs of his wife will promote her
contentment and happiness during this period by extra solicitude.
Even though she has no particular difficulties such as morning
sickness, backache, and so forth, she is receptive to added
attention. Indeed, it will do no harm to baby, to even spoil her a
little at this time. How a husband can love his wife and be
indifferent to her needs at any time is not clear.
It becomes all the more difficult to understand the husband
neglectful of his wife during her pregnancy. Selfishness is the sin
of myopic idiots. The self-centered and often lazy husband brings
no happiness to his wife. Consequently, he is miserable himself,
because it is an inexorable law of our natures that we attain
happiness only through others. A person absorbed in doing things
for another is never discontented and unhappy.
Some wives are more affectionate than others and are themselves
in need of much affection. Obviously husbands also by nature
vary in this respect. Yet, unless he be completely lifeless, any
husband can make an effort to fill the emotional requirements of
A kiss, an embrace, a tender word, a show of interest in her and in
any problem she may have in carrying the child--these and a
dozen little efforts reassure his wife that he is all for her. In this
matter of affection little things count so much. It does not harm
any wife to realize that her husband thinks of her outside of
moments of sex.
I have heard all sorts of excuses from husbands why they show,
even, during pregnancy, little or no affection toward their wives.
These husbands never acknowledge the real excuse--
preoccupation with themselves.
"It's like living with a pregnant woman." I have heard several good
husbands make such a statement. The tone of voice indicated that
it was not always so easy. Without doubt his wife's pregnancy is an
opportunity for a husband to be patient and loving. Should it be
any wonder that a wife's thoughts and concerns turn in upon
herself when she is with child? Indeed, she becomes more self-
centered as the baby grows. How else? Where would a husband
expect his wife to carry the baby?
Much frustration in marriage is due to husband and wife having
divergent emotional natures. An affectionate husband has a cold
wife; a warm natured wife has a frosty husband. Any student of
married life who has had the opportunity over the years of close
contact with married couples has observed various adjustments
and solutions to the problem.
First of all, the husband of an affectionate wife should be grateful
to God for his good fortune. It has always been one of the
mysteries of life to me why any husband will shrink from his
affectionate wife. Perhaps by nature I am incapable of
understanding them and therefore unable to offer suggestions.
The only thought which comes to mind is to give them a good kick
in the pants.
For those eager, wrestling minded husbands leading a most
unathletic life with a prim, brittle, and cold wife more sympathy is
in order. Usually I feel that these husbands are their own worst
enemies. Their technique is generally very poor or non-existent.
They are no sooner home from work than some referee should
blow a whistle lest their wives find themselves wrestling before
they have a chance to put up guards. Admittedly, at times the
direct approach has its merits. But these eager beavers should
learn from past bitter experiences the existence of indirect and
more subtle approaches.
Few human beings, cold women included, are impervious to
attention, admiration, kindness, and tender regard. A wife assured
that her husband loves her for herself will naturally reciprocate.
Unless she is an abnormality, her love will readily manifest itself
Some wives demand a great deal of understanding and patience.
When they are not in the mood for affection it is best not to force
the issue. This is the time for bowling or a long walk. The husband
aware that his efforts to be arfectionate on some particular
occasion will be rejected, is only punishing himself by persisting
in his actions. By living with her he should learn the signs
indicative of a receptive mood. I take my hat off to the husbands
ingenious enough to thaw out their wives sufficiently for a normal
A marriage counselor frequently encounters husbands with the
complaint that their wives give all their attention and affection to
the children. The accusation is true usually only in cases where
the wife is keeping her husband at a distance because she wants
no more children or because she seeks domination over her
husband through sex.
Much more often than not the husband's complaint is
unreasonable. The wife must shower her affection on her babies in
caring for them. The husband keeps as far from the babies as the
limits of the house permit. In his lazy loneliness he sulks as a
jealous child. He develops a childish tit for tat attitude--receiving
little attention, he will give none in return.
If he pitched in with the care of the babies he would not be out in
the cold. How often husband and wife, in playing and smooching
with their baby, end up smooching themselves. Nothing brings
man and wife together better than their baby, unless the husband
keeps far away from the baby, its diapers, feeding, and so on. The
wife cannot by her nature stay away from the baby. Besides,
somebody has to care for the child.
A woman lets details often assume momentous importance, and
lets her emotions rather than common sense guide her actions. In
an understanding husband she will find strength and calmness. A
bewildered, or annoyed, or exasperated husband fails his wife
when she needs him and his patient understanding.
At times a woman may be more sensitive to hurt, more subject to
uncertain temper, tired and depressed. The husband not all
wrapped up in himself will come forward with love and
compassion to ease her through her difficulties.
The mother of the bride has always been a great distraction to me
during marriage ceremonies. The mother is dry-eyed now. How
long will she keep back the tears? Will the handkerchief appear
during the vows or will she hold off until her little girl presents a
bouquet to the Blessed Virgin? Few get by the presentation and the
hymn "On This Day, O, Beautiful Mother."
Asking her why she cries at her child's marriage is like asking why
it rains or why the sun shines. She is made by God to feel
poignantly. Tears come easily. A husband need not look upon
these emotional releases as great problems with which he must
cope. These tears dry quickly if he but fill his required function of
comforting her, of sympathizing, of merely being near her in
companionship. The husband evidences lack of understanding if
he is irritated by her, or ignores her, or makes fun of her, unless it
be done with kindness and accepted good grace. Stupidity causes
almost as much mischief in the world as sin.
Many husbands are utter flops in appreciating the emotional needs
of their wives. It is natural for a wife to experience fear when she
is alone at night. If her husband is unusually late or out all night,
she is bound to worry and imagine all sorts of things.
An extreme case comes to mind typical of many others. The wife
told how her husband frequently absented himself for several days
at a time, mostly over week-ends. He never gave warning that he
would not return home from work Friday evening. He might show
up Saturday or as late as Sunday night. Often she had no idea
where he had been or what he had been doing. Occasionally she
learned that he had been fishing or just out drinking.
The only advice I could give her was to wait for him with a rolling
pin and hit him over the head as hard as she could. How else can a
wife deal with a savage? His head was solid bone, and the hurt
would be only temporary. If she did not love him, what mattered
the hour? But she did love him, her life depended on him, and she
worried when he absented himself without explanation.
Husbands who leave their wives in the lurch for hours wondering
what happened to them, evidence stupidity or lack of love. To my
amazement some of these peculiar men have naively expressed
surprise that their wives complained to me on this score.
Women by nature operate to some extent in cycles. Now they are
easily depressed, now elated. Many husbands miss the boat
because they are off in their timing. When a wife is in one of her
mysterious depressed moods, it is expecting a lot of her to be the
life of the party. To criticize her then for being a poor sport is
unfair. A husband who learns to recognize these moods and
realizes that his wife is not in complete control of them will
himself be able to stay on more even keel.
"In the morning she will, in the evening she won't. You're always
thinking she will when she won't." The wisdom of this once
popular song is recognized by wise husbands.
Young husbands are often thrown for a loss during their wives'
first pregnancy. An expectant wife may seem to begin acting a
little queer. She is in what we could call the Nest Building Stage.
During the last months of pregnancy no one can blame her for
getting restless waiting for the baby. Indeed, she decides to do
something about it and springs into action by rearranging the
furniture and getting sundry items ready for the coming baby. She
knows that the baby will take a lot of her time. In trying to get
ahead of the housekeeping game she may even begin painting
rooms her bewildered husband must finish. In general, she throws
the house into an uproar.
Some of this activity stems from a reluctancy to have another
woman enter her home and find it poorly kept and dirty. If she
becomes unreasonable in these prenatal projects her husband will
weather the storm much better if he understands what is doing
Another emotional mystery for the young husband to solve may
come soon after the baby's birth. For no reason apparent even to
themselves young mothers become depressed. They cry easily.
They have the "baby blues." It should not be surprising that the
young mother is in high gear emotionally at the arrival of her
baby. At this time her feelings are especially close to the surface.
It may not take much to open the flood gates. A sensitive husband
instinctive responds to these sensitive needs of his wife with
tender love and care.
Best intentioned husbands often fail in supplying the needs of
their wives simply because of the great differences between the
sexes. A man is body conscious and therefore interested in things.
A woman is soul conscious and therefore interested in people.
The other day a young mother was speaking of her daily trip to
school with a car full of first graders. She told of how the girls kept
chattering away. The little boys sat sober and silent. Because the
girls were interested in people, in themselves, they no doubt were
talking all at once to each other. The boys had nothing to interest
them, so they merely sat and looked out the window.
Little boys and old boys are more concerned with things, with toys,
with sports, with tools, the automobile, fishing and hunting gear.
Men have their "bull sessions" of course, but their talk usually
turns to things, not people. Women are often unfairly accused of
gossip because they talk about people. They do so because they
are interested in people. Whether their talk is malicious or
innocent depends on their characters.
Some husbands do not understand their wives' need for adult
conversation with other women. It is considered a big waste of
time. It is just dandy for him to tinker around in the basement all
evening with various things. It is a great nuisance for her to have
the girls over for an evening. All day she has fussed with things--
food, dishes, clothes, and so forth. Once in a while she needs
release. Yet, some husbands are tyrannical enough to object to her
having a night out with her friends.
Speaking of tyrannical husbands tempts us to drop a caution to
young ladies seeking a husband. A healthy woman is attracted to a
masterful man. Let her not, however, mistake the tyrannical for the
masterful man. The latter admirable type will merit our attention
in a subsequent chapter.
How many a young husband has got himself in the doghouse by
bringing home for supper unannounced a buddy of his? "Ann will
be glad to see you, Pete. Wait till you see how she can throw a meal
on the table," the proud but not so smart husband informs his
bachelor friend. It is three in the afternoon, but does our boy
friend phone his wife? Of course not. Why upset her?
To the male way of thinking she can take an extra place at table in
stride. No need to make a big deal out of having a friend home for
dinner. Why suggest by phoning her that she go to extra fuss?
Another potato and a couple of chops will do the trick.
So reasons the man because he is projecting himself into his wife's
position. He imagines that her nature is the same as his. He would
not get excited over having a friend of his wife come to dinner.
The episode can be all the more interesting if the unannounced
guest had known the wife previous to her marriage and was
visiting her home for the first time. This makes for a cozy evening.
The front door is hardly closed on the heels of the departing guest
before the wife berates her husband. "How could you do that to
me? I was never so mortified in all my life. My hair was a mess. I
had been straightening up the basement and was just filthy! I knew
Pete pretty well before we married. What must he think of me
The wife desired wants to be able to show her home to best
advantage. As queen of the home she was justifiably proud of it
and her position in it. The husband in our case had the best
intentions--to save his wife any extra effort. Good intentions are
not always enough. Because he did not think of her feelings his
good intentions missed fire. Actually his wife felt that he was
inconsiderate. The husband in turn resented the imputation, being
unconscious of inconsiderateness. Husband and wife became
annoyed with each other because they approached a situation with
The wise husband wants his wife to feel that she is queen of the
home. He will help her maintain this position. Bringing home a
guest to her surprise is cutting the floor from under her. She
cannot be blamed for feeling that she is being treated as a mere
Life is less vexing for those who accept others even though they
cannot understand them. Any husband will spare himself many
upset moments and injured feelings if he accepts what he is
unable to understand about his wife.
Many wives are callous about keeping their husbands waiting. How
many an evening out has been spoiled by the wife unconscious of
time? The curtain rises at the theatre at eight-thirty. They should
leave the house at seven-thirty. The husband has the choice of
dragging his wife out of the house by the hair, or of patiently
waiting and being reconciled to being late. These wives always late
for appointments can find fifty details to take care of before
joining their husbands. I for one do not understand them and
desist from saying more about them because the comments would
not take to print.
Any husband saddled with a chronically late wife has the choice of
either killing her or of accepting her. He cannot be asked to
understand her. The only choice seems to be to accept her. No
husband can accomplish this except through love. For his own
peace of soul he must concentrate on her good qualities and
accept her as she is. Moreover, his humility will be strengthened
by quietly suffering her inconsiderateness. Without love no one
can long abide the faults of another. With love, shortcomings are
accepted or even swallowed up as straw in a blast furnace.
Good natured "ribbing" or razzing" has its place in marriage as well
as in friendships. Those in love enjoy teasing each other. It is a
healthy sign of closeness and familiarity. Teasing may evidence a
winning, mischievous spirit. It is often used by a clever person to
bring another out of himself. It can be a good method of breaking
down barriers, of preventing too much standing on ceremonies.
However, the practice can be dangerous and even destructive of
love. Everything depends on the spirit behind the "ribbing." If the
teasing is done to hurt, then it becomes the weapon of a person
being mean. Obviously, no husband can stoop to such a practice
without doing harm to his marriage.
Husbands should be cautioned to exercise care even about their
good-natured "ribbing." If it is overdone or ill-timed, the wife may
be hurt. Common sense, good taste, and above all, an abiding love
and gentleness should guide a husband in teasing his wife.
The husband given to "ribbing" his wife about something he knows
she is sensitive, is like a prize fighter hitting below the belt. He
may think that he is winning the round, but the final verdict will
show he has lost. Moreover, there is nothing clever about harping
on the same tune. Most people will accept kind "razzing" about
their acknowledged peculiarities. However, constant repetition can
A husband too prone to "rib" his wife should stop and ask himself
where he is heading. Does he think he is promoting love between
himself and his wife? Did he overdo teasing when he was courting
and winning his wife?
Excessive "ribbing" may become a poor camouflage for a critical
spirit. A person in love seldom criticises the object of his love for
the simple reason that he can see nothing but good. Love does not
feed on criticism.
The husband who understands his wife knows her faults and
shortcomings and must accept her as she is. She should not be too
brittle to take a kind and loving teasing occasionally. Yet, he must
be sure of himself and never let his teasing be an expression of
criticism, spite, or vindictiveness.
A husband does nothing for his wife by reminding her constantly
through "ribbing" that she has faults. She knows that she is far
from being perfect; but she does not expect to hear that repeatedly
from the one who is supposed to love her.
Many a husband has found himself way back in the doghouse
because, in a thoughtless moment, he compared his wife with
another woman. First of all, comparisons are odious. Then too, the
wife has a right to feel that she is beyond comparison in the eyes
of her husband.
"Betty is a very clever and winsome girl" is a statement packed
with dynamite. Certainly, any husband thus referring to the wife
next door is climbing way out on a limb. It is not easy for a wife to
accept these encomiums paid to other wives without a suspicion
that an unfavorable comparison is intended. If Betty has an
exciting figure and that mysterious quality called sex appeal, the
husband has had it. He has laid a great, big egg and will have a
time of it covering up.
We began this chapter with the premise that women are mysterious
and have many dark corners into which no one can penetrate.
However, in this matter of comparisons, she is an open book.
Unconsciously a woman regards every other woman as a rival. For
this reason a beautiful and vivacious woman has few if any women
friends. Indeed, few real friendships exist between women.
Only with great effort can a woman regard another with objectivity
She can be sharp in her criticism of the charms of another, and can
be vitriolic in denouncing the slightest semblance of display of
Awareness on the part of husbands of these facts may amount to
an ace in the hole should the game of love turn to a showdown.
Since men are babes in the woods in the game of love they must be
astute in playing their ace. If they play it right, it will help them
win the game of a happy married life.
Some husbands play their game as though they do not know that
they have an ace in their hands. I remember one case in particular.
After about ten years of marriage the wife began acting high and
mighty. Her husband had loved her deeply, if not always so wisely.
Constantly he had told her that she was the most beautiful woman
in the world, that he would not see another woman beside her for
dust. Repeatedly he told her that he could not live without her. She
was his whole life.
She became too sure of him and began to treat him as a convenient
lap dog. The more available he was to her vanity, the more she
took him for granted. She was no longer intrigued by him. Because
she was a woman of little character, she toyed with a few
flirtations. His reaction was to redouble his protestations of love
and devotion. As long as he could not see another woman, she felt
confident that he would be waiting for her should she decide to
come back to him.
The poor husband had either overlooked the ace he had or held on
to it too long and had it trumped. He had allowed her to become
too sure of him. He lost his appeal for her.
"Competition is good for the soul," I remember a most gracious and
accomplished lady saying as she found she had a rival. It is not
good for us to become too sure of even getting to Heaven.
The husband mentioned above was so carried away by infatuation
that he misled his wife into thinking that she was the only pebble
on the beach. Actually she was not, as she found out a year or so
after their separation. He became just as "goofy" over another
woman. Her flirtations frittered away, and she found herself alone.
As I attempt to write down these ideas about the husband's
understanding of his wife, little Peter is climbing upon a chair next
to the dining room table flooded with the mid-morning sun. Peter
is nineteen months old, already has a badly cut lip, and is scaring
the life out of me that he will fall again. Peter is the youngest
member of a family whose hospitality has provided me an
occasional sanctuary in which to work on this book.
Peter is back again, the lovable little rascal; and I am not getting
ahead in my work. Now he is gone, as is evidenced from his
mother's voice in the kitchen. "Peter, are you throwing Cheerios on
the floor again?"
The phone has rung, and Peter's mother is telling a girl friend
about Peter's lip and his chicken pox. As she talks she tries to fold
The young daughter of the family, home from school with a cold,
now has the television blasting. Peter is back and halfway up on
the table after my paper. The front doorbell is ringing. A quick
lunge on my part saves Peter from taking a nose-dive to the floor.
Peter's mother passes by on the way to the door, takes Peter with
her, and tones down the television now deserted. Janie is upstairs
playing with her dolls or cookstove. I am playing with my pencil
and wondering whether publisher and I shall ever see each other
The washing machine in the basement is buzzing, and the suds
saving feature of the machine will be wasted unless madam gets
down there soon. The phone is ringing again. Because Peter is
momentarily out of sight, I have nothing to do but eavesdrop. The
lady of the house is discussing the coming wedding of her sister. I
gather that some important decisions are being hashed over.
The marriage will have to wait. Two boys have just stormed into
the kitchen from school ready for their lunch. Thus a happy,
relaxed morning has passed. In spite of chicken pox and cut lip
Peter has enjoyed himself. I have done nothing. Mrs. O'Brien
wonders where the morning has gone.
A serious effort to get lunch underway is interrupted by a ringing
phone. Aunt Susan wonders how Peter is, and so forth. Before
Susan can be satisfied, the children have gulped down their lunch
with a few punches exchanged.
Peter takes care of his own eating in good style, but he and an area
within a radius of eight feet need considerable mopping up after
An inside job of Peter's doing requires attention. Besides, it is nap
time. So upstairs go Mama and her little darling. In the midst of
diaper change the phone rings. As much as my ears flap I cannot
tell who this might be.
After another page of pencil doodling I feel that the little boys'
room needs investigating. Besides Peter seems to be having all the
fun upstairs. No sooner up there than I become involved with
Peter, who has slid away from his mother and is cavorting around
in the nude. To keep him occupied while his mother is on the
phone, we both march in and out of the bedrooms in mock,
exaggerated military style.
Another phone call chucked away, mother takes over and cuddles
her little boy to bed. By this time I feel that I am exhausted from
creative work and decide to gallivant around in the car for a few
On returning two hours later I find the house full of neighborhood
children and Mrs. O'Brien seated at the ironing board, phone
caught between shoulder and ear. Her hands are busy with
something on the ironing board. I think that A.T.&T. gleefully
advertise that fifty million people can talk to Mrs. O'Brien on the
phone. And tremendous efforts are being made each year to
increase the number.
There is always at work in nature a mysterious force keeping
things in balance. Science and Industry keep threatening to
practically do away with housework for wives. All sorts of
automatic gadgets chug away for her. Will she one day find time
hanging heavy on her hands, and thereby be in danger of getting
into mischief? Hardly. The telephone steps in and keeps her
jumping. Toward the close of day she finds herself struggling to
get as much done as Grandma accomplished without a single
With these profound thoughts I get back to the dining room where
I can do some more doodling and stare out the window. While
daydreaming thus I notice that the lawn is dry and cracking open
for want of rain. Also, a number of children seem to be tearing off
the front porch.
Remembering having seen pictures of rioting mobs held back by
fire horses, I feel that I have two good excuses for not writing. I
can squirt the kids and the lawn at the same time. Both lawn and
porch may yet be saved.
While I man the hose, Peter in his birthday suit appears out of the
front door with his mother in hot pursuit. I do not squirt him and
thus overcome another of life's many temptations.
As Peter's mother grabs him up in her arms she requests, "When
you see the children send them in, please. I need bread from the
store and someone to watch Peter."
Evidently the lady of the house is beginning to wrestle with
another meal. Fifteen minutes pass, and no children show. I am
hungry, so I decide that I had better go into the house and get
Peter out of the way of preparations for dinner.
While I entertain Peter the man of the house returns from work. As
he walks past several baskets of unironed laundry which still look
about as they did in the morning, he does not say as he greets his
wife, "What did you do today?" He is an understanding man and
knows how her day can be a rat race with little to show for it.
The best cure for husbands who wonder what their wives do all
day is to stay home from work and play cook, housekeeper, and
nursemaid. The experience would be an eye opener for many.
Husbands successful in their work with any tendency to be
perfectionists are in danger of being critical of what they imagine
to be their wives' inefficiency around the home. Unless they
actually take their wives' place for a day, they are pure theorists.
Moreover, they are inclined to evaluate their wives' work by what
they produce--ironed shirts, washed windows, cakes baked, and so
forth. They forget about how much their wives turn out in a day in
the way of services rendered--time and effort with the baby, effort
with the children in directing, teaching, and admonishing them.
There are husbands who would be considerably happier if they
spent less time wondering why their wives could not do better
around the house and spend more time figuring out how to bring
home a better pay check. Sympathetic understanding always
produces more results than criticism. The first is constructive; the
latter is destructive.
Many a wife has had most of the spark taken out of her by a
husband lacking understanding. Her day at home is consumed by
dozens of little details few of which amount to much. Frequently
at the close of day she has little to show for all her efforts. If a wife
has a husband who needs a little education in this respect, she
should somehow bring it about that he has to take her place in the
home for a full day.
When Smith walked down the sidewalk it was with head up, tail up
like a grand and stately ass in oriental procession. He had a
dignity to maintain. He had just been appointed chief dog catcher
of Slick, a whistle stop on the Frisco. If anyone thinks that there is
anything funny about all this, Smith did not; nor did his wife. His
wife found it trying to care for the swelling pouter pigeon now
living with her. She had to conduct herself with the decorum
befitting the wife of a man of position.
If Smith and his confused wife provided others with amusement, it
was because Smith was not amused. He lacked a sense of humor.
Because he was puffed up with no reason the incongruity tickled
the funny bone of his neighbors. The best comedians are without
artifice and are not seen on TV.
What about the pompous Mr. Smiths who have cause to be proud
and inflated over their success? These are the successful
businessmen, prominent doctors, lawyers and clergymen,
mysterious technical advisors and consultants. When one of these
well-rewarded members of society struts, his pomposity is hard to
take even by those with a sense of humor. There is not the
incongruity between his behavior and his success as there is in the
dog catcher's case. The proud with excuse to be proud are the
hardest to swallow.
The pompous individual ever and over concerned with his
importance is the way he is because he lacks a sense of humor. He
has lost or never had a proper sense of balance. He cannot see
things in their true perspective. Unable to keep the world about
him in focus, he is in worse plight in evaluating himself. He
imagines that his success is all due to himself. He never dreams
that perchance he owes something to his Creator, to his
environment, his family, and plain good fortune. If he is an
erroneously so-called self-made man he may never even give
credit to his thyroid gland.
A wife closeted with a chap of this type deserves sympathy. She
cannot have much fun with the serious little boy. Unbending and
forever protecting his dignity he knows nothing of the lighter,
gayer side of life. Propriety is his watchword because he can never
forget himself. He never experiences the exuberance of playing the
clown or acting a little silly with his wife.
For him life is real, life is earnest. He confuses worth with
seriousness, not realizing that rottenness and sin are just as
serious as virtue. He would be surprised and even shocked to learn
of the horseplay and fun indulged in by nuns in a convent.
A sober husband of this type must find a sense of humor if he is to
save himself. Only through humility will he succeed, because
humility is an objective and honest appraisal of one's self.
Through humility he is able to laugh at himself. Once able to laugh
at himself he is indifferent to or even receptive to the laughter of
others at his expense.
A wife blessed with such a husband can well thank God. Her
husband's sense of humor lessens greatly the wear and tear of
daily life. He is an easy person with whom to live. Contrarily, the
humorless husband is too lopsided. With him life is always a grim
A husband possessing a sense of humor can let down his hair and
engage in a little tomfoolery with his wife. Saved from being a
"stuffed shirt" he obviates or eases many a matrimonial strain by
knowing when to act silly. He is able to play the clown when
necessary to prevent tensions from growing and breaking out into
Most everyone has friends or acquaintances who are particularly
gifted with a sense of humor. Their perception of the incongruous
is razor sharp. Because they are of a humble and generous nature
their sense of humor never degenerates into cynicism. Incidentally
it is worth observing here how one virtue begets and fosters
another just as one vice leads to another. A stingy and conceited
man is likely to allow his fine perception of human nature to
deteriorate into misanthropy and cynicism. On the other hand a
humble and generous man is carried on by these virtues to a
kindly and amused regard for the antics of his fellow man.
Because a sense of humor is so important for success in marriage,
all husbands could well take a self-inventory. Some are more
gifted than others. Yet, all can greatly develop their sense of
humor. A virtue is a good habit which grows only with exercise.
Family life provides innumerable opportunities to a husband to
see the amusing and funny side of situations as they arise with
himself, his wife, or the children. If he trains himself to focus his
attention on only the humorous aspects of what could be
exasperating incidents, he will be a happier man. The grouch vexes
himself with only the potentially irritating part of human relations.
One evening I visited a married couple. I ran into a situation worth
relating. Ordinarily the dishes for the evening meal would have
been put away by the time I dropped in on them. That evening
they were off schedule, were only beginning to eat. Laughingly
they told me what had happened that afternoon to put the kitchen
in such disarray.
The wife was of an adventurous nature, which sometimes got her
into deep water. That day it almost got her into water over her
head. She suddenly decided to fix the leaking sink drain trap and
faucet which her husband had put on the agendum for the
The drain trap was duck soup. In no time she had it apart and
cleaned. Then the fun began. She could not get it back together.
Her philosophy always was to change the direction of attack to
another quarter if she found herself up against a stone wall. A
nasty little washer was the stone wall that afternoon. So she
bravely went after the faucet with a wrench. After several lunges
she had the faucet spurting water into the sink. The water poured
out of the disconnected drain on to the kitchen floor. Pots and
pans were marshalled under the sink. Once filled they were a
problem. The kitchen window was the only solution, if a cold one.
It was zero outside.
She made a hurried run to the basement to find the water turn-off
valve. She could not find it. Meantime the pots under the sink were
overflowing. As she rushed upstairs, her fifteen-month old human
dynamo decided to add to the confusion. He brought a living-room
lamp crashing to the floor. By this time she knew a little of the
problem of the Dutch attempting normal living while manning
their dykes against a storm-lashed sea.
When her husband entered the kitchen he sized up the situation at
once. His wife was in need of rescue. In a jiffy he was downstairs
at the water valve. In the meantime his wife was sitting near the
sink, wet, disheveled, and defeated. She began to cry. It was not a
cry of pain but of release, almost of happiness. Her man was home
and in control of things.
Her husband returned to the kitchen, walked over to her, picked
her up, and kissed her. For a moment he held her at arms length,
shaking her gently and all the while smiling and laughing. Soon he
had her laughing.
What must have been a very difficult afternoon for the wife was
related to me over our coffee as a most humorous incident.
Already the spritely little wife was embellishing, I suspected, her
experience. In future recountings it would grow into one of her
funniest stories. Needless to say I enjoyed the evening spent with
this couple. Both had a sense of humor and were a blessing to each
In the episode of the wife playing at plumber the husband must be
given credit for saving the whole situation. When he arrived on the
scene the wife was at her wits' end. At the moment she could see
nothing funny about the mess she had created. She was tired,
dirty, and wet. The kitchen was a mess, and no dinner was in sight.
The husband saw the incongruity of his dainty, doll-like wife in
the guise of a frustrated plumber. Because he saw the humorous
side he saved himself and his wife from a miserable evening.
Suppose he had begun to rant and rave at her. "What the devil is
the matter with you? You must be crazy. No supper tonight? I've
got a swell job on my hands because of you."
His wife was not jumping up and down in glee over her
predicament. Had her husband greeted her with this dumb and
cranky attitude her feelings would have been hurt. An unhappy
evening would have been in store for both.
It does not take a genius but it does take a level head to see the
comic features of human goings-on all about us. Any beetle-head
can arrive, if he only put himself to it, at a modicum of
appreciation of the ridiculous.
While we are born with certain temperaments, yet attitudes toward
life are the result of our own efforts. The acquired vices of pride
and conceit, selfishness and niggardliness are poor soil in which
to grow a sense of humor. On the other hand, possessing the
virtues of humility and generosity a man may more easily
discipline himself to see the funny aspects of human activity.
The husband just described had happily acquired the attractive
attitude of taking his cue from the amusing points in any
situation. Any idiotic husband, on coming home to the kitchen
scene described above, could have reacted as a grumpy little boy.
The mess of the kitchen was obvious as was the prospect of a
much delayed and skimpy dinner. Our ideal husband was not
blind. He saw the grim side of his wife's unsuccessful venture in
plumbing; but, more important, he saw the need for a touch of
Many a husband would have been upset by the unpleasant
reception unintentionally accorded by the energetic wife. The
pattern of his evening was cut out in a fashion he had not
anticipated. Many other husbands lacking a sense of humor would
have been displeased, even cranky and severe with their wives.
Some people are experts at detecting and then concentrating on
the difficult, the unpleasant, the hard part of their lives. How else
could they be anything but gloomy Guses?
One day a golfer on vacation in Florida remarked to his elderly
caddie that he always seemed cheerful and full of fun day after
day. The caddie replied that long ago he had figured things out
and decided on a philosophy of life. "Either you are happy or you
are sad, because things go w ell or go bad. I reckoned things would
always go bad anyway, so I decided to be happy anyway."
Not much logic in the darky's philososphy? Perhaps not; but does
anyone assume that all the problems of life are solved by logic?
Not that life is an illogicality, as Chesterton said; but it is a trap for
There are innumerable occasions when a sense of humor serves a
husband better than logic in living with his wife. Indeed, one
school of thought suggests that husbands throw logic to the four
winds. Understanding and a sense of humor are the requisites for a
happy marriage. Besides, since when do husbands have a
monopoly on logic? Also, do husbands always want their wives to
use the logical approach?
9. POSITIVE LISTENING
It is vital to stress with husbands the importance of realizing that
many of our problems are emotional. They will not be solved on a
rational plane until the emotions are swept away. Afforded an
opportunity we readily talk ourselves out of our frustrations.
Many a marriage would be more stable and happy, if husbands
realized how much they could do for their wives by being
receptive audiences. Grievances, frustrations, and emotional
conflicts can build up in wives during the day. There is a definite
need for release, otherwise these vexations are carried over from
day to day.
Perhaps the lady of the house has had a dressing down from her
mother-in-law. One of the children, grandmother's favorite, had a
rather serious accident in a fall down the stairs.
"My heavens, Sarah, you've got to watch those children closer.
Why, I never remember one of my little children ever getting cut
up like that. What'll Art think when he sees that poor child?" To all
of this Sarah can only splutter a few "buts."
The phone conversation over, Sarah's blood pressure began
mounting. As the minutes ticked off, she thought of all the things
she should have said. "It was an accident pure and simple. The
child slipped. It could happen to anyone. I can't watch each child
every minute of the day. How dare you blame me! I feel bad
enough about the whole thing. You have no right to----. Why you----
After a bitter cry Sarah tried to get on with her housework. She did
not accomplish much. Her mind was not on her work. In fact, her
mind was not able to function clearly at all. She was too choked
Just wait till Art gets home. Now she was certain that he had been
leaning over too much to his mother. His mother or not, she was
not going to trample all over her. His mother would have to
apologize on her knees, or she would never let her in the house.
She couldn't prevent him from letting his mother in; but she would
never open the door to her.
These and similar drastic measures swept through her mind like
wave on wave flooding out any sensible reaction to the tirade of
Art was no sooner home from work than he sensed that something
was wrong with Sarah. She already had talked to him on the phone
during the day. He knew about Billy's accident. Something else
seemed to be bothering his wife. She was tense and even a little
After the children were off in bed Art put his arms around Sarah
and said, "Don't feel so bad about Billy. He looks pretty ragged
now, because his face is swollen. The cut will heal--maybe without
even a scar. And the tooth is just a baby tooth."
After a moment Sarah pushed away from her husband and began to
cry. "It's your mother again. After I talked to you today she called,
and I told her about Billy. She climbed all over me. I'm just not a fit
mother for your children. She was so mean, I never want to see her
again. I'll never let her in this house," she sobbed.
"You feel pretty deeply about this, don't you, Sarah?"
"You bet I do," she rejoined with the hurt expression in her eyes
giving way to fire and brimstone.
Art recognized this as the crucial moment. Without agreeing or
disagreeing, directing or criticizing, arguing or berating, he
encouraged her to vent her feelings. The psychological safety
valve was now wide open, and Sarah blew off a good head of
steam. There would be little left to Art's mother when Sarah got
through with her.
Art let her anger run its course. By his response to her
uncontrolled emotions Art had enabled Sarah to rid herself of all
pent up vindictiveness.
Sarah talked herself out gradually. Because Art did not challenge
her, Sarah was able to see the ridiculousness of some of her
statements. Once her emotions were out of the way, she would be
able to handle the situation with reasonable forbearance. Art had
all the confidence in the world in Sarah's intelligence. He knew
that his mother was in no danger of death at his wife's hands. Her
emotions spent and no longer able to cloud her mental processes,
Sarah's common sense would regain control.
"Sarah," Art said as his wife paused to get his reactions, "I have
confidence that you will be able to solve this difficulty with my
mother. She must be awfully crazy about Billy."
Sarah had no sooner returned to the kitchen to finish straightening
up when the phone rang. Art was all ears as Sarah acknowledged
his mother at the other end.
"I knew that you were upset, Lucille," Art heard Sarah say, "and you
stop crying. I know that you did not intend to be mean. Billy's
going to be all right. Come over and see him tomorrow."
Before Sarah had hung up the phone Art called out from the front
door. "I'm going out to get a paper, Sarah." He wanted his wife to be
alone with her thoughts after the phone conversation. With Sarah's
emotions out of the way her reason was back on its throne.
Art felt happy with himself as he strolled down the street. He felt
satisfied with himself that he had noticed her dammed up
emotions and had had enough sense to listen attentively to her.
What could have developed into a big family row was already put
quietly to rest.
Because Sarah had in great part solved her own emotional
problems before his mother had called, she had not put an
obstacle in the way of his mother's effort to apologize. Had Sarah
still been emotionally distraught when Lucille had called, his wife
might have lit into her. Sarah's belligerence might have prevented
his mother from apologizing.
An interesting feature about the role Art played in helping his wife
out of her troubles was the restraint he manifested. He did not
remonstrate and argue, nor did he advise and agree with her. Yet
he was not a passive listener. By his attitude and a minimum of
well-chosen words he let Sarah realize that he was right with her.
She had his feeling and understanding.
His wife solved her problem by talking it out in the open where it
could be looked at for what it was worth. Later on she would
probably be unaware that her husband had helped her at all, had
been the vital factor for her solution of the problem.
Psychologically we are similar to a steam locomotive. We also have
a pop off valve, lest the hub-bub of our emotional stresses reach
the bursting point. Unlike the steam engine, however, we cannot
"pop off" into the open air. We need someone to help us open the
valve and then absorb the hot air.
We need an audience sympathetic and able to reinforce and reflect
our emotions. The audience must respond to our feelings. A mere
human ventilator will not suffice. Indeed, we would be better off
talking to an air conditioner than to someone with no time for us.
Instinctively we are aware when someone is with us or merely in
our presence. The one listening to our problem is not a good
audience simply because his ears are not closed with wax. How
many a person has been further frustrated by having the type of
audience capable of only listening with a magnanimous show of
Some people are poor conversationalists and worse audiences
because they do not know how to listen. They give the impression
that they are politely listening or rather waiting until the speaker
is finished. They are not concerned with what is being said.
Patiently they are lying in wait to spring into the slightest breach
and pour forth their own verbiage.
With chagrin I remember the experience of picking out a friend to
whom I wanted to unburden myself. I had just been through an
emotional upheaval, was still confused, and wanted to talk myself
out of the wringer into which I had put my neck. If this person had
given encouragement and sympathetic feeling, I am sure now that
my problem would have faded away as I talked myself into the
only possible solution. Actually, I fussed over my predicament for
many a long day.
My friend seemed receptive at first to my story. Of course I began
by beating around the bush. Because I did not receive from my
friend the confidence required to get to the point, I hemmed and
hawed to no purpose. While I was still skirting the subject, he
broke in upon me and began relating a problem of his own--
important to him, no doubt, but the epitome of triviality to me. As
he rattled on, I sank back into myself all alone with my difficulty.
Kindness was not wanting in my friend. When I hesitated to
proceed to the crux of my problem he must have decided to save
me embarrassment and went off on his own experiences. He failed
to realize what I needed was more than merely a patient listener or
a distraction. He had failed to "get with" me.
I did not come to him to be distracted from my problem but to be
rid of it. The easiest and most direct way for me to have unseated
the black devil riding my back was to have told him to get behind
me. But I had to tell him. Only my will was able to do the job. No
one else could do it for me. In other words, I had to talk myself
into the solution of my problem. No one else could have told me to
do what I knew deep down inside had to be done.
A human being is a rational animal; but he is also an emotional
animal, and in dealing with him we may forget this second factor
in his make-up. Those successful in human relations, however, do
not overlook the emotional side of their fellowmen.
During storms of emotion reason has little chance to guide us.
Even during moments of calm we do not always follow our reasons.
Repulsions or attractions, feelings of insecurity or over-confidence
may lead us into courses of action not dictated by reason.
When hurricane warnings are flying along the East Coast, sensible
people do not ignore them. When a wife is about to go off her
rocker into some emotional tantrum, her husband had best not
ignore her. Worse yet if he, through ignorance or ill-will, adds to
If a husband values his own peace and happiness, he will do his
part in helping his wife regain control of her emotions. He will not
accomplish a thing for her on the rational plane by arguing and
advising. By blowing his own top a charming situation is created
similar to a run-a-way speed boat slapping over the waves with no
one at the controls.
Because he loves his wife and has some regard for his own
contentment, he does the only sensible thing possible. He helps
his wife subdue or rid herself of emotional turmoil. He does this
by establishing the proper environment, which is an attentive and
Although men are less prone to emotional upsets than women, yet
there are times when they are also in need of an outlet for their
feelings. In general husbands have better opportunities than wives
for airing their feelings. Men deal with other adults during work.
Bricklayers are not always laying bricks. Once in a while they
straighten up an tell a fellow bricklayer along the wall what they
are going to do to the contractor when they see him. Because the
grievance is off their chests they get back to work, and the
contractor is in no danger. Milady can hardly tell little wide-eyed
one year old Susan how she will stab the landlord if he turns off
the heat again.
10. MASTERFUL MAN FOR HER
"He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like
again." Every girl in dreaming of her future husband, has the right
to imagine him measuring up to the appraisal Hamlet made of his
father. Whatever else he is envisioned as being, The Man for Her
must be a man, not just a sorry excuse for one.
Man, that featherless plantigrade biped mammal of the genus
"Homo Sapiens," has been summoned by nature to fill the role of
husband. Before we go on to the consideration of the qualities
which make a man a husband without ceasing to be a man, we
must pause to point out the intangibility of the term "man."
We can better sense what constitutes a man than define the word.
He is more than just a male who shaves and carries on the normal
biological functions of his species. "Worth makes the man, and
want of it the fellow! The rest is all but leather or prunella." We
feel what Pope in his Essay on Man means; but try to explain his
statement. At least we are on safe ground to say that no one can
come lightly by his manhood. It must be earned.
Moral standards have had a way of being at odds, but all peoples
have had definite ideas as to what becomes a man and what does
not. "I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is
none." It is easy for us to agree with Shakespeare that certain
things are expected of a man--not of a boy or of a girl; and that
certain things he dare not do. And if he does the things "he dare
not do," although no one else knows, he knows his shame." I am
ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood thus."
Shakespeare, Lear I, 4, 319
Unfortunately, too many men do not seem to have much manhood
to shake. A divorced woman once came to me about problems with
her little daughter. The child was doing poorly at school and was
generally maladjusted. No wonder. She loved her father, missed
him, and sensed the evil of the new life and home her mother was
establishing with a new make-believe husband.
The mother readily agreed that all the trouble stemmed from her
divorce. She herself was not too happy over her new existence. Her
husband would still take her back, but she could not make up her
mind. The woman's principal complaint against her husband was
that he was a namby-pamby sort of weakling.
This confused woman possessed more than her share of
indecisiveness. What she needed most in her husband was
strength. A masterful man would have been her salvation. The
days of men on horseback with long swords are gone. In a way it is
a pity, for the ladies then could separate the men from the boys.
Now any coward and "panty waist" can sit behind the wheel of an
automobile and bully his way down the highway.
No healthy woman wants a docile lap dog for a husband. True,
most every wife, given half a chance, will try her hand at wearing
the pants. A weak husband is a constant invitation to her to
assume such an ill-becoming role. All of us become confused at
times and do not know what we want. Any good wife may be
tempted to drop out of character and challenge her spouse as to
who is boss; if she wins no one is more disappointed down inside
than she herself. A real woman wants to look up to her husband as
her strength and her master.
It is in the nature of a woman to want to submit (for want of a
better word); but not to any poltroon. She may rise on occasion to
the heights and evidence the valor of a Joan of Arc. Yet, she does
not stand well alone against the uncertainties of the dark night.
She craves the protection and security of a husband worthy of her
trust by reason of his manly virtues and character. To fill the bill
the Man For Her must give leadership, firmness during her
moments of weakness, and decision in her hour of uncertainty.
Unfortunately the husband of the woman mentioned above was a
follower, not a leader. In race track parlance he was never a
winner, always a "sniffer." Atremble lest he cross her, he never
made decisions. Fearful that he might lose her favor he hung
around her like a pet. He provided well enough for the home of
which he was not the head. In short he was her man Friday and a
good reliable errand boy. "Close the door, John. Open the door,
John. Put the laundry in the basement, John. Bring the laundry up
from the basement, John." These and similar wifely directives were
his order of the day. Her husband possibly dreamed of telling her
to trot herself down to the basement; but he never worked up
enough gumption to take the cow by the horns.
The wife in the case under consideration admittedly was no
bargain. Had her husband been a rambunctious buccaneer, she
would have been crying to high heaven as likely as not. She had a
timid little husband sadly wanting virility. Yet, he had his points.
He provided. He was steady, reliable, and devoted. Had this wife
counted her blessings she could have adjusted herself and worked
out a reasonably happy marriage.
The husband was not a real man and failed to live up to his
responsibility as head of the home. He lost his wife's respect and
eventually whatever love of which she was capable. Because he
could not lead with a firm hand, his wife slipped away from him
into the evil and stupidity of divorce.
A husband must have qualities of leadership because he is the
head of the wife and the home. The foot does not lead the head.
From the head comes direction to the path the foot may take.
Confusion springs from a situation in which the head forfeits its
role of leadership.
Once I lived next door to a household in which disorder reigned
because the husband made only fitful, if at times violent, attempts
to be head of the house. The relationship of this man and wife was
summed up one day by a delivery man who found himself between
the husband and wife. Apparently the couple were arguing in the
presence of the delivery man about the acceptance of some article
recently purchased. As the man finally left he muttered aloud,
"Too many chiefs in there."
Obviously one wigwam is large enough for only one Chief.
Somebody has to be plain Indian. As soon as you say that a
wigwam has two Chiefs you say that the wigwam has no Chief. A
housewife would be the first to recognize the truth that no home
kitchen can survive two cooks. Too many fingers in the pie do the
pie no good. How many times has a harassed housewife laid down
the ultimatum during the preparation of a holiday dinner, "Now,
everybody get out of this kitchen, if you expect anything to eat!" In
the kitchen she is boss and rightly so, if she is expected to do the
job there. What is true of the kitchen is true in a broader sense of
the complete home and family.
If the husband is responsible for the coordinating of all the varied
activities of a family, he must be the big Chief. Just as no one in
his right mind would deny that a family must have a head, no one
would excuse the husband of this responsibility. By nature he has
been ordained to be in charge of the family. By Divine Revelation,
as expressed by St. Paul, his position is reaffirmed. "Let women be
subject to their husbands, as to the Lord; for the husband is the
head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church.... Therefore,
as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their
husbands in all things."
From my own observation I suspect that wives take over only, as a
rule, when husbands fail to provide leadership. The husband may
be wanting for a number of reasons. He lacks energy and initiative
and is lazy. He is short on ability, or he has a debilitating sickness,
or his interests are elsewhere than with his family. Because the
wife desires the partnership to endure she takes over functions
proper to the husband. Suppose that a wife goes to work because
the husband is irresponsible in his support of the family. Can
anyone be surprised if she begins to call the tunes since she is
paying the fiddler? Likewise, if the husband provides no
companionship and training for the children, especially the boys,
is it any wonder that an efficient wife and mother begins to lay
down all the rules of discipline? Again, if a husband is generally
indecisive and wishy-washy can a wife be blamed for taking the
bull by the horns in an attempt to save the marriage?
The conclusion seems to be that if a husband rightly wants to wear
the pants, then let him keep them on his own backside. Not many
women were made to wear pants becomingly anyway.
Speaking of responsibility brings up the truism that all successful
leaders know how to share responsibility. No hard and fast rules
can be laid down as to who in the partnership of marriage is
responsible for precisely this or that. One general norm expressed
to me by a successful wife in the presence of her husband is worth
repeating. She felt that a wife should make the decisions and be
responsible for the little things. The husband should take care of
the big things. Husbands and wives can take it from there as to
what are little and big things.
In any event no one should ever be able to long question any given
family, "Who's in charge here?" To anyone well acquainted with a
particular family it should be clear that the husband is in charge.
There never was any doubt in my mind as to who was in charge of
the Murphy family. This family has always exemplified the ideal
family. The parents and the children possess a deep religious faith
and a zest for life. The mother is the "cut up" and prankster of the
family. The father is the bemused witness of a household always
throbbing with the activity of a railroad station.
Some families have open house on New Year's Day. With this
family open house is a daily, year around affair. At times one
might have to wander off to a bedroom to find an empty chair.
Mrs. Murphy is the mistress of ceremonies; and quite a job it is, for
the activities of the children and the guests spill over even into
their gracious yard during fine weather. Indeed, I doubt if there
exists an equal to Mrs. Murphy in her energy, her big-heartedness,
her sociability, and her command of love and respect from her
children and many friends.
Mrs. Murphy is the dominant personality of her family, and
perhaps to a casual and superficial observer, the head of the
family. It is all the more to her credit that she never challenged her
husband's position as the head of the family.
Mr. Murphy's big leather chair has always symbolized to me his
unquestioned leadership. No one else ever sat in it, except in a
moment of playfulness when one of the family was pretending to
dethrone the master.
Many times I have seen Mr. Murphy grow a little weary of a house
full of people and escape into the yard for a while. His chair
remained empty. It always was free for his return. The few times I
witnessed him catch some one in his chair he yelled out in mock
anger, "Get out of that chair." His manner and tone of voice gave
the poacher an opportunity to save face by leaping out of the chair
in feigned fright. I have always wondered what would happen if
the intruder thought that Mr. Murphy was only joking.
Mr. Murphy as head of the family seldom had to lay down the law.
He wisely set the general policies and allowed Mrs. Murphy and the
children a broad latitude within which to lead their daily lives. In
other words, Mr. Murphy did not have to go around all day giving
orders. Each member of the family knew his or her position,
duties, and privileges.
Mr. Murphy took care of the finances. (Mrs. Murphy would have
spent or have given away every last cent.) Mr. Murphy decided
when one of the children was ready to learn to drive the family car,
when and if some one could use the car. Mr. Murphy never
evidenced tyranny in his leadership but always a kind and mild
Although Mr. and Mrs. Murphy took a vigorous interest through the
years in religious and civic affairs, their first concern was the
home. As a family they prayed, worked, and played together. Mrs.
Murphy was a happy wife, and the children all turned out happy
and successful. In great part all this was due to the wisdom of Mr.
Murphy as head of the home.
As Mr. Murphy nears the end of his life he exemplifies what I have
always envisioned as the benign patriarch. Would that the world
had more of them, for we are in danger that our society become
When a wife and mother becomes head of the husband and family,
there is a real inversion of the right order of things as ordained by
God Himself; and no good will come of it.
I do not wish here to take back anything I wrote about the
glorification of woman in The Wife Desired. God Himself placed
woman on a pedestal when He created Our Blessed Lady. Man, at
least Christian man, has rightly glorified woman on a pedestal. But
he does not have to glorify her from a supine position. Indeed,
little glory can be given to woman by a debased and inferior man.
Standing on his own two feet and maintaining his God-given
leadership over woman, only then can he give full and proper
glory to woman.
Somebody should make a study of the growing danger that our
country become a matriarchal society. Are more and more
husbands becoming the victims of a soft and easy life and thereby
losing the virility of their frontier forefathers? What effect has
fierce, modern advertising on the situation? Does the wife and
mother tend to take over more and more because the present day
breadwinner no longer works in his own shop attached to the
home? Has our modern husband gradually and unwittingly
surrendered leadership in the home to his wife because he works
away from home and returns at the end of day as a sort of
tolerated evening boarder?
Concerning the impact advertising has on the development of a
matriarchal society consider the method and tone of advertising
conducted by the Automobile Industry. Cars are made today for
"hot rods" and women. The "hot rods" get the high-powered motors.
Women get the styling. Car manufacturers appeal to women in the
selling of their product. The ads depict m'lady lounging as a
glamorous young matron against a flashy, two-tone job parked on
the lawn of a swanky country club. The ad appeals to the lady of
the house. The bill is footed by a carpenter or bricklayer who
should be very dubious as to how much all this expensive styling
adds anything to the value of the car and fulfills his particular,
workday requirements of a car.
The modern-day urban husband drives off to work away from the
home in his stylish car. Because a great portion of his time and
energies is spent away from his home making a living, the wife
must take over the running of the house. The danger is that
gradually she takes over completely, especially if the husband is
too tired upon his return to be interested in the affairs and
problems of the home.
No one can criticize the wife for assuming the matriarchal role if
the husband abandons his leadership. Somebody has to run the
show. Whatever be the causes and excuses, the utter nonsense of a
matriarchal society is the shame of husbands who have abandoned
During an evening spent with some friends of mine the husband
expressed his worry over a close friend. His friend, he felt, had
spoiled his wife and was leading a dog's life. At once we got off on
the subject of husbands spoiling their wives and how this helps to
promote the whole matriarchal business.
Can a husband spoil his wife? Can he be so good to her that she
becomes pampered and takes advantage of him? Before we explore
the subject I admit to the prejudice of wanting the answer to be
"No." So often I have heard young mothers say, while cuddling
their little babies, that a baby cannot be spoiled with love and
affection. Because young mothers and babies are so close to the
Source of life and truth, their instincts are all the convincing I
need. Instinctively a young mother empties herself of her love. She
does not dole out her love to her babies in measured quantities.
After all, has there ever been found a yardstick for measuring
I do not think that a husband can measure out his love for his wife
any more than a mother can for her baby. When the husband loves
completely he is doing his part. If the wife is spoiled it is not his
fault. The trouble lies in her. Love should beget love. If the
husband's love develops selfishness in the wife, there is
something wrong with her.
Once I asked a wife if she thought husbands could spoil their
wives. This particular wife had a husband who went all out for her.
"Yes, I think so," she answered. "And it sure makes for a happy
Now, of course, this is a woman's point of view. Some disgruntled
males might not agree. The wife quoted felt that a wife "spoiled"
by love and devotion would reciprocate in kind. As a matter of
fact, I know that her husband felt himself richly rewarded for all
his efforts at "spoiling" his wife.
It must take a bit of doing, but I felt that this husband had
remained the master--all the while showering unlimited love upon
his wife. It appears, then, that limitless love does not spoil a wife
as long as the husband maintains his position of mastery.
Without question there are some self-centered women made all the
more selfish by an over-zealous husband. I have dealt with some
of them. The more husbands dote upon these wives the more the
wives regard their husbands as being in their dotage. A wife of this
type is interested in others only to the extent that they affect and
promote her welfare. She is not interested in her husband or
anyone else for his own sake.
A husband closeted with a wife unable to return love for love has
no choice but to continue his full love with the hope that an
awakening will come. There is no future in an effort at measuring
out his love to equal her small effort. Most people learn, as they
grow older, that a loaf of bread thrown upon the waters comes
washed back twofold. It may take a selfish wife some years of
marriage to grasp this truth. A husband who deliberately chokes
his full love will fail in carrying his wife through her early,
ungenerous years. Furthermore, he will stunt his own character
and personality development.
Showering love and affection on wives in itself does not spoil
them, does not, for example, unduly innate them, so that they want
to be matriarchs. I do not believe that the normal, healthy wife
fully loved by her husband wants to be the matriarch. Only under
the stress of circumstances will she unintentionally assume the
ungainly role. The circumstances are the failures of the husband
to live up to his responsibility as head.
Following fast upon the heels of a husband is the responsibility of
being a father. It is not in the scope of this book to deal with all
the aspects of fatherhood. However, a husband is expected to be a
father and cannot be successful in the first role and a failure in
the second. No husband can bring real happiness and contentment
to his wife unless he be a good father to her children.
Once I asked a lovely young lady to paint a little word picture of
her future dream husband. For a moment she hesitated and then
said that she could not dream long about her husband-to-be before
she begins to picture him as the father of her children.
Here we must avoid going off the deep end about wives who forget
that these fathers are still their husbands. In passing, however, no
husband should allow himself to be maneuvered into the sole role
of fatherhood to the expense of his position as husband. He is first
her husband before he is the father of her children; and his wife
should not be permitted to forget it. The masterful husband bears
no resemblance to the prize resident of a stud farm.
Children bring new sacrifices and a deepening of love between
husband and wife. They also bring added responsibilities and
problems. If a young man is looking forward to these problems as
being almost insurmountable, he should choose a wife of different
religion and culture, different outlook on life and social position.
Even when parents have the same principles of life, minor
disagreements over the raising of the children are inevitable.
We would be carried too far afield from our subject matter were we
to enter into a consideration of all the complexities of raising a
family. One idea the man of the house must never lose sight of,
however. He and his wife living in harmony are the parents who
raise their children. The children do not raise the parents. The
husband is primarily responsible that this crazy derangement be
not found in his home.
The day when children were seen and not heard, docile and
reverent to parents is a thing of the past. Perhaps our parents and
grandparents were a little too stern. In relation to their children
they meant business, and there was little horseplay. The pendulum
has swung to the other side. Now parents listen with docility to the
self-expression of their offspring and wait obediently to satisfy the
children's slightest whim. These days many parents think that one
of their principal functions and duties is to entertain their young.
Supervised play is the watchword. The child becomes a little tin
god and service must be rendered by doting parents.
Should parents have a moment of sanity and question the absurd
situation in which they find themselves dancing to the tune of
their children, chances are a Brownie Leader, a District Chairman
of the Boy Scouts, or a Supervisor of the Marshmallow Girls will
call on the erring and delinquent parents. The confused parents
are quickly straightened out with the profound question, "Don't
you know that the children of today are the men and women of
tomorrow?" Face to face with this startling truth the parents bow
their heads in shame and promise the infallible youth leader that
they will be sure to come to the next Cub Pack meeting and tie
knots with little junior.
It is a pretty confused and bamboozled father who allows some
self-appointed youth leader to enter his home and ladle out such
humbug. So much nonsense is heard today about the causes and
cures of juvenile delinquency. Scouting can no more prevent
delinquency than soda pop can prevent worms. Soda pop will
never take the place of good bread, butter, meat, and potatoes in
the bringing up of junior. Scouting will never take the place of the
home in the making of a God-fearing citizen out of junior.
The masterful husband wisely never altercates with his wife in the
presence of his children about discipline. Also, he knows that
mothers have a tendency to raise their boys as little girls. Children
need a father; and boys need him like they need nothing else. This
fact becomes painfully apparent when the father of a young family
dies. The boys so often flounder. Either they get too much control
or not enough. So many situations arise where the father must give
the proper balance in regulating the boys' activities. Mother love
can become too protective. At times a father has to come to the
rescue of his boys, loosen the apron strings, and let them run as
In the matter of raising the children, as in so many other phases of
marriage, the husband must contribute common sense and reason.
Let us concede that a man, in comparison to a woman, is immature
in the question of emotions. He cannot skip rope with her in the
intangible things of the heart. But the human being is a rational
animal--sometimes. In family life there are situations demanding a
rational approach. Here is where the husband should deliver. Of
the two he may not be the "brain." Yet, the husband is expected to
keep his feet on the ground and prevent his emotions from
upsetting his judgment.
There is a silly idea abroad in some circles that a strong man
should be devoid of emotions. A man has feelings and can be hurt;
but, because he is a man, he will not let his emotions lead him into
any prolonged course of action.
Some women seem to think that their husbands should be too big
for any such thing as hurt feelings. Any dumb bunny who has ever
experienced the exhilaration of love knows different. The deeper a
husband loves the more susceptible he is to being hurt by his wife.
A real man does not, however, nurse his hurt. He swallows his
pride and looks to the future. Some one has said that the
difference between a sinner and a saint is that a sinner has a past,
and a saint has a future. This is a man's true greatness--not in not
being hurt, but in healing up quickly.
"One, two, three--testing. One, two, three--testing." Most everyone
at some time or other has been in an auditorium where a
microphone was being readied and tested. The familiar "One, two,
three" informs all present that their attention is not being sought.
Only a half-wit would call out "Fire" in testing the microphone. A
stampede might ensue.
A practical joker might even get into trouble by announcing, "The
first to reach me will be awarded a fifty dollar bill." Some old
codger might break a leg in the rush.
Danger often accompanies testing. Test pilots lead a precarious
life. During my days with the Air Corps I became friendly with a
test pilot. One day he asked me to go up with him. He wanted to
put a plane through its paces. Maybe it was the heat of Arkansas. I
went up with him. We flew around for awhile; and when my friend
began stalling the plane and sort of popping the wings, I became
concerned and asked him what he was doing. He casually replied,
"I'm testing the wings. If they stay on for this they'll take
anything." I casually swallowed my tongue, reached for my rosary,
and decided to see a psychiatrist the minute I had feet on the
When married people test each other--their love, their loyalty, or
their honesty, their marriage is in danger. Often, without realizing
it, they are subjecting their marriage to undue and senseless
One wife, in talking over with me her marriage problems, admitted
that she had made the mistake of testing her husband. Married less
than a year, she felt that her husband was more attached to his
mother than to her. One day she decided to test him.
While the couple was at his mother's for Thanksgiving, the young
wife feigned a dizzy, sick spell just before dinner. She requested
that her husband take her home to their little apartment. She had
made up her mind, if he refused or even tried unduly to persuade
her to lie down at his mother's, that he loved his mother more than
her. He would rather stay with his mother.
Unaware that a plot was brewing, her husband did the natural
thing. He persuaded his wife to lie down in one of the bedrooms
where she would be quiet. "Please take me home, John, I feel
terrible," she pleaded.
"We had better wait, Hilda, if you feel that badly. The long ride will
do you no good now. Rest here awhile. You haven't had a thing to
eat all day--I'll bring you something a little later. Maybe you'll feel
like eating something then."
Hilda let him go back to the dining room convinced that her
husband was a little mama's boy. She had tested her husband and
had found him wanting.
Not too many husbands have ever admitted to me that they have
made similar outlandish and arbitrary tests of their wives. When a
marriage counselor is at first surprised to hear from a husband
how important some little incident was, he should suspect that the
husband was testing. To him the petty business was very
important because it was a test of his wife's love and affection.
When I pressed a particular husband to give evidence that his wife
no longer had any affection for him, he finally cited an incident.
"Oh, my wife is too busy or tired to have much time for me. Last
summer was a good example. At last I had saved up enough to take
my wife and children to a lake for a few weeks."
"After practically nagging her for several days, she came down to
the beach and sat a few minutes with me."
"It was important to you that she spend some time with you on the
"Well, yes," he began to open up. "She used to spend whole days
with me there."
"Oh, you two had been to this lake before?" I encouraged him to
"Many times before we were married. Those days she was nature
girl herself. 'Let's go in the water, John,' and 'Show me how to
float,' and 'Don't you just love it here on the beach, John?'"
"You feel that she was different last summer, that a change had
come over her?"
"Of course! For a long time before the vacation last summer I felt
that she was drifting away from me. Always too busy, always too
tired. I thought if we went back to our old lake, things would be the
I kept the story rolling along by asking, "How did she spend her
time at the lake last summer?"
"Not with me. I could have done cartwheels the length of the
beach. She wouldn't even leave the cottage. Before, all I had to do
was dive off the pier, and she thought I was Beach Boy himself."
"Was she interested in someone else?"
"Oh, no. She just fussed around in the kitchen up at the cottage.
Meals and dishes, naps for Nick, and diapers for Bunny. She had to
monkey with some darn sewing. Part of the time she just lolled
around the cottage."
The picture became very clear as he continued to talk himself into
some realization that he had made a mountain out of nothing. His
wife had acted as thousands of others would have. She busied
herself during the day, confident that she was promoting a
wonderful vacation for the children and her husband. For herself
she was content to take it easy for a few hours in the comparative
quiet of mid-afternoon.
Actually, of course, she would have been more appreciated by her
whole family had she chucked the dishes at times and cavorted on
the beach. Obviously, from her husband's narrative she would
have had him standing on his head for her had she taken some
interest in their activities on the beach. By no means, however, did
she dream that her husband was testing her.
One cute feature about this testing between husband and wife is
that only one plays at the game. The non-playing member of the
club goes blithely on his or her way, unaware that the other is
playing a lonely and losing game. The better games of life require
at least two players. Playing it alone usually brings
No one could blame John for feeling a little put out that his wife
did not join him on the beach. His memories of their past good
times at the lake made it all the more difficult to accept what he
considered a cold, indifferent attitude toward him. But to make her
absence on the beach a proof of her lack of affection was far-
fetched. This wife could have pointed to dozens of activities as
evidence of her love for her husband.
I suppose all who have been in love have worried themselves at
testing. If the silly business is carried on to any extent, it is a sure-
fire way to unhappiness. Frequently the tester becomes so
concerned with the repeated failure of his wife to measure up to
his arbitrary test, that he himself becomes remiss in evidencing
the love and affection his wife expects.
The arbitrary nature of testing seems paten, to all except the one
testing. "If my wife runs wild all night with a neighboring man, if
she stabs me in the back as we lie in bed, then she doesn't love
me." Anyone would concede this. But what about the following
examples of testing? "Unless my wife has strudel for dinner, unless
she sews that button on my overcoat soon, unless she wears those
earrings tonight, unless she comes running over to me when the
orchestra breaks into 'Tea for Two,' I'm positive that she no longer
With five small children on her back she may go days without even
thinking of apple strudel, much less get around to making it. As
for the "Tea for Two" test, her Uncle Pete took care of that one at a
wedding reception. Pete knew when he had hold of something good
and insisted on finishing the dance. Moreover, neither she nor
Uncle Pete knew that testing was going on at the moment.
12. ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, ENTHUSIASM
The man who marries should be something of an adventurer, for
marriage has all the elements of an exciting and even dangerous
undertaking. It is little wonder that even the least imaginative of
young men become nervous and apprehensive as they pronounce
the marriage vows.
Discovering the North Pole is a minor adventure compared to
taking on a little lady "for better, for worse, in sickness and in
health." What are the perils of a jaunt to the North Pole compared
to a march to the altar?
The rich man sets out for the North Pole well-equipped and with
his route all marked out for him. Yet, he is considered, and with
some justification, a bold adventurer. The young man enters
marriage with trust in God and confidence in himself and little
else besides. He faces the unknown and is undaunted, because he
is an adventurer at heart.
All things else being equal, the adventuresome will be more
successful in the married career. The adventurer is not obstructed
by too many preconceived ideas. Men like La Salle and Father
Marquette canoed down the Mississippi taking each bend in the
river as it came. They had not made up their minds that beyond
each bend there lay in ambush a savage tribe of Indians. Although
they knew that they wore their scalps lightly, they were of a mind
to meet situations as they developed.
One man was driven on by a vision of empire, the other was
impelled by a love of God and the salvation of souls. Both had
courage to face the unknown because they had knowledge of
themselves and the task at hand.
It is expected that a man entering marriage have many
preconceived notions as to what his life with his wife will be like.
In great part the actuality will be much different from the pre-
marriage dream picture. His spirit of adventure and ability to
accept the unforeseen will prevent disillusionment and
discouragement. With his wife he makes a new life by living each
day as it comes. The young husband must be an optimist and have
a firm belief in the Providence of God. In his daily prayers one line
of a song finds prominence. "For tomorrow and it needs I do not
pray. Just keep me for today."
If Father Marquette had worried overmuch about the difficulties
and mortal dangers ahead, he never would have put his canoe in
the Mississippi. He would have quickly and fearfully turned back
to Montreal. Because he trusted in God and thereby became an
adventurer, he met his destiny and made history.
The young groom likewise stands on the threshold of the future
known only to God. His is the thrilling adventure not only of
discovering new worlds but of creating them. He does not fritter
away the present in worry over the future. With his young spouse
he establishes a new family and thus creates in cooperation with
God a new little world all in itself. He becomes the head of a new
basic unit for which empires exist, upon which empires stand or
fall. In the true and eternal sense he makes history to be correctly
and fully evaluated only in the next world.
As the husband joyfully walks out of the Church with his bride on
his arm, he has no idea where they will be living a year, ten years,
twenty years hence. What will their health be in five years? With
how many children will God trust them? Will the children be
healthy or sickly? In what manner will he be able to provide for
An adventurer exploring the upper reaches of the Amazon is faced
with less uncertainties. And for this reason alone the husband and
father of a family leads a more exciting and interesting life, for the
unexpected keeps life from sagging into the doldrums.
The married life, if not an easy one, is full and satisfying.
Especially is this true of the husband big enough to accept the full
quota of children God wishes to send him. Indeed, the having and
raising of children puts the greater part of adventure into any
The following story was told me by the father of nine children. It
illustrates that his life had few dull moments. Many years after the
event he told me of his wild night. The tears of laughter and
nostalgia evidenced that the happenings of the evening were
among his most treasured memories.
John, my oldest boy, was serving at his first Benediction at St.
Mary's. I took him in our old Betsy, because I wanted to be with
him. Also, it was below zero, and I wanted to warm up the car in
case I had to run Alice to the hospital. She was expecting our fifth
Before services John appeared all decked out in his cassock and
surplice to light the altar candles. He did all right at first but then
bogged down. For ages he struggled with one candle. Mentally I
was sending up all sorts of suggestions and encouragement.
Finally, another boy appeared and likewise failed. Then the young
assistant took over. Later on I learned from John that some little
imp had put water on the wick.
On the way home I could see that John was duly impressed that
being an altar boy was no simple matter. No sooner had we entered
the house than Alice yelled for help. This was it.
Why Alice ever had an obstetrician on tap I'll never know. When
Alice was to have a baby, she didn't fool around. I should like to
see a Doctor try to stop Alice from having a baby. This time she
carried things a little too far, or, as you will see, not far enough.
I staggered out to the car with Alice and what I was sure must be
the heaviest unborn triplets in medical annals. With Alice on the
back seat I pointed Betsy toward the hospital and took off. St.
Christopher had a wild ride and didn't do his reputation any harm.
As Alice was giving birth to Kathleen, I almost crashed head-on. It
took several blocks for my heart to drop down out of my throat.
Alice had to fend for herself.
I rushed Alice into the hospital with the baby on her lap. I'll never
know what happened to me between our home and the hospital.
But then the whole works seemed light as a feather as I skipped up
After a few hours I felt I had better get back to home base. Alice
and Kathleen had cut up enough for one night and were sleeping
I opened the front door and walked into smoke. What now?
Apparently this was going to be my big night. I ran to the kitchen
to see a red hot pot belching smoke.
John, feeling his oats a little, had made himself some cocoa. He
forgot to turn off the gas. I almost dashed upstairs to ask him to
keep his pyrotechnics for the altar candles. I thought better of it,
though, and sat down to relax with a glass of milk. After all, things,
though coming fast and furious, were working out pretty well--I
An insistent banging on the front door could not be ignored. Mrs.
Jones, the next door neighbor, stood there in her night gown
fearful and pleading. Could she come in? Joe was on another
drunken spree. Once before this had happened. But then Alice was
home and took her in for the night in spite of my reluctance to
become embroiled. What if Joe comes barging over? The fire in
Alice's eyes answered that question. She would slay him with one
This night I didn't have Alice to hide behind. I hesitated just long
enough, and Mrs. Jones was inside. I should have been ready for it,
because once a crisis for a woman is over, she collapses. She did--
right in my arms. I could see Joe's face in every window. In his
befuddled condition he might not have understood. Soon she came
to and spent the remainder of the night on the living room couch.
Mrs. Jones' presence in our home was a blessing in disguise. The
next morning she made breakfast for the children and held the fort
while I went over to the hospital and phoned Granny.
Our discussion of Romanticism will have little appeal to those who
regard marriage as a practical arrangement of convenience. For
this group only the visible, material things of life are of concern.
Because they live in ignorance or denial of the spiritual and
unseen realities of life, anything romantic is quixotic and silly.
It has been said that for some men marriage is a situation in which
they acquire housekeepers and let them think that they are
No wife can derive happiness from the task of washing dishes just
for the sake of having clean dishes. The dishes then become her
master, and no child of God can be happy a slave to anything.
I knew a wife who was a good cook and housekeeper. Her husband
died and so did her interest in her home. Well-cooked meals and a
clean, tidy home? For what? Her husband was gone. She had no
heart for these things any more. Her heart was far away with him.
One day during the first month of her loneliness she began
preparing a dinner as was her wont. Before she was half through,
she broke down crying. Through habit she had begun a task which
had lost all purpose. She had never cooked for herself or merely
for the sake of cooking.
Obviously this husband had regarded his wife as much more than
his cook and housekeeper. She had been his wife whom he had
treasured above all else in life. He was an ordinary, solid citizen
with no outstanding gifts or abilities. He had to work hard to
support his family. Just one of the thundering herd now buried
away and forgotten by most. He lived on, however, in the soul of
his wife, because he had lifted her up out of the drab, humdrum,
menial tasks of a wife. He had put her on a pedestal. It seemed that
the more she was made to realize that she was his queen, the more
delight she took in doing the many necessary, menial tasks for
As a laboring man he was unable to build her a mansion and
surround her with finery. He wanted to do these things for her,
though; and for her that was what counted. She knew that she was
no ravishing beauty; but she felt like one in his presence.
When a man is in love he becomes imaginative and fanciful. When
a man looks at the sky above Jerusalem or the Mediterranean Sea
and thinks of the blue eyes of some one, he is in love. When he
dreams of her as an angel, he is in love. When he looks at her and
wonders how God can be more beautiful, he is in love. When he
stares at a necklace of blue diamonds in a showcase and sees them
around someone's neck, he is in love. Should he ever give voice to
these thoughts, he is considered too romantic by his friends, not
by the object of his love.
A wife blessed with a romantic husband knows his worth. I am
always afraid that a woman who looks down her nose at romance
has never been loved or has never been capable of recognizing,
accepting, and responding to love.
Romance springs from the spirit of chivalry, gallantry, love, and
religion. The more religious a man, the more conscious he is of the
image of God in his fellowman. When he is in love with a woman
and looks into her eyes, he is sure something of God is there. When
a husband tells his wife that she is divine he is being romantic.
Silly, some would say. Not in the least. Indeed, he is being down
right factual, since God does dwell within her. Reminding her of
this fact does her no harm. Unless she be a lump of dough, she
becomes godly. Since God is beauty, she partakes much of the
beauty of God.
Unless a husband romances his wife on occasions, he can have no
idea how beautiful she is. He has no idea what he is missing. The
nearest thing to a vision of God he can have in life is the love light
in his wife's eyes. (Some lads never light the light.) All he has to do
is to tell her how beautiful and God-like she is. Plain though she
may be to others, to him she becomes beautiful with the unearthly
beauty of love.
Toads, billy goats, and jackasses are incapable of romance. They
are concerned only in filling their bellies and propagating
themselves. Lacking a soul, the billy goat sees nothing in the eyes
of his mate. He has no way of comprehending beauty.
A husband can see more than the mere sunset. He can see God in
the beauty of the color and cloud formations. Because he has a
soul his comprehension is not limited to the material. He can grasp
the spiritual, the unseen realities of life.
The eyes of his wife are not merely organs of vision, like the eyes
of a rabbit. They are the gateway to heaven, avenues of light
guiding him to the source of all goodness. He knows that God is
good, is beautiful, is desirable. He has seen it in the eyes of his
The romanticist is in touch with reality, the reality which evades
the so-called realist. To dwarfs big men seem exaggerated. To the
realist, grasping only the appearances of things, the romanticist
seems an exaggeration. The romantic man is accused of being
carried away by his imagination. The romantic husband is carried
away--not by imagination--but by his wife. And she is very real, not
because she is a bundle of skin and bones, but because she is a
temple of the Holy Spirit.
To expect the irreligious to be truly romantic is like asking the
blind to appreciate the Milky Way. A girl who marries an irreligious
man should never complain of lack of appreciation. If he does not
appreciate God, how can he value her, how can he understand her
"My husband act romantic?" wails an innumerable chorus of wives.
"Should he ever, I would take his temperature, unless I had already
collapsed. I wouldn't know how to act; the shock would be too
These men, on being prodded, claim that they love and appreciate
their wives. "She knows that I love her and appreciate her. Need I
tell her all the time?"
Why of course not, Jerkus Majerka. You devour her meals without
complaint, wear her carefully ironed shirts, and accept her wifely
affection magnanimously. All this tells her how much you love her.
You would be a redundant fool to express by word your love and
The Sun, Moon, and Stars glorify God. But it takes a free agent with
intellect to give full praise to God.
Well-cooked meals, ironed shirts, and a multitude of solicitous
endeavors attest to a wife's worth. Yet, it takes a husband to praise
her for all these efforts. Mute husbands, all their fine qualities
notwithstanding, leave their wives empty and frustrated. An
occasional verbal recognition would buoy them up. A little
romancing would set them sparkling with life.
Because genuine romance is so closely allied to religion or to the
consciousness of God, it is surprising that this manly art has come
under some suspicion. No doubt many Casanovas and Lotharios
have misused romance as a tool of intrigue to capture ladies'
hearts. For this reason, perhaps, some good solid husbands
consider it beneath their dignity. These same husbands do not
disdain another lawful activity of their state in life because some
men have abused it.
Young ladies on the look-out for a husband must not ignore in a
young man the qualities conducive to romance. From a chivalrous,
gallant, and religious nature romance springs. Unless a girl
awakens a spirit of romance in her fiance, she well may question
Should she have definite proof of his love, she still should realize
that she may be taking on a partner lacking a complete and well-
rounded personality. Appearances may be deceiving. A girl may
misjudge an utter lack of imagination for stability, stupidity for
manly aversion to being over-demonstrative, lack of affection and
sympathy for respect and virtuous reserve. So often before
marriage girls mistake virility, initiative, and get-up for wildness.
A young man is not necessarily bad because he is alive, nor good
because he is lifeless.
Weak young men do not become fireballs merely because they
have pronounced the marriage vows. Young men too dull to be
romantic before marriage will seldom bubble with enthusiasm over
their wives. Some people are incapable of getting excited over
anything or anybody.
In evaluating young men for marriage young ladies should not
overlook an important factor for success--namely, enthusiasm.
Give me the boy, the young man capable of enthusiasm. He will go
places. Only those who "eat and sleep" golf become Ben Hogans.
Only those who are carried away with mathematics become great
engineers. Success in any walk of life is preceded by an all out
The enthusiast, the "fan" is as capable of as he is unaware of
sacrifice. The boy who is bitten by the fishing bug will get out of
bed before dawn and labor all day in anticipation of landing a fish.
He loses himself in his interest and is unmindful of all the
inconveniences incumbent on his pursuit of the denizens of the
deep. If he falls in love with golf, he will abandon his dull bed in
the middle of the night to reach some city public golf links before
the early morning crowd.
For the successful husband-to-be, give me the boy capable of
these youthful enthusiasms. When the right girl comes along his
native enthusiasm is transferred to a more worthy object. His
interest in running after golf balls slackens, not because he is
becoming a sluggish and dull boy, but because he is now in hot
pursuit of something close to God--certainly a very good image of
He has other fish to fry. Lakes and rivers are a thing of the past.
Now he buzzes around his lady love like an excited bee seeking a
flower's nectar. Everything about her interests him. Day by day she
intrigues him more. Like a puppy dog he feels like running in
circles for sheer delight in contemplating the pearl of great price
he now possesses.
He worships at her shrine and would be surprised to hear that he is
self-sacrificial in his service. Because he is carried away in his
enthusiasm over his wife, his marriage, his whole family, he has
forgotten himself. All his interest being outside himself, he is too
excited over his job of being a husband to count the cost.
If a job is worth being done it is worth being done right. One sure
and easy road to failure in any vocation is the penchant for
daydreaming of other possible fields of activity. Often the grass
seems greener and more lush on the other side of the fence. A
person with his mind on the other side of the barbed wire will
accomplish little on his own side.
A carpenter droning along with regrets that he did not become a
doctor or business man, will be a poor craftsman. The carpenter
who is interested in and proud of his work will be a happy man.
Dissatisfied tradesmen as likely as not would be misfits in other
walks of life. People are content and happy in their work because
they have given it their full attention. They are not distracted by
every will o' the wisp.
Husbands can best become enthusiastic over their great calling by
attention to details. Absorbed in the many facets of his full and
even exacting life, the happy husband has no time for picturing
himself in any other role but the one he is playing with his own
wife and set of circumstances.
Enthusiasm does for a husband what a spark plug does for an
automobile. It gives get up and go. If the plug is fouled, it fails to
fire. If a husband is beset with the "blues," seldom does he
accomplish anything worthwhile. Mired down in melancholy, a
man is useless to himself as well as to others. These black nights
of the soul come occasionally to most of us. The unhappy moods
are generally the result of too much introspection and self-
concern. The best remedy is to do something for someone. By
getting interested in someone else the victim of the "blues"
escapes from himself and shakes the black devils riding his back.
The husband mooching along with the "blues" is no bargain for his
wife. His heavy and lugubrious mood casts a spell of gloom about
the house. While in this sad state a man has no spirit and
enthusiasm for anything. He mopes around feeling sorry for
himself. Should these black moods reoccur frequently, a husband
may well examine his conscience on selfishness. Likely he is the
center, the sum, and total of his little orbit.
All know what is meant when a football team is said to have spirit.
Without this spiritual quality a good team can easily stumble into
defeat at the hands of an inferior team all fired up to take on
It would seem that a husband should readily come by enthusiasm.
Love and enthusiasm promote each other as one hand washes the
other. How can a man love a woman more than life and not be
enthusiastic over her? Love is of the essence of life; enthusiasm is
12. MAKE BELIEVE
Make believe is a favorite pastime of children. "Let's pretend we
are in school," LaVerne says to her playmate. "I am teacher. You are
the bad girl who never does her home work. Now, Pati, I must
speak to your mother."
Little boys can amuse themselves by the hour playing games
based on illusion. The timeless game of cops and robbers can keep
them banging away and tearing around the yards and streets for
When a boy grows up he puts aside the things of a child and much
of his make believe yields to the exigencies of what is commonly
called reality. No one would expect him to keep on playing at cops
and robbers after he has grown up and thrown in his lot with the
cops or the robbers. Whether or not he ends up in maturity on the
side of the cops, one thing is, unfortunately, generally true--he has
lost a lot of his imagination and poetry. Forced to concentrate on
concrete, material things to keep roof over head, his sensibility to
spiritual realities is dulled.
As a child his vision was clear. He could drop into poetry as
readily as Silas Wegg. He could perceive that the material world
about him was not essential but only the stage setting for the real
conflict of good and evil. Heroes and villains and their struggles
were the sum and substance of his stories. He lived with his stories
because they always carried a moral.
The young do not beat around the bush. Their faculty of coming
quickly to the point can be disconcerting to those jaded by the
pretenses of life. Children accept and live the age old fairy tales
and stories because they are reality, are the exact representation
It took Chesterton to point out that the story of Cinderella is the
same as that of the Magnificat--exaltavie humiles. Also, "Jack, the
Giant Killer" is a chivalrous lesson that giants should be killed
because they are gigantic. The story is a call to arms against pride
When a child grows up and trades in his fairy tales for so-called
realism, he is in for a very dull and unreal existence. There is
nothing exciting about hearing that Johnny opened a door. There
is something exciting about hearing that Johnny opened a door
and saw a dragon. A child of three can be thrilled by the mere
opening of a door, because all of life is so new and interesting.
Once a child begins to grow up he wants to know what is behind
the door. He knows that a dragon could be behind any door,
because evil usually hides behind doors.
When a person becomes too blase or senile to accept fairy tales,
life loses interest because he can no longer go back to the wide-
eyed amazement of a three year old. As Chesterton again remarks,
only a baby could read the realistic novels without being bored.
A boy making believe that he is Jack the Giant Killer or Casey at
the Bat may be sneered at that he is in a dream world. Of course he
is in a dream world; but it takes a live human being to dream.
Sticks and stones can not dream. It takes a live dreamer to raise
dead sticks and stones into castles in the air.
So when a child relives the fairy tales, plays cops and robbers, or
improvises his own make believe he is not escaping from reality.
He is escaping into reality, from the dead material world into the
reality of the living spirit. His make believe is an act of belief in
the kingdom of the spirit. The soul with mind and imagination and
memory functions in this world.
It is a real tragedy when the boy grows into manhood, becomes a
husband, and loses the faculty of making believe. With his nose to
the grindstone in earning a living for his family the young
husband is in danger of losing his inner spark and animation. Life
becomes a dull, lifeless, materialistic affair without inspiration
and joy. Engaged in providing his family with the material
necessities of life, he feels that he has no time to make believe.
His children, if he gives enough time to them, can be his salvation.
In playing with them he finds it easy and natural to get back to
make believe. Once again he can play-act. As long as his energies
hold out he can ride the open range with little junior as his
cowboy. In reading to his son many of the fairy tales of his own
childhood, he lives them again with a deeper appreciation of their
sound philosophic and ethical content.
His son does not question why Cinderella must return from the
ball at twelve. The joys of fairyland depend on an "if." "If you do
not say the word 'cow,' you may live in a palace of gold and
sapphire"; or "You may live happily with the king's daughter, if you
do not show her an onion." To borrow again from Chesterton, all
the tremendous things given depend upon one thing forbidden,
like an apple, for example.
Should junior ask why he could not show the king's daughter an
onion, his father might well reply, "why should you have the king's
daughter at all?"
The father too pompous, too preoccupied with the problems of his
work, or too grouchy and self-centered to enter into the make
believe of his children is missing a lot of life. By taking part in
their make believe he will be rewarded with even more happiness
than he gives to his children. Likewise, he will be more capable of
responding to his wife's efforts to play-act.
Many wives are always too tired--between the ears--to make
believe. Of course, a little imagination, poetry, and get-up are
necessary. It is easier just to squat and watch television. Any
husband, blessed with a playacting wife, needs his head examined
if he discourages her in these attempts at make believe. A grumpy
"Be your self," or "Act your age" is enough to put any wife back in
When a wife is spritely enough to take off with the exaggerated air
of the current movie queen, her lucky and wise husband goes
along with her mood. "Tom, do you think this skirt does anything
for me?" Grace asked as she jumped upon her bedroom chair and
struck a fetching poise characteristic of a hopeful young film
"Why Grace," Tom responded, "it'll whip your public into a lather."
Then, assuming the air of a movie director, he began yelling
orders to various imaginary technicians. "Quiet! Now lights, action,
cameras. Let's get this shot perfect."
All the while Grace was flashing a smile of gracious acceptance of
adulation from her vast following.
"That was perfect, Grace. Now let's go over that scene in
'Scalawags' where you are terrified by the escaped convict, Black
Jack Dalton. Remember, you are alone in a remote farm house.
Your husband is off somewhere punching cattle."
"I'll play the part of Black Jack and then your husband coming to
the rescue. You must manage an expression of deep terror. Black
Jack threatens to kill you, unless you show him the hidden money.
You pull all the stops as you plead with him to think of your little
As Tom stepped out of the room to muscle up a terrible, desperate
Dalton-like look, Grace readied herself for the ordeal. When Dalton
entered the bedroom Grace threw herself at his feet, and emoted,
"if you cannot consider me, think of my little babies without a
This stopped Black Jack. In fact, as he looked down into the
piteous eyes of Grace, Tom could not stifle a broad grin of
amusement. His little girl really could act. "Dalton must have been
a cad not to have been softened by such eyes," Tom complimented
Grace. "But take courage, Grace, your husband is galloping to the
rescue. His sensitive nature sensed that you were in danger.
Already the road is smoking behind him as he lashes his pony
"Your husband worships the ground you walk on," Tom informs
Grace, who is now looking at him bug-eyed. "Prepare yourself
emotionally for the terrible scene of mortal, hand to hand conflict
between Dalton and your husband."
"When your husband bursts into this room he is the embodiment
of fury," Tom continues. "He could tear tigers apart with his bare
hands. What chance has Dalton? But you are not concerned with
Black Jack. You fear for your dear husband. For this scene best you
kneel upon the bed here with your eyes toward heaven praying for
your husband. Your hands are crossed thus upon your breast.
That's fine. Now keep that position and expression while I get over
here and take care of Dalton."
Tom gave Black Jack a few licks and then felt that he had better
check and see if Grace was properly placed for the camera. As he
pretended to determine if Grace had sufficient lighting, he gently
kissed her and whispered with mock seriousness, "I'll take care of
that scoundrel in a moment."
With effort Grace maintained her attitude of imploring heaven for
help. Her head was tilted back, and her lips were slightly parted.
Her eyes were wide open and becoming a little moist.
It took Tom many return trips to finish off Dalton, because he
stayed with him so short a time. He spent more time going back to
kiss Grace, who was none too anxious to put an end to the new
game Tom had come up with. In fact, there was nothing unusual
about the way Grace's and Tom's efforts at make believe
developed. Their make believe generally got side tracked
somewhere along the line with Tom forgetting his part. He seemed
to get confused or distracted with the way Grace looked, with her
eyes, with the blue in her eyes.
From the standpoint of the finished story, the scene nailed down
with a crashing climax, Tom was often found wanting. Frequently
he took liberties with the script and tossed in a kiss or two. This
would not have been too detrimental to the smooth flow of the
story they were acting. But for some reason or other one kiss
usually led to another. Grace always became glassy-eyed and
oblivious of time.
Indeed, make believe by Tom and Grace generally led to a frightful
waste of time. If they did not go in for make believe so much,
Grace could have drummed around hours more in the kitchen and
Tom could have stared at many more TV horse operas.
The conclusion to all this should be obvious. No staid young
married couple should resort to make believe. It is unbecoming to
them and they have no right to experience the joy and gaiety of
little children playing at make believe.
13. TIT FOR TAT
The Skibo family was just about ready to sit down to its evening
meal--that is, if ten year old Dolly would ever get the table set.
Between an exchange of punches with her younger brother, Billy,
and a few sorties into the parlor to tease her older brother, Andy,
the silverware was slowly finding its way to the table.
As Mr. Phil Skibo walked into the kitchen, home from work, Mrs.
Skibo was fully occupied. With her hands she was juggling several
steaming pots over the stove. With one leg she was maneuvering
her two year old Nick away from the hot oven. Her rising tone of
voice gave sufficient warning to Dolly that she had better finish
setting the table.
Phil welcomed his wife's preoccupation as an excuse for ignoring
her. He picked up Nick and sat at the table.
"Good evening," Silvia directed at her husband in a tone of voice
which said three things--you didn't kiss me or say hello when you
walked into the kitchen, you look grumpy, you can jump into the
Phil's "Good evening" was easily recognized by his wife as, "And
the same to you."
So supper got off to an unauspicious start. War broke out between
Dolly and Billy, who was not interested in beef stew. He was chuck
full of cookies and candy.
The young master of the house, Andy, sensed the ice between his
parents; but it worried him none. He had seen these freezes come
and go. He was more absorbed with the stew and plans to duck out
of the dishwashing. His best opportunity came during dessert
while the father of the home was laying Billy's soul to rest over
some infraction of table etiquette.
"Andy, come back here," his mother called. "Who excused you?
When your father and I finish dessert, you can begin clearing the
During the meal practically all the conversation involved the
children. How often the presence of children at the family table
provides the safety valve, giving some relief to the pent-up and
explosive tension between husband and wife.
Silvia made one attempt to engage her husband's attention. Phil
pretended to be more distracted by one of the children than he
really was. He definitely was giving his wife the cold shoulder
treatment. The male ego was still smarting from his wife's refusal
of the night before. She had been too tired, not in the mood.
"Well, I'm too tired this evening to chit-chat with you," he said to
himself. Phil would have resented the imputation that he was
giving in to the hurt child's strategy of tit for tat. Yet, he knew that
he was guilty of the silly business and was as vexed with himself
for showing his hurt pride, as he was resentful against his wife for
No one appears to good advantage when he is doling out a tit for a
tat. Realizing this, the adult will not show his hand as openly as a
child giving in to tit for tat. When confronted with a mean display,
the child will generally retort, "Well, he did it to me." A husband
with any self-respect would be ashamed to admit that his actions
were the result of an effort to get even.
Between husband and wife tit for tat may develop because they are
human and love each other. A slight, real or imagined, an
inconsiderateness, or even ill-temper, can easily be taken in stride
from a stranger or casual acquaintance. Because they are in love,
they can be hurt by each other more than by any one else. This is
particularly true, if they are trapped in the vice of pride.
Since pride is at the root of all sin and is the great destroyer of
love between human beings, husbands and wives must guard
against the vice. Thomas-a-Kempis points out, a humble man
cannot be hurt. The actions of the proud are sufficient testimony
that they go through life nursing injured feelings.
If any husband wastes time brooding over real or imagined slights
from his wife, he had better investigate the virtue of humility. Life
is too short to be frittered away in the negation of tit for tat. The
practice does not necessarily lead all the way to the divorce court.
Yet, it is a strain on the family tie and can destroy a marriage.
Just the other day a couple talked to me about their planned action
for divorce. Neither has the slightest cause for divorce, even under
the lax legal justifications. From the day of their marriage they
have acted toward one another like mean, savage little children.
They never would have dreamed of treating their business and
social acquaintances the way they galled each other.
"Why in the world would you leave the house at five in the
afternoon, go to a movie, and return at ten in the evening?" I asked
this estranged wife.
"Well, he does things like that to me. He didn't come home for
dinner the evening before."
With him it was the same story, although he was not as honest in
admitting the child's play of tit for tat. It seemed that most of their
waking hours were spent in getting even with each other. They
were not half-wits, and they must have known the end result of
their manner of living. The devil is where he is today, not because
he was dumb.
Some years ago I had a case which illustrates how a married person
stooped to tit for tat to the extent of cutting off his own nose to
spite his face.
When I talked to the unhappy wife, her husband would have
nothing to do with her. He was through. The case aroused my
curiosity for the simple reason that the wife seemed to be all that
any lucky husband could want. She was exceptionally attractive to
the degree of being beautiful. She was gifted in many ways and
sparkled with life and personality. She indicated a sincere desire
to do anything to be reconciled. She admitted that she had been
more at fault than he.
"Now I realize that I was a total loss as an inspiration to my
husband. I nagged and prodded him the first years of our
"What did you nag him about?" I asked.
"About his job. I was a silly, ambitious creature. I guess I was even
ashamed of him--I mean the job he had."
"What did he do?"
"He was some sort of assistant construction superintendent," she
answered vaguely. "He came home in overalls looking like a
common laborer. Jim is intelligent and had a good education. I felt
that he could do better. Now I realize that Jim knew what he was
doing. He was learning his business from the bottom up."
"You felt that he was on the bottom of the ladder, so to speak?" I
encouraged her to continue.
"I didn't think he ever got up out of the foundation, the way he
looked when he got home. My laundry was a pile of blue work-
shirts and overalls."
"Did he ever confide in you what his ambitions were?"
"Yes, in the beginning. He asked me to have confidence and
patience. Our day would come. I was a vain little fool and failed
him as a wife. I wanted a white-collar man like the neighbors."
"I suppose you felt that there wasn't much glamour to your
marriage," I suggested.
"There wasn't any glamour, companionship, or any thing else. And
I'm afraid it was mostly my fault."
"Well, Jim was either dead-tired after working all day in the open
air, or he worked at blueprints and specifications till the cows
came home. We drifted apart first in understanding and then in
interests. My dissatisfaction with him was ill-concealed. Instead of
inspiring him and building him up, I looked down my nose at him.
I must have hurt him terribly."
"How did success come to him?" I changed the subject.
"I really don't know. Resentful over my early lack of interest in
him, his job, and its problems, he told me nothing as time went on
and success came to him."
"Do you think the present situation between you and your husband
could be described as one in which he is punishing you for your
"Are you sure that he is as successful as you indicated?" I asked.
"He sports the most expensive Cadillac and maintains an
apartment in the Edgewater Beach Hotel."
"Does he support you?"
"Yes. He keeps up the mortgage payments on the home and gives
me the meager expense account we had the first years of our
marriage. Frequently he brings over expensive toys and clothes for
our little daughter."
"Do you think that there is another woman?"
"I'm convinced there isn't."
When I told her that I felt that he still loved her, she replied that
she would like to have some evidence of it.
"He is still interested in you," I wanted to reassure her. "He would
much rather have you sharing his good fortune. But you did not
help him. Now he is punishing you and having a miserable time of
it himself. I'll admit that he is more concerned with nursing his
hurt pride than with promoting love and happiness. Once he sees
the futility of this childish tit for tat business, he should be ready
to come back to you. Be sure that you leave the road open for him.
In fact, you had better get down the road to him more than halfway
before it is too late."
Any human being can be off-color momentarily and succumb to tit
for tat. It is another thing to play the part of a hurt child
habitually, as was evidenced in the case above. Competitive sports
are wonderful for boys and young men for many reasons. The
character of a young man will evidence itself in the stress of
competition. Vindictive characteristics will soon manifest
themselves in the give and take of baseball, football, and
basketball. If he is a poor sport and cannot take it, as we say, he is
thereby a poor prospect for marriage.
If young ladies could observe their prospective husbands in
competitive sports, they would have no better opportunity of
separating the men from the boys. And the demands of marriage
are not for boys.
The funeral was over. Mr. Peters and the children were trying to
establish as normal a home life as was possible without their
The shock of his wife's death had left Mr. Peters numb with grief.
The exigencies of the wake and funeral past, he was beginning to
feel all the more his loss. When he walked into the kitchen, he
expected to see his wife, Kathy, standing at the sink. His memory
began to work overtime. As he went about the house trying to
bring about some sort of readjustment for the children and
himself, Kathy's face was constantly before his eyes.
Except for his deep religious faith Mr. Peters' work was his best
therapy. He wrote advertising. Concentration was now all the more
imperative, for he was behind in his work. Under pressure he
turned out the usual run-of-the-mill stuff. At heart, however, he
was an artist. He preferred to mull over an impression, a feeling
until he could give it birth in concise words. His effort in this
direction had paid off well. He had to his credit one nationally
Several nights after the funeral he lay awake searching for the
right word to bring an elusive idea to light. He was getting
nowhere, so he tried to sleep. From habit he still lay on his side of
the bed. Restless, he tossed about. He stretched out his arm on the
far side of the bed. After a moment his heart suddenly jumped a
beat, as he felt a pang which seemed to run up from his hand. His
wife, Kathy, was not there.
"God help me," he muffled a cry of desperation as he sprang out of
As is the case with most of us, Mr. Peters did not fully appreciate
something until he had lost it. What he missed most, now that
Kathy was gone, was her companionship. If he could only hear
again the familiar sounds as she went about her work; if only he
could see her face again, he would gladly give away one of his
eyes. During the first week of his loss he could not stand the quiet
of the house after the children were off to bed. He feared that he
would go crazy.
Companionship of husband and wife is their greatest reward for
living together in love. When two people love they want to be in
each other's presence. How or where they spend their time matters
little. Their peace, contentment, and joy is simply in being
Love of man and wife is no guarantee that they will not have
problems, difficulties, and tragedies. Sickness or economic strain
may bring them anything but an easy life. Yet, neither the
difficulties inherent in married life nor any force from without
should cheat them of companionship. Only if either husband or
wife fails to love will companionship go by the boards.
In "The Wife Desired" we considered at some length a number of
causes for loss or at least a diminution of companionship between
husband and wife. Irresponsibility, suspicion, mother-in-law
situations, and other dangers to companionship were discussed.
Here we wish to avoid repetition. After all, most of the ideas
treated in The Wife Desired are just as applicable to husbands as to
wives. However, the histories of happy and unhappy marriages are
replete with evidence as to how husbands have succeeded or failed
in the all-important phase of marriage known as companionship.
First of all, every husband should reflect on the accepted truism:
"It pays to advertise." There is no other way to bring a product to
the attention of the public except through advertising. Once the
product finds wide acceptance because of its usefulness and fine
quality, it still pays to advertise, lest the public forget the
particular product and turn to another.
A husband found a wife who wanted him because he advertised
himself. Before marriage he put his best foot forward. Often
enough after marriage he went around with his foot in his mouth.
Before marriage he had enough sense to realize some of his
shortcomings and unattractive characteristics or habits. Carefully
he concealed or subdued anything possibly offensive or
objectionable to his future wife.
From time to time it behooves a husband to take stock of himself.
Has he fallen into any personal habits annoying to his wife? Love
overlooks many a fault; but it does not make sense for a husband
to drive his wife away by offensive traits and then wonder why she
Suspicion and jealousy are dirty cousins. Often they sneak about
roiling up the waters of matrimony to the extent that smooth
sailing in companionship is out of the question. It has been said
that it is natural for those in love to be a little suspicious and
jealous. Then it is recommended that they be a little less natural
and much more supernatural. Suspicion and jealousy are vicious
evils and have utterly wrecked many a marriage. Because the vices
are petty they should not be regarded lightly, any more than vipers
should be ignored because they are small.
A certain amount of possessiveness goes along with human love.
But it must be remembered that it is not of the essence of love.
Some husbands act as though they own their wives, body and soul.
An owner-slave relationship is not conducive to companionship.
Because his wife is pleasant and friendly to all, this type of
husband imagines that her quiver is open to every arrow.
Insecurity is at the bottom of most suspicion. An insecure person
lives behind protective barriers out of which he peers at the world
with apprehension. Because he feels that he has something to hide,
he looks upon all as potential enemies bent on ferreting out his
secret. The only companion and confidant he wants is a good bird
dog to keep him posted on the doings of those living in his little
Just as one virtue promotes others, vices in the soul of a man have
a way of inviting chums to take up residence. The suspicious and
insecure are without generosity. They are so small that they could
pole vault under a dresser. Why a girl will marry this type of man
is mysterious, unless she is unaware of his personality.
A moody person is a difficult companion. At one moment he can
be a jolly good fellow, full of cheer and fun. The next breath he
can turn into a touchy grouch. One day he is receptive of, even
looking for, visible signs of love--a hug, a kiss and so forth.
Another day he is annoyed, ill-tempered, and even repels his wife's
attentions. He has to be handled with kid gloves. Moods are the
result generally of too much introspection and self-concern or a
A moody husband so often fails to contribute companionship.
Also, he makes it difficult for his wife to be a good companion. She
never knows how to take him. Soon she sinks back into her shell
and does not take him at all.
Another characteristic of some husbands merits a few comments.
It is sensitivity. There is a fairly common misconception that the
development of the virtues diminishes the passions. This is
nonsense. The stronger becomes a man's virtues, the stronger are
his passions. For example, an increase in the virtue of love steps
up the sex passions. Likewise, a man in love is more sensitive than
a man only physically alive.
I am always amused to hear some one refer to a sensitive man in a
derogatory manner. A head of cabbage is not sensitive. Feeling
distinguishes the human being from a clod of earth. Men driven by
love to the accomplishment of great deeds are sensitive men.
Obviously, all men must control their passions which are good but
blind forces. A husband in love should not be surprised to find
himself sensitive. Because he is sensitive he is in tune with his
wife and makes a fine husband. Between some husbands and wives
communication seems to end with the physical. But it should not
be surprising that between couples deeply in love there can be a
communication of spirit, a sensitivity of soul. A husband once told
me that his wife could not approach him without his sensing her
Feelings must be controlled and properly channeled, however,
otherwise they cause mischief. Companionship of husband and
wife can suffer, if a man lets his feelings run wild. If he becomes
what we call "over-sensitive," then he loses balance. He is in
danger of magnifying any slight from his wife. He may distort an
innocent playful remark and take hurt, making a mountain out of a
The spiritual communion of husband and wife is the basis for a
full and happy companionship. Since conversation is the ordinary
method of communication husbands must reflect upon its
Because many husbands have to talk all day at work, they naturally
yearn for moments of quiet and relaxation at home. Because many
wives have had no one to talk to all day except small children, they
are anxiously waiting for adult conversation with their husbands.
"Anything interesting happen at the office today, dear?" Ann tries
to get the ball rolling.
"Uh, uh," Jim grunts as he shuffles the newspaper.
Valiant is the word for Ann, so she gives it another go. "Well, Mark
did the funniest thing today." Her relating of the incident falls flat
for want of a receptive audience. Now even Ann wonders what
seemed funny about Mark's escapade.
Perhaps Jim needs a shock to bring him around. "Ruth shot Duke
today," Ann tries to startle Jim. No response. By this time Ann
gives up with the realization that her husband's mind is miles
away or just a comfortable blank. "Yes, by golly, she shot him full
of holes with Kevin's Davey Crockett pistol."
A feeble "What's that" from Jim follows Ann out to the kitchen
where she gets on the phone with Ruth and chats over the day's
doings. The phone conversation over, Ann pulls out the ironing
board with the feeling that she might as well do something.
I know of a husband from whom men like Jim might take a tip or
two. This ideal husband has laid down a strict rule that his wife do
no housework after he is home, at least not by herself. Well and
good, if they work together on some project.
Some responsible husbands do not realize that there is more to
their job than providing for the family. A husband may do well in
keeping his family in shoes, clothing, and food. Yet, his wife is
starving. She needs more than food to live other than merely
biologically. She craves and requires adult attention and
conversation. Since he married her he has elected himself to
provide all these intangible things every bit as vital as food and
We do not discuss alcoholics, those irresponsible about support of
their families, and psychopaths unwilling to live with one woman.
This book is for young men and husbands sincerely desirous of
making happy marriages.
The best-intentioned husband is fortunate who has never
experienced an in-law problem. We should say mother-in-law, for
the reason that father-in-law problems are rare. This is one place
where men can take a bow. If husband and wife make it clear to
themselves and to all degrees of in-laws and out-laws that they
come first to each other, no difficulty with outsiders can get out of
hand. Confident of each other, husband and wife stand together.
Relatives fit into their lives--do not throw them into fits.
In-laws are high on the list of causes for unhappy and broken
marriages. My own experience, however, is that in most cases
either husband or wife is immature and unprepared for marriage.
It has been well said that those who marry out of puppy love will
lead a dog's life. Little mama's boys and girls are incapable of
more than puppy love. Bound to their mother's apron strings, these
pitiful creatures are unwilling to live their own lives. They are but
an extension or projection of their domineering mothers.
The man who marries an unfortunate girl of this type soon finds
himself married to his mother-in-law. Marrying a girl irrationally
attached to her mother, a man makes the mistake of thinking that
she will free herself after marriage. Either he should be fully
satisfied that his future wife possesses a personality of her own, or
he should run as far from her as possible, no matter how much he
thinks they are in love. The agonies of a number of acquaintances
prompts the above advice.
So often these mentally and spiritually undeveloped mothers'
darlings are, to all appearances, docile and affectionate.
Frequently of the blushing violet type, they attract strong men
with protective instincts. Enough said. On guard, men!
While the greater part of companionship of husband and wife
takes place in the home, yet husbands must realize that their
wives need a change. Bound to the house day after day with little
children, she is in danger of going "stir crazy." Most conscientious
wives in modest circumstances hesitate to ask their husbands to
take them out for an evening. First of all, no wife should have to
ask. Half the thrill is lost. No matter how meager their budget may
be, a husband solicitous about the well-being of his wife and
anxious for her companionship will take her out now and then for
an evening. The more limited his means, the more the challenge to
his ingenuity. Couples can have barrels of fun many places other
than in expensive restaurants and theaters.
Companionship in marriage has to be worked at; it does not just
happen by chance. Its rewards are worth the effort, as countless
couples testify. That the effort must be intelligent is exemplified
in the matter of children.
Love for and care of their children, particularly while in the baby
stage, promote companionship of husband and wife. Two people
converging on the same third thing are brought together. Their
care for the baby, their playful moments with the baby, their
interest in its efforts to walk and talk--these and many other
mutual concerns deepen companionship.
However, if parents utterly spoil their children and raise little
monsters, their own companionship suffers. If children are ruined
by their parents, they will pay back in like coin. In a family where
the children are raising the parents, the bickering can reach a
deafening crescendo destroying all harmony in the home.
Angelic little babies are potential little savages. It takes a lot of
common sense and much doing for parents to see to it that their
children become civilized. Fathers who become the obedient
slaves of their children allowing them to call the tunes are a
ridiculous spectacle. Cat and dog fights between the children and
between the parents are the result. Out the window go all order and
peace necessary for companionship of husband and wife.
Frequently estranged husbands and wives have made such
statements as the following: "I stayed with him because of the
children;" and "We never did get along. The children are gone.
There's no reason for keeping a home and fighting with her."
For some reason or other these couples lost the companionship
with which they had begun their marriages. For years they drifted
farther apart during the raising of the children. The children
became more important. They neglected themselves. Their
marriages grew to be more of a convenience than a mutually
sanctifying union of love. Lacking each other they turned to the
children in compensation.
To make such a mistake is to face a bleak, empty and lonely life
without companionship. It is a sad experience to see couples break
up as they pass middle age and need each other all the more to
fight off the loneliness of declining years. On the contrary, what a
pleasant picture an aging couple presents who still has and
appreciates each other. Time does not hang heavily on their hands.
They fill the few remaining years of their lives devotedly taking
care of one another.
If a husband is lethargic, not vibrating with enthusiasm to do big
things for his wife, I am inclined to assume that the wife is to
blame. She does not inspire. If a marriage lacks companionship,
the husband is at fault more often than the wife. Because of the
circumstances of her life a wife and mother depends for
companionship more upon her husband than he requires her. He
has more outside business and social contacts.
Thus it is the lot of husbands actively to promote companionship.
On their initiative depends success. Alert husbands do not ignore
the well-recognized practices conducive to companionship.
The role of a successful husband is not easily accomplished. One
reason is that he must lead a sort of double life. A third to half of
his life is occupied making a living away from his wife and family.
A big portion of time left to him is spent at home sleeping.
Precious little is left for his wife, his children, and himself. How he
uses these fleeting hours determines his success as a husband.
A person's capacity for pleasure of the senses diminishes with
time. The spiritual rewards of companionship increase as the years
stretch out to the grave. Because these are two incontestable facts,
husbands and wives should pause from time to time and ask
themselves where they are heading in the matter of
companionship. Are they allowing the pressure of circumstances
and the hubbub of their daily lives to cheat them of the full
happiness of marriage?
An elderly widow once told me of a sort of pact which her husband
made with her in the early days of their marriage. "Our first baby,"
she related, "was a few weeks old. One day as my husband and I sat
next to the bassinet admiring our baby, he took my hands in his.
'Jane,' he said, 'God has given us something wonderful here. I hope
and expect that He will send us many more. They will steal away a
great deal of our hearts. We must expect some turmoil in raising
them. As they leave us one by one, they will take part of us with
them. Because they will take our love with them, they will leave us
with more love for each other than we have even now. It's
something like your nursing of little Jane here. The more milk she
takes the more you are able to bring forth. So, let's stay close
together these coming years and see the love and companionship
grow with which we have begun our lives.'"
"As you should see," she smiled, "I had quite a wonderful
People are a nuisance who expect others to lead their lives, to have
their arbitrary set of values, their mode of living, their habits and
hobbies. These people have little concept of living and letting live.
Others must jump when they jump, rest when they rest. I once had
a pastor who thought that it was outrageous to take a nap--unless it
was the time of day sacrosanct for his nap.
Marriage is a difficult vocation because man and wife must lead
each other's lives. They can never be happy except through
sacrificing their individual lives. Only love can turn the trick.
When a man loves, he wants to get right inside the other person.
He wants to become a part of her, to lead her life, and to know her
secrets, her joys, her fears--in short, everything about her. For this
reason all who understand love should rush into the Catholic
Church because of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
A young man is less ready for marriage than a goat, unless he
wants to live for the girl he thinks of marrying. This concept of
living entirely for his wife-to-be is not one for which he must
struggle, like the concept of being kind to boors and pests. Love is
not just feeling kind toward someone. Love is an overpowering
thing, not a very comfortable thing. Out the window goes self. In
comes someone else, someone else's life, needs, likes and dislikes,
prejudices and whims. No one plans for, works for, or wants such a
situation. Love gives no choice.
A young man looking for an easy, comfortable life has no business
getting married for the simple reason that love is not easy and
comfortable. Love is not easy in the sense that it gives its victims
no ease. Love is an expanding and dynamic thing, hurrying the
lover on to new experiences. Because God is love, love is not static.
To love is to give and to give of one's self, of one's possessions. A
person in love gives spontaneously, recklessly, and without reason
oblivious of the cost in time or money. The first thing a husband
in love gives is himself. Literally, he sacrifices himself. Because he
senses the inadequacy of himself he reaches out after other things
The gift may be a rose, a kiss, a precious jewel, a fortune. What the
gift is matters little. What matters much is that the giver wanted to
give, could not hold back from giving. The thought of solving
some social obligation never enters the mind of the lover. It may
enter the mind of a time server, a sycophant, or a jaded lover
whose fire has burned out.
Is anyone thrilled by a gift which the giver felt had to be given?
The "must gift" brings joy to neither the giver nor to the receiver.
"I must give my wife a gift for her birthday, for Christmas. I must
give a gift to the boss, to the janitor, to my mother-in-law." No one
enjoys shopping for a "must gift." No one is tickled to death
getting a gift which someone felt he had to give to preserve
appearances of love.
The giving of gifts is not supposed to cause pain. And it can be
painful to receive a "must gift" from one who once gave out of
love. Perhaps the best test for the giver is the question: "Do I give
this gift in joy?" If the honest answer is that the whole business is
just another job, why carry it through? Everyone has given "must
gifts" for some silly reason. And there was no fun in it. Everyone
has given out of love. And there was joy in it. If we can speak of
measuring love, the joy experienced in giving is its best and
easiest measure. When a man begins to rush around in the giving
of himself or something else to a woman and has joy in the doing
of it, warning signals should be flying. He is falling in love.
Because we were made by God to love and be loved, we should be
able to overcome all obstacles to love. The first obstacle to love
and from which all others spring is selfishness. Love and
selfishness do not keep company. Love is spiritual and resides in
the will. Simply, it is the desire to bring happiness to someone.
Too many people think that, to have success in marriage, all they
have to do is find the right person who will love them, who will
bring them the sweet feeling of being needed and wanted. No one
wants to be hated. To want to be loved is as natural as breathing.
Yet, no man should confuse the receiving of love with the active
virtue of love. Being loved certainly makes it easier to love. All are
inclined to make some effort at loving those who love them.
A self-deception producing much discontent and unhappiness in
marriage is the confusing of the mere reception of love for the
virtue of love. Generally the receiving of love brings a glowing
pleasure. The giving of love is accomplished so often in pain and
suffering. Understandable, then, that so many seek the former and
shun the latter. Be it one of the mysteries of life or not, the
receiving of love without giving love brings no lasting happiness
Also, just because a man finds a woman capable of love is no
guarantee that he will reciprocate. How many young men are void
of love in the face of the sacrificing love of their parents?
The love upon which happy marriages is based comes from the
soul of a man, not from someone else. Many a marriage would be
happier were the couples more interested in examining their own
wills for evidence of love. Many a husband frets and worries
himself that his wife does not love him as much as she should.
There is a tendency to expect too much of love. While no one is
even alive, much less happy, unless he is in love, yet love has its
limitations in this life. There are too many flies in the ointment.
Perfect love and happiness can come only through final union with
God. True, there are times when God manifests Himself to us in a
striking manner, and we seem to stand very close to Him in love.
No doubt these moments occur more often to the saints. Yet, to all
men of any depth of soul these visions of beauty must be
experienced at some time or other in their lives. I hope that every
husband can look back upon some high experience of this nature.
Maybe he sat on some pier a hot summer night with the girl he
loved and married. As they dangled their feet in the water of the
lake, they felt very near to each other and all alone. As they talked
of themselves, he must have told of what he was going to do for
her, how he was going to care for her. She turned her face to him,
and then the heavens opened. What he saw he has never forgotten.
He could never put it into words. All he knows is that somehow
God was there, and beauty and love.
Like the Apostles on Mount Tabor he can say that it was good that
he was there. If he is much of a realist, he knows that the evening
will never be reduplicated exactly. Also, he is aware that he could
not remain forever on this high pinnacle of emotion. That is just
not life. Down he must come into the lowlands. Here love for his
wife will grow through sacrifice. High peaks of ecstasy will
reoccur; but he cannot expect that they will be the everyday fare.
Because love is of the will, it must grow and be proven without the
sensible joys which are the rewards of love and not the virtue
Without doubt the spiritual and sensible joys so often following
close upon an act of love promote the virtue. Yet, they must not be
confused with love. They are like a capricious little girl bestowing
her favors when the mood moves and withholding when we want
Disappointment is inevitable for those who seek the rewards of
love without practicing the virtue. No one can expect to reap the
harvest without plowing and sowing. If attention is given to
working the soil and planting the seed, the harvest will come in
Many a husband has been disappointed in love because he sought
himself in these sensible experiences. He wanted his wife really
because she was a reflection of himself. He did not seek and
accept her for herself, for what she was. His love was only
possessive. He reached out for his wife to receive and not to give.
When a nineteen year old girl golfer out-drives the average male
"duffer," it becomes obvious that she does so not because of power
but because she has developed a high degree of control of her
physical assets. Success in any walk of life requires control of one
sort or another. Baseball pitchers cannot be without it, no matter
what speed and "stuff" they may have. Wild and uncontrolled
physical strength lashes itself into frustration. The better women
golfers, swimmers, and ice skaters can easily put to shame the
average strong male who has never coordinated his mind and
physical potential in these particular sports.
At the age of puberty a boy becomes aware that he has a new force
within himself with which he must deal. While he is intrigued with
the mystery of it, yet he is not too interested in any prolonged and
rational explanation of sex. However, he does not have to be very
old or bright before he notices the pleasures connected with his
developing sex powers. At once he is faced with the problem of
control. Will he control sex, or will it dominate him? Thus, at an
early age, long before the possibility of marriage the boy and
young man are well on their way to an established pattern of sex
By the grace of God many a boy passes through the early stages of
his sex life in complete control. During high school days he is
busy with school and sports. Already he has begun to appreciate
the cleavage between the sheep and the goats, is thankful that he
started off with the sheep, and becomes more determined with
time to avoid becoming a goat.
Before he is out of high school he recognizes that the enslaved
victims of self-abuse are the jerks, nitwits, and spastics among his
acquaintances. Their pitiful example is sufficient deterrence to
him from giving in to the sting of the flesh.
By their fruits you shall know them. As he grows older in years and
experience he perceives that the sex victim produces a rotten
basket of fruit. Nor is he fooled by the intelligent but weak-willed
and Godless crowd. Hedonists do not first become followers of the
philosophy of pleasure and then give themselves over to the
pursuit of sex pleasure. They first become the enslaved victims of
sex pleasure and then advocates of Hedonism in self-justification.
A man must live with himself and justify his actions to himself,
even if he cannot to others.
During the last war I overheard one night in a barracks what I have
always considered a remarkable discussion. A half dozen officers
were sitting around on their bunks listening to an old-timer
relating his experiences in France during the First World War. The
speaker was one of the oldest and most popular men on the air
field, a real two-fisted old war dog. He had been a machine gunner
and had been badly shot up. Because of his deafness and age he
had influence somewhere to be able to get back in the Army.
As he related some of his experiences, a few good-natured hecklers
kept interrupting him.
"Tell us about the French girls, Harry. How did you get along with
After a few thrusts of this nature, Harry stopped for a moment. Off
in the darkness of my cot I could sense the sudden silence as a
challenge to the storyteller. He met it in a way I shall never forget.
"Men," Harry's voice had that quiet, confident ring about it that
indicated the truth and sincerity of his words. "Men, sex is all in
the mind. When I was a young man in France my mind was on
winning the war. I didn't spend myself on sex. I gave my whole
being to Uncle Sam."
As the gab fest broke up, I lay in bed a long time thinking of these
patriotic words: "I gave my whole being to Uncle Sam." What a
challenge to young men in their fight to control sex!
During the years before marriage a young man's sex urge becomes
more insistent. An established pattern of virtue behind him will be
of great help during these difficult years. Moreover, he is
beginning to look ahead to marriage and is determined to present
himself to the young lady of his choice a man and no spastic. If
ever in a weak moment he should sinfully waste his manhood
before marriage, he knows that it is one thing to fall in mud,
another thing to grovel in it.
Because he has carried his fragile vessel with honor, he can stand
before the altar with his bride a man confident that he comes well-
tested and prepared for marriage, not a dissipated shadow of one.
It is not within the scope of this chapter to go into the trials and
tribulations of young lovers during the days of courtship. Yet, a
few comments are in order regarding the pre-marriage years of
young men. How many young, unmarried lovers during a night of
trial have been spared an everlasting shame because at least one
of them kept hearing the challenging words sounding from the
depths of his troubled soul: "Did I not love honor more, I would not
love thee so much."
One idea too prevalent among young men, if not among married
men, we must pounce upon here and attempt to expose for all its
meanness. We could label it the double standard of morality. Some
young men are guilty of the hypocrisy of a double standard of
morality--one for themselves and another for the ladies. The one
for themselves is not too exacting. It allows for an escapade here
and there. The one for the ladies is very exacting. It allows for no
fooling around. Here all is serious business. What is sauce for the
gander is not sauce for the goose. Any moral laxity on the part of
the ladies brands them for life. When he looks in upon himself, his
conscience is not so tender. He can see that mote in the eye of his
girl friend. The beam in his own goes unnoticed. For a sin of
impurity she is regarded as a woman of the street. He is more kind
in judging himself.
The double standard of morality begins among the high school
crowd. We are not referring to the little morons without any
concept of morality. First of all, they would never read these
pages. No pictures. We are concerned with the large group of
young men essentially on the right side of decency. They have
accepted a high code of morality; but they may deviate on an
occasion. Often the reason is poor association.
Thus heavy petting, and sometimes worse, may come to be
regarded lightly--just an escapade to be expected of a young blade.
Not for the girls, however. These girls quickly get a name, an
unsavory one. The double standard of morality is in play.
Boys and young men active in competitive sports generally
appreciate the unsportsman-like attitude at bottom of the double
standard. Trained to play fair they cannot abide a cheat--even
One evidence of the male ego is the assumption on the part of
every man that it is a foregone conclusion that he could not
possibly fail as a successful husband in the matter of sexual
relations. Simply because he is a male he knows that he must be
the answer to every woman's prayer. Nothing could be more false,
as every marriage counselor knows.
The first reason why so many men are miserable failures or only
half fill the bill in this respect is found in the sad fact that a boy
does not become a man simply by putting on a pair of trousers.
Modern civilization seems to assume that he does. Primitive
societies rightly thought otherwise and had all sorts of
requirements, tests, and even ordeals which the youth had to pass
through, before he was accepted as a man.
The word vir meant much more among the Romans than a boy who
had hung around until he became twenty-one. Much goes into the
making of a man; and high on the list is self-restraint. Holding
back, not necessarily forever, but at least until the right moment is
as good a definition as any. Little boys are not good at holding
back. They jump at the first impulse.
Self-denial is the only exercise whereby the human will conditions
itself for self-restraint. Hard, grueling physical exercise is the only
road open to a young man wishing to excel at football. There is no
substitute, no alternate route. Similarly there is no other way to
acquire self-restraint except by self-denial.
Some men envision marriage as the end of sexual self-denial.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A man entering marriage
with such a false concept is in for an unhappy marriage, unless he
quickly adjust his thinking to reality. The privilege of sexual
relations leaves plenty of room for the exercise of restraint and
self-denial, as every married man well knows.
This Chapter does not purport to be a treatise on the techniques of
successful marriage relations. Elsewhere plenty of material is
accessible on this subject. The burden of the following pages will
be a discussion of ideas about sex which experience has shown to
be important in the furthering of happy marriage relations.
Many husbands are content and happy with their wives as regards
sex. Other husbands are miserable and frustrated. What ideas and
attitudes have contributed to the happiness of the first and to the
misery of the second group?
In dealing with unhappy failures as husbands it becomes obvious
that many other factors besides sex contribute to their
unhappiness. When all goes well between husband and wife as
regards sex, then sex is a small, if important, part of their lives.
When there is a sex problem in marriage then sex is magnified all
out of proportion. Then the grievances of husband and wife over
sex set up a constant turmoil obviating a sane and dispassionate
approach to all phases of marriage.
High on the list of stupid attitudes among husbands sexually
frustrated with their wives is the idea that marriage is the
opportunity long awaited for sexual gratification. "I left him," an
estranged wife once indignantly proclaimed, "because he could
think of nothing but sex."
"Didn't you enjoy sex relations with your husband?" I questioned
"In the beginning, yes. But then it became obvious all he wanted
was a bed partner. I expected more from marriage than that."
Husbands who are regarded by their wives as married only for
sexual self-gratification should be separated into two groups. The
first group seems incapable of spiritual concepts and rightly
merits the low appraisal of their wives. Only the physical appeals
to them, and they are over sex conscious. Self-centered and
seeking their own pleasure they cannot be happy in marriage.
They have no concept of making their wives happy. As a result
they fail as husbands and are miserable for the simple reason that
happiness can come in this life only through making others happy.
Husbands who regard this simple statement as only a pious
platitude are the sad evidence of its veracity.
Husbands in the second group are misjudged by their wives. These
husbands truly love and thus seek their wives' happiness. Yet,
some wives gain the impression that their husbands are primarily
interested in them for their bodies. Actually, these husbands are in
love with their wives' whole being--mind, body, and soul.
"My husband," said the wife of a relatively happy marriage,
"evidences affection, tenderness, and interest only, it seems, when
he wants relations. The rest of the time I might as well be his
I felt that she was exaggerating. Still, it was obvious that her
husband was missing the boat some way or other.
In this business of being wanted physically by their husbands
wives can be an enigma. The mentally and physically healthy wife
will contrive to be desired sexually by her husband. It would crush
her to find that her husband is growing indifferent to her charms.
She glows with satisfaction in the knowledge that her husband is
attracted to her physical being. Does that put her in seventh
heaven? Not quite. And here is one of the many evidences that we
can never be completely happy and satisfied on this earth.
Frequently she has misgivings that her husband is interested in
her only for the sake of sex. "Sure, when he wants me that way,
he's a jolly good boy. But I'd like a little affection and
consideration at other times as well."
So, it does seem that if a husband wishes to arrive at happiness
through the happiness of his wife, he must accomplish two things.
First, he gives evidence to his wife that she does things to him
physically. For most husbands this accomplishment is easy
enough. Second, he must give his wife assurance, that, should
their sex life, God forbid, come to an end, he still would be her
devoted lover. How to accomplish this may well be left to the
ingenuity of the individual husband. In various ways he must
prove to her that he is interested in his wife more than just for the
sake of her body. Suffice it to say that a husband in various ways
can convince his wife of love and devotion regardless of sex.
One legitimate complaint of wives is that husbands have a
tendency to think that sex can solve all difficulties, all their own
shortcomings. Even if a husband is blessed with a warm-blooded
and sexually eager wife, he deludes himself to think that all her
needs end with sex. If a husband becomes remiss in his support of
the family, negligent of the children, and in general just a lazy
gigolo, his best efforts to please his wife in marriage relations w-ill
begin to leave her cold.
J. P. could not leave the poker game at eleven P.M. with all the
money in the game. So what did J. P. do? Why, of course, he stayed
until two A.M. and came home in the proverbial barrel. Was Mrs. J.
P. sore? Now you take it from there.
No one can be blamed for getting in the doghouse once in a while.
The shame is in staying in there. J. P. resolved to get out at once.
What better way than to make love to his wife? That would soften
her up, he thought. Repelled as if by a buzz saw, he soon dropped
off to sleep reflecting on the unaccountable reactions of women.
There is no question but that many couples would find their
marriages pretty hard going were they not completely compatible
sexually. But a husband is stretching his luck too far who thinks
that he can be indifferent to his other responsibilities because he
is able to bring complete satisfaction to his wife's emotional and
Likewise, a husband is egotistic and presumptuous to think that
his love making is adequate compensation to his wife for days on
end of a grouchy and inconsiderate mood. When Mr. Bumkin
condescends to be pleasant and interested in his wife, she knows
the hour is near at hand. He may think that she is all aglow at the
prospect; but her heart is not in the effort. A wife should be
psychologically conditioned for marriage relations. Hurting her by
neglect or being selfish over some family decision is not
recommended as good remote preparation for relations. A sudden
right about face and cozy demeanor can raise suspicions that his
change of attitude has an ulterior motive behind it, to wit, self-
gratification. At best, she merely goes along with him as a dutiful,
but somewhat confused wife. In no sense does she give it the old
Many husbands are being cheated in marriage relations because
their wives are prevented from enjoying sex because of various
misconceptions and phobias. In The Wife Desired we discussed
some of the more common causes for failure on the part of wives
to be all God intended them to be. A husband playing house with a
so-called frigid wife should read the Chapter, The Wife Is a
Physical Being. The first step in solving a problem is recognition
and understanding. Later on, we shall return to the consideration
of the problem of maladjustment in sex life where the cause is
primarily in the wife. For the present, let us consider the husbands
themselves to blame for missing the fun God intended for them in
It has always bewildered me to meet so many wives lacking any
interest in marriage relations. Not only can they take it or leave it;
but they would just as soon leave it. How many husbands have I
talked with who complained that their wives seldom would
concede to relations. When they did their cooperation was at a
minimum. Yet, I felt that these men had no one to blame but
themselves. In some way or another they had not filled the bill.
Many a failure at marriage relations has failed to recognize the
importance of being gentle and tender with his wife. It is the
conception of savages, nitwits, and spiritual bankrupts that a real
he-man must be rough and callous. Frequently little boys who
never attain the stature of real manhood and thus lack confidence
in their virility, hide behind a bluster of vulgarity and boorishness.
All this fools few.
There would be fewer frustrated husbands, if they had enough
sense to stop and ponder the importance of tenderness. Few
normal women can resist the gentle and tender approach. They
gobble it up gook, line, and stinker.
A wife cannot receive too much solicitude. She responds to it like a
flower to the sun. However, the loving care and attention does not
begin a mere five minutes before the final act. Preoccupation with
self, cold disregard, and a sulky and gloomy disposition for days is
poor preparation for relations.
Marriage relations are intended by God to be much more than an
opportunity for the release of sexual urges. The Man for Her sees
to it that relations are more, much more for his wife and himself.
In this matter, as in every phase of life, we get out of any project
just what we put into it.
If a husband seeks relations in about as prosaic a manner as he
would order a humburger, he should not be surprised that the
experience falls flat for both. It is a very dull and unimaginative
husband who asks his wife for relations. The wise man knows that
God made his wife to want intercourse as much as he does. If a
husband is all he should be, is respected, admired by his wife, and
intrigues her, she will easily be led along gradually to the
anticipation of relations.
From living with his wife the wise husband knows to what stimuli
she responds. Because she loves him her affection can readily be
aroused. Gradually she becomes spiritually and physically
conditioned to love making. Their little intimacies of caressing
and fondling are their expression of love for each other. Without
necessarily intending or anticipating relations they are swept
along to a loving and passionate embrace culminating in the final
orgasm of copulation. Spent, they rest quietly in each others arms
flooded with a deep and abiding gratitude for possessing one
So, it is not the sexual orgasm alone that makes a husband
successful and happy. Any animal can have that. It is the ecstasy
of loving and being loved. Because God made us the way He did,
sex cannot be left out of the picture of love between husband and
wife anymore than breathing can be left out of living.
The full ecstasy of orgasm can be enjoyed only by those in love,
because God made sex only for those in love. Likewise, it is
impossible for husband and wife to be in love and shy away from
sex. If sex does not fit naturally into the pattern of their love, they
are abnormal. Likely as not one or the other is nuts.
Many husbands are sexually frustrated because they neglect what
may be called emotional calisthenics. Frequently and for a
considerable period of time a husband may not feel like any
emotional display--a kiss, a hug, and so forth. Because there may
be no internal feeling, he may think that any demonstration would
be hypocritical. Such a husband indicates that he is more self-
centered than hypocritical. If he were more forgetful of self and
more aware of his wife, he would consider the possibility that she
might appreciate, even need a little attention no matter what be
his lack of feeling at the moment.
Besides, just as muscles wither away for lack of use, so also
spiritual faculties diminish and die because of neglect. Emotional
calisthenics are as much in order for husbands as are setting up
exercises for athletes. A little smooching now and then, even when
the husband may not feel up to it, will go a long way toward
fostering in him and his wife the emotional seed bed whence can
spring full-grown love. Little signs of affection, a kiss or hug, are
the best and most natural environment for a steady growth of love
between man and wife.
Regarding the actual moments of love making immediately
preceding sexual climax, a husband cannot ignore a few
established facts. While he knows that all activity at love making is
morally legitimate, excepting only efforts at preventing
conception, yet he abstains from anything repulsive or even
objectionable to his wife. Men who repel their wives in this way
and then wonder why they are not eager for relations are idiots.
Here, of course, we are not referring to the sorry semblance of a
wife laboring under the impression that sex is unwholesome or
shameful. Later on in this Chapter we shall make a few remarks
about this type of wife and how a husband can deal with her.
Successful husbands know that women vary emotionally and
physically. Some are fragile and dainty. Others are strong and even
athletic. Some seem to have no nerves at all. Others jump at the
mere touch. It is the mistake of some young grooms to have
preconceived ideas about their wives and how their relations will
be. They will have to explore, and they should be happy to realize
that this exploration can be an interesting and lifelong pursuit, for
a wife is no shallow pie plate. She is as deep as the wells of life.
For this reason marriage relations do not become perfunctory and
even stale for happy couples.
Most wives who have loving husbands and yet complain that they
receive little satisfaction from relations complain because they are
very slow to arrive at their climax. These women require prolonged
caressing and love-making before they are at the point of climax.
These well-intentioned husbands fail to completely satisfy their
wives either because they cannot control themselves long enough,
or they are ignorant of their wives' situation. How husbands may
not realize that they fail to satisfy their wives escapes the
imagination. Yet, those are the facts disclosed in the Separation
Court, as well as in the confessional.
It would seem that if a husband is very solicitous for his wife's
welfare, he would make it his business to know how he is doing. It
certainly is no feather in his cap as a man to frustrate his wife. Of
course, many a wife contributes to the failure by not indicating
anything is amiss. Many wives seem to be influenced by one of the
silly "old wives' tales" that a wife simply does not allow her
husband to know that he fails to appease her needs.
The other group of husbands wants to do right by their wives but
fail for lack of self-control. Love making is scarcely under way
when they get too excited to wait for her. Many of these are the
little boys who never learned restraint and self-control. It is not
surprising that they are unable to contain themselves as husbands.
So control is important to others besides baseball pitchers and
golfers. It is just as much a requisite for husbands. Boys and
young men who have mastered themselves, all things else being
equal, will be the more successful husbands. Because a young man
has begun his married life with little evidence of control is no
reason why he should be a jerk the rest of his life. A sense of pride
in his manhood, if nothing else, should bring him around to the
ability to satisfy his wife.
Now we should consider the problems of husbands whose wives
are giving them a hard time over marriage relations. These are the
marriages wherein wives are primarily at fault for creating a sex
problem where there need be none.
Space requires us to limit ourselves to those wives who have no
excuse for being only half a wife. Obviously, for example, a wife
with constantly recurring vaginal tumors will merit the patient
understanding of any husband but a savage. The wife who makes
her husband's life a Purgatory on earth is our concern.
Husbands short-changed by their wives in this matter of sex will
be more successful in their efforts to bring their wives around, if
they accept the problem as a challenge. Success will not come
through pouting, sulking, or feeling sorry for themselves. Some
misconception or phobia is preventing their wives from enjoying
and wanting relations. Motivated by love to bring to their wives
what they should not be missing, these husbands have good cause
for confidence in final success. These wives will find it hard to
resist, if they see that their husbands' concern over the sex
maladjustment does not spring from any desire of self-
Many of these disappointed husbands would be more patient, if
they were aware as to how much nature is on their side. Women
were made by God to want relations just as much as men.
Invariably the reason for wives' being a trial to their husbands are
mental and not physical. Therefore husbands must help their
wives cultivate healthy concepts of sex.
Many a young woman of the best family and religious background
has made the mistake of carrying over into her married life
virginal ideas about sex. The marriage vows did not alter her
aversion to the function of sex as sinful, shameful, deplorable, and
so forth. Perhaps she may even have had a warped idea that sex in
itself was evil.
If a girl was reticent, retiring, and an introvert personality, her
husband will have to be all the more understanding. One wife of
these dispositions once told me that a few remarks dropped by her
husband put her on the right track the very first weeks of their
marriage. "If you think sex is uncouth or shameful aren't you
bordering on the blasphemous? Didn't God make sex? You are
right, and God is wrong?"
"Thank heavens," she told me, "I couldn't get around his reasoning.
I took myself to the confessional and was further straightened
As of now this couple is most happy, has six children, and is still
going strong. Replaced by true concepts, the false ideas vanished
and no longer could rob them of happiness. If a man's wife is beset
only by mistaken ideas about the propriety of relations, time and
nature and God's grace are on his side.
A husband suffering through marriage with a so-called frigid wife
has a more difficult job on his hands. First of all, a husband
should be aware that there really are no frigid women so
constituted by nature. God cannot be blamed. If, after a few years
of marriage, his wife bears all the ear marks of frigidity, she has
brought about the unnatural situation. A husband trying to get at
the bottom of such a problem will do well to look for the solution
outside of sex.
We are assuming here that the husband is not the cause. If the
husband forfeits the respect and love of his wife through
irresponsibility in supporting the family, for example, it is little
wonder that his wife runs from relations. Many a wife has frozen
up after a few children because she found no security in marriage
for herself or her children. Her life became a constant question as
to how and if the grocery money was forthcoming. Her husband
was loafing or spending it on drink or the horses.
The most common phobia suffered by wives is a fear of children.
Because of the sacrifices entailed in bearing and raising children
many wives choose the unrewarding and unhappy road of frigidity.
They never seek and seldom acquiesce in good grace to their
husbands' desire for relations. They pretend to be annoyed,
pained, martyred, or disgusted by the whole business. Because
these wives are fundamentally selfish they would not change their
stripes, were their husbands to come into a million dollars and
thus solve all their economic worries. Some other convenient
phobia, such as fear of childbirth, would arise.
The biggest separation of all mankind is into the selfish and the
unselfish; and happy family life is not for the selfish. If a young
man marries a selfish girl with an eye cast to the material
advantages of life, he can expect trouble somewhere along the
line. It frequently begins after the second child or so. The
difficulty may seem to be sex, but it actually is not. She begins to
feel sorry for herself and fears that life and its comforts are
slipping past her.
Paradoxically, the selfish never seek the things best for
themselves. They trade the substance for its shadow. They would
jeopardize and even sacrifice the happiness of family life for
material gewgaws. The spontaneity of their love is replaced by a
studied and charted aversion to sex, all because children deny her
the material comforts of life. A husband can stand on his head in
an effort to solve the problem on the basis of sex. He will fail,
simply because the difficulty is not one of sex. His wife's trouble
is mental, spiritual.
No one can give what he does not possess. A husband lacking a
sound philosophy of life cannot impart truth to his wife. If he is
not conscious that he is a child of God and heir of heaven, that all
his activities have meaning only from the viewpoint of eternity,
how can he rescue her from the pit of weary, crass materialism?
A woman needs a husband even more than he needs her. She is not
self-sufficient. In her husband she looks for security for self and
children. If her husband is always moaning about the uncertainties
of his economic future, he lends nothing to his partner's sense of
security. If he scares the daylights out of his wife by grousing
continually about the difficulties of supporting and providing for
the future of his few children, how can he expect his wife to be
spontaneous, unreserved, and uncharted in her love making? He
cannot keep his pie and eat it. He cannot expect his wife to spring
into his arms, if he worries her about the future.
He has as much control over the future as he has over the wind. By
fretting about the future he loses the present. He must put more
stock in Christ's advice: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they
grow; they labor not neither do they spin. Yet, I say to you that not
even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these."
A wife looks beyond marriage relations more than a husband. She
will carry the possible child. She will deliver it, nurse it, and be its
constant companion. Unless she is assured of the abiding presence
of God and the all-out cooperation of her husband, she may drift
into unrewarding frigidity. If a husband's strong confidence in
God's Providence flows over into his wife and if he gets off his
britches and does something about providing security, he will
have his wife's love making to his heart's content.
In these pages we have passed over birth prevention. Nor do we
now wish to deal with the subject. This Chapter is for men, strong-
hearted men who wish to live the full life of marriage. Those who,
defective in some way spiritually or physically, feel need for
literature on birth prevention must look elsewhere.
Our appreciation of the genuine is accentuated when we are forced
to put up with what became known during the last war as ersatz.
As the war machine ate up more and more materials, the search
mounted for substitutes. If a manufacturer was drastically
restricted in his use of copper, he skimped or got by with a
In Europe the situation was much worse than in our own country.
Vividly I remember trying to drink ersatz coffee while in France
during the war. The awful concoction was rumored to have been
made of chicory and barley. Also, smoking a few of the local
brands of cigarettes brought back poignant memories of a
boyhood fling at smoking dried corn silk.
As soon as the war was over and supply of materials began to
catch up with demand, consumers became more selective in their
buying. No longer would they be satisfied with ersatz
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the
people all the time. All recognize the source and truth of the
statement. A quack doctor is soon found out. A thieving politician
in time is discovered to be no statesman and is turned out of
A man may be a great artist and yet live an immoral life. The
outstanding baseball pitcher may be a mean, uncharitable, and
dishonest man. They are not fraudulent in their claims. The artist
is successful in his efforts at genuine creative work. The baseball
pitcher is recognized by all managers in the big leagues as the
best in the game. Every manager would like to have him on his
team. No manager would want his daughter to marry the man.
Obviously a man may be genuine as an artist or athlete and a
complete fraud as a husband. While there are certain physical
requirements, most of the requisites for success as a husband are
in the moral order.
Conceivably, a man may lie like the devil and yet be a capable
farmer, carpenter, or what have you--never a successful and happy
husband. A successful financier may be the meanest and most
tightfisted man in town. Many are. No man with these qualities of
soul can pretend to be a genuine husband. As such he is a faker,
just as much as a pretender at high finances ignorant of simple
A self-centered and egotistic man may be a successful business
man. Possessing these characteristics he will never make a woman
happy, and therefore he fails to be happy himself. It is much
easier to be a successful man of the world than to be a happy
husband. The mistaken idea is too common that any jasper can be
a good husband, while it takes character to be a real go-getter in
the business world. The divorce courts are ample testimony to the
No one would argue that dishonesty, lying, and immorality further
business careers. Yet, it has been heard that dishonest, untruthful,
and immoral men have become leaders of business. No one has
heard of a dishonest, untruthful, and immoral man being a
Our contention is that an irreligious man beset with vices has no
right to offer himself as a husband. He is not genuine; he is ersatz
material for marriage.
Since religion is fundamentally a recognition of dependence on
God, the irreligious man is not genuine for the simple reason that
he is masquerading as something he is not. He is not independent
of God. He needs God for his very existence, the breath in his
body, the pulse in his veins.
When a man considers himself independent of God, it is not
surprising that he acts independently of his neighbor. If he
brushes aside God, what is to keep him from brushing aside his
fellow man? If he is low-minded about God, he will be highhanded
When people pick out irreligious partners for marriage, they are
not gambling on the future. They are betting on a sure thing--
trouble. Marriage is not another career like medicine, law,
merchandising, selling, or one of the skilled trades. Marriage is a
vocation and dedication of one's self to a way of life determined
by God. A labor union specifies how a bricklayer lays bricks. God
has ordained how a husband uses his marriage bed.
In other words, marriage is not something thought up by man. It is
an institution of God. It should be no cause for wonder that those
who pay no attention to God have no particular concern for the
preservation of the religious and sacred aspects of marriage.
Appearances are often deceiving. A young lady of no religion, or
much worse, an apostate may seem to be a fine prospect for
marriage. The man who marries her, though, had better keep his
fingers crossed. As long as it is convenient for her she will live up
to the moral demands of marriage. If her husband becomes
successful and rich and is the popular man about town, she may
have little trouble, for example, with fidelity. Suppose her husband
turns out to be no bargain. Will she honor her marriage vow: " . . .
until death do us part?" Unless she is physically attracted to her
husband, she is likely to take the easy way out. Since she has no
religious convictions to motivate her actions, she cannot be
expected to do other than what fits her convenience.
Another reason why the irreligious make poor husbands, or wives
for that matter, rests in the fact that the irreligious are a law unto
themselves. The religious man recognizes a Power for good
outside of himself. He knows that he does not stand by himself.
His recognition of God is the best antidote against being self-
centered. The irreligious man makes himself out to be God.
One of the medieval emperors after leading an irreligious life
repented on his deathbed. Because of his Godless attitude he had
been a scourge to all who crossed his path. In preparing his
confession he summed up his evil life by saying, "My great sin was
in trying to be God."
The husband who tries to be God is a little out of character. High
on the list of those whom he fails to fool is his suffering wife. The
more a man tries to be God, the less he resembles God and less
lovable he becomes.
A much larger group of husbands would not want to be considered
irreligious. These men express belief in God, although they do
little about it. Perhaps on Christmas or Easter they can manage a
little emotional jag. The practice of religion leaves them cold,
because they are materialists. Spiritual concepts elude them. Food
in their stomachs, clothes on their backs, roof over head, and a
comfortable bed absorb all their interests. They are not opposed to
church. Simply, they have no time for it.
"My husband," many a wife has exclaimed, "put me on a pedestal!
Does he look upon me as a vision of God? Are you kidding?"
The almost indignant disappointment of these wives is
unreasonable. They married men whose spiritual perception was
nil. They never bothered to practice a religion, much less arrive at
any degree of closeness to God. If these men have no perception of
the presence of God in themselves, how can they be expected to
see even a glimmering of God in their wives?
These husbands engage themselves in waistline thinking. Seldom,
if ever, do they get up to the level of their wives' eyes where God
has a chance to look out at them. These men are long on the
physical and short on the spiritual. The physical nature of their
wives intrigues them. Their spiritual side escapes them.
"Inspiration!" exclaimed a wife. "I'm afraid I never got through to
him with inspiration."
She should not have been surprised. Inspiration belongs to the
spiritual order. Her husband was little concerned with spiritual
realities. He lived in the world of matter, and any brief excursion
into the realm of the spirit left him feeling uncomfortable and out
This wife did not complain that her husband was without love for
her. She acknowledged his attraction for her. He was not without
kindness and consideration. What she did complain about was the
degree and caliber of his love.
She wanted from him a glorifying love elevating her into seventh
heaven. All her husband could manage was a bargain basement
variety letting her feel like a five-and-ten-cent store doll. Instead
of thinking of God when he looked at her, all he saw was
It would be just as ridiculous to maintain that the irreligious are
utterly incapable of human love, as it would be to say that those
practicing a religion are necessarily suffused with Divine love.
From long experience, though, I am certain that those without God
are very limited in their capacity to love.
On the other hand, we are painfully aware that we who practice
religion are not always aglow with love. I have the sad recollection
of many unhappy husbands and wives who, though not on fire, yet
had not abandoned the religious practices of their youth. Perhaps
they prayed in the same home and the same church, yet they had
failed to pray together and had drifted apart.
Too much unhappiness and too many separations and even
divorces among church going people are evidence that attendance
at church alone is no guarantee of marital happiness. Religious
people do not miss the rewards of being level-headed, nor do they
escape the penalties of being flat-headed.
Many couples in the flat-headed group have missed happiness
because they ignored the natural and psychological aspects of
marriage. A husband may neglect complimenting his wife or he
may pay no heed to her emotional needs year in and year out. By
never responding he may kill her efforts at inspiration. His
attendance at church in itself is not filling the void he leaves in
his wife's being.
"Ann, you are getting to be an awfully bad girl," Jack teased his
loving wife as they lingered at the kitchen table. "You didn't make
one night of the mission."
As Ann began sputtering some excuses, her husband got up from
the table. "Well, I guess I had better be on my way over to church.
Tonight's speaker is excellent." Jack was good at play acting, and
he put on a smug, holier-than-thou face as he made for the door.
With a sweet, meaningful smile Ann countered, "Oh, don't worry,
dear, about the dishes. They're a snap. Baths for all the children
will take only a minute. In just a matter of seconds I'll be lounging
around waiting for your return."
An hour later, as Ann busied herself with putting the children to
bed, she fell into a serious, perplexed mood. The mother of six
children and a weekly recipient of the Sacraments she valued her
religion and felt that she was living up to it. Perhaps she could do
more, though. Maybe she should have dumped the children in
Jack's lap every night last week and gone to the women's mission.
Ann was immensely proud of her husband and happy over the fact
that he was not a half-baked Catholic. His religion did not just go
with his Sunday-best clothes. Yet, was his judgment perfect in
leaving her alone so much with the children? She would have
enjoyed making the mission at least a few nights the previous
week; but she hesitated to impose on her husband. Last week he
did not tease about missing the mission.
"Am I too concerned with my job as wife and mother to the neglect
of myself?" Ann asked the reflection of her face as she stood
before her dresser. Screams of conflict from the bathtub banished
her reverie. For the time being the questions would have to be
This book was written because the author had seen too many
couples of religious backgrounds missing a lot of the happiness
God intended for them. "Why should this happen to me," wail many
husbands over their broken or unhappy marriages. "I always went
Either their religion amounted to church on Sunday and did not
permeate and sanctify their everyday lives, or they ignored human
nature and some of the natural phases of marriage with which this
Because it is folly for married people to ignore the natural helps
and hindrances to love and happiness, it is no less foolish to live
without God. The great enemies of happiness in marriage, pride
and selfishness, cannot survive the true religious spirit.
The Man For Her is not a follower. He does not tag along after his
wife in so important a phase of marriage as the practice of
religion. He is a leader who requires less back-seat driving in
finding the way to God than he does in getting home from a bridge
I am happy to say that I have known a great number of husbands
who were more deeply religious than their wives. Except for one or
two psychopaths these men were wonderful husbands. Why
wouldn't they be ideal husbands? Their wives married these men
because they saw in them the goodness of God. Good always
Because these husbands continued during all their married lives to
evidence and even radiate the goodness of God, their wives loved
them more as the years went by.
Frequently the very young ask whether true love can ever die. He
who replies in the affirmative may be regarded as jaundiced by the
inexperienced. Yet, life teaches us that human love must be
merited constantly. Few human beings win and keep the love of
others except by manifesting the attractive goodness of God within
When a man is fortunate enough to come across a woman in life
who is capable of sifting through all his human failings and
spiritual ineptitude and can find the beautiful image of God in
him, is he not some bumpkin to lose her love? He will cease to
have her love unless he merits it. And who can say that he merits
love, unless God dwells within him?
The honest husband remains completely mystified all his life as to
how his wife could ever have begun to love him. Somehow, he
knows, she must have seen in him a bit of God and therefore would
have nothing else in life but him. Unless a man be a vegetable, his
wife's love for him makes him aware of God. How else can he
explain her love to himself?
"It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved." The
saying is true because no one ever really loses when he loves. He
has come closer to God and is a better person for his love, whether
it be requited or not. "It is worse to have been loved and lose the
love than never to have been loved." This statement is also true,
because the love was killed by turning away from God. God was so
shut out of the soul that His image could no longer be seen.
The Christian husband who destroys his wife's love for him fails in
a mission bestowed upon him by Christ Himself. The love of
Christian man and wife should be much more than merely their
human love for each other. Christ wishes their love to be a
manifestation to the world of His love for His followers.
The cynical and jaded world can never scoffingly ask, "Where is
God, where is His love?" For those who have eyes to see, just let
them look around. Husbands and wives evidence through their
love the love of the Shepherd for His sheep. Because man could
never accomplish this by himself, Christ gives to married
Christians a special grace. With His sacramental help married
couples have the ability and privilege of showing Christ to the
Their love transcends the merely human and is identified with the
divine plan of redemption. Christ did redeem the human race
nineteen centuries ago; but salvation is had today as His merits are
applied to individual souls. Christ did not love us only in the dim
past; He loves today. Christ is not gone these many centuries; He
dwells with us today. How do we know? What is the sign or proof?
The love of husband and wife. Christian marriage, then, is a
vocation. Husband and wife have been destined to keep alive the
knowledge of Christ's abiding presence.
When the Cana Conference broke up, I waited at the exit of the
hall. I wanted to talk over some details of a coming parish party
with Mrs. Lewis. The last discussion period had been an unusually
interesting one, and the forty married couples were slow to leave
the hall for the church where they would renew marriage vows and
receive benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The couples who attend Cana Conferences have always intrigued
me. What fascinates me most is how they react upon each other.
The subject of family finances took up a big portion of this
particular Sunday afternoon. As several husbands and wives
related their methods of keep several husbands and wives related
their methods of keeping the wolf from the door, various reactions
were evident from facial expressions. A skeptical wrinkling of the
forehead, a knowing grin between a couple, a sidelong glance of a
wife at her none-too-convinced spouse--these and other signs gave
some hint to what was going on in the minds of those present.
While I was musing over these various reactions and was forgetting
to wear the martyred look of one who had given up a Sunday
afternoon game of golf, Mrs. Lewis appeared. As she was new in the
parish, I had met her only once before. She had the glowing health
of a young mother expecting her seventh child. Besides, she was
As we began to walk toward the church, her husband excused
himself. He wished to catch up with a neighbor before he entered
the church. In talking with her I made some remark which
presupposed that they had an automobile.
"Oh, but Father, we don't have a car. We're having babies now.
Perhaps someday we'll have a car and things like that."
What made these words all the more wonderful was the simple,
casual manner of their utterance. She was seemingly unaware of
the tremendous thing she had said almost in the way of an
apology. Only now and then does a person say a few words which
someone else will never forget.
As we entered the church, I wondered how some men deserve such
wives. Mr. Lewis soon unknowingly told me. And with his
expression of love this little book comes to an end.
Mr. Lewis was waiting in the last pew for his wife. As she knelt
along side of her husband she whispered, "Did you think that I was
He leaned over slightly and replied, "You could never become lost
in any sense of that word. God would never have poured so much
of His beauty into your eyes, unless He wanted you to come back