THE WIFE DESIRED
Leo J. Kinsella
Divine Word Publications, Techny, Illinois
Imprimatur: Samuel Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago
Nihil obstat: John J. Clifford, S.J.
Copyright 1954 Leo J. Kinsella
Printed in the United States of America
1. The Wife Desired Is an Inspiration to Her Husband
2. The Wife Desired Has Personality
3. The Wife Desired Is Patient
4. The Wife Desired Is a Physical Being
5. The Wife Desired Has a Sense of Humor
6. The Wife Desired Is a Companion of Her Husband
7. The Wife Desired Is Religious
INTRODUCTION: THE WIFE DESIRED
The role of the girl in life is the most glamorous and fascinating in
all the world. To the nomads of the East she is the "little gazelle"
and to the Japanese the "plum blossom." In the Book of Proverbs
she is the "dearest hind and most agreeable fawn." Jewels,
sapphires and rubies, are her eyes and lips. The softness of a
spring morning are in her words. Her smile is as the splendor of
the rising sun. Of all the creatures in the world she is made by God
the most beautiful. She is the incarnation and summation of all the
flowers of nature. No man ever spoke more truth than when he
whispered into the ear of his beloved that she was divine. She is an
image, a spark of divinity given to us in life as a preview of things
to come. She is yielding, helpless, yet divine. To whom God has
given much, from her much is expected. Of no other creature is so
much demanded. She is to be the helpmate of man the mother of
his children. She is to keep his home to comfort him in loneliness
and weariness, and to bring him back to health when sick.
This appraisal of the part a girl plays in life may seem to some
flattering. Yet, it is sincerely made. Actually this judgment of the
ladies is more challenging than flattering, for what girl could fail
to desire to measure up to this appraisal in the eyes of her
husband ? Countless young wives have merited from their
husbands the esteem that they were the most glamorous and
fascinating creatures in all the world. Unfortunately too many girls
have failed to do so, and thus experience the misery of an
unhappy, if not broken, marriage. The purpose of this book is to
show the girl, the young wife how she may easily have success and
happiness in marriage, being in the eyes of her husband "the
dearest hind and most agreeable fawn."
The idea of this book was formed in my mind during the last six
years as I sat at the Chicago Chancery Office as one of the judges
in the separation court. If you wish negative exposition on the
subject of the ideal and desired wife, sit in on the Separation Court
for a few weeks. The judges in this court obviously meet with only
the failures at marriage. In their task of counseling they seldom
work with either ideal husbands or wives. As often as not both are
at fault. When one is chiefly to blame for their unhappiness, it is
just as likely to be the wife. Causes for failure in marriage are
pretty equally divided between husbands and wives. Many of the
unhappy wives appearing there, failures in the vocation for which
God had best suited them by nature, are utterly unaware that they
are to blame in a great measure for their unhappy marriage. "My
husband drinks." "He stays away from home as much as possible."
"He sits down at the tavern with other women." He is always the
villain. The poor fellow sits down at the tavern with other women
not because he is happy there. He is desperate. He has a nagging
wife, or he is practically married to his mother-in-law rather than
to his wife. So, foolishly he seeks escape at the local tavern.
Things go from bad to worse, and finally an indignant wife
presents herself to the separation court demanding a separate
maintenance suit. Most wives who have failed and are primarily
the cause of their broken marriage do not realize that their
marriage is a failure due to their own shortcomings.
An ideal wife inspires. The failure nags. The ideal wife is mature
and has cut the apron strings a possessive mother had tied to her.
She is weaned emotionally as well as physically. The failure is
immature and not sure of herself, so she puts up with the tyranny
all such immature people must accept The husband at first might
attempt to deal with this tyranny and fight against it. The wife
might side with mother, and so there are fights. In time the
husband throws in the sponge. He wants to keep the marriage, and
to maintain peace he often slips away to the tavern. He finds some
release there. Mother advises the wife that no daughter of hers
should put up with such shameful conduct.
In talking to the seniors of a number of girls' high schools in
Chicago over the years, I frequently came across the idea that if a
girl found the ideal husband, she could feel assured of a
successful marriage. Cannot wives be failures? Just as much and
as often as husbands, of course. The ideal husband is an
interesting subject; but, he is not the subject of this book. I am
making a plea to girls to turn from day dreaming about that ideal
husband and reflect on their own lives to see whether they cannot
prepare to be ideal wives. If a girl becomes an ideal and desired
wife, she eliminates about fifty per cent of the possibility of a
failure at marriage.
The average thoughtful girl plans for the day when she will be
married and happy with her husband. She wants to prepare herself
for that day. Her success as a wife will be in proportion to her
intelligent preparation. She does not sit back on her oars after
marriage either but continues the development of her character
and charm all the days of her married life.
I cannot cover all the aspects of the ideal wife for a number of
reasons. Yet, I think that the ideas discussed here are essential to
the concept of the Ideal Wife. These ideas come from many
sources--from ideal wives, whom I have been happy to know and
from failures with whom I have had to deal. Some of these
successful wives told me their story simply by living ideal lives,
and unwittingly gave me the ideas of this book. Others were more
willing, perhaps more able, to express themselves. A number of
these expressions should have quotation marks around them. To
several of these happy, ideal wives I gratefully acknowledge large
portions of this work. We could use, we need more of them in this
In writing of the wife desired, I hope to eliminate the negative and
accentuate the positive. So, if I mention examples of failures, it is
only to highlight the picture of the successful and, therefore,
happy wife. Incidentally, being a successful wife is much more fun
and there is more pleasure writing about her than about the
Many books have been written on marriage. This is not another. As
the reader could expect from the title the author deals with only
the wife and her contribution to marriage. Generally he deals in
fundamentals and especially so in the chapter on Companionship.
It is his experience that most failures as wives were failures
because they could not see the obvious and did not use common
The natural and psychological aspect of the wife's part in marriage
are stressed, because the author is only too aware that many wives,
cognizant of the spiritual and sacramental character of their
marriages, fail to put to good use the natural gifts of mind and
Fortunately the authors who have traced the importance of the
sacramental character are many. The task of emphasizing the
supernatural is paradoxically not easy, and we should never relax
our efforts in that direction. It would be foolish and dangerous,
however, to refuse to consider the natural, the human things which
must enter into a happy marriage.
There will be no theorizing in the following pages. After all, there
have been and are today countless ideal wives. They are all about
us. We have just to open our eyes to see the reasons for their
success. Why are they so successful? What qualities of mind and
body do they possess? We shall see in the following pages. But just
one more reflection before we begin. Lest some timid soul be
frightened by the high goal implied in the expression "Wife
Desired," let her remember that every vocation in life has its ideal.
Without an ideal, a goal in any phase of life, we flounder about in
confusion and misery. During World War II, a number of cases
came to the attention of the world of men living for days and even
weeks on rafts in the open sea. They always resented the careless
reporting in the newspapers that they drifted. Drifting connotes
the lack of a goal. Flotsam and jetsam drift. Inert matter drifts.
Human beings do not drift, lest they be imbeciles. These men were
fighting against a destiny weaker men would have accepted. They
had a goal, Australia or some South Sea island. Day after day they
struggled toward it with a courage which would not be denied.
Like the mountain climber most of us may never reach the top,
but, when death comes, at least we can say that we died climbing.
Perhaps at times in the following pages we shall get our heads into
the clouds. We hope so. However, we shall keep our feet on the
ground. Even though in life we have to plod through a lot of mud
and muck on our feet, we do not have to get down and plow ahead
with our noses. We can keep our heads in the clear air and our
vision up beyond the clouds ever searching for the full truth and
complete beauty that lies out beyond the margents of this world.
1. THE WIFE DESIRED IS AN INSPIRATION TO HER HUSBAND
John was dead tired as he left work for home late one Monday
afternoon. His physical fatigue partly accounted for his low spirits.
He felt that he was on an economic treadmill. He was getting
nowhere. Married five years he and Aeleen and the two little ones
were still cooped up in a miserable little four room birth control
trap of a flat. And worst of all they had saved pitifully little for
their own home It was not like John to quit.
John was not giving up this particular Monday night either. Yet he
was worried about the future. He did not seem to be getting
anywhere. He had cast about in his mind for some solution till he
was in a mental whirl. Should he look for a part time job on the
side? Should he quit his job, take the plunge, and go in with Joe
Burns on that gas station? He hated to vex Aeleen with these
problems. She had the housework and the children. His was the
responsibility of decision.
As he reached for the kitchen door knob, he paused. A dark cloud
passed over his face. Aeleen had no bargain in him. She was the
beauty of her whole school. Intelligent and bubbling over with
personality she could have done much better.
As the door swung open, Aeleen was wiping a bit of spilled milk
from the floor. One knee was on the floor; the other balanced
Michael, the culprit whose mess she was cleaning up. Her face
came up to meet John's. It was all smiling. The hug and the kiss
told him that no one else in all this world was as welcome to step
through that kitchen door. She noticed that he held her just a little
longer than usual. "He needs me this evening more than ever." she
sensed. "And what a comfy feeling to know one is needed."
That evening Aeleen fulfilled with colors flying the greatest
function of a wife. She was his inspiration. She quickly drove the
black devils of defeatism from his troubled mind. Before bedtime
he was ready like Cyrano de Bergerac, to fight giants. Her
confidence in him was complete, not that she did not have to
chase out disturbing doubts now and then about his capacities.
She was much in love with John and knew his love. This mutual
love made it easier for her to discipline her mind, so that her
whole being evidenced her assurance in him. Come what might
John was her man and he was the best in the world for her.
Thoughts constant and deep have a way of manifesting themselves
especially to one spiritually tuned in to the thinker. Aeleen's faith,
quietly evidenced in her husband, renewed his courage. He would
not fail her. Aeleen was God's manifestation to him of all that was
good and beautiful. Like David, the psalmist, he felt that, if Aeleen
was with him, who was against him?
Aeleen made him conscious that he was the greatest man in the
world for her money. There was no pretense in Aeleen's admiration
for John. She loved him deeply. He was her sunshine and the light
blinded her from seeing anyone else. It was no effort for her to
stifle within her soul any invidious comparisons between John and
other husbands seemingly more successful. On the surface, the
husbands of some of her acquaintances might be more successful.
Some of them obviously commanded much more income. "So
what?" fought back Aeleen within herself. "It takes more than that
to make a husband. John may not be on fire, nor the most gifted
person, but take him for what he is, all in all, he is a man."
From this brief little picture of Aeleen and John, it is obvious that
the ideal wife is much more than a companion, a good
housekeeper, a good cook, and a good mother. She is an
inspiration. Unless she is this to her husband there is danger that
all the other fine aspects of her role as wife will be wasted in final
ABILITY OF WIFE TO INSPIRE
The first purpose of this chapter should be to convince all wives
that they have been endowed by God with the ability to inspire
their husbands. Many wives do not seem to realize their potential
power in this respect. It has been a revelation to me to find out
how many wives do not have any concept of this important
function of a wife. No doubt that is why we are both so unfortunate
as to meet at the Chancery.
The world is quite a bit what women make it. If our sojourn here
below is a triumphal parade to the tune of swinging music, to
women go the bouquets. If it is a forced march through a vale of
tears, to our lady friends go the brickbats. On the one hand we
have our Blessed Lady. On the other hand we have to contend with
Eve. Women have a way about them of sweeping men on to the
heights of nobility or of plunging them into the depth of
degradation. To women God has given a mysterious power of
bringing out the best or the worst there is in a man. History and
literature reminds us of a multitude of women who activated this
latent force within themselves and thus provided the motivation
and inspiration of great accomplishments.
Men left to themselves too long tend to become rough, brutish,
and even evil. I saw enough of this in the Army during the two
years overseas with the same outfit. There was something vital
missing in the lives of these soldiers. It was the influence of their
mothers, their sisters, their wives, and their sweethearts. The
deterioration of the soldiers overseas was slow and gradual but
still very definite. The great mass of mankind finds it pretty
difficult to climb very much above its environment. An all male
environment is not good for a man over a long period of time. God
never intended for the average man to so live. Eve appeared on the
scene soon after Adam.
The ideal wife gives comfort and encouragement when needed.
She is wise with a woman's intuition, so at times she pricks his
pride subtly to enable him to rise to some particular situation.
Always he has her understanding. She shows her sympathy without
being sorry for him. Above all, she never allows him to feel sorry
There are times when she senses that her best contribution is
silence. Her presence is all she can give, and it is all he needs. He
is upset, out of sorts, confused, and angry with himself. She will
not add to his turmoil with advice or suggestions. Patiently she
waits, until he comes down to earth. Sometimes she is at a loss for
what to say or do to help him. So she says and does nothing. Her
best efforts at inspiration and encouragement may meet with
failure and even rebuff. She is human and feels the hurt, but
valiant is the word for her. She can be blue and down over his lack
of response, but because she is strong of heart she bounces back
with resilience for another day and its tasks. She does not run and
hide from problems. If an understanding must be reached over
some situation or other, she does not hesitate to thrash the matter
out with him. Yet she never needlessly worries him. Some wives
worry their husbands into an early grave, they themselves
remaining around to collect the dividends of lonely old age.
A good responsible husband was in the habit of going to his office
Saturday mornings, even though he had nothing to do there. He
said that he just sat at his desk and read the newspaper. "If I stay
home my wife will figure out a hundred things for me to do.
When he "cried on my shoulder" about the energy of his wife in
planning his Saturdays his quandary was extreme, for he had just
retired and no longer had an office to which to escape.
In every home certain tasks must be performed by the husband.
The grass needs cutting, the storm windows have to be put up, and
so on. The husband worth anything is aware of these chores
properly befalling him. He does not have to be reminded of them,
or worse, nagged about them.
Things around the house will get out of kilter. An electric socket
needs attention. A wheel has come off junior's wagon. Because the
wife is on the scene all week she will be more aware of these
varying little jobs requiring a man's attention. Her objective is to
get these odds and ends repaired. Her method will depend on her
personality, her intelligence, her understanding of her husband,
and her tact or lack of it.
She may use the direct approach based on the fact that honey
catches more flies than vinegar. "Dear, I'll love you all day long if
you fix the toaster."
The indirect method has its successful adherents. For our example,
we will imagine that it is high time a particular Saturday morning
that the window screens were up for the summer. While the man of
the house sleeps late his wife quietly clouds the bedroom with
DDT. If her husband complains, as he awakens, she innocently
explains that she did not want him to be eaten by mosquitoes as
Patricia Ann was during the night. She never mentions the screens.
But it is easy to imagine that the idea of screens is slowly seeping
into her husband's befuddled cranium.
The shrewd wife is well poised enough to know better than to try
to outshine her husband. If she happens to be married to a man of
inferior intelligence or education, she will best give evidence of
this fact by avoiding the slightest indication of superiority.
Indeed, any wife's intellectual ascendancy over her husband could
be questioned were she dull enough to strive to lord it over him. If
she is clever she will from time to time approach that big man of
hers with some terrific problem which is way beyond the
capacities of her little brain. "Dear, what do you think I ought to do
about this situation? It has me baffled."
"What is a wife expected to be," any woman might object to the
above advice, "a wishy-washy dumb Dora? Is she forever and a day
supposed to play up to her husband?" Of course not. Much better if
she would play with him. A wife does not have to be an open book
to her husband. It does not hurt to keep him guessing once in a
A real man likes to picture his wife as one with spirit and bounce.
Because she is intelligent with a mind of her own she knows when
to maintain a principle, when to be roguish and sportive. Gifted
with imagination she can give herself to the game of intriguing her
husband. Always she is exciting and vivacious.
The wife loves a little compliment here and there herself, so she
knows the value of this form of encouragement. Incidentally, in
most marriages heading for the rocks the couples exchange no
compliments. Just the opposite is true between people who seem
still to have some sort of possessive love for each other. I do not
suppose there exists a married couple who could not concentrate
upon and draw up a list of each other's shortcomings. The wise
wife knows that there is no future in this mean indoor sport. She
counts her blessings. She makes her husband's good points the
foundation upon which she strives to help him build
The ideal wife does not mother her husband. Yet she knows that he
stands alone only with difficulty. Physical or mental pain may
drive him to her. She knows how to accept him then with feeling.
There is an erroneous idea abroad that women can stand pain
much better than men. This is nonsense. I have seen men in
military hospitals overseas suffer in silence. I have seen them die
painfully in the line of duty without a whimper. Many nurses have
told me that their experience is that men suffer and bear pain just
as well as women. Then whence comes this widespread false
concept? It comes from the observation of our fathers. As children
we received our first impressions of men from our fathers. And our
fathers were notorious for raising a terrible howl of pain when
anything happened to them. Why? Simply because our mothers
Toward the end of his days a man can look back upon his life and
find no greater accomplishment than his full success as a husband
and father. All his varied activities possessed significance, really
meant something only in relation to his role as husband and head
of the house. If he had great success in the cheap sense of the
word and became very rich, but was a failure as a husband, what
contentment is there in the last recollections of his life ? What
success, real or fictitious, can compensate for his failure as a
No woman can escape sharing her husband's misery or his
contentment and peace. If she has contributed to his making, to
her comes the reward of real happiness. No wife hurts her husband
more than she hurts herself. No wife makes her husband happier
than she makes herself.
Lest anyone think that sly reference is here being made to
unfaithfulness on the part of wives, let us clear the decks of any
such obstructions to understanding what is meant. I believe that I
am in a good position to make the statement that, relatively
speaking, very few wives are unfaithful. Men have much more
cause to hang their heads in shame on this score. However, there
are other ways in which a woman can bring out the worst in a man,
other ways in which she can drive him to distraction, if not to
The ideal wife never nags. Nagging of a husband can be just as
destructive to a marriage as unfaithfulness; and it is much more
common. Nagging may be slower in bearing its evil fruit, but the
final parting is none the less bitter. "The stroke of a whip makes a
blue mark, but the stroke of a tongue will break the bones. Many
have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have
perished by their own tongue." Ecclus. 28, 21. Nagging is the
opposite of inspiration. An inspiring wife uplifts her husband. The
nagging wife tears him down in whose eyes he should never be
torn down--his own.
Since a nagging wife is such an abomination and since God has
endowed her with the ready faculty of inspiration, why do we have
so many wives who fail partially or completely in this respect?
Before I give what I think is the answer to this vital question, let
me mention briefly a very small group of wives. I suppose that
there have to be just so many sour grapes in every vineyard. Some
women are congenitally cantankerous, fault finding, carping, and
shriveled souls, who need no reason or explanation for their
nagging. This type should be included in the long list of evils from
which we ask God to deliver us. Every man child should begin at a
tender age to pour out supplications that he never cross her path.
He who falls into her clutches must endure a ball and chain type of
existence seldom suffered even in concentration camps.
One cheerful thought in this connection is that God never allows
nature to go too far out of balance. He never allows birds to die out
so that insects and worms take over. He also sees to it that there
are always enough insects and worms to keep the birds fat and
happy. This shrew type of wife, thank heavens, is not too
numerous. I like to think that she generally attracts her
counterpart, the male scoundrel.
Most women who nag their husbands do so because they love their
husbands. And the reason why wives are more prone to nag than
husbands is that wives love more than husbands. This sounds very
paradoxical, and it is. Yet it is true.
Love has many peculiar and even unexplored phases. When a
woman loves a man, she creates an ideal of him in her mind. She
can find no wrong in him, For a time the fierceness of her love may
blind her to reality. Sooner or later she begins to notice
discrepancies between the ideal and the reality. He is not neat
around the house with his personal belongings. He could be more
punctual for meals. At least he could telephone and warn her of
any unavoidable delay. Her paragon of all virtues, her idol, begins
to show his clay feet. He has a lazy streak and does not help her as
much as he could around the house. These and similar
shortcomings, even defects of character, pain her because she
loves him and wants him to be perfect. She hopes that mother or
the neighbors have not observed these failings. Perhaps she begins
her campaign by whining at him. His unfavorable reception of this
startling innovation in their heretofore unperturbed connubial
bliss spurs her into more direct attack. She relates his faults to
him and scolds him. Like a school child he is put on the carpet and
lectured. The old boy does not take to this procedure and strikes
back with a few pointed criticisms of his own. Unless she is on
guard, her chagrin at failing to improve the object of her love soon
grows into resentment. She is in danger of becoming a chronic
The poor victim of a nagging wife was met at the kitchen door on
return from work with a complaint about something or other
instead of a little hug and a kiss. "You are late. The supper is all
cold. I suppose that you stopped off for a few beers."
"What's the use," he thought to himself, "here I was detained by the
boss about a better job at the shop and a raise in pay. By golly, I
think I'll have a few beers tomorrow night. With her I have a credit
of at least two beers."
The history of the nagging wife is a desperate effort to kick her
husband upstairs. He usually ends up at the bottom flat on his
face. To escape her sharp tongue he fabricated now and then.
Through his first successes at keeping peace by this mean method
he was deluded into thinking he had the solution. Soon, of course,
his false way of life boomeranged. He was trapped in his lies. He
lost her confidence and esteem. Then he was inclined to avoid her
as much as possible. His walk down to the corner drug store for a
paper in the evening was an escape.
One evening he ran into several old school friends at the entrance
to the tavern next to the drug store. He enjoyed the half hour or so
in the tavern that evening. Everyone was congenial. Everything was
very pleasant, very different from the atmosphere back at the
house. He was slapped on the back a time or two by old
acquaintances. "How are you doing, Joe? Say, by the way, I hear
you're going to be foreman soon over at the shop. Nice going. Keep
it up. Always knew that our star half-back would get somewhere."
Later that evening husband and wife had a fight. "Are you going to
become a tavern bum?" was more than he could take. He slept
poorly the rest of the night and went off to work the next morning
sullen. The boss and he had another talk about the promotion. He
hoped that the boss did not mistake his dull and unenthusiastic
demeanor as a lack of confidence. Or was he confident in himself?
He was definitely on edge as he returned home again. Soon after
supper he went off to the tavern feeling sorry for himself, and a
tavern is no place in which a man can safely feel sorry for himself.
This husband was now in a pattern well known to counselors on
marriage, a nagging wife and a husband seeking escape and
consolation in drink.
A wife must never nag. It is one of the great sins of a married
woman. Anybody could understand if she had fallen in a bad
moment. Few of us are perfect. Yet one sin does not make a vice.
There is no possible excuse for her becoming a chronic nagger. A
wife will never succeed in kicking her husband upstairs. She may
lead him upstairs, entice him, joke with him, and inspire him. By
nature she has been endowed with the equipment to do this. It has
been frequently said that a man must have a woman behind him.
The real truth is that every man must have a woman in front of
Everybody likes to be the object of good-natured kidding. It is a
sign of popularity. It rubs our vanity the right way. I did not
sufficiently realize what was going on at the time, but now when I
look back on my boyhood, I realize that my mother was a clever
wife. She joshed and poked fun at my father. We children got a big
boot out of it. In fact, the most pleasant recollections of my youth
were these sallies into the foibles of my father. Down inside, my
father really enjoyed the game, even though he may not always
have let on.
Now I realize that there was a method in all my mother's banter.
Often she was putting over a point, a point which carried danger in
it and could not be handled except in a good-natured kidding way.
She was accomplishing the same objective as a nagging wife. But
what a world of difference in the method and the success arrived
No one likes to be taken for granted. In any human relationship a
little sign of appreciation goes a long way. Life does not have to be
a hard pull uphill all the time. To know that someone, especially
the one we love, values our efforts sends us off with our heads in
the clouds. The wife who is wise enough to show her husband
appreciation for all his efforts will keep his heart fixed upon her.
With a fixed heart he will have a free hand to do the things a
responsible head of the house must do. That is why, as Chesterton
has pointed out, Christ said, "My son, give Me thy heart." With his
heart securely fixed on Christ the disciple had a pivot from which
he could swing through all the complexities of life without losing
his purpose. Appreciation gives purpose and motivation to a
husband. It is one form of inspiration.
Some years ago a couple came to my attention whom I always have
remembered. They illustrated the importance of a wife's making
her husband realize that she valued him. The wife had to leave her
home and care for her sick mother. She was gone for a month. She
and her husband rented without a lease, wondering from week to
week whether they would have a home for themselves and their
three little children. While she was gone, he fell upon a good buy
in a fairly new home. He said that he regretted the transaction was
made while she was away, but the opportunity came then. He felt
that it was his responsibility to do something about their living
conditions. Having failed twice to locate her by phone he closed
The first Sunday his wife was home they went out for a drive. He
intended to surprise her. As they were driving around, he suddenly
stopped in front of their new home. Her curiosity at his action
turned to grief on being let in on the secret. As she sat in the car
looking at her new home she began to moan and groan that she did
not like it. Why did he do it? Why did he not wait until she came
back? For a moment he sat there crestfallen, not knowing what to
say or do. He expected elation and was prepared for a pat on the
back. He made an effort to recover his confidence and suggested
that they see the inside. She would like the arrangement of the
rooms and closet space. As they went from room to room, she
continued her manifestations of disappointment and even
resentment that she had no say in the choice of their new home. It
was a bad day for both of them, how bad neither of them were to
realize for several years. On that day he got the idea that his wife
did not appreciate him. The idea continued to grow.
When we talked over their problems, their estrangement, and the
future of the children, they had been separated for over a year. By
that time he was all through and living with another woman. He
had found someone to give him appreciation. There is always
someone around to give it if the wife does not. "The big boob,"
every woman is saying who reads this, "should get everything
coming to him." Perhaps he was something of a boob, but his wife
had always loved him, still did, and wanted him back.
In justice to the husband in question, we should remember the
circumstances prevailing when he bought the home. However, to
make all wives happy, let us suppose that he made a terrible
mistake in buying a home without his wife's knowledge. The deed
was done. What did she profit reminding him of his mistake? Was
it wise for her to carry a grudge, to give him the idea that she
considered him unfair or incompetent? Did her duty of inspiration
cease because he was guilty of the worst possible judgment ?
She was an excellent wife and mother in some respects, but she
failed completely in the important function of inspiration. She told
how she had never thought of it but now realized her big mistake,
her shortcoming. This woman was not the nagging type, at least
not habitually so. She took her husband for granted. She felt that
she was doing her job well. She assumed that he was. She did not
assume a thing when they were courting. If wives worked just half
as hard and wisely at keeping their husbands as they do in getting
them, the divorce mills would go out of business. A husband needs
his wife even more than she needs him. With a little intelligence
and verve she can keep him easily.
The ideal wife is ambitious for her husband, not for herself.
Through inspiration she gives ambition to her husband. He is
spurred on to do big things for her and wants no reward other than
her appreciation and the look of pride for him in her eyes. Here
again wives must heed the words of Christ. If they would save their
souls, they must lose them. If they would save their marriage, if
they would have all that goes with a successful husband, they
must lose themselves and their ambition in their husbands.
A wife is on thin ice who is ambitious for herself, the husband
being just the necessary means of realizing her ambition for
wealth or social position. These self-seeking wives are not
interested in promoting the success of their husbands for the sake
of their husbands but for their own sakes. This type of wife is
inclined to overreach herself. By goading her husband on beyond
his capacities she shows her hand to him and loses his love. He
may have to admit that she has a strong possessive love for him, a
love for him for what she gets out of it. But he is not carried into
seventh heaven by this contemplation of his hard, scheming,
driving wife. He begins to feel that he is but the stepping stone for
the fulfillment of her ambition.
An example of a wife over ambitious for herself may help illustrate
the danger of confusing this possessive love for genuine love and
inspiration. The couple met at a large city hospital where the
young woman was a nurse. She held a position of importance and
through the energy of her personality carried considerable
influence. She fell in love with a young medical student. Through
her connections with the staff of the hospital she had her friend
placed with the hospital as a student intern. She promoted him at
every step, even to the extent of considerable financial help. She
hovered over him like a mother bird. Marriage and the release of
her pent-up emotions only seemed to urge her on in smoothing the
path before her coming young doctor husband. She had visions of
his rising quickly to a position of pre-eminence on the staff. She
would be the fashionable wife of the outstanding young doctor of
their community. And he would be all hers. She was still in the
process of pulling strings to make him acceptable to the hospital
which might admit his patients, when he announced determination
to return to his home state. He wanted to begin slowly with his own
feet on the ground, meriting by his own ability and energy what
success would come his way. With great show of reluctance she
acceded to his plan. Back in his home town things did not progress
rapidly enough for her. They set themselves up too elegantly for
beginners. Money was running out, her money, which she had
saved and inherited. She criticized him for not trying harder. He
countered that he could not make patients come to him. After all,
it would take time. Be patient. After four or five months she forced
him to abandon his own meager beginnings and come back to the
big city. There she knew her way around. She would make certain
that the hospital accepted him. During the time of his efforts to
get set up again she prodded him unmercifully. She even
degenerated into a nagging wife.
When they talked to me, he would have no more of her. She was
driving him to distraction. Obviously, she was going to pieces. On
several occasions she had shaken him out of a sound sleep in the
middle of the night to tell him how she had done something for
him over at the hospital. Once she gave him the pre-dawn
information that she had just cleaned the walls of the kitchen. The
implication always was "What are you doing? Why don't you do
something?" She had lost whatever poise she had and was
On being asked why he married her, he replied that she seemed to
be capable and efficient. He thought that she would be a real
helpmate during the early, hard years of getting started. Actually
she had never given him a chance, he felt. He could see the
growing contempt in her eyes for his failure to measure up to her
ambitions. He admitted that she still had a queer, possessive love
for him. This appraisal of her mood was correct, for she tearfully
expressed her desire for his return. She wanted him for herself and
was miserable without him. This unfortunate woman did not love
her husband for himself. Proof of this was evidenced by her
attempts to harm him after their separation. She stooped to efforts
at discrediting him in his profession. She had spread stories
damaging to his character. At the same time she pleaded in a
frenzy with me to help her get him back.
It was difficult to explain to this wife how she had failed to inspire
her husband. Had she not done everything a wife could possibly
do to promote her husband? She could not see that her
overmastering ambition was the undoing of her chances for
happiness. She expected and desperately wanted affection. Yet she
drove him on with contempt in her eyes for his inability or lack of
desire to come up to her expectations. Patience was wanting in her,
the patience founded on a love of her husband for himself and not
for what he might do for her. In her life she manifested all the
outward works of an inspirational wife. The inner spirit was
lacking. She married to satisfy her own desires and ambitions.
A young man unconsciously looks for the qualities of his mother
in his wife. Foolishly he may give expression to comparisons. We
are all familiar with the refrain, "Mother made the best apple pie
ever eaten." It may be strange, but seldom do these encomiums
paid to mother produce in the wife a warm glow of affection for
her husband. On the other hand, the young wife is inclined to
expect her husband to mirror her father, especially if he was a real
man. Her father did things this or that way.
The ideal wife guards against this usual idealization of her father.
Her husband is another man There are other ways of doing things
beside the way father did them. Father is a fine man. Yet it would
be a dull world if all men were similar to him. The sensible wife
does not try to mold her husband after him. She is not inspiring
her husband to develop his own abilities and personality by so
Mr. X did not seem to be the type of man who drank to excess to
escape reality. He seemed to be more of a social drinker. His
reality appeared to be a very pleasant one from which no one
would want to escape. He enjoyed many blessings. His wife was an
attractive woman. They had several exceptionally beautiful
daughters whom they both took great pleasure in displaying on
many social occasions. Although his salary was not fabulous, it
was considerably above average and ran into five figures. They
made a handsome couple as they sat in their box at the race track.
Their daughters added to the picture. They surely were the envy of
the crowd. Yet all was not well. In fact, his wife was on the verge of
calling it quits. She never knew when he would come home or in
He had no complaints against his wife and wanted to keep the
marriage. He promised reform, willingly admitting that he had
been giving her a rather hard time His position was of the type
which readily could be the occasion of an excessive amount of
social drinking He had let it get out of hand, was going to put a
stop to it, and would quit completely if necessary.
Several months went by, and then the word came from the wife
that his reform was short lived. Several weeks after they had been
down to the Chancery he was back to his heavy drinking.
After getting more familiar with the couple. I began to be a little
suspicious that his reason for drinking lay with her. It is not often
that an excessive drinker has not one single complaint against his
wife. Was she such an ideal wife that even her half-drunk husband
could find no fault in her? Or was he hiding something which
stung him deep down inside? In all outward appearances he had
been a very successful man. He was regarded in a wide circle of
friends and acquaintances as a polished man about town. Was
some one missing in this group of admirers ?
From a reliable source, not usually available, the information came
to me that he never had her esteem, admiration and inspiration.
She had a rugged, masterful sort of father, a real two-fisted he-
man. She worshipped him as a child and young woman. As a young
wife she compared him with her husband and found her husband
wanting. She really never gave herself completely to her husband.
Yes, outwardly she did. She smiled sweetly at him. She was faithful
and dutiful in all the varied activities of married life. But that
inner spark was missing, and he knew it. He was too proud to
admit, probably even to himself, that he had failed to win her full
love, the kind of love that goes overboard and blindly says, "You
are the best there is."
Perhaps this woman had not matured sufficiently. She was still the
little girl at her father's knee. She did not have to think any the
less of her father because she had married. By analyzing her
husband, by breaking him up into the parts of a jigsaw puzzle and
being unable to fit him into the pattern of her father, she
underestimated him. No two people are alike. Suppose that she had
attempted to fit her father into the character and pattern of her
husband. They still would not have dovetailed. That would not
have made father necessarily any less a man, only a different man.
To the casual observer this woman would seem to be an ideal wife.
Yet she had failed her husband in the most important role a wife
must play in marriage. Like any husband this man wanted her and
needed her for his inspiration, but she would not or could not
deliver the goods. What a man required most from his wife was
lacking. So many wives seem to have no realization of what their
husbands have a right to expect first from them, and not getting it,
little else matters.
He saw himself not measuring up to her standards. He looked into
the mirror of her eyes and saw himself deflated. The eyes of a wife
are a man's mirror. When he looks into them and sees a veritable
giant on wheels, it is like strong wine. He feels like a giant ready to
take the world by the tail and swing it. When he sees a little dwarf
in her eyes, he begins to feel like one and to act like one. He may
put on a big show with lots of bluster. Lacking conviction from her
he may go to all extremes to convince himself that he is a "big
shot." He tries hard to magnify the puny vision of himself. With all
sorts of maneuvers, bragging, condemnation and belittling of
others, and drinking he strives to grow in stature in her eyes. The
more frantic become these efforts, the more he sees his image
shrinking in the mirror of her eyes.
Of course, there are plenty of cases where the wife is only half to
blame. Ideal wives have a way of going with ideal husbands. A man
has no business marrying a woman unless he is in love with her,
unless she had become the most beautiful thing in life to him. If
during the years of their marriage he continues to look into her
eyes and tell her of this beauty to him she will grow more beautiful
for him. Too many husbands do not know that a woman must be
told that she is beautiful in order to be beautiful. A wife who is
being told that she is most beautiful will glow with love for her
husband. He will see in her eyes this love for him. Then she will be
looking back at him through rose colored glasses. She sees nothing
but good in him. The mirror is highly polished and sparkling, and
he fills it. He has everything she can give now, and the greatest of
her gifts is the inspiration a man needs from his wife to be a
husband and a man.
I have no recollection of a single broken marriage wherein the wife
was primarily to blame and at the same time an inspiration to her
husband. Failure and inspiration do not mix well. The ability to
inspire her husband is the wife's best guarantee of success in
marriage. Only if she fails to inspire need she be fearful for their
love and the future of their marriage. How can a wife miss if she
has her man jumping up and down beside himself in excitement of
effort to fill those big blue eyes of his wife? All right, make them
green. They are still the most beautiful eyes in the world to him,
because he sees himself in them. Men are much more vain than
any woman ever dreamed of being.
Very few inspirational wives fail in marriage through their own
fault. It is possible for a wife to give all desired in the way of
inspiration and receive no response. Admittedly, no wife, be she so
perfect in this respect, can inspire a cabbage. But be it known to
all women that few mortal males can resist inspiration. They thrive
on it. They are "dead ducks" when women look down the sights of
their not too secret weapon, their inspiration.
Frequently single young ladies raise an objection: "How can I
inspire, show appreciation, and make the young man with whom I
am going think that he is the greatest man in the world to me? He
already leans over backward in trying to make me think he is the
answer to every maiden's prayer. He is already so conceited I
shudder to think of blowing him up any more. I often wonder if he
never wears a hat because he can find none to fit his head."
Married women seldom ask a question like this. Is it because of
their experience they sense that inspiration does not make a
The answer to this objection already has been given to discerning
readers, but, because it is commonly heard, an explicit reply
should be made. Conceit is usually symptomatic of an inferiority
complex. All the manifold gyrations of a conceited man, his
bragging, his puffing and huffing. his belittling of others, all his
noise and bluster, are efforts to convince the world of something
of which he himself is not convinced, namely, that he is a man. If
he were sure of himself, he would not be worrying his head about
whether or not the rest of men are sure of him.
The inspiration of a wife is the best tonic in the world against a
husband's conceit. He has confidence from her as well as from his
own consciousness of himself. He is not selling himself short
because he knows that the best there is in the world is long on
him. Nor does the inspired husband sit back in self-satisfaction.
He is charged into action to measure up to the esteem of the one
most precious to him. He feels unworthy of her but is not thereby
depressed. He thrills to the excitement of planning to do big things
for her. Nothing will be too good for his love. To preserve her as
she is he would wrap her in cellophane or fine spun gold. What
obstacle could thwart him in keeping her lovely and happy?
Can a husband be conceited who loses himself so completely in
such a consuming blaze of love for his wife? The conceited man is
forever concerned with himself; the inspired man is forever
concerned with the source of his inspiration.
So take it from me, ladies, inspiration is your love potion. Men
wander through the cold world seeking the warm eyes of
inspiration like a thirsting deer panting after fountains of water.
Not having it, they are lost souls. On finding it, they leap for joy,
and the very mountains break forth into singing. So, be kind,
ladies, lest men die of hunger and thirst. Give hope and
encouragement to carry on. It is so easy for you; just be as God
made you, His loveliest of creatures.
After speaking on this absorbing topic of inspiration, I have often
been asked how a woman can inspire her husband. The question at
first was disconcerting after having spent fifteen or twenty
minutes on the subject. But I suppose there is no way to humility
except down the road of humiliations. The only answer I have ever
given to this query is as follows: God has not given to me but to
you, ladies, the ability to inspire. You are asking me how to
inspire? To you have gone God's gifts. Within your being you hold
from Him the power of life and death for the poor creatures of the
weaker sex. With inspiration from you men vibrate with life.
Wanting it, they go through the motion of living.
2. THE WIFE DESIRED HAS PERSONALITY
"Nobody will play with me" is a sad complaint made to mother by
most every child. The grief of rejection by her playmates is
announced with tears and sobs. The child makes no effort to hide
the hurt. Dissimulation comes with age. We never get used to
rejection. Only we learn to conceal our pain and to live with it.
If an adult smiles at these tears of childhood rejection, it is
because he knows that the tears will dry as quickly as they flowed.
Tomorrow is another day. As likely as not, the child spurned by his
playmates today will be the happy center of attraction tomorrow.
It is another story when the young woman ready for marriage is
continually avoided or when the wife is rejected by her husband.
There are few sorrows in life equal to the misery of a wife no
longer wanted by her husband.
It is so natural for a wife to be anxious to be accepted, to be sought
after, to be desired and pursued by her husband. She was made
that way. None of us have any choice about wanting to be happy.
And happiness can come to a wife only through the love of her
husband. Love does not go with rejection.
Several successful wives have jokingly said to me that they were
more interested in being desired by their husbands than in being
ideal wives. Yet, these wives were successful not because they
were simply women, but because they were interesting women.
They had appealing personalities. Unless they had striven for the
ideal and in great part had reached the goal, they would not have
been so lighthearted in their remarks.
The ideal wife will be a desired and happy wife, if she merits the
attention which she rightly craves from her husband.
It has been said that women are all sugar and spice. Then
personality is the spice which makes the sugar desirable. After the
first infatuation of marriage has vanished, too many men have
awakened to the realization that they drew a blank in respect to
personality. The wise woman assures herself of success and
happiness in marriage by making the most of her spice. It is
through the use of her spice that she keeps her husband interested
in the sugar.
The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage
and continues that development during marriage. By personality
here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and
accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and
sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life
than physical beauty. In fact, without personality beauty often
tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty.
None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it
all the days of their lives.
A girl can develop personality chiefly by learning to do things. No
matter how beautiful she is, the girl who does nothing but sit on a
sofa and vegetate is not going to be a bargain for any husband.
After the first flush of infatuation wears off, she will be very
fortunate if she does not bore him stiff.
On the other hand, the girl who learns to swim, to play tennis, to
sing, to play the piano, to dance, to sew, to cook, and to read good
literature, is going to become an interesting person. Her company
will be sought after and enjoyed. Out of the long hours of practice
at the piano or with the voice, for example, there evolves a
stronger character. Patience, persistence, a realization of what it is
to fail, to exult in momentary success, to suffer and, therefore, to
be able to feel for others--all this and more will come to her
because of her hours of work at the piano. So, when she is called
upon by her friends to play for them, she is happy to be able to
entertain them. The thought that she brings music into their lives
and thus adds to their happiness brings her a quiet confidence
enhancing her luster.
To take another example, suppose that she learns to play tennis.
She is awkward and slow on her feet. There is the temptation to
quit after the first ridiculous effort, to preserve her dignity, and to
draw back within herself and thus avoid the embarrassment of
ridicule from bystanders and the teasing of her friends. But she
resists the temptation to remain a wall flower. She swallows her
pride and through the little humiliations of clumsy failures grows
She already is reaping her reward for effort. Because she has
begun to grow in the virtue of humility, there open up before her
all the various paths of virtue heretofore closed or even unknown
to her. For instance, upon the foundations of humility now
established in her life, she has to take but one easy step to a sense
of humor. She is now able to laugh at herself as well as at others.
Perhaps some may think that I am exaggerating to say that the
great virtue of humility, an entree to all the virtues, and even a
sense of humor can be developed, by attempting to learn the game
of tennis. Not in the least. How did the saints or anyone ever
develop the virtue of humility? By sitting at home twiddling their
thumbs? By withdrawing into their shells, so that no one could
laugh at their shortcomings and mistakes? No. They dared to fail,
and in their mixture of failures and successes they drew a clearer
picture of their real worth. They became humble and, therefore,
very lovable in the eyes of God and man.
More will be said later about this incipient sense of humor
accidentally, it may appear, found on the tennis court. It is so
important a facet of personality, as a radiant jewel in the crown of
the ideal wife, that a full chapter will be devoted to its
A last word about humility. If a sense of humor is a shining jewel
in the crown of the ideal wife, then humility is the golden base of
the crown and the support of all else it may contain. Many have
the false idea that they are being humble by staying in the
background and attempting nothing. The brash, bold and
conceited girls are the ones out in the limelight doing things. More
often than not it is just the opposite. The girl who dares to do
things, especially in competition, is the humble girl. She may fall
flat on her face. So what? She is not concerned with herself, not
worried about what others may think. Because she is humble, she
is not aware that anyone is thinking of her anyway. The girl who
fears to venture is the conceited girl. She is afraid to provide
laughter at her own expense. She flatters herself that everybody is
watching her. Hardly anybody knows that she is alive.
By learning to do things the girl is developing unconsciously, as
likely as not, her personality and thus is equipping herself to be
able to contribute to the enjoyment of others, her future husband,
for instance. She is able to hold down her end of the social teeter.
A certain girl learned to play bridge. She never entered any bridge
tournaments, but she could hold her own with the better players.
Most of her bridge was played at college. She hardly played at all
for a few years. In fact, she could not remember playing once since
she was married three months ago.
Her husband invited his boss and wife over for dinner. He
apprehensively told her that they were eager bridge fans. She was
amused at her husband's concern for what he thought would not
take place after the coffee was served.
The husband's apprehension turned to bewilderment as his wife
got out the cards and table. What could have turned out to be a
rather futile evening amounted to almost a personal triumph as
she engineered a little slam. She derived the most satisfaction
from the quiet pleasure manifested in her husband over a newly
discovered accomplishment of his wife. Three people enjoyed
themselves of an evening simply because she knew how to play a
card game. She was able to promote the pleasure of others. When a
wife is able to do that, more satisfaction eventually comes to her.
Just the other evening a young wife came up to me as the study
group was leaving. She had a big problem. We met on Monday and
Wednesday evenings. She had a chance to join a swimming class
sponsored by the company for which she worked. The group was
to meet on Wednesday evenings for six weeks. She very much
wanted to learn to swim for her husband's sake. He liked to swim.
She was deathly afraid of water and could not swim.
Last summer during and after their honeymoon she felt very
stupid. She was able only to sit on the beach while her husband
went into the water with the others. When he comes home from the
Army next summer, she wants to surprise him with her ability to
swim. However, the study club came first. She wanted more than
anything else to finish the course. I encouraged her to take the
opportunity to learn to swim. We could make up what she missed
on the Wednesday evenings.
Several weeks later the young wife told me, with evident pleasure
dancing in her eyes, how she was learning to swim. This girl is
awake. Instead of sitting home just waiting for her husband to
come home to her from the Army, she is developing her abilities
and thus improving her personality. Imagine the fun they are
going to have together at the beach next summer. How proud her
husband is going to be of her and how he will love her for her new
If anyone still fails to see that personality goes hand in hand with
doing and accomplishing things, acquiring abilities and virtues,
let her consider the following fact. Most people are interested in
those who have reached the top in their calling or profession.
When Babe Ruth visited a school, he had every boy jumping out of
his shoes to see him. Why? Because the Babe had done things. He
had played baseball as no one before or since. He was worth seeing
at close range. Why would any woman be flattered and excited
over the prospect of a visit to her home by the women's national
figure skating champion or the leading Metropolitan tenor? In all
likelihood for no other reason except that they have done things
for which they have become interesting personalities.
Perhaps by this time a few objections have been forming, because
this is being read critically even if with an open mind. What about
all the celebrities who have been failures as wives? Have I said
anything about celebrities? All sorts of characters become
celebrities these days. An heiress marries one Dilbert after
another. She is a celebrity of a notorious sort, no doubt, and a
miserable failure as a wife. I have been writing of interesting
personalities who have accomplished things. This heiress has
accomplished nothing. And remember, that a well rounded
personality is only one of the points on which we are to insist as
essential to the concept of the ideal wife. There can be no doubt,
all things else being equal, that the girl with personality has a far
better chance of succeeding as a happy and desirable wife.
Another might object that we are talking over the heads of most
girls. After all, how many can be national figures skating
champions? Only one at a time. How many have the voice and all
the necessary favorable circumstances to become an opera star?
Comparatively speaking, an infinitesimally small number. The girl
who developed her personality by learning to play a simple game
of tennis did not become a national champion, but by learning to
play a passable game of tennis she benefited her personality. Very
few girls are ever going to reach the top in anything. There is so
little room up there. Indeed, it is better that a girl become adept at
a number of things rather than to strive for supremacy in just one
thing. In this way she has a much better chance of developing a
well rounded personality.
After reading the manuscript on personality a young wife
expressed concern over her situation. Her husband was in Europe
with the Armed Forces. He was doing things, seeing historical
places. She was sitting at home cooped up in a little apartment
with three small children. He was developing his personality; she
When she expressed herself I had no idea what her husband was
doing. I did know what she was doing, and it was a heroic task of
keeping the home fires burning. Valiant was the word for her
during the long months of loneliness as she kept faith with her
husband, her children, and herself. Because she suffered nobly the
pain of those two years, she is a finer person today. Because she
accomplished something worthwhile she developed her character
During the past year this wife has been reunited with her husband.
They have made up for lost time and she is expecting. The new
baby to be is their expression of gratitude to God for their reunion
after so many months of separation and loneliness.
After the children are stowed away for the night this young couple
generally watch TV for a few hours. When I dropped in on them
one night, I was surprised not to see the usual darning needle
whipping in and out of a sock. This evening she had before her a
canvas partly covered with fresh paint. For the evening she was an
amateur painter. So young wives, and not so young wives, for that
matter, need not stagnate at home, with or without their husbands.
They can be, for example, amateur painters and have a lot of fun
and relaxation in the effort.
No doubt there are a hundred better ways of developing
personality than by learning to play tennis. A few simple examples
like the ability to play tennis or bridge are given for the purpose of
bringing this discussion of personality down to earth. There is a
lot of vague and mysterious verbiage bandied about in connection
with the subject of personality. Our concern is to realize the
simple fact, too much overlooked, that growth in personality
comes only through doing worthwhile things, simple though they
When I was stationed at an air base in the States during World War
II, a young doctor came to me about his marriage troubles. He
surprised me with the statement that he was thinking of divorcing
his wife. The doctor lived on the field with his wife and two
children. Although my acquaintance with the family was mostly
limited to the doctor and his work at the station hospital, I was
surprised to hear of his difficulty. His wife was a beautiful woman.
With evident pride he mentioned that she had won a beauty
contest at a southern college. He told me that at first he had
thought that she was below par physically. Having found that she
was in good physical condition he brought her to a psychiatrist.
This move only strained their relationship all the more.
All his complaints seemed to stem, as he put it, from his wife's
lack of zest for life. "She seems to be interested in nothing. Oh,
she is a faithful wife and devoted mother. She is attractive in her
own delicate, pale sort of enervated way. But she will do nothing
He did not have to explain that the air base in Arkansas did not
offer many opportunities for the type of life with which most of us
were familiar. On his afternoon off from the hospital he would
suggest that she come with him on a drive through the Ozarks.
They could have dinner out and be alone. At least, they could
escape the enervating heat and dust of the base. But she was not
interested. She preferred to sit at home.
On a fine Sunday morning a few weeks later he might suggest that
they take a stroll through the meadows and woods. They could
pick some of the spring flowers. The two little girls would enjoy it
even more. No matter what the doctor would suggest they do
together she still was not interested. She wanted to sit at home.
The only difference between some people at night and at day is
that at night they lie down.
I do not know what happened to their marriage. Shortly after he
talked to me I was transferred. Of course, I had tried to dissuade
him from such a futile action as divorce. He admitted that he
wanted to keep the marriage but he had a problem, and only she
could solve it. Obviously, his wife was lacking sadly in personality.
Very likely she has retrogressed during their nine years of
marriage. She had her husband, a promising young doctor. She was
secure, so she sat back on her sofa and existed.
Happiness tends to spread itself. The best explanation for God's
creation of the human race is the happiness of God. He needed
nothing, wanted nothing, but He was so happy that He flowed over
into the creation of man. He desired someone to share His
happiness with Him.
With us it certainly is true that joy bubbles over. A boy hears of a
circus coming to town. A girl on the inside track with teacher hears
of an unexpected free day. Both can hardly contain themselves till
they tell their friends, till they spread their happiness over the
good news. A young man receives a raise in pay. He does not fall
asleep on the way home from work that evening. He is anxious to
rush into the house and break the good news to his wife and see in
her eyes the joy which he has brought about.
Extroverts are happy people. Introverts are unhappy people.
Mental institutions, the saddest places in the world, are full of
introverts. The extroverts are out jumping around in the sun.
These are general statements. I realize that all general statements
are false, including the one I am just making. Yet there can be no
doubt that introversion leads to loneliness and unhappiness.
The girl who develops her personality sidesteps the pitfall of
introversion. The girl with personality does things and with other
people. She expresses herself in her various hobbies, avocations,
and accomplishments. She has opened up and blown off, as we
say. Wonderful tonic psychologically. The introvert withdraws
usually in self-pity inside herself like a clam. "Poor little me. The
world does not like me, so I'll hide within myself." The world does
not dislike her. It does not know that she exists. She flatters
herself, if she thinks it does. (Notice that the introvert and the
person who does nothing tend to develop just the opposite of the
virtue of humility.) She never gave the world a chance to know her.
How else except she do things could the world get to know and
The introvert is unhappy because she is all wrapped up in herself.
She has only her poor, little, empty self, a very insufficient source
of happiness. Because she is unhappy with herself, she fails to
bring happiness to her husband. She does not like to mix with
people, even her husband's friends and business associates. A wife
of this type is no asset to her husband.
The extrovert is happy because she has forgotten about herself.
She is interested in other things and persons. Other people are
interested in her. Remember that happy people spread their
happiness. The happy wife brings happiness to her husband. He
loves to be in her presence because he is happy there. The
extrovert fascinates her husband for the simple reason that
extroverts fascinate everybody.
The introvert, lacking in personality, is a problem to her husband.
The husband stupid enough to marry one will as a rule not have
the intelligence, to say nothing of the patience, to be a child
psychologist. That is what he has to be to deal with his wife.
The introvert takes a few quick looks at the world, finds it very
frightening, and pulls back into her shell. She might have a pretty
shell, though, well fashioned by God and pleasing to the eye of
man. Her future husband becomes infatuated with this beautiful
shell. He thinks that he is in love with her. That could not be,
because this blushing little creature is so far back in her shell that
he could not possibly know her, and not knowing her, he could not
possibly love her. Oh, yes, he is infatuated with her shell. But it
takes some shell to keep a man infatuated over the years. As usual,
the infatuation soon wears off: and then our Dilbert begins to lose
interest. The wife never comes out of her shell and does things.
She never develops her personality. So, when Dilbert looks
hopefully beyond her shell, he finds nary a thing there. There is no
inner beauty within that body which I have been calling her shell.
The introvert has little beauty of soul, little personality.
How these girls expect to hold the interest of their husbands is not
at all clear. Certainly not just by inhaling and exhaling which any
chimpanzee or chipmunk can do. Soon she becomes a dead weight
in the life of her disillusioned husband.
MEDIUMS OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
The average girl left to herself and her own resources would find it
very difficult to develop her personality. Fortunately into her path
are thrust several mediums for personality development. The
scope of this chapter limits us to a discussion of only a few of
these mediums. The first of these is her school.
For many, school is just a hurdle to get over with as little pain as
possible before life can begin. There is something to be said for
this attitude. Essentially, school is preparation for the future.
Most girls would prefer to get a hold on that "future" now.
Moreover, school for too many loses its real purpose. It is not a
place built just for the acquisition of a lot of factual information.
It is also a place in which to learn how to live better with their
neighbor and work out their destiny.
A pig has only one destiny, to be slaughtered and eaten. So,
farmers do not bother teaching their little pigs to stand on their
hind legs and do tricks. But suppose that a particularly nice little
pig did learn many cute tricks. No one would even then speak of
the little pig's personality. Personality suggests a soul and
immortality, a something almost intangible reaching out beyond
A human being has only one destiny, to be united with God and
share His happiness. She is unlike the little pig in another respect.
She has a free will. She must choose what path she will walk in life,
whether it lead to the love of God and neighbor as pointed out and
traveled by Christ or the path of selfishness. In other words, she
must decide whether the love of God or her own self satisfaction is
to be the predominant driving force in her life. Whichever she
chooses, she does so because she thinks that her choice will bring
her the most happiness. In this connection it behooves us to
remember the advice of the great Teacher. "He who finds his life
will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake, will find it."
If a girl wants to be happy with herself, she must get out of
herself. She must lose herself. It is the type of paradox G. K.
Chesterton loved. He thought that this advice was the best that
could be given to Alpine mountain climbers. Chesterton, with his
tremendous bulk, probably never got anywhere near an Alpine
mountain climber in action. Yet, he knew what he was talking
about, when he suggested that they read and ponder these words
of Christ. Wives tread a path beset with as many dangers as those
besetting the mountain climber. Well might they reflect on their
lives in the light of this God given advice. Wives should take this
advice from the world's most renowned teacher, Christ Himself. To
be happy here and for all eternity they must forget themselves.
must get out of themselves, must develop their personality and
beauty of soul.
High school and college are tremendous occasions of grace put by
God in the life of a girl. School is probably the greatest
opportunity for personality development she will ever enjoy. Very
many do not realize this.
For a good many years I taught in high school. It was annoying to
see so many girls just hibernating through four years. Some did
nothing but rush home from school and do all their homework that
they might be leaders scholastically. It was a Herculean task to
budge the first type of girl out of her lethargy. The second looked
sort of sideways at me when I told her to study less and play a
little more. Both are missing too much of the best school offers.
School provides the opportunity to learn to do very many things
and to have much fun doing them. Algebra and Geometry have
their purpose: mental exercise and development. But school
should be much more than just algebra and the other subjects. The
so-called extra curricular activities are important, for they give
girls opportunities to do things. The glee club, the gym class, the
school athletic teams the Latin club, the dramatic club, and many
other activities are splendid chances for improving personality.
As I write, the picture comes to my mind of a fat little girl
complaining that gym was stupid and that she was going to sit it
out as often as possible. If her criticism was true, the school was
much at fault, just as much remiss as if it had an incompetent
French or history instructor. But I am afraid that the fat little girl
was more interested in sitting. She evidenced about as much life
as a sack of potatoes and in posture and appearance she easily
could double as such. She needed the gym like nobody's business.
Some of the girls poked fun at her because she was overweight. So,
instead of having loads of fun playing volleyball, badminton and
basketball, she sat in the locker room and continued her
phenomenal growth. The gym would have done wonders for her
Through the competitive games unlimited means are afforded for
personality growth. Remember, a girl does not become interesting
and attractive by sitting, only by doing many things for which
school offers the opportunity.
As most of us grow older and become less active physically, one of
our greatest sources of entertainment is intelligent conversation.
We derive satisfaction from the discussion of current events, of
problems affecting our daily lives, and of sundry subjects of
Too little stress is given today in educational circles to the art of
conversation. I believe that there are a number of reasons for this
lack of interest on the part of educators. A group of high school
girls at recess time usually presents the same picture. All are
talking; none are listening. Promote talking? Teachers naturally lift
an eyebrow if one suggests more conversation at their school. Yet
ninety-nine per cent of all this talk is just chitchat such as "Ja eet?
Real conversation is an art. Like any other art it must be cultivated
and practiced. The voice is an important phase of personality.
Often the voice alone gives the cue to personality and character of
a girl. A petulant, or frivolous, or frigid, or nagging young lady
frequently rings a bell of warning in her voice to interested young
men who have ears to hear as well as to catch dirt. Likewise, a
warm hearted and generous woman refined and cultured with a
well developed personality can tell others of her accomplishments
simply by speaking a few sentences. "The flute and the psaltery
make a sweet melody, but a pleasant tongue is above them both."
Ecclesiaticus 40, 21.
Perhaps by this time some find their thoughts wandering from the
work at hand--namely, self appraisal and consideration of how to
advance toward the goal of the ideal and desired wife. Maybe some
are asking by now why they should strive to become this paragon
of a girl. Too many young men are too stupid anyway to see and
appreciate in a girl all the qualities of the ideal wife. Isn't a girl
lucky for that! A girl can thank God that these imbeciles are not
attracted to her. One of these cigarette sucking simpletons might
rush her off her feet, and then see with what she would be stuck
the rest of her life.
It does seem that neurotics attract each other for marriage. I
suppose it is one more bit of evidence of the old proverb, "Birds of
a feather flock together." So the girls who develop their
personalities and acquire the other features of the ideal wife have
a much better chance of attracting their counterpart, the ideal
husband. Again, let that all-interesting ideal husband take care of
himself for a while. Let us get back to our "netting."
Conversation is not a one way street. It connotes the ability to
listen as well as to talk. Some people make a good audience. They
stimulate conversation purely by the manner of their attention.
They are alive, and thus they register. Because they are interested
they are interesting. They bring out the best in others.
A clever girl can do wonders by the way she listens with animation
to her boy friend. The boy friend or the husband is only human.
There will be times when he is going to want to tell "all about it."
He is loquacious for a change. Then for heaven's sake, let the wife
give him the stage. Or, perhaps, he is taciturn and yearns for quiet.
The wise wife senses these various moods of her husband.
I remember a case in which the wife hauled her husband down to
the Chancery. Her major complaint was that her husband would
not talk things over with her, would not confide in her. "He just
never talks with me." This poor woman talked "like a blue streak"
for an hour and a half. A number of times I tried to break in. At
each failure I got a knowing look from the husband as much as if
to say, "Know how you feel. For years I've been trying to get a word
There is a theory of counseling based on letting the estranged
husband and wife talk themselves into their own solution of the
problems vexing their marital happiness. There are enthusiasts of
this school of thought who maintain that they can solve any case
by just letting them talk. I wish they had been in on the case just
mentioned. I finally had to run from her one day later on, when she
came down alone to see me. I could not take any more than two
hours of it. I imagine that she is still talking, whether at her
husband or not I do not know. How he could stand it, I do not know
While at school a girl should "make hay while the sun shines." It is
then that she can acquire and develop ability at conversation. As
she learns to swim, to play tennis, to figure skate, and to sing, she
can talk with interest and intelligence about these things. If she
knows nothing about music, a girl will have to be pretty clever to
be able to "get away with" talking about music. On the other hand,
as she develops her personality by learning to do various things,
she should acquire facility in conversing about these things. If she
reads good literature, she opens another tremendous potential for
conversation. True, she must practice, and school affords that
opportunity not only in the classroom, but even during moments
of recreation. Practice on your girl friends? Why not? They do on
Friends have been defined as those between whom there need not
be conversation. Husband and wife can spend a quiet evening at
home with a minimum of conversation and be happy and content.
They are aware of each other's presence, and that is enough. Yet
intelligent conversation will add immeasurably to their lives. A
dumb Dora may have her moments; but, if she cannot formulate
two consecutive and coherent sentences, let us all pray for
strength for that husband of hers.
Another medium for development of personality for the school girl
is vacation time. Leisure time is most necessary for the acquisition
of some abilities. When in the third year of high school, I
unbelievingly heard our English teacher tell us that in no other
period of our lives would we have more time for reading. He was
correct. As a matter of fact, I must admit that I read more and
better literature during high school days than during any
comparable length of time. So girls, let us be honest and admit
that there is considerable free time during school years. If it is
used intelligently, it can be just as important as school time for
Unfortunately, too many "sad sacks" have a rather mean opinion of
vacation. It is nothing more than a chance to lie in bed every day
till noon. When I think of the many golden hours I had as a boy
watching the sun come up over Lake Michigan as I fished or swam
in the quiet waters of dawn, or of the joy of playing golf at dawn
with the morning mists still on the grass, I wonder if these chronic
noonday sleepers have soul to fathom how much of the beauty of
life they are missing. The beauty of God's creation is all about us.
They ought to get out of bed and drink in some of it. It can do their
souls much good. So much of life slips past the habitue of the
inner spring mattress.
A girl's parish church affords another opportunity for personality
growth. Frequently I have heard girls say that they do not attend
the young people's club of their church. They went to it a few
times, but did not "get anything out of" the club. How often I have
heard that criticism. I always wonder what they expected to "get
out of" the sodality or young people's group. Was the young
assistant to put on a three ring circus for their entertainment,
while they sat like a cabbage in a movie house? Was a prodigy
similar to Fr. Malachy's miracle to be brought off? Or did they even
expect a more stupendous work: the pastor himself spinning
through the hall like a whirling dervish spraying out twenty dollar
gold coins? Hardly. Who has seen gold coins for ever so long?
These girls, disappointed in the parish group of young people, are
always looking for what they can get out of things. It never enters
their imagination that they might contribute to things. Obviously,
girls with this attitude of sitting back and waiting for life to come
to them will go away empty handed from any project. If they would
enter the parish group with the idea of giving themselves to its
success, in the long run they would be the ones to gain.
Self-seekers always end up holding the bag--an empty one. Those
who give of themselves carry off the prizes. One of these rewards
is growth in personality. Girls who give their time, energy, and
imagination to the parish group cannot fail to promote their
personality, albeit unconsciously.
A stranger in a big city gets lost in some side street. He asks
directions to his hotel. Well, your hotel is down this street, then to
the left two blocks then to the right a block. No, that's a dead end
street. It runs into the railroad yards. Let's try it this way. Take this
street we are on till you come to the stop sign. Then turn left for
three blocks. Then take a right turn till you hit that side street
running diagonally. No, by golly, that takes you to the bank of the
river. Say, stranger, I don't think that you can get to your hotel
This story often comes to my mind when I am dealing with a
marriage all washed up because the wife was a total loss in
personality. Where do they go from here? How are they going to
get back to a happy marriage from here? Marriage is a contract, in
which the parties give as well as receive. This poor creature seems
to have nothing to give.
"He married me. We have children. It's his moral obligation to stay
with me as my husband." Yes--it is his duty, but not many
marriages endure on moral obligations. Husband and wife came
together because they were attracted to each other and learned to
love each other. This love includes a physical, intellectual, and
The moral obligation to which our imaginary wife is appealing will
steady a marriage and carry it through a crisis here and there: but
happy, successful marriages are not built on moral obligations.
Too many failures have appealed to moral obligations but have
done little to merit a contented and loving husband. Many of these
appeals to the moral law do not have the ring of sincerity, because
the authors of them paid little or no attention to the moral law
before the estrangement. For years they threw stones at the
policeman. Now they are screaming for his help. Besides, the
policeman is no solution anyway. Their clamor for him is totally in
Anybody can make serious mistakes. The saints did. The ideal wife
with personality may make a serious mistake and thereby bring
about a temporary alienation of her husband. If she possesses a
well developed personality, the conflict generally will be resolved
to mutual satisfaction. Of course, I am supposing that the husband
is not a basket case and that he has the capacity of forgiveness
and will say the Our Father from time to time with realization of
what he is saying.
Personality development is a most interesting process which can
go on till the grave. We are born with certain temperaments. We
have no control over whether we are to live with a choleric or
melancholic temperament, for example. Seldom are these
temperaments ever changed. Yet, they may be modified. We may
hold in check and even subdue the bad aspects of our particular
temperament. Likewise, the good features may be developed and
encouraged in our daily lives.
In some quarters there is the extreme opinion that we are pretty
much the victims of our temperament and the first few years of
our lives. By the time we are six or seven it is fairly well
determined what sort of lives we shall live. At this early age, so we
are told, it has already been determined whether we shall be a
shining light or a public nuisance. The only contingency is
whether the stage for us will turn out to be Paducah or Keokuk.
The only trouble with this theory is that it runs head on into the
teachings of Christ, nineteen centuries of Christian living, and our
own personal experiences. And that is some collision. Unless we
can develop and improve our characters and personalities, unless,
with God's help, we are the master of our destiny, Christ should
never have given the sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the poor
in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." It seems to be
natural for little children to be selfish and greedy--anything but
poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit must be acquired with effort.
St. Francis Xavier's youth had little in it to distinguish him from
others. Yet he learned to live the beatitude of poverty of spirit to
the extent of giving himself into slavery, that he might reach the
China coast and Christianize the natives. St. Francis changed his
whole way of life, his whole personality because he changed his
whole attitude of life and program of activity.
Teachers certainly have been struck by evidences of personality
growth and improvement. Many a little first year high school
bunny wakes up and becomes a charming and personable lady ten
When a girl is born into this life, her personality and character
might be likened to a solid piece of gold of goblet shape and size.
Thus, as a baby, the solid goblet cannot hold a single drop of the
joy of living. Should the baby grow into childhood and womanhood
with only physical development, this abnormality would eliminate
the poor creature from normal participation in life. Without growth
in intelligence and personality and character she would have to be
cared for as a little baby all the days of her life. Her golden goblet
remains solid and untouched as it was at birth. However, physical,
mental and spiritual development usually goes on apace.
As the child begins to contribute consciously to the happiness of
her parents by being affectionate and helpful, she begins to grind
out her goblet. As she learns of God and her own purpose in
existing, as she grows in the virtues and subdues the selfish
instincts of childhood, real progress is apparent in the goblet. It
now approaches the appearance of a hollow cup. During
adolescence and full-blown womanhood the capacity of the goblet
increases in direct relation to the development of her personality.
Because she has grown in personality, her capacity for living has
increased. Her golden goblet has become so delicate that it is
almost translucent. Her cup is full to overflowing with the joy of
life. And her greatest happiness comes from being able to share
her cup of happiness with the man she loves, the husband of the
3. THE WIFE DESIRED IS PATIENT
Webster's Dictionary has this to say about patience. Patience is
"uncomplaining endurance of wrongs or misfortunes." Patience
"denotes self-possession, especially under suffering or
provocation." It also suggests "quiet waiting for what is expected"
or persistence in what has been begun. Forbearance, leniency, and
sufferance are given as synonyms.
Patience is a quality of maturity. Little children are not noted for
"uncomplaining endurance of wrongs." Mother would begin
looking for the thermometer should she notice anything
resembling "quiet waiting for what is expected." It takes a bit of
living and dodging of the "slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune," before people get enough sense to value patience.
Patience connotes a "self-possession, especially under suffering or
provocation," and it brings to one a quiet confidence. The patient
wife is master of her own soul. She, and not every imp to come
flying into her mind, is in charge of her own fort. Since no one can
be truly successful without patience, it should be expected that
the possession of the virtue is a requisite for every desired wife.
Indeed, no vocation or profession in life requires patience more
than that of husband and wife. The first reason for this that they
live in such proximity to each other. They rub elbows day in and
day out. There is bound to be a little chafing here and there.
Among saints there would be. Patience is the soothing oil
preventing the irritations from becoming running sores.
Some years ago I was faced with the necessity of working up a talk
on the ideal wife. Naturally, I was open for suggestions,
particularly from a few ideal wives whose friendship I highly prize.
One evening, as I visited the home of one of these friends. I
mentioned the task with which I was confronted.
"Mary, if you had to give an hour talk on the ideal wife to high
school seniors or to a woman's club, what would you discuss?"
Here was the voice of experience talking. I was not asking any air
scout how to fly that Constellation. The senior pilot of the air lines
was briefing me now. I was not asking any camp fire girl how to
whip up that batter of soda biscuit mix. Grandma herself was
looking over her glasses at me.
I think that it is of interest to point out here that, although she did
not indicate that she considered patience the most important
quality of the desired wife, she unhesitatingly suggested it first.
Not only did she mention patience first, but she also explained
what she meant by patience in the wife. Notice that the discussion
deals with the patience required of the wife, not of the mother in
her relations with her children. A woman is first the wife of her
husband before she is the mother of his children. Later I hope to
say a few words concerning the twofold role which the woman
must play. At present I just want to make it clear that Mary is no
rattle brain. She was on the ball and stayed there. She was
explaining what she meant by the patience in the wife and her
dealings with her husband.
Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition. (This of course, is Mary
talking through my memory.) The wife who enters marriage with
the misconception that it is has failure lurking just around the
corner. Often she will think that she is giving her fifty per cent. As
a matter of fact, it is only fifteen or twenty per cent. On many
other occasions the husband unconsciously is demanding ninety
per cent. The fifty per cent proffered falls miserably short. The
result is two people at loggerheads. A fight begins and love takes a
beating, if it is not turned out of doors.
The understanding, the sympathy, and the patience required for
happy living cannot be measured out. The stupid expression
"marriage is a fifty-fifty deal" implies yardsticks, tape measures,
half cups, full tablespoons, and the like. Love has nothing to do
with these things--will not be fenced in by them, for love partakes
of the very limitlessness of God. A wife's parsimonious measuring
out of her imagined fifty per cent produces many serious fights.
She wins these fights too and loses her husband.
Let us illustrate the above by concrete examples. The wife was
getting supper ready. John was fighting the traffic on his way
home from work. She was humming softly as she busied herself
contentedly about the kitchen. He was muttering loudly the red
light blues. She felt fine. He was half sick and out of sorts. Things
had not been going well at work. He was upset and unwittingly
looking for a fight.
As he entered the house and gave Mary a little hug and kiss, she
noticed that he looked tense and jumpy. A few minutes later she
could hear him scolding one of the children. The storm warnings
should have been flying by now. They had better steer clear of him
Before the family was called to the supper table, Mary had been
fully on guard. Unless she was very mistaken her husband was
going to demand much more than fifty per cent somewhere along
the evening. So the measuring devices, the half cups and full
tablespoons were behind her for this evening. The meal was
already prepared. She would not use them on her husband. She
would not measure out her patience and understanding. Her
husband was definitely off color this evening. She would give him
her all. No matter what he said, she would pass it off.
The supper got off to as good a start as could have been expected
with the cloud hanging over the table. Soon one of the children
massacred table etiquette in such manner as to cause Emily Post to
wince. Before her husband could draw in sufficient breath to let
out a blast at the culprit, she quickly took the wind out of his sail
by firmly correcting the child. Before the dessert appeared, she
took in her stride a caustic remark about the quality of the pot
roast and a criticism leveled at her through one of her children.
Mary was nobody's dish rag. She had a lot of fire and spirit. She
could have stood up to him that night, "let him have it," and have
had a fight which she might have won, or, at least in which she
would have held her own. But, did anyone ever win a fight of this
This ideal wife had made up her mind to carry her husband
through the evening, come what might. He was not himself.
Tomorrow would be another day. If he had been physically sick in
bed and needed her care, would she have given only fifty per cent?
Of course not. She would have nursed and lavished upon him all
the warmth of her nature. Well, he was sick that night--sick in mind
and spirit. He needed her intelligent, loving and patient
consideration. She would have considered herself a very shallow
person to have reacted otherwise. She was in love with her
husband that night too, unreasonable though he was.
A few weeks later the tables were turned. She was the one who was
at wits end with herself. She started the day with a headache and
things went from bad to worse. It was a rainy day, and for some
unfathomable reason the school shut its doors on the children.
They were under her feet all day. Often she had to act as referee in
their squabbles. As the afternoon wore on toward supper time, she
was becoming conditioned for more adult opposition.
An unsuspecting husband made his entry. He was back to his little
castle in the suburb with roses round the door (metaphorically
speaking) and babies on the floor (literally speaking).
During the meal Mary "blew her top" about something. Oh yes, the
car did not start that afternoon. The battery or something must
have been dead. Some junk! It was time they had a new car.
So it was a junk, was it? John could think of the days of work it had
taken to buy that old bus a few years previous. It was still a good
car. What did women know about cars anyway ? There ought to
have been a law against women ever----. There is no future in this
kind of thought, so John quickly banished the hideous little devil
from his mind. Mary was worked up tonight. He would have to be
cautious. Did he defend his car against his wife? John was a little
too sharp for that. He jumped on the band wagon and lambasted
the car too. Yes. we would have to do something about that
nuisance. He felt like going out then and burning it up. He knew
that by the time they got to the dishes, she would have forgotten
all about the car.
Mary purred through the rest of the meal contentedly with that
wonderful feeling that her husband was all for her. Together they
stood against the whole world.
Suppose that John had been a little thick between the ears and that
he took exceptions to her remarks about the car and defended the
car against his wife. A fight would have ensued. Feelings would
have been hurt. And there was danger that their tempers would
have swept them on to the name calling stage. Once this has been
reached, real harm frequently has been done to a marriage.
Mary finished her explanation of what she meant by patience by
saying that she and her husband had never had a fight in the
twelve years of married life. Then she added what I thought was
the epitome of her whole conversation by saying that she and her
husband did not intend to have any fights. This determination not
to fight was indicative of their intelligence and maturity. Surely it
was one of the factors contributing to the happy stability of their
This couple have had arguments and disagreements I believe that I
have been in on a few warm ones. An argument is not a fight.
People with minds of their own will not always see eye to eye on
every phase of their daily lives. Viewpoints will vary and
disagreements will result even as to whether or not junior should
have a crew hair cut. But let us not make junior a ward of the
divorce court because husband and wife cannot agree on the
proper length of junior's hair. After all, it is not that important.
Arguments and disagreements degenerate into fights, when ill-
feeling, name-calling and bitterness come into the picture. The
ideal wife, fortified with the virtue of patience, sets her face
against such loss of harmony. Whatever be the cost she wisely
realizes that her effort at peace is worth the price.
No good comes from fights in married life. I have been asked
whether it is not a good idea for husband and wife to have a fight
once in a while. The air is thus cleared. The very young, theorizing
about this, often add that it is so sweet when they make up. In
connection with this question one inquirer quoted Bishop Fulton
Sheen as saying that a couple never really know how much they
love each other until they have made up after their first fight.
Nothing was said about how many found out how little they loved
each other and never made up.
It is very true that sometimes good comes out of evil. Yet, how
insane it is to seek or even permit avoidable evil, on the chance
some good might come of it. Fights among married people are evil
things and bring untold misery into lives. So many broken
marriages have come before me in which there was no third party,
no drinking, no in-law trouble, no major difficulty. They just
fought. So often people are less mature than their children, whom
they have brought into the world to endure their bad tempers.
Fights begin between human beings because of pride. We have a
will of our own. When we do not get our way pride suffers. Like
children we want to fight the opposition to our will. So far we have
no control of our reactions. We are made this way. If we are adults,
however, we have learned by bitter experience that our pride is the
surest destroyer of happiness and love. Unless we are psycho-
masochists, we crush our insurgent pride and prevent ourselves
the stupid and dubious pleasure of hurting the one who has stung
Once a fight has begun between man and wife it is clear that one
or the other must win the struggle against pride. One or the other
must curb the desire to win the empty victory. If the wife makes
the first effort at reconciliation, her humility will make it difficult
for the husband to nurse his pride. Pride cannot face up to
humility. It is shamed out of existence.
Even when husband and wife make up completely after a fight, a
fight is still unfortunate. Fights leave scars. The wound heals, but
there ever remains a scar in the mind. I have had many estranged
married people tell me that their partners did this or that to them
twenty-five or thirty years ago. Happy years had intervened
between the fight and the present estrangement. But they could
not forget, even if they had forgiven.
The wife desired meditates deeply on the hatefulness of fighting.
She has made up her mind to suffer anything rather than fight and
thus wound her husband. Remember that there is always the
danger that we begin to hate whom we hurt for the same reason
that we begin to love whom we help.
4. THE WIFE DESIRED IS A PHYSICAL BEING
Some years ago a questionnaire was published in the Religious
Bulletin of the University of Notre Dame. It listed some fifty
virtues, qualities of mind and body and accomplishments. The list
included such virtues as purity, humility, and justice; such
qualities of the mind as tolerance and humor, of the body as figure
and beauty: such accomplishments as skill at tennis, swimming
and music. Five hundred young men were asked to choose one
virtue or quality or accomplishment which they would have above
all others in their future wives.
Most of the choices were sensible and mature. However, out of five
hundred young men we could expect some to be immature if not
juvenile. I remember that one demanded of his future wife that she
be an expert swimmer. He would have this above all else in his
companion for life. He must have been an habitue of the
swimming pool; perhaps he was on the swimming team. Evidently,
he could visualize his wife swimming along through life by his
We should not be surprised that a dozen or two were not too
serious or intelligent in their selections. You might not agree with
the remaining choices. Although you might not decide on honesty,
for example, yet you would probably hesitate in passing up this
Well over three hundred of these young men picked the virtue of
purity. Instinctively young men realize that the virtue of purity is
a prerequisite for marriage. The girl who lacks it is a bad risk for
marriage, whatever else be her assets. No self-respecting young
man will seek out for his wife a girl who has been pawed over by
every Tom, Dick and Harry in the neighborhood.
A girl who develops the reputation for being "fast" with the boys
will win dates from inconsequential young men. She will have what
she thinks is a good time for a few years. But she is wasting her
time as far as finding a good mate for life. The worthwhile young
man looking for the girl to be his inspiration, his faithful
companion, and the mother of his children, will pass her up; or, if
he should unknowingly become acquainted with her, will on
learning of her real worth, drop her like a hot potato. Allow me to
say that this is not just theory. Remember the three hundred men
at Notre Dame who chose purity in their future wives above all
Lest anyone need more convincing, it should be mentioned that
authorities on family life are in agreement that violation of purity
to the extent of sexual experience before marriage is a handicap
for a future married life. No one says that the handicap cannot be
overcome. Yet, it remains a handicap, and the girl who is preparing
herself to be the ideal wife heeds the voice of experience and
avoids this obstacle to future happiness.
These opinions are held by some with no religious convictions
about purity. Some of them do not seem overly concerned about
religion. Their experience in dealing with marriage problems tells
them that lack of purity often wrecks a marriage. This is their
observation, and it is honestly stated.
By nature a girl is strongly inclined to modesty. It becomes her and
enhances her charm. "Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom
thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord, for the grace of her
modesty is above gold." Eccu. VII, 21. A good home life, her
religion, and her school promote this natural instinct and carry it
along to the full-blown, delicate flower of purity. It is a drastic
change in the life of a girl for her to abandon, even temporarily,
the virtue of purity. The cause must be considerable. One great
cause for loss of purity among girls of high school and college age
is an inferiority complex.
Take Hattie for example. She was not a ravishing beauty. Yet, she
was attractive enough; or at least she could have been if she
worked along the correct lines. Hattie missed a prom or two. She
was being passed over by the boys. Visions of her old maid aunt
haunted her. Panic set in and she lost confidence in herself and in
the future. She began throwing herself at the boys. The word got
around. And it was not long before she was receiving the attention
of several of the most odious young reprobates of her
neighborhood. You may be sure that these characters who
contributed to the destruction of a girl's virtue would not hesitate
to ruin her reputation.
Hattie was now getting the attention which she craved. She now
had dates, but she was a marked young lady. And time was quickly
running out. Opportunities for a happy married life were growing
dimmer with each succeeding "fast date." Remember the choice of
the young men at Notre Dame?
It is obvious that Hattie's frantic efforts to have dates were her
undoing. She lacked confidence in herself, the quiet confidence,
which comes to the girl who is developing her personality. It is not
necessarily true that the girl who has the most dates during high
school years will catch the best husband in the shortest time. This
is especially true if she compromises her purity in order to acquire
The young lady who abandons purity or allows it to become
tarnished sells herself much too cheaply. She is not preparing
herself to become the ideal wife. In fact, she is frittering away her
chances of becoming a wife at all.
How stupid it is to think that purity will scare away young men. If
a girl is a "wall flower," it is not because of her purity. It is in spite
of it. Purity of itself attracts. The introvert has the makings of a
"wall flower." While the introvert sits on the side lines, she has
plenty of time to reflect. Often her reflections indicate a not overly
generous soul. If she attributes her own lack of popularity to the
virtue of purity, to what does she attribute the popularity of many
of her acquaintances? She refuses or is too dull to see that it is
their vivacity. They are interesting people and can have a good
time and can promote fun for others.
"Ah! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee. Ah! I know at last
the secret of it all . . . For 'tis love and love alone the world is
seeking." No truer words were ever sung than these in the famous
love song. The only excuse for our existence is the love of God. For
this He made us, to love and be loved.
The virtue of purity is not an end in itself. It is the guardian of
love. As we ascend toward God through His creatures, we are
waylaid by a host of enemies. One of these is lust of the flesh. Its
most subtle and overpowering assault is to masquerade as love.
Purity guides us around this booby trap. The path it takes us over
at times is stony. This is particularly true for young people who
are seriously courting or are engaged.
To love a person is to wish him well, to hope for and plan for and
work for his happiness with all your being. A real Christian wishes
all mankind happiness and thereby fulfills the great precepts of
Christ to love his neighbor. This love of neighbor, all embracing
and including the little Pigmy in far off Africa and even our
enemies, is a spiritual thing. It emanates from the soul, from the
mind and the will.
We know that the opposite sexes were made by God to attract each
other. This attraction in itself is not love, unless it includes the
spiritual side of our nature. Many people physically attract each
other even to the extent of marriage. Yet, many of them are not
really in love. They do not seem capable of love. They are too self-
centered. Love is just the opposite. It looks outside for self, forgets
self. The marriage built on physical attraction alone will last just
as long as the infatuation lasts, and this generally is not very long.
For a normal, happy marriage there should be both the spiritual
and physical attraction between husband and wife. Ordinarily, love
begins for a young girl when she becomes well enough acquainted
with a young man to develop a spiritual affinity with him. She
admires his qualities and abilities. She likes his attitude toward
life in general. She begins to feel at ease, at home in his presence.
Then other things begin to happen. A simple phone call brings a
flutter to her heart. Her pulse quickens when he calls at her home.
She has eyes for no one but him.
With reason she wonders whether she is in love. Her doubts will
vanish when she reaches the point of growth in love where all her
being reaches out for him in the effort to bring him happiness. Her
own whims and desires fade into the background. His happiness is
her only real concern.
Obviously, this early stage of love, undeveloped and untested by
actual married life though it be, poses a real problem for engaged
couples. Their spiritual love for each other readily flows over into
the physical side of their nature. These emotions quickly enkindle
the sexual impulses. Here the virtue of purity, the watch-dog of
love, must come into play to steady the two lovers.
Champions are not made overnight. Long and tedious practice
must precede real success. The daily exercise of purity over the
years is required to build up the virtue or facility of purity. It will
be a safeguard for these engaged couples when they need it most
in times of emotional stress. Intelligent reflection in moments of
calm will show them the foolishness of hasty desires and the
danger to their love and respect for each other in stealing
privileges from their future married lives. The period of
engagement is a challenge to the sincerity of their love. It is a test
of sacrifice and self denial, without which loves flies out the
window. How often the nascent flower of love has been choked off
by the rank weeds of impurity.
The sham and insincerity of pretending to be better than one is
renders the hypocrite obnoxious to all. The failing is more
common after middle age, when the tendency of hiding sins and
blemishes of character grows. Young people are more likely to be
the victims of another hypocrisy, the pretense of being worse than
they actually are.
I saw so much of this when I was overseas with the Air Forces
during the war. Many of the young fliers, half-way through their
allotted missions, seemed to feel it necessary to impress the
recent arrivals from the States as to how reckless they were with
the female population of Paris. With divers winks and knowing
looks these self-styled old reprobates (many were only nineteen or
twenty) would have the young lambies believe that they had
plumbed the depths of Pigalle from one end to the other.
I suppose that we should not begrudge the young blades the foible
of parading as overwhelming lady killers. Yet, half of these fancied
"wolves" would find themselves hard put later on in married life to
fill the bill emotionally for all but the most feckless of wives.
Obviously, only the very young would be taken in by this display
of masculinity. But that is just the trouble. These hypocrites were
dealing with the young. The hypocrisy of pretending to be better
than reality hurts no one. The hypocrisy of pretending to be evil
has led many a person into serious sin. The power of example is
prodigious, and what a calamity it is when failures in the virtue of
purity have followed such a will o' the wisp as the feigned example
of the hypocrite.
THE PHYSICAL SIDE OF MARRIED LIFE
With marriage a few mental adjustments must be made concerning
the virtue of purity. To project virginal ideals of purity into
married life is unfair to both her husband and to herself as well as
harmful for a girl.
Marriage is an institution of God, in which two people cooperate
with Him in the creation of the human race. God could have
created all of us as He created Adam and Eve. He chose a more
wondrous and mysterious way. Male and female were created and
so constituted by God with faculties and propensities as to be able
and want to reproduce themselves. Thus the function of sex is just
as important as the continuation of the human race. God has
placed an attraction for each other in the male and female. It is
natural for this attraction to lead to love and marriage. The
manifest purpose of marriage is, therefore, the begetting and
rearing of children.
The obligations incumbent upon and the problems arising from
marriage are limitless. To compensate for them God has attracted
pleasure to sex, psychological as well as physical. The pleasure of
sex is consequently no more an end in itself than is the pleasure of
eating. God did not gives us stomachs and appetites for the sake of
pleasure, although He did join pleasure to this function of self
Sex pleasure is God given and, therefore, to be gratefully accepted
in the normal and natural relations of man and wife. Because so
much of the sensuous world has gone mad in its misuse of sex,
there is no reason for the Christian to be in the least ashamed of
what God has graciously given. In this regard it is worth
mentioning that in the early centuries of Christianity the Church
had to condemn the heretical teaching that sex pleasure in itself
was sinful and, therefore marriage was to be avoided.
Concerning the subject of sexual relations it should be indicated at
the outset that it is utterly silly to imagine that the newly-weds
should have a romantic and amorous technique at their finger tips.
That will come only with time, with living together and having
children, raising them and making a home. Their tender solicitude
for each other through the years brings a maturity to their love
that has nothing of staleness in it and everything of the refreshing
newness of eternal things to come. Thus, any girl who is well
disposed toward marriage should have confidence that she will
sufficiently adjust herself to meet the requirements of the ideal
wife, as far as sexual relations are concerned.
The ideal wife is a happy wife. She enjoys marriage. It is almost a
maxim that in order to be successful at anything a person must be
contented and happy in what she is doing. It is difficult to imagine
a successful and ideal doctor who is miserable in the practice of
medicine. No wife will be happy unless she is properly disposed
Two glasses of the same size are equally well disposed toward
receiving the same amount of water if placed under a water faucet.
If one glass is half filled with cement, then it will be only half
disposed toward holding the same amount of water. Suppose a
water tight cover of some type is fastened to the top of the glass.
In this case the glass would not be disposed at all for fulfilling its
From all outward appearances two girls may approach marriage
with equal chances of being successful wives. Both have average
intelligence. Both are attractive physically and personality-wise.
Yet, one may be poorly disposed. She may have some mental
quirks or phobias about marriage which constitute a real obstacle
to prevent the normal excitement and happiness of married life
from flowing into her being. The wife who is not receiving the
normal, natural enjoyment and satisfaction from her husband
through her own fault will drift into some form of neurosis that
will threaten the very stability of the union. At best she scarcely
will be an ideal mate.
All too frequently wives bemoan the fact that they do not get any
satisfaction out of marriage. Their husbands have all the
enjoyment, they think. Husbands with this type of wife are not
beside themselves in the enjoyment of marriage. Soon these
women begin to feel that it is a man's world. They have all the joy.
This is a dangerous attitude. Besides the judgment is not true.
These wives will devise ways and means to even up the score. Most
often an unhappy marriage, if not a broken one, is the result.
In dealing with failures in marriage I often find that many never
did enjoy relations with their husbands. Very few knew of any
physical reason. The great majority were laboring under some
erroneous concept or vexed themselves and their husbands with
some phobia or other, fear of conception and children, for
The ideal wife has enough common sense to realize that marriage
relations are normal. God-designed expressions of love between
man and wife. To experience a sense of shame or to imagine that
the marital act is unlady-like is utterly ridiculous. The deep sense
of purity and modesty of girlhood days must be adjusted to a new
mode of life. She will have many opportunities to practice the
virtue of purity in her married life.
Since marriage relations are holy acts in the sight of God, all
activity of love making and caressing between husband and wife
in preparation for the marital act is good, if the act is completed.
Efforts at birth control are the only unnatural and sinful acts in
connection with marriage relations.
The husband and wife who are motivated by love for each other
and thus strive through their sexual relations to bring to the other
happiness, pleasure, and contentment will receive as reward for
their unselfishness the greatest measure of joy God gives to man
and woman on this earth. The ideal wife thanks God that He gives
her a capacity for sexual enjoyment. If she has a husband
intelligent and good enough to promote during their married lives
this capacity, she has additional reason to be grateful.
Another erroneous idea ill-disposing a young wife for happiness in
marriage is the concept that it is never proper for her to be the
aggressor in any emotional display. She must never appear to be
eager. The husband is always supposed to be the Don Juan
sweeping her off her feet with loving attentions. All the while she
coolly and with great decorum maintains an affected,
dispassionate front. With patronizing air she submits, for his sake
only, to his caresses. Such women are fundamentally dishonest,
not accepting the fact that they are human and in need of
affection as well as their husbands.
I find it very discouraging to deal with these prim and prissy little
wives so small that they could high jump under a dresser and
possessing faces never once lit up with the ecstasy of love. This
matter of affection is not a one-way street. The normal husband
would like to see some signs of response to his efforts at affection
toward his wife. If he seldom or never gets it, how can he be
blamed if he wonders about his wife's love for him? Is he just her
social security number?
The desired wife has a mischievous streak in her and can be even
a little "naughty" with her husband. Some "dead pans" become so
blase about their marriages that they never flirt with their
husbands. They miss a lot of fun in life, and little wonder it is that
their husbands wear a "hang dog" look.
Another erroneous concept with a copious history of disharmony
in married life is the assumption on the part of the wife that the
emotional needs and capacities of her husband and herself are
equal. Seldom is this true. The difference of temperament, to say
nothing of sex, often calls for sympathetic understanding on the
part of the wife. The ideal wife is willing and able to adjust herself
to the emotional needs and wants of her husband. For example, if
she is of an affectionate and warm nature, she should realize that
perhaps her husband simply is unable to keep up with her, much
as he might want to. He is more limited by his nervous system
from frequent and prolonged display of emotion.
Some wives spend too much time reading over romantic and even
erotic novels. These dubious heroes are generally Casanovas and
gigolos with no counterpart in the everyday world of successful
husbands. The young wife who is disappointed because her
husband does not measure up to these dreamworld standards of
romantic endeavor must come down to earth. More often than not
she fails to realize how well off she is to have the type of husband
who is a good, sound, responsible man. Perhaps he is not the
absolute ideal from the romantic viewpoint. The intelligent wife
will see the favorable aspects in her husband's nature, and the
clever wife will patiently and lovingly work for the gradual
development of her husband that he come to better meet her
emotional and sexual needs.
It is not surprising that young ladies of pre-marriage age imagine
that any future husband of theirs will be expert at love making.
This misconception could easily come from the observation of the
aggressiveness and "know it all" attitude of young men. Actually
both wife and husband will have much to learn together.
In this connection there comes to my memory the painful
recollection of a young wife estranged from her husband. She was
of good, God-fearing parents. She lacked nothing in her
environment from a religious and educational standpoint. Her
girlhood was virtuous and exemplary. Friends and relatives
reasonably assumed for her a successful marriage. Presently her
whereabouts are unknown. In shame she left all behind her after
her infidelity. Although her husband was something of a knuckle
head, fundamentally he was a "right guy." His last mistake before
her disappearance was in excoriating her in the vilest language. In
his lonely bitterness he began to see that he overreached himself.
She was a vivacious young woman, strong in her feelings and in
need of a real man for a husband. He was not very demonstrative,
and I do not believe that he actually understood her hunger for
affection. In any case he did not quite fill the bill.
The young wife experienced a growing sense of frustration for the
first two years. Then during the last two years of their married
lives she began to sulk. This later attitude put the finishing
touches to their marriage. Instead of lovingly and patiently
encouraging the development of her husband's love-making
potential to complement the needs of her warm nature, she
withdrew within herself in disappointment and resentment.
Moreover there was little earnest effort on her part to adapt herself
to her husband's emotional nature. Perhaps he never could have
risen to the heights of the greatest romantic lover of all time. Yet,
if she had helped him and had given him a chance, he could have
brought happiness and stability into her life.
Offhand I cannot think of a single successful marriage in which
there has not been mature, intelligent adjustments on the part of
both husband and wife. Very few wives will find marriage exactly
as they had visualized it. The actuality is always somewhat
different from the story book picture or the girlhood dream. By
this I do not mean that marriage is less than what was expected. It
may turn out to be worlds more than what was looked for. In all
cases it will be quite different.
Regarding the measure of happiness to be expected, a well-known
ritual of marriage has this to say, "If true love and sacrifice guide
your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly
happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears."
Except in matters of principle and questions of right and wrong,
the ideal wife is not going to hang on to her preconceived concepts
of marriage. She will not try to put her husband into a mold, which
she has built up from romantic novels read during girlhood. That
plain, prosaic husband of hers is a much more real and interesting
being than the fleshless, soulless figment of the imagination, to
which she wants to cling. He has a spark of the divine waiting to be
fanned into a flame of love. The soul of a human being with all its
potentialities is not developed in a vacuum. Only through love
does the human soul begin to really live. And love requires at least
two beings. Only through concourse with his fellow man will love
come into being in the soul of a husband. Who can play the role of
this second party in the life of her husband better than the wife?
The ideal wife is in love with her husband. Therefore her whole
nature reaches out to him in an effort to bring him happiness. Her
joy in life can come only through success in making him happy
and content. Because her first desire in life is for his well being, all
her emotional and physical attentions to him are aimed at
satisfying his needs. No one can arrive at happiness through
oneself, through self-seeking. Thus the wife's display of emotion
has as its object the comfort and the contentment of her husband.
If this is her way of acting, she need not fear for herself. Only
those who seek themselves need fear for themselves.
Those who seek first their own pleasure out of marriage and make
the happiness of their partners only a possible by-product, so to
say, are doomed to misery. It is an inexorable law of our lives that
only through making others happy can we expect happiness. So
many wives seem to want to learn this lesson the hard, bitter way.
No one is self-sufficient. We are dependent beings, dependent
upon God as well as upon many of His creatures. Too frequently
some wives worry themselves with the erroneous idea that
dependency is a sign of weakness. The honest truth is always a
position of strength. Dishonesty is always a position of weakness.
And it certainly is just as dishonest for a wife to imagine that she
is independent of her husband, as it is for him to think that he is
independent of her.
As a married couple grow older and deeper in love, do they grow
less dependent upon each other? How can you love and be loved
without having someone beside yourself, outside of yourself, upon
whom you are dependent?
The wife who struggles against this dependence upon her husband
is a little crazy. Does she want to love and be loved? Then she will
not achieve her desire without dependence. The ideal wife does
not hide from her husband her realization of this dependence. She
glories in it. If he is only half a man, she will have his love and
affection to her heart's content.
When a man falls in love he gives up his freedom. No longer is he
as carefree as the wind to go and come as he pleases. In a sense he
becomes his wife's man Friday. His whole being gravitates toward
and becomes bound to the object of his love. There are moments
of alarm over the new situation. Strains of part of a song, "I'll never
fall again," may run through his mind during wistful thinking of
his past freedom. Yet, even if he could, he would never trade his
new sweet servitude of love for the past emptiness of his life.
When a woman falls in love, she likewise gives up her freedom.
She too becomes dependent upon the object of her love. But God
has made her more realistic. She has no misgiving about her lost
freedom to be alone in the world.
Obviously a wife must rely upon her husband for many things, as
for example, companionship and financial security. In this
discussion we are limiting ourselves to consideration of
interdependence of man and wife for their emotional and physical
wants. A wife needs the physical manifestation of her husband's
love for her. Too many wives realize this fact about themselves
only after they have separated from their husbands and have burnt
the bridges behind them.
"I'm sick and tired of marriage. It has been nothing but a headache.
I'll never look at another man as long as I live. I have my two little
children to live for. I'll be all right. Don't worry about me." I know
this refrain by heart; I have heard it so often. After the lonely
nights and days of two or three years they change the tune. They
are interested in another man. They want a declaration of nullity
for their first marriage. Because the validity of the marriage is
incontestable many of these wives who did not want or need (they
thought) one husband end up with two--the civil divorce courts
and all their legalistic jargon to the contrary notwithstanding.
FEAR OF CHILDBIRTH
So far this chapter has concerned itself with erroneous ideas which
can badly dispose a young wife for success in marriage. Some of
these false ideas are simple misconceptions, which once
recognized as such by the wife, cease to exist and cause trouble.
Now consideration must be given to something more serious. It is
the phobia or fear of conception and having children.
A phobia is a much more dangerous obstacle to good and proper
living than a simple misconception. It is built up over the years
and may spring from several sources. It is much more than just a
matter of ignorance or misinformation. The will is involved as well
as the intellect. So often the victim of a phobia supinely watches it
grow and does not really desire to be rid of the mental disease.
A young husband comes to my mind who had a fear of darkness.
He could not sleep without the light on. He was wholly a mama's
little boy, brought up carefully by his possessive mother to be
ever in need of her. As a child she was his comfort in the dark.
When she left him alone in his room at night, she left a light to
reassure him. Should he wake up at night without the light on, he
would scream and bring mama running to his side.
You can imagine the run for her money which he gave his wife on
this score. Why did he not snap out of it and act his age? I do not
know. There were possibly a number of reasons. I suspect one
reason was that he could punish his wife by retaining his phobia.
At long last he felt that he was living with one over whom he could
assert himself. She would have to adapt herself to him and his
phobia. The little mama's boy was trying hard at playing the strong
No young wife will be cured of her phobia of child bearing just by
reading the following pages. Perhaps some might prevent the
psychosis from getting a hold on their lives by recognizing how it
can jeopardize the happiness of their marriage. The victims of the
phobia will be healed only by the effort of their own wills. They
must want to get over their mental sickness. They must be willing
to sacrifice the small comforts and imagined security of living
within the confines of their phobia. They must learn by mental
hygiene to concentrate upon the real joys of married life, joys
which lie beyond the prison walls of their fear.
Some young ladies enter marriage with a fear of childbirth. Death
from childbirth has become so rare that it merits no concern. The
rare and abnormal cases are dwelt on. The average and normal
births are ignored as of little news and gossip value. Whatever be
the devious ways these girls build up the fear, they have a full-
blown phobia of childbirth by the time they are physically and
emotionally ready for marriage. They have about as much chance
of happiness in marriage as a glassful of cement has of holding
any water. They are not disposed for marriage. Their poor
husbands are in for a rough ride.
Life is beset with uncertainties and dangers. Even breathing is
dangerous. If you do it enough, long enough, it will kill you.
Nothing is certain except death, and we know not how or when it
will come. If these girls wish to nurse a phobia of death, let them
concern themselves with the tens of thousands killed yearly in
automobiles. Other thousands drown or are struck with lightning.
If a person concentrates on all the possible ways she might be
killed accidentally, she might easily end up cowering in the corner
of her bedroom afraid to move.
Think of all the fun she would miss hiding from life. It would be
her dismal lot never to see from an airplane the wild, blue yonder
or the jeweled cities by night: never to experience the exhilaration
of the open road: never to feel the salt spray in her face as the sail
stiffens to the wind: never to know the joy of its inception and the
mystery of its growth within her and the victory of motherhood as
she cuddles the new little life to her breast. What does she know of
life? Actually she is hardly alive. All that remains are the
obsequies and the floral wreaths of disappointed friends.
Conception, childbirth, and young motherhood and all that goes
with these experiences are the full life for a young woman. For
these God has well prepared her by nature. It is as normal for her
to have children as it is to breathe, and, from general observation,
as healthful physically, psychologically, and spiritually. For this
reason the young mother becomes more beautiful as she has
children. Contrariwise, the light seems to fade out of her face as
she prolongs the frustration of marriage without the normal
consequence of children. I am so sure that this observation is
founded on fact and is not wishful thinking, because in my youth,
I confess, I expected the opposite; I was genuinely surprised to
observe the real facts. Nature does not look upon pregnancy as a
disease. The idea of pregnancy as a disease is the result of
gyrations of a mind warped by the mental sickness of a phobia of
In order to live well and enjoy life we must be casual about
keeping it. The mountain climber who went about his activities
biting his finger nails in fear would not be a very happy mountain
climber. In fact he would not be a live mountain climber at all very
long. The mountain climber knows that there is an element of risk
in his life. Any woman knows that there is an element of risk in her
life. She accepts the obvious and then goes about her business of
accepting life, not denying it.
Few wives will admit that they have a phobia against childbirth.
Instinctively they seem to realize that they would be comparable
to a doctor or a nurse, who was nauseated by the sight of blood, to
an electrician afraid of electricity. Thus most of these misfits in
married life hide behind various smoke screens. Poor health is a
common one. Various mysterious aches and pains are advanced as
an excuse for not playing the role of the normal wife. Husbands
are kept at a distance or are degraded into sinful birth controllers.
As a matter of fact, of course, many of these women are the
healthiest characters in their neighborhood. Admittedly, some of
these wives will develop some neurosis or other as the penalty for
outraging nature and its normal demands on married people. But
these conditions are the after affect of the phobia and not an
excuse for it.
Few of us go through life without aches and pains, some of which
may even be of a partially disabling nature. These nuisances are
taken in stride by people of character. Indeed, frequently marriage
and child bearing bring to a young woman a glow of health which
she has never experienced previously.
Another attitude toward life which poorly disposes a young woman
for happiness in marriage and for being an ideal wife is the selfish
and worldly concern not to become too tied down by her family.
She will measure out just so much of herself and no more. So after
one or two children her husband notices a decided change. The old
spontaneity of affection is gone. In its place there is a calculated
aloofness, which has nothing of the saving qualities of
coquettishness. She does not want any more children.
With eyes tilted toward heaven she gives out frequent evidence of
being a modern day pelican. She is careful to make her husband
realize what a slave she is. She has no time now at all to receive
from or to give him any affection. Little Buster gets all the
attention now. If Buster's father becomes, as well he might, a little
apprehensive about this excessive care for his solitary offspring,
and feels that she is developing a sissy and mama's boy, he is told
that he is unreasonably jealous. He should be happy and grateful
that she is such a wonderful mother. But the blackguard is not.
He is quite confused by all this, but at times he has a suspicion
that she does not become the all-American mother simply because
she has ceased to be his wife. These little ladies fool nobody, even
though half their waking hours are an effort to do so. They are
pitiful failures as wives.
Of late years a lot is heard of so called frigid women. I venture to
say that frigidity is a fairly modern concept. I cannot recall
meeting the expression in the literature of the past centuries. We
are told now that a majority of women were made by God to be
incapable of being ideal wives. They have no relish for marital
relations. The whole business is obnoxious to them. They only
suffer it with varying degrees of grace. According to the theory
most women marry only out of curiosity and in quest of security. I
humbly suggest that this is a lot of blabberdash, if it does not
border on the blasphemous, to blame the Creator for such a
God created the two sexes to propagate the human race. Between
them He placed an attraction which would develop into real love
during marriage. Their offspring are to be the fruit of their act of
love. God is so interested in this union of husband and wife, that
His Son, Jesus Christ, dignified it by making it a sacrament. It is a
queer idea to maintain that most women are duped into marriage
and a way of life for which by nature they are doomed to
discomfort, unhappiness, and misery.
It is also real cynicism to say that women marry only out of
curiosity and in quest for security. To say that they marry out of
curiosity and for security is obviously true and not in the least
All of us are "curious." God made us so. When I cease to want to
know, may someone please bury me. Besides, who wants to be
insecure? The human being yearns for the security which will
ultimately come only with complete union with God in knowledge
There are other reasons why women marry. Love is one. This love
increases with married life. As the years go on there is growth in
capacity of enjoyment and happiness in marriage. Have you ever
noticed two elderly married people who have begun, it does seem,
to look alike? It is normal for love to grow with the years, unless
the wife allows the phobia of children and consequent self-
induced frigidity to come into her life and rob her and her
husband of the joy of living.
What I am trying to say is that God is not in the habit of making
frigid women. Yet, no doubt, there are many frigid women. I know
of too many instances of them and too many confused husbands
wondering what happened to their wives several years after
marriage. There was an expression among the old Romans to the
effect that whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. It is
utter madness for a married woman to bring on this condition of
frigidity. When the madness of self-imposed frigidity enters her
life, the destruction of her happiness is just around the corner.
There are, no doubt, a number of reasons why foolish and selfish
women develop this coldness, so that, as many husbands have told
me, they just want to play house. Incidentally, many of this type
are good at playing house; they are good cooks and housekeepers.
They seem to be trying to compensate. I shall give only a few
reasons for this frigidity, which I have encountered many times in
clear cut cases.
The wives of whom I am thinking were fundamentally dishonest.
They were normal emotionally and really enjoyed marriage
relations. Yet, they would neither admit nor give more than just a
polite indication of pleasure to their husbands. During the very
first months of their marriage they developed an unnatural
attitude. They would put on a front of being entirely uninterested
in relations. The husband must seek them. If their husbands
behave themselves they will, with considerable show of heroism,
consider their attentions.
This whole business becomes a sort of game with these wives. The
wife's cooperation is essential. To get it the husband must pay the
price in one form or another. She is studied in her reserve and
careful to disclose a very minimum of pleasure. She feels that for
doing this violence to her own nature, she is being more than
compensated by the domination she gains over her husband. This
mean person is not seeking her happiness through her husband,
the only way she will have any in this life. She is justly rewarded
for her selfishness by becoming a wizened and shriveled person.
A calculating coldness replaces the warmth of her nature, and in
her there is no generosity. If she does not actually become a frigid
person, she is doing a good job of masquerading as one. The end
result is pretty much the same--a person in whom the light has
gone out, unloving and unlovable.
Those who imagine that these frigid women should have become
nuns know nothing of the life of the religious. The vocation to the
sisterhood is founded on love and sacrifice. These frigid women,
often so constituted by their own littleness of soul, know not the
meaning of love and bear no resemblance to nuns.
The next group of frigid wives of whom I am thinking are married
any time up to ten years or so. They had one, two, or three
children. They were ideal and desired wives at first. Both husband
and wife attest to happiness for the first years of their marriage.
Now they are almost at the parting of the ways. What happened?
Simply, the wife developed a fear of conception and children.
In her nightmares she would see a whole flock of children eating
them out of house and home. Children were all over the place,
under the dresser, on top of the refrigerator, looking out of the TV
set, and chinning themselves from the chandelier. When they
began flying in through the windows, she could stand it no longer
and would wake up in a cold sweat.
She was a normal woman, loved her husband, and appreciated his
love and affection. Then somewhere along the line after her first
or second child was born she began to feel sorry for herself. She
was being tied down too much. She could seldom get to an
afternoon tea. Moreover, the children were putting a big dent in
her budget. She started to dwell on the hard and difficult aspects
of raising children. To have no more of them was the solution.
The old spontaneity of love and affection was gone. In its place
came a calculated caution. She avoided marriage relations as much
as possible. Her husband now was a source of anxiety. She avoided
any show of affection and kept him at a safe distance.
She may not necessarily have been overly happy about this new
turn of events, but she felt that she had no choice. She had her
heart set on a new TV or car or fur coat. A child would upset the
The husband was all for these things, but he felt that first things
should come first. He knew that their real happiness would have to
come from themselves: never could it come from TV, a new piano,
or anything else.
When she began to fence herself in with the phobia of children, he
saw the real fullness of their lives shrinking away. The growing
frigidity of her demeanor frightened him. He pleaded with her and
in desperation fought with her. With a heavy heart he had to
realize that their love was not absolutely the first thing in her life.
She had to choose between him and children and what she thought
would be an easier life. It might be an easier life, but it is not a
fuller and happier one.
Real, lasting happiness can come to a married couple only from
themselves and their children and their sacrifice for each other
and their offspring. Sooner or later TV sets, phonographs, and
automobiles end up in the attic or the junk yard. And, by the way,
that is about where a couple's happiness ends up, when they put
their hearts on these things instead of on each other, letting come
5. THE WIFE DESIRED HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR
A person may have a sense of humor without being a professional
humorist or comedienne. Relatively few are gifted to travel in this
rarefied air. It is more difficult to write humor than scientific
treatises. One obvious proof of this is that there are libraries full
of scientific books while works of humor are few.
One person is able to appreciate or even be enthralled by a sunset.
Another is able to put the sunset down on canvas and thus convey
it to others. One can love music. Another can create it. The second
person is an artist. It takes special talents, the right environment,
and application to bring about an artist. Comparatively speaking,
real artists are rare. Although we could use more of them, yet life
would become unbearable if all people became artists. God keeps a
balance in nature. All birds cannot be singing canaries, and we are
happy for it.
Not many wives can be humorists or comediennes. Again, for this
we can be grateful. But wives can have a sense of humor. They can
have the fine perception of seeing things in their true perspective.
A sense of humor is the faculty of being able to see through
things, to see the real worth of things. It could be called a sense of
equilibrium. Not being lopsided herself the woman with a sense of
humor can detect the lopsided. Because her vision is in focus, she
can see and enjoy the incongruous.
A flower or a sunset is a reflection of a spark, so to speak, of God.
But these beautiful things are not a part of God: so, a sense of
humor keeps even the artist from going daffy over flowers and
sunsets and becoming a Pantheist. The wife may feel strongly
about flowers and sunsets, but she doesn't lose her sense of
balance and become too serious about them.
The most serious thing in life is sin. Food, drink, and gold are just
materials to keep us alive, means whereby we work out our eternal
destiny. They exist for us. When we begin to exist for them and
become gluttons and misers, we sin. We lose our sense of humor.
Our ability to see through things, our sense of humor, prevents us
from getting too serious over gold, roast beef, and martinis.
A sense of humor might be likened to a sort of casual sense of
balance. It is mental relaxation. The bane of all athletes is to
"tighten up." to get too serious over hitting home runs, high diving,
and so forth. As soon as a golfer or bowler "tightens up," she is off
her best form. A person without a sense of humor has a sort of
mental "charley-horse." She "tightens up" mentally to the extent
that her brain becomes sort of lame, unable to see things in their
Many years ago an effort was made to involve me as referee in a
sort of neighborhood civil war. Little junior, let us call him Willie
Baxter, was three years old and full of lemonade one day. He
wandered two doors down the street under the window of an aged
spinster. With a reputation of being a neighborhood crab she lived
alone on the second floor of her two-flat building. She had had her
eye on Willie before he began to poach on her property. As he
began to pick flowers under her window, she was all ready for this
affront with a pail of water. Willie was not too sure what happened,
but his instincts told him that it was time to high tail it for home.
Before he could reach home base, the defender of public morals
and private property had Willie's mother on the telephone blessing
her out. Willie arrived looking as if he had just swum the Channel.
His appearance spurred mother on to a more direct contact with
the assailant of her child. She ended up a few safe yards from the
spot of Willie's dastardly act and entered a screaming contest with
the old lady.
By this time the old retired fireman on the first floor came to life
from a nap. Thinking that the building surely was on fire, he
rushed out the side door with a pail of water. Misinterpreting the
designs of the erstwhile firefighter, the young mother beat a hasty
retreat to her home. She felt that at least one of the Baxters should
keep her powder dry. In the meantime Willie had pretty much
become used to his soggy breeches and was having another glass
of lemonade. Mother could carry on and finish the feud. Willie felt
that he had done his bit in starting it.
Willie's mother lacked a sense of humor or at least lost it
momentarily. Instead of sitting down and having a good laugh over
the lesson, which her little Willie had learned the easy way, she
lost her sense of perspective and ruined her disposition for the
rest of the day. Unwittingly, of course, she provided high comedy
for the neighbors. The world is full of unremunerated
Willie's mother went so far as to attempt to enlist her husband's
support in feuding with the old lady. I am afraid that she even
tried to nag him into "putting in his two cents." He, however,
seemed to know that the poor old lady was a character and that
little Willie received no mortal hurt. In fact, I would not be
surprised if he did not have to force back a few chuckles over the
episode in the bringing up of Willie.
Anyone can understand that her mother's instincts might carry her
away at first. A sense of humor would bring back balance as the
hours passed. She would begin to see the humorous side of the
episode and bear no resentment against the spinster. She would
have been spared the nuisance of contending for hours and days
with revengeful thoughts.
If people are fortunate to be able to recover their mental
equilibrium through a sense of humor, twice blessed are those who
can see the humor of situations as they are developing. These
wonderful people are a joy to themselves as well as to all who are
privileged to know them. A young woman who possesses this
crown of spiritual growth is a pearl of great price.
If it is dangerous to get too serious over roast beef or gold or
martinis, it is fatal to get too serious over oneself. The devil
certainly lacked a sense of humor when he vaunted himself in the
face of God. He took himself just a little bit too seriously and
laughter went out of his life forever. The light bearer before the
God of life became the demon of the shadows of death.
Life is not a stage for buffoons. It is deadly serious. We walk a
tight rope between heaven and hell. Of ourselves we can never
make it. As long as we keep our faces turned up to God and our
hands in His, we shall not lose our nerve and fall. Only those fall
who think themselves to stand by their own merits.
HUMOR AND HUMILITY
Since humility is the foundation for all virtue, it is not surprising
that it is the requisite for a sense of humor. Humility is the proper
and correct appraisal of ourselves. We are the creatures of God. Of
ourselves we are nothing. Whatever we are or have is from Him and
His. Because we are able to see ourselves in proper perspective, we
are able to laugh at ourselves as well as at others. Our foibles and
fancies and past blunders are a source of amusement to ourselves
as well as to others. We are not completely unremunerated
I have never forgotten the scene of a small boy crying with a
banana in his mouth and a loaf of bread under his arm. Too many
of us go through life in this comic fashion, sad-eyed-Sams with
God's blessing all about us. On the other hand many wonderful
people keep their cheerfulness with one foot in the grave and the
other on a banana peel. If sick people can remain cheerful, how
ashamed the rest of us should feel for being wet blankets.
The real difference between a gloomy Gerty and a cheerful person
is that the latter is tuned into the harmony of God's never ending
and always new symphony. The gloomy Gerty is out of tune and
full of static, a nuisance to herself and to all within earshot.
We must admit that there is an undertone of tragedy to real humor,
as is evidenced in the works of Dickens. However, a sense of
humor is productive of a cheerful attitude toward life.
The living are more attractive than the dead. The interested wife is
interesting because she is animated to the joy of living. Gayety
appeals to all. The gay wife is a pleasure to her husband. She is a
pearl of great price.
The wife who has a sense of humor will make a much more stable
wife as well as a much more lovable and desired one. She is
safeguarded against many repelling characteristics. Conceit and a
sense of humor do not get along together very well. Adolph Hitler
was not famous for a sense of humor, nor are any of the other
tyrants, who plague the world.
Some people are perfectionists. They want to do things perfectly
all the time. Because of their aim they are in a dither with
themselves and others too frequently. A wife who is a perfectionist
must watch herself. Unless she be on guard, she can easily commit
one of the mortal sins of marriage by nagging her husband. A
sense of humor will temper this tendency and save her from
becoming a veritable shrew.
Possessing a sense of humor the wife is prevented from getting too
excited over the idiosyncrasies of her husband. She can see the
amusing side of things and thus is saved from many heartaches.
Besides, because she is humble, she is less sensitive.
Consequently, it is hard for anyone to hurt her. She will have little
temptation to go around brooding over real or imagined slights.
For the give and take of every day life with her husband she is well
6. THE WIFE DESIRED IS A COMPANION TO HER HUSBAND
The wife desired is the companion of her husband. Hand in hand
they walk through life sharing their joys and sorrows. Together
they stand against the world. They have secrets shared with no one
else. Their union goes beyond that of friendship, for in it are
found the little intimacies of lovers. Together they meet life
fortified with each other. Their hearts leap for gladness in the
merry month of May of their lives. In the grey December their
sorrows are softened with the comfort of carrying each other's
burden. No pain can equal the pain of the loss of each other. Their
loneliness when death takes the other has no counterpart in this
vale of tears.
Marriage is a partnership in the business of living. Just as most
phases of life are specialized, so marriage itself is specialized. To
the husband fall certain obligations, to the wife others. He must
bring home the bacon. She upholds her end of the bargain by
being the queen of the home. "As the sun when it rises upon the
world in the high places of God. so is the beauty of a good wife for
the ornament of her house." Ecclus. 26, 21.
In this chapter we consider a number of aspects of married life
which may seem to have little or no reference to companionship. A
girl contemplating marriage and especially the phase of
companionship which it brings may wonder what sewing, cooking,
and housework can have to do with companionship. The answer in
a nutshell is that, unless the wife takes care of her end of the
bargain, there will be little companionship.
If the husband is irresponsible and does not support the family,
how can there be the normal companionship of marriage?
Likewise, if the wife is remiss in the specialized chores which are
her lot in life, she will make a very poor companion. In other
words, the husband's support of the home and the wife's cooking
and housework are the basis upon which it is possible for them to
build a companionship without which marriage is a bleak affair. As
we have already said, marriage is a partnership, and
companionship is the reward beyond reckoning for those who
accomplish the duties befalling them as partners in a glorious
Suppose that a young lady married a man unequipped for and
irresponsible about his obligations. After a few days of
honeymoon--he did not have the cash for a more extended one--
they returned to live with her parents. He had a few more days of
freedom, she understood, before getting back to his job. The first
day or two passed well enough: but then she became worried. As
she busied herself about the house under mother's watchful eye,
her man seemed unconcerned about the future. As the days went
by, his naps on the davenport became more frequent and
prolonged. She could not hide her anxiety any longer, so she asked
him whether he was going back to his job soon. "What job?" he
frowned up at her. It did not seem that he had a job at the time,
but, like Micawber, he felt that one might turn up soon.
To be sure, a wife in this position would be in for a very difficult
marriage. I have seen very many men of this type--lazy, selfish,
irresponsible, and as well prepared for marriage as a jackrabbit.
Occasionally, he will be a very likable individual. He is good
natured and easy going and dances like a gigolo--a wonderful
fellow with whom to pass a holiday at the lake, but not a man to
settle down within the partnership of marriage.
Let us return to the wife. After all, she is our wonderful subject.
Again we can imagine the opposite case in which the wife was
delinquent. The husband was a fine, responsible young man. He
was industrious and had saved money for his marriage. In fact, he
had bought a home albeit with a fat mortgage. After ten days of
honeymooning they returned to their little home. He had several
more days vacation before returning to work. It was summer, and
they were going to make the most of it at the beach. The wife
suggested the first day that, instead of wasting time in the kitchen,
they have a sandwich and milk shake on their way. They could
thus have more time at the beach. The husband thought it was a
On the way home in the middle of the afternoon the wife
mentioned that Aunt Susie wanted them over for dinner that night.
Remember Aunt Susie? She went all out for us in the generosity of
her wedding present. Splendid. Aunt Susie's it was.
The next day and the next it was the same story--clever
maneuvering away from the kitchen. By now the husband
wondered why he did not save construction costs on the home by
eliminating the kitchen This poor little wife could just about
manage to boil water. She had never cooked a thing in her life and
did not evidence any concern for the future.
Although these two imaginary cases are extreme, do not think that
they are out of this world. One would think that a girl would pride
herself on being able to cook, to sew, and to keep house.
Sometimes an over efficient and fussy mother keeps her daughter
from having a chance to learn these things. More often her
inefficiency indicates an indolent and even selfish girl. She
prefers to let her mother spoil her by waiting on her hand and foot,
while she ensconces herself on a sofa with a book and bonbons. Of
course, many of these girls rise to the occasion with their marriage
and learn to be efficient wives in respect to the home. The love of
her husband and children does the trick. The worst offenders in
this important phase of marriage are those who stagnate after
marriage and lose interest in their homes.
One instance comes to mind in which the husband would come
home from work and wash several days dishes and tidy up the
kitchen. He had hoped to shame his wife into a realization of her
position. She merely laughed at him. She was slovenly in the care
of her child. When she got around to changing the baby's diaper,
she was more than likely to throw it into a corner to remain there
for some distant future reference. This woman did little more than
visit her girl friends all afternoon and gossip with them. She
flounced into the home a few minutes before her husband's return
from work. Her preparation of dinner consisted of opening a can of
beans, unwrapping some cold cuts, and placing on the table a loaf
of chaff and straw dust commonly called bread by a generation
unfamiliar with the joys of eating homemade bread. Had this
woman married another Okie it is possible that they could have
been happy. Not many people can live in a pigsty like this and be
The following story may serve to introduce a lighter vein in this
discussion of the art of cooking. A young wife was determined to
satiate her husband with waffles better than his mother ever
thought of preparing. She had never before attempted to make
waffles, so she proceeded gingerly with the recipe in one hand, the
iron newly bought in the other and faith in her heart. Thus and
thus went the directions on the iron ending with a caution. "Throw
away the first waffle." As the years went on she hewed to the line.
This flipping away of the first waffle of every batch was
mysterious, but there it was in black and white on the directions.
The ideal wife takes pride in her cooking. Her sensibility to what is
right and decent prevents her from massacring good food bought
with her husband's hard earned money. Many people make an
enjoyable hobby out of cooking. So it certainly is within the realm
of possibility that the average wife can become sufficiently
interested in one of her obligations to do a passable job. If she can
read, she can learn to cook. There are such things as cook books.
The old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his
stomach is still true for a number of reasons. Anybody who knows
a thing about human nature knows that the time to seek a favor
from or to put over a deal with a fellow human being is
immediately after a fine dinner. His sales resistance is then at
lowest ebb. In this defenseless condition he will agree to his wife's
silliest notions. Literally he is eating out of her hand now. The
ideal wife does not miss these opportunities. She is not a heartless
schemer but she is intelligent enough to accomplish things the
easy way with less wear and tear on herself and her husband.
Moreover, the wife who does right by her family in the matter of
cooking will learn the esteem of her husband. He will be proud of
her and love her all the more for her interest in his behalf.
Concerning the ability of the wife to sew there comes to mind the
beautiful picture of a young bride at whose marriage I recently
assisted. I would never be able to remember her wedding gown
except for the fact that her husband proudly told me at the
reception that his wife made the gown herself. Would that all
young ladies looking ahead to marriage could have seen the stars
in that young man's eyes as he spoke of his bride's
As the years of marriage roll by, her knowledge of sewing will
stand her in good stead. It does for another young wife and mother
of whom I am thinking. Finding herself in very moderate financial
circumstances with three little children to care for, she easily
could have resigned herself to a wardrobe growing more shabby
and bleak with the years. Not Mary. She is approaching thirty, and
she knows how to wear clothes. Furthermore, she knows how to
make them. Through her nimble fingers the best and latest
creations of the designers come quickly into being. To her comes
the satisfaction only creation can bring. To her husband comes the
delight only his smartly dressed wife can bring. Within her meager
budget for clothes she is the envy of her circle of girl friends.
Then there is the run of the mill sewing for the family--mending of
the children's clothes, stitching, patching, and refurbishing of
hand-me-downs. A tear in Bobbie's breeches is like the sounding of
a tocsin. Out comes the needle. The rip is mended in quick order,
and Bobbie's dignity is restored.
Life is made up of little things. In doing them well we live the good
life. If we ignore or become bored with these little things and wait
for something big to come along, our ship will never come in. Life
will pass us by.
About eighty per cent of marriage is the daily task of cooking,
dishes, laundry and shopping, and caring for the children. Unless
these tasks, humdrum in themselves, be sublimated by love of
husband and children, life becomes a lackluster affair. The ironing
of a shirt for her husband can be an act of love or merely a drab
job to keep the wife from her own enjoyments of reading and
To keep house well takes intelligence, initiative, and spirit. The
ideal wife puts her mind and heart into her specialized work.
However, she keeps clear in her mind that she is not her husband's
housekeeper: nor does she ever let him think so. Within their
financial means she should be ready and willing to get away from
the house and the children and be alone with him. A husband can
be remiss in this respect more easily than the wife. He may fail to
realize the monotony of her daily housework. He has been away all
day. After dinner he is content to play with the children, put them
to bed, and spend a quiet evening at home. This will be the normal
happy routine of life. But the wife needs an occasional release
from her tight schedule.
A certain wife seldom wears perfume. When she does, it is the
signal for the man of the house to spring into action. She wants
out. Her husband sometimes has a severe cold in the head and
cannot smell a thing, but, because she keeps her requests within
reason, he generally rises to the occasion and waltzes her out of
the house to dinner, to a movie, or to the home of friends.
There are many little tricks along with the use of common sense in
the clever head of the ideal wife to prevent home life from
becoming too monotonous for herself and her husband. Situations
will vary. Yet there are some old and tried bits of advice no wife
seeking success will ignore. One is to "pretty up" before the
husband comes home from work. No one expects a wife to go
about her housework looking like a fashion model; nor does she
have to go to any silly extreme in the evening. However, if she is
wise, she will stop working before he comes home. She will relax,
perhaps have a cigarette, freshen up, and slip into a fresh house
dress. She will make herself attractive because her husband is
going to sit down to dinner with his wife, not his housekeeper. She
may say that it is not necessary in her case; her husband does not
work at an office with pretty secretaries about. There is no chance
of his making any invidious, mental comparisons. He is a plumber,
or he does outside work of some sort. His occupation makes no
difference. If she is wise, she will get out of her scrub clothes
before he comes home.
In the second half of this chapter I shall consider a few of the most
common dangers to companionship of man and wife. Since the
husband can be at least as guilty, if not more so, of allowing
attachments of one sort or another to come between himself and
his wife, it is necessary once more to repeat that we are concerned
only with the ideal wife.
The late W. C. Fields of the stage and movie used to enjoy
repeating that you can never cheat an honest person. He knew
whereof he spoke. Confidence games take in only the avaricious,
who are willing to lean over the line of honesty. There is a close
parallel to the statement that you cannot trust a suspicious person.
Fundamentally, a suspicious woman is a cynic who believes that
all human conduct is directed wholly by self-interest or self-
indulgence. Insecure in this cold, evil world, she must protect
herself. She trusts no one. All must prove themselves innocent,
else they are guilty.
There is something in her of the hypocrisy of Diogenes, shuffling
along with a lantern looking for an honest man. He was blinded by
his own light and not very honest. In his most desperate moment
of loneliness no one should ever trust a suspicious woman with
The suspicious being is a petty, beetle-browed parody of a son of
God. The suspicious wife is obnoxious to all, and it is little wonder,
seeing what mental company she keeps. Satan, ever ready to
whisper into her ear a choice little morsel of gossip, suspicion, or
rash judgment, is her boon companion. Suspecting sin of others,
especially her husband, she herself drones through life in sin. It is
a sin of injustice to suspect another of wrong doing, to put evil
motives into the minds of others.
Most suspicious wives fall into a definite pattern. Suspecting their
husbands of infidelity, they them selves are unfaithful to the trust
and confidence out of which grows real companionship. The
suspicious wife generally informs the whole neighborhood of her
husband's imagined infidelity. Relatives are dragged into the sorry
picture. She makes a nuisance of herself even where he works by
continually checking on him over the phone or by waiting for him
at his place of business. He becomes the butt of nasty jokes from
his fellow workers. He is suspected of irresponsibility by his
employers. If he is not released from his position, at least he is
considered a poor risk for any advancement.
Often the suspicious wife makes a liar of her husband. In order to
allay her apprehensions over some trivial matter, he takes what he
foolishly thinks is the easy way out. He lies. One lie usually
demands another. Sooner or later the truth will out.
Once she has caught her husband in a lie, the suspicious wife goes
to work on him with the eagerness of a bloodhound on the scent.
An innocent highball with the boss on the way home from work
might be misconstrued by the little woman so he fabricates some
excuse for being a half hour late for dinner. On finding the truth
later she belabors him with it. He is perpetually in a turmoil
whether a truth or a falsehood will stir up her suspicions. For him
it is either the frying pan or the fire. His silence is construed as
guilt, and his protestations of fidelity are its proof. In this
connection the sad picture of a husband comes to memory. After
telling his story of a suspicious wife and his gradual alienation, he
sat in silence for a few moments and then said, "A ghost woman
ruined our marriage."
The short and the long of the matter is that these women are
capable of very little love. Love brings trust and confidence upon
which companionship can be built. Most of these suspicious
women complain of the lack of companionship with their
husbands. They do not stay home in the evening. They never have
any holidays together. Their conversation is meager. These wives
do not seem to be able to see that they are driving their husbands
away from them--even at times into the infidelity of which they are
The wife desired is in love with her husband, and therefore she has
absolute trust in him. Because she is a practical woman, she knows
that there is no other possible course. She realizes that her
husband carries with him the weakness of humankind. So she is
poised more in readiness to forgive than to drive herself into
mental illness by constantly fretting about the possibilities.
She is only human, so the devil will use sundry situations to drop
suspicions into her mind. He will play on her imagination. She
wisely pounces upon these dirty offerings at the first
consciousness of them and flings them from her mind. In this
action she recalls the wisdom of the ancients--obsta principiis,
resist beginnings. An evil suspicion willingly harbored in her mind
quickly sends out roots to sap the very life blood of her love. The
longer it is nursed the more difficult will be the extraction. She
knows this and tosses the devil's garbage back at once. The
tranquillity of her soul is not to be whipped into turmoil so easily.
Jealousy and her twin sister, Envy, have spawned more mischief
upon this world than is generally realized. These are the vices with
which the devil is most tormented. Little wonder it is, then, that he
takes particular delight in seeing jealousy or envy bring about the
moral downfall and consequent misery of a human being. These
vices have a frightful history of human tragedy strewn in their
wake stretching back from the latest divorce to the murder of Abel.
It is hard to imagine a vice less rewarding to its victim than
jealousy. Conceivably, the robber derives some enjoyment from
her spoils, the adulteress from her passion, the deceiver from her
deception. Jealousy produces nothing but sadness and grief. A
jealous wife makes me think of the picture of a wounded snake
If it were not for the tragedy of broken marriages arising from
jealousy, the situations springing therefrom often would be comic.
One wife complained one day that her husband gave his affection
to everybody but her. At a wedding reception she saw him kissing
his cousins. He explained that there was nothing to it. Simply they
were kissing cousins. She made a searching study of the
propensities of his side of the family and proclaimed that his
cousins were not kissing cousins.
A jealous wife watches her husband like a hawk. He had better not
show any affection even to his sister, or he will be in hot water. A
momentary, furtive glance at a beautiful woman always alarms and
makes her uneasy. Because a jealous wife is an unhappy wife she
contributes no happiness to a marriage. From jealousy it is one
fast, easy step to suspicion and all its incumbent evils.
A wife striving to be desired by her husband will be ever on guard
against jealousy. It is a petty sin in the sense of its meanness, not
in its consequences. Lest some feel that the language concerning
suspicion and jealousy has been too severe, harken to the words of
Scripture. "With a jealous woman is a scourge--he that hath hold of
her, is as he that taketh hold of a scorpion." Ecclus. XXVI, 9, 10.
Once a friend gave a bit of sage advice concerning friendship and
companionship for those on long vacations with a group of
friends. He advised going off by oneself for a day. A week or ten
days of constant companionship begins to wear. After having
spent the day alone, one will come running back to one's friends
and be happy to be with them again.
The wise wife will realize that it is good for the husband to have an
evening out once in a while to attend some club or lodge, or to
bowl. She will not want to keep him under her eye constantly. She
should be free likewise, of course, to get out by herself and visit
her girl friends. No hard and fast rules can be given for guidance
on a question like this. Yet the principle must be recognized that
deep and lasting companionship does not suffer from occasional,
Some silly wives begin to pout, if the husband ever ventures out
for an evening. By their childish and short-sighted attitudes,
sometimes even clouded with suspicion, they become less
desirable companions. Little wonder it is then that the husband
starts to wander off more than he should. The ideal wife will be
successful in some phases of companionship in the same
proportion as she is successful in developing her personality.
It has been said somewhat captiously that a person can choose her
friends but not her relatives. Marriage brings with it a new group
of relatives for better or for worse. A few thoughts may be
beneficial on how these new found relatives can work out for
There is no question that the problem of in-laws has earned for
itself a very high rating among the causes of broken marriages.
One need not be occupied in the work of counseling to be aware of
this fact. The problem will vary in magnitude for each marriage.
Fortunately, for many, the problem will be of such small
consequence as to be of little concern. After all, it is expected that
every human relationship will give rise on occasions to the need of
patient understanding. Between the best of friends there will be
times when one will have to exercise resignation to the whims of
It is most important that the ideal wife develop by the time of her
marriage the attitude that there need be no conflict with her in-
laws. Too many women acquire a real in-law complex even before
they are married. They are determined that they are going to have
difficulties with their husband's relations. You may be sure that
these people realize their expectations.
Let us suppose that her husband has a very normal mother. The
wife cannot expect the mother to drop dead because she married
her son. His mother still loves him and wants him to be happy. She
does not know her daughter-in-law too well. It is going to take time
for the mother to learn to relax in her presence and give her
confidence. Unless the wife realizes this, she may misinterpret
this initial uneasiness on the mother's part as suspicion of her or
In-laws can be a great asset to a young wife. It is normal for
grandparents to love and dote on their grandchildren. Financial
help can come from them indirectly in the form of toys, gifts, and
clothes for the children. As long as these things are given with no
"riders" attached, and as long as they do not "move in" and try to
take over, their help can be accepted graciously. They are often a
great help in times of sickness and other crises. Besides, they are
good, dependable baby-sitters.
More than a girl perhaps realizes, she gets out of life just what she
expects. If she expects opposition from her mother-in-law, the
chances are high that she will get it. Why should she look for
trouble? Let her cross bridges when she comes to them. Let her
realize that her mother-in-law and her husband's relations are
fundamentally his concern and possible problem. If he is half the
man she married, he will handle any possible situation arising
from that quarter.
It should be apparent that courtship and its problems do not fall
within the scope of this chapter. Yet I feel that I must warn any
young woman not to marry a boy who is still tied to his mother's
apron strings. No matter what are his assets--wealth social
position, or good looks, she should flee from him as she would flee
from a plague.
If a woman finds herself practically married to a possessive
mother-in-law, then she must marshal all the forces of her soul for
the conflict. She will need the character and heroism of the saints.
My hat is off to the young wife who has been successful in aiding
her husband to mature. The experience gained will stand by her in
the raising of her own children. Some men are still little boys at
the time of their marriage, in spite of all the outward bluster of
manhood. Incidentally, all the "hoopla" in connection with
Mother's Day notwithstanding, many a son has been ruined for life
by a possessive mother.
Recently I talked with a young husband who was deeply attached
to his mother. She was at fault in almost wrecking her son's
marriage. In this case mother insisted on doing his laundry. Like a
dutiful little boy he marched over to mother every week with his
little package. If some one could have slipped up behind him and
elevated him from the sidewalk with a strong foot vigorously
applied in the right spot, he might have come to his senses. His
wife was not capable of doing this, nor did she have a big brother
noted for any football punting prowess. Her attack had to be more
Carefully she saw to it that no batch of laundry was carried over to
mother without one or two nice big lipstick smears. It was not long
until these smears began to annoy mother. Somebody else was
kissing her own little boy. With all her petty soul she wanted him
just for herself.
As the weeks wore into months, the wife continued her little game.
With a sparkle of triumph in her eyes this ideal wife told me how
this nonsense with the laundry stopped one day. Of what
happened she still was not certain. Supposedly mother pushed him
too far one evening. Apparently they had a fight. The little
husband began to grow up. There was more to the story of how this
wonderful wife helped her husband mature into manhood and thus
save his marriage. It was not as easy as might appear from the
story of the laundry.
This case of a wife dealing successfully with perhaps the most
difficult problem of marriage is presented because very many
wives give up in the face of possessive mothers-in-law. Admittedly
it is primarily the husband's problem. He should solve it. Indeed,
he should have solved it long before marriage, but he did not.
What a wonderful tribute to her that she possessed the personality
and character to bring success out of what generally leads to the
divorce courts. Their companionship now can weather any storm
the years might bring. Through her leadership in their victory,
mutual esteem and appreciation of each other presaged many
happy years of loving companionship.
While a good wife may be unable to deal successfully with an in-
law problem, there is no excuse for failure to handle her own blood
relations. With them she is on familiar ground. She knows the
personalities with which she must deal occasionally.
The ideal wife remembers the words of Scripture that she and her
husband are to cling together as one. If it is necessary, she will
resist the inroads of her relatives. First of all, she has enough
sense to keep her husband's confidences and never talk them over
with her mother. There may be a great temptation to run to mother
for comfort and advice if she has a spat with her husband. To
mother she pours out the sorrows of her poor, wounded soul.
Mother, be she ever so good, will find it difficult not to give in to
black thoughts of revenge against the beast who has hurt her own
flesh and blood. At the very least it will be more difficult for her
mother to be natural and easy in the presence of her daughter's
The small consolations she may receive from confiding in mother
are more likely to be far outweighed by future grief so deservedly
earned. There is entirely too much of this running to mother with
petty problems. Perhaps mother is a sensible person and wants to
stay out of her daughter's affairs. Then why keep tempting her to
interfere? The immature wife who acts this way is asking for
trouble. Generally she gets more than she ever expected.
Too many young couples have begun their marriage by living with
relatives. Although few are crazy enough to want this arrangement,
yet too many feel that it is necessary. A housing shortage and poor
finances are the common reasons given. It has almost never
worked out and never to complete satisfaction. Two families
cannot live happily and comfortably in the same house or
apartment. The first year or so is very important to marriage. It is
most difficult to get off to a good start under this abnormal and
awkward situation. Everybody steps on everybody's else's feet.
Irritations are bound to appear. Nerves become frayed. Words are
said and feelings hurt. Moreover, it is rather difficult for the
husband to make love to his wife with "Pop" grinning behind his
newspaper and "Sis" giggling in the next room.
Whatever financial advantages may be had from doubling up with
parents, it is not worth the price. This is not theory. I am sure that
all married couples, who have survived a situation like this, will
shout assent on reading this.
An over ambitious wife may fall into the mistake of coaxing her
husband into living with her parents. She might think that they
will save money more quickly. She should realize that she is doing
the thing most likely to sap whatever "get up" her husband may
have about him. There is danger that his ambition to get
somewhere in the world will ebb away. Others are calling the tune
all the time. Let them worry about responsibility. All this
rationalizing brings him little peace of mind. He knows that he is
in a mess, and the only way that he can solve it is by getting out
on his own. The wife who resists his effort to break away does not
know where her happiness lies.
Furthermore, this living with the in-laws is not always very
economical. To escape the scrutiny of all eyes the young couple
find themselves going out more and more evenings. This can be
In closing the discussion on living with parents it should be
sufficient to say that all counselors on marriage advise young
couples to endure almost any hardship rather than submit to this
false security. The wife desired will resist the temptation to think
that her case will be exceptional.
The ideal wife cannot miss being a mother, unless God in His
wisdom denies her this privilege. Her children are her crowning
glory. Without them there is a big void in her life, and she suffers
much more than the loss of motherhood. Without children she will
maintain herself as an ideal wife only with effort.
When it is apparent that a couple cannot have children the
husband who is wise will encourage her to adopt several. Little
babies have a mysterious way of opening the hearts of the most
selfish. It is practically a truism that love of man and wife does not
really come to full fruition until the first baby arrives. The
companionship which they might have been afraid of losing
because of the child broadens and deepens instead of diminishing.
The child draws them closer together. More sacrifice comes into
their lives, and sacrifice is the green pasture wherein their love
feeds and grows.
While motherhood is closely allied to the concept of the ideal wife,
specifically it does not fall within the scope of this book and
enters our discussion only in so far as it has bearing on the subject
It must be obvious that motherhood adds to the charm of the wife
desired. Other avocations may be an obstacle in her quest for this
ideal. An opera star, a movie heroine, a career woman of almost
any type will find it difficult to be an ideal wife. She will have to
struggle constantly against the public phase of her life.
Motherhood brings to the wife a fuller capacity for love. If you
ever wonder whether it is possible for a person to love more than
one with all her heart think of a good mother and her children. She
does not divide her love as she would portion and serve a pie. She
gives each child all her love. Likewise she gives her husband all
One afternoon during the first year of World War II, I visited a good
friend. I was practically a member of the Murphy family. Judging
that no one was home, I walked in the back door and began to
make myself at ease. I was in the act of helping myself to
something from the refrigerator, when Mrs. Murphy suddenly
appeared red-eyed. She had been crying. Her youngest of seven
children had just left for the war with the Navy. I feebly tried to
console her, and in my youthful ignorance made the comment that
she should not feel sad. She had six other children, all of whom
were living close by in the same town.
A new flood of tears met this sagacious remark. She did not care
how many children she had near her. Her own little Bob was being
abducted into the Navy.
Obviously love is not something that is doled out in measure. This
mother's grief was full over the loss of her son because her love
was full to overflowing for each child.
Any man who has observed a young mother in her daily chores of
keeping house and caring for three or four young children faces
the fact that he belongs to the weaker sex. There seems to be no
limit to the patience and energy of such a woman, perhaps
because there is no limit to her love.
I recall a number of husbands of broken marriages who listed
among their complaints the grievance that their wives had no time
for them; they gave it all to the children. However, as the story
unfolded it invariably turned out that the wives had little time for
the boobs because they sat on their breeches and let their wives do
all the work in caring for the children. Had they pitched in to help
with the children they would have had more companionship and
love in their joint effort. Furthermore, the wives would have had
also a little more time and energy left for their husbands. After all,
there are only twenty-four hours in one day.
Sociologists interested in the welfare of family life in the United
States have expressed alarm over the growing number of wives and
mothers employed outside the home. Some years ago a survey was
made of women thus gainfully employed.
To many, one surprising feature of the survey was the finding that
nearly ninety-five per cent worked only because they felt that it
was necessary. An overwhelming percentage of these women
expressed little enthusiasm for having to leave their homes for
work. They felt that financial conditions at home necessitated
their decision. In many cases the husband's annual income simply
was not sufficient to support the family.
Frequently the couple regarded additional income as a temporary
necessity. The husband had lost his job. Hospital and medical bills
had to be met.
It is a sad commentary on our modern, industrialized country that
so many thousands of these wives and mothers have to hire
themselves away from their homes and children. There are cases
in which the family is kept from falling apart at the seams
economically only through the valiant efforts of a stout-hearted
wife. Although family life suffers because of her absence, no one
can criticize her. It seems that the more real is the urgency for her
additional income and the more she regrets leaving the home, the
more chance she has to remain an ideal wife and mother.
There is no doubt that working away from home brings greater
problems for the married woman as a mother. But remember that
we must here distinguish as much as we can between the married
woman as a wife and as a mother. Here we are limiting ourselves to
a discussion of how working out of the home is a real handicap to
the married woman ever approaching the ideal wife in respect to
Picture for yourself the wife who works. She returns from the
factory, the office, or the schoolroom with a day's work behind
her. She is tired, but other tasks face her. She has to care for the
home. She must do the shopping for the breakfast and evening
meals. If she has children, especially those of school age or
younger, she has another demand upon her--a demand for which
she cannot possibly have time and energy, if she works outside the
On such a merry-go-round she wears down physically. Her nerves
become frayed. She retrogresses mentally and spiritually. With all
this varied activity she has no time or desire for companionship
with her husband.
Is the additional income worth the price she has to pay? Her net
income is usually much less than she might suppose. Because she
has not more time for them, her shopping and preparation of
meals are more expensive. Her carfare to and from work and her
extra clothes for work also draw from her income. Is the net
remaining income worth the sacrifices she and her family have
had to make? It is almost impossible for the wife to remain queen
of the home if she works.
The disadvantages of working are so numerous that a wife should
resist the economic pressure of keeping up with the Jones family.
She should leave the home only under the greatest urgency.
Then, of course, a word in passing must be given to the married
women who work just so that they have some extra "pin money."
Many of them feel that this money, hard earned at some factory or
store, is completely theirs. This income is not pooled into the
family resources. No accounting is made to the husband, who may
not know whether she has five dollars or five thousand. "It is none
of his business," many of them say.
Is it his business that she has to neglect his home, their children,
and him in order to work? It is incomprehensible how these wives
can be so selfish and stupid. A high percentage of them eventually
get acquainted with the divorce courts or at least are a thorn in the
side of some marriage counselor.
One day an irresponsible sort of happy-go-lucky husband was
keeping me from a good book, or the golf course. He had no work
and seemed little concerned about his unemployment. On being
asked whether he was not worried about the future he naively told
me that he was not and that his wife was working and was in good
There are enough unmarried characters around similar to the
husband just mentioned to put a girl looking for a good husband
on the alert. However, the vast majority of men do not appreciate
the wife wanting to work.
It does their ego little good. If they are weak-kneed enough to give
in to the wife leaving the home, often they will be the type to sit
back and stagnate. I know offhand of no case in which a working
wife spurred her husband on to the heights. Likewise, I know of
very few working wives who were able to remain their husband's
There are other things to a home besides new appliances and
expensive furniture which a working wife may contribute to the
home. It is in the home where the husband and wife can have the
greater part of their companionship. This will be possible if she
has the bulk of her work done when he gets home from his work.
With the children tucked away early they have a few hours to
themselves in the comfort of their own home. Occasionally they
will be able to and should get out for a dinner, a show, or an
evening with friends. A working wife will hardly be able to
accomplish these things, and if she does it will be only with strain.
The problem of finances for a married couple is a two-edged
sword. It is a factor in their lives which can cut to pieces their
happiness and peace and even their marriage. It can also bring
them closer together in companionship as they stand as one in
slashing at the wolf at the door. Through their use of money
husband and wife can evidence their love for each other or their
It has been stated that money is the root of all evil. Money
represents the material possessions of this world, the things which
militate against the spirit and the good in mankind. Because
money and selfishness are boon companions and because there is
selfishness or lack of love in all evil, the truth of the statement
Money is a consequence of original sin. We never should have had
to bother with it except for Adam's disloyalty and fall. We could
almost say that money in itself is an evil. Yet, out of evil good
often comes. Christ and Redemption was a good to come out of the
evil of Adam's sin.
In having to wrestle with the mutual problem of money man and
wife generally are brought closer together in fighting a common
enemy. Thus the good of love and companionship is occasioned by
It is a particularly sad thing, when man and wife fall out over
finances, because the common problem of money easily could
have promoted their love for each other. The use of money can
afford limitless opportunities to manifest unselfishness and love
through their sacrifices for each other.
Thus the question of finances, even poverty, cannot be considered
in itself a cause of disharmony in marriage. True enough, it is
listed as one of the common causes of broken homes along with
fighting drinking, and in-laws. It is so listed, because often it
comes into the picture of unhappy marriages as a contributing or
primary cause of their troubles. Yet, it should be realized that
their finances were not the real cause of their troubles. There was
a deeper cause. It was the foolish, almost sinful idea, that they
could have their happiness through themselves and not through
Happy married people have the same problems as unhappy or
estranged married people. The happy ones are still happy because
they knew that there is no happiness in this world or under this
world or above this world except through another. Once a person
seeks her happiness through herself, she is doomed to eventual
misery along with the person through whom she should have
sought it. There is no other way of being happy except by making
someone else happy.
Money is thus truly a two-edged sword. The self-seeking husband
or wife will cut happiness from under themselves. The couple who
use their money to promote the other's happiness cut themselves
in on additional connubial bliss.
Of its nature this book is one-sided. It deals with the wife and
brings the husband in occasionally only as a necessary distraction.
So, you see, it is not wholly a man's world.
Because husband and wife must work hand and glove in regard to
finances, and because family income is primarily a husband's
responsibility, an exception will be made here in the discussion of
money matters. At times a struggle was necessary to resist the
temptation to bring the husband into the picture. Let us give in to
the one temptation for once.
Many young married couples have made the mistake of assuming
that they could begin their married lives in the economic
circumstances of their parents. They forgot that it took their
parents thirty or forty years to get where they are. And it took lots
of struggling and sacrifice unbeknown to their little children
The young couple had it nice and easy before marriage. They lived
in fine homes with all the modern conveniences. They had
frequent use of the family car. Both worked for several years
before marriage and thus had a considerable amount of money to
spend on themselves. In fact, for so many this was a rather selfish
period in life. A good time and few, if any, sacrifices made up the
Then came marriage with all its joys and its responsibilities as
well. The husband, instead of giving ten dollars a week to his
parents for board, or nothing at all, now had to pay rent. Food had
to be bought. Babies were arriving along with outrageous doctor
bills. Something had to give somewhere. Were they going to
attempt to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed
before marriage? Frequent parties, fine dinners at expensive
places, numerous and costly gifts freely exchanged between
relations and friends, and many other luxuries were part and
parcel of their lives. Were they to continue? Then how would the
family expenses be met?
The average husband, just getting a start in the economic arena,
simply cannot maintain his previous standard of living and
decently support his family to the satisfaction of his
Over and over again marriages have come to grief because
husbands have spent too great a proportion of their incomes on
themselves to the callous disregard for their wives and children.
The naivete of some of these selfish monsters is hard to fathom.
With hardly a blush some of them will admit to removing as much
as twenty-five per cent of their incomes for their own pleasures in
the form of golf, fishing, drinking, or some other activity unshared
with the family.
A young woman must be very careful not to give her heart to any
man, until she is certain he is responsible and unselfish. What is
his attitude about money? Does he spend the greater part of his
income before marriage merely on his personal gratification?
Many girls have been deceived into thinking that a young man was
generous and unselfish, because he seemed to throw his money
around freely. Many disillusioned wives have had to come too late
to the realization that he was throwing his money around pretty
much on himself. The good times which he gave her were good
times which he gave himself as well, and her good time was
incidental to his. These characters save nothing for their future
It takes sacrifice to forego present pleasure in order to have the
wherewithal to begin married life. The man who was unable to
deny himself by saving for his marriage may rise to the occasion
during marriage. But he may not. He is a poor risk. His happy-go-
lucky attitude about money is as likely to carry over into married
life. With a situation like this, heartaches more than
companionship will be her lot.
The ideal husband made the choice where his real happiness
rested. He gave up his pre-marriage pleasures as being
inconsequential in comparison to his new found happiness. He
cast his lot with his wife and their children. To curb himself from
previous pleasures, even such innocent and seemingly unselfish
customs as the exchange of expensive gifts with every relative in
sight, required sacrifice. The sacrifice was rewarded by a growth in
love. There was no other way in which love could develop.
The ideal wife was sensitive to her husband's struggle to adapt
himself to a new way of life, not only because she loved him but
because she was faced with the same problem of change. She too
had to forego the pre-marriage butterfly existence of spending
right up to her income with no provision for future contingencies
and necessities. She, even more than her husband, was interested
in saving for the down payment for their new home.
The home was to be her work shop. If it should be inadequate for
the needs of her family, she would be the one to suffer most. If she
was pigeon-holed in a cliff dwellers' apartment building, she found
the confinement of herself and the children nerve wrecking. How
could she keep an eye on the children in their third-floor flat, as
she ground out a week's laundry in the dingy basement with an old
broken down washing machine? Obviously then, she had more
motive than her husband for putting aside cash for the building of
a better day.
Yet we meet young wives who are still too immature for marriage.
One situation occurs to illustrate the lack of an effort on the part
of the wife to be a real helpmate in this question of money. She
visioned herself as something of a glamour girl. Wishing to have
her pie and eat it at the same time, she wanted to continue her
night clubbing along with her new married life. Her main objective
each day seemed to be to rest up for the night's activities. As soon
as dinner was finished, she was raring to go. Tonight it was the
Panther Room; tomorrow it had to be the Leopard Room at some
For some weeks the husband made a gallant effort to satiate her
girlish whims in this direction of frivolous entertainment. Then he
began to run down at the heels. His work was suffering. Moreover,
he saw that he could not continue the squandering of money at
this merry clip.
His first efforts to reason with her brought the rejoinder that he no
longer was any fun. When he finally put his foot down and said
that they had to stop the silly business, she became petulant. She
could not be serious with him. She simply would not bother her
pretty little head about finances. Did he not love her anymore?
Had she married a "tight wad?" Then why did he squirm at the cost
of giving her a good time? A husband should like to show off his
pretty wife elegantly dressed, well fed, and expensively
entertained at some fashionable spot.
His exasperation at her immaturity drove them farther apart. Their
eventual separation could no more be blamed on money problems
than on the man in the moon. In fact, inasmuch as the word lunacy
comes from the Latin word for moon, perhaps that man up there
was her undoing.
She was incapable of real love. She did not have the slightest
concept of seeking her happiness through her husband. The self-
seeking type of wife could never be a helpmate and companion for
her husband. If she had not fallen out with her husband over
finances, it would have been something else.
Although this example of the glamour girl unwilling to settle down
to marriage is drawn from real life, perhaps it is a little extreme.
The wives who are unfair with their husbands in money matters
are more likely to manifest their selfishness by spending beyond
their husband's income on clothes, jewelry, and perfume. They
were accustomed before marriage to expensive things. After
marriage they do not want to sacrifice for their husband and
children because they have not really learned to love.
While no system of caring for family finances will work unless
husband and wife unselfishly are looking out for each other's
welfare and that of the whole family, yet some sensible method of
handling money is necessary. Thus, the subject of a family budget
must be considered. No matter how high the husband's income
may be, some attention must be given to a budget, lest their
finances end in chaos.
An individual may live a happy-go-lucky existence and get away
with it, but not a husband and wife with responsibilities to each
other and to their children.
There are all sorts of methods of keeping a budget. No hard and
fast rules can be given. Personalities differ. What has been found
successful for one couple might bring disaster to another.
In all cases it is essential that there exist between husband and
wife absolute trust and confidence in each other. How many
couples live with little or no trust and no habit of sitting down and
frankly and intimately discussing their finances has been one of
the greatest revelations to me.
The first requisite is that husband and wife come to frank
understanding and mutual agreement as to what they are going to
do with their income. For the vast majority a high percentage will
have to go for current household expenses. Because they are no
longer children, they will want to save some for the future, for
their own home, the children's education, contingencies of
sickness, and so on.
Their earnestness in this direction will be indicated, if they
remove a pre-determined amount from the weekly check and bank
it before they begin spending for their current need and expenses.
Incidentally, it is interesting to observe what are considered needs
and what are thought to be luxuries by different couples. Those
who confuse luxuries for needs usually are drumming along no
farther ahead economically years after their marriage.
Foolishly some parents will squander amazing amounts of money
on, for example, toys for their little children. As often as not a big
spoon would keep a little child as contented as some intricate and
expensive toy. It lasts longer, too. A doting parent accedes to the
myriad requests of his little children. Besides spoiling them this
weak-kneed and misdirected affection looks not to the future.
Money kept from them, when they could not possibly appreciate it,
is saved by intelligent parents for them for the time when they will
be able to understand the advantages of a fine home, an
education, and vacations.
In this difficult task of saving for the future, it is a great help to a
couple to have a definite goal, such as a new home of their own. I
do not know whether or not there are any statistics on the
percentage of divorced couples who rented or owned their own
homes. I have a strong suspicion, though, which way the wind
Once the couple understands what they want to do with their
money, another question comes up as to who will handle the
finances. Since the husband is the breadwinner and head of the
family, the ultimate responsibility would seem to rest ordinarily
with him. Of course, if he is wise, he will work out with his wife a
weekly or monthly budget for the daily household expenses. The
big item here will be the purchase of the food. The wife is by far
the more competent to do the ordinary shopping. She should have
a set and agreed upon amount of cash for this purpose. From time
to time adjustments as to the amount will have to be made to keep
at the level or standard of living upon which they have agreed. The
husband does the banking. He takes care of the other expenses
such as rent, mortgage payments, phone bills, and the like.
This system of caring for family finances seems in theory to be the
most sensible. In actual practice the procedure seems to be the
one most successfully followed by the great majority of happy
Some husbands with little background of true sportsmanship will
expect, apparently, in their own peculiar, dumb way that the wife
should be able to take care of her personal expenses out of a
limited budget for food. It would be just as unreasonable for her to
expect him to be able to take his personal expenses out of the
phone bill or the rent money.
She should have some leeway in her budget, so that she does not
have to skimp on food or does not have to come to him and beg
him for a dollar for some personal item or other. Within their
income, of course, both should have a little personal expense
account as part of their over-all budget.
Another method of caring for family finances is for the husband to
hand over his check to his wife. She returns him an amount
necessary for his daily expenses such as carfare, lunch money,
and cigarettes. She does the banking and takes care of all the
family expenses and sees to the regular saving of some money.
This system has many successful adherents. However, it has
several latent dangers which must be pointed out.
Even though they have come to an accord on the above mentioned
system, too many husbands lose a big part of their responsibility.
They develop a lazy sort of "let the little lady take care of it"
attitude. Also, some husbands who are met at the door on pay day
with an out stretched hand of an efficient wife begin to feel just a
There is another weakness in this method which has caused all
sorts of mischief. Many husbands who hand over their checks and
then do not bother their heads over the family finances have a
tendency to think that their wives are spendthrifts or at least
rather wasteful. Otherwise, why does she not have any money
saved up at the end of the month? Where did it all go? All sorts of
wild ideas enter their minds. Is she buying groceries for that no
good brother of hers? In some cases they even become pantry
detectives. They keep secret count on the canned goods.
The wise wife will begin her married life by keeping an itemized
account of absolutely every purchase, even if she is taking care of
expenses only for food. If she spends five cents, she lists it. After
several months of this it becomes obvious where the money is
going. A good deal of it is going right down his gullet.
Although sex is an important aspect of marriage, yet it is really a
small part. Especially is this true in the marriages where all is well
as regards sex. The companionship of marriage is what brings the
real fullness of peace and contentment to a couple. And after all,
peace and contentment are the real day in and day out ingredients
The full flaming moments of ecstasy of love, rocketing a soul into
the very presence of God, are few and far between for the average
mortal. These moments are cherished as a glimpse of eternal
things to come. Now we have not even the capacity to long endure
A human being is not very self-sufficient. A person needs others to
fill the emptiness of his own being. Husband and wife fill this
need for each other. They complement each other in this manner
much more even than they do in any physical sense.
There is something beautiful about the companionship of man and
wife as it bridges the years. Especially is this true for those who
have kept something of the chivalry of the first days of their love.
Familiarity does not have to breed contempt. Perhaps it does
among savages. The natural, easy familiarity between man and
wife, springing from their daily companionship can easily remain,
and does in very many instances, a fine influence in their lives.
All wives appreciate the little courtesies of respect and esteem
from their husbands. Some do nothing to promote this attitude on
the part of their husbands. A lady will receive attention, and
courtesy if she merits it, and if she is gracious enough to
acknowledge the efforts of the male.
By nature a man has a deep-seated sense of respect, of chivalry for
the lady. It does something for him to manifest this feeling. It
helps to make him a better man.
At an early age, I was somewhat disillusioned about the female in
this matter of chivalry. During high school years I rode the "El" in
Chicago during the morning rush hour. I shall never forget my first
efforts to be courteous with the female passengers. I was almost
trampled to death. It was impossible to show these women any
deference. They had become callous. For them life was a matter of
dog eat dog. They shoved and gouged and grabbed any preference
before a man could offer it to them. A man on the "El" during the
rush hour had about as much opportunity to be chivalrous as a
polite hog at a trough has of getting in a bite.
I have often wondered what kind of wives those little ladies
became. Perhaps they were tired or confused at being thrown into
the vortex of the economic struggle for survival. In a saner world
they would have been at home, where the true nobility of their
lives could find its proper environment for growth.
Intelligent couples never take each other for granted. Of course
there is a natural easiness and relaxation in each other's company
shutting out any stiffness or lack of intimacy. The bright husband
will never relinquish the prerogative of being a gentleman.
Thoughtfulness is his watch word. A kindness here and a
consideration there go a long way to promote companionship with
his wife. The opening of a car door for her, helping her with her
coat, seating her at table, these and a dozen other little actions
evidence his tenderness for her. She is precious to him, so he
surrounds her with attentions.
What wife could be so dull as not to yearn for such interest? Then
she makes an unobtrusive but very real effort to keep for her
married life the chivalry of her days of courtship.
Many married couples never lose the evidence of chivalry and
romance of their days of courtship. Actually all their married lives
they court each other. So blessed with this disposition they walk
through life leading each other to their eternal reward in loving
7. THE WIFE DESIRED IS RELIGIOUS
Mrs. Brown walked through the vestibule of St. Luke's and out into
the evening mist with a handkerchief held to her nose. She looked
to the little group of women standing under the street light. Mrs.
Julia Thup, the Brownie leader of Troop Sixteen, surely must have
been to services. It was a pity if she had not been. The Reverend
Towne talked with glowing terms about public spirited citizens
who left their homes and gave unstintingly of themselves. Yes,
mused Mrs. Brown, Julie was an asset to the community. Having
only one child herself, a delightful little Brownie, she could be a
sort of mother by proxy to all the girls making up Troop Sixteen.
Mrs. Thup did not believe a mother should have too many
children. Else how could she be active in community affairs? Julia
was emphatic on this score. Mrs. Brown could remember how
having her little girl almost forced Julia to give up her work with
the Orphans of the Storm, the anti-cruelty to animals society.
There were few women with the force of character of Julia. If it had
not been for her Mrs. Brown was sure that she never would have
given two thoughts to the suffering little animals. In fact, just that
afternoon she did not feel too kindly about Snap, the next door
neighbor's poodle. Snap barked incessantly all afternoon and
robbed her of several hours sleep. As she walked up to the group
of ladies, her cold seemed to go before her and introduce its
"Why Mrs. Brown," exclaimed Mrs. Thup, "What are you doing out
on a night like this with such a heavy cold?"
Now wasn't that just like her kind friend, Julia. Mrs. Brown tried
hard to reply with a look of fierce heroism that said she would
sidestep three weeks' ironing, if necessary, to come to church
services. Her reputation of being a religious and church-going
woman would not suffer tonight, thanks to Julia.
Julia deserved some reward for pointing out to the other less
discerning ladies what suffering the evening attendance at church
had caused Mrs. Brown. As they left the front of St. Luke's to walk
each other home, Mrs. Brown began to tell Julia something
perfectly awful. Julia was a Brownie leader and she should know.
Besides, the information would help her better understand little
Ginger, who was a Brownie. Of course, Julia was not to whisper a
word of these scandalous goings on to a soul.
Could Julia ever believe that Ginger's father and mother were seen
- - - ? Mr. Brown wanted to take her to one of those places some
years ago. The very idea! Why, she was furious, and gave him a
tongue lashing he would never forget. Mr. Brown, as Muriel was
sorry to say Julia must know, was not a churchgoing man. It was
her cross, as the Rev. Towne had consoled her. She tried to make
up for him.
"And you do such a wonderful job. Muriel."
"Thanks, Julia, you know how much that means to me."
The two friends parted company, and Mrs. Brown stalked into her
home. It was not a very happy home, nor a very tidy one tither.
Muriel did not get around to the house work or the ironing that
day. She rested for the sake of her cold. Since Mr. Brown was not a
church-going person and since Mrs. Brown was one with a
vengeance, it was crystal clear to Mrs. Brown where the fault lay
for their shabby marriage.
Mr. Brown got more than his share of good example. He was always
right up to his ears in it. He could never rely on a clean, ironed
shirt, but he could ever depend on Muriel's giving him the best
advice about going to church. If Mr. Brown looked askance at some
old friends returning to the table from the refrigerator by way of
the pot on the stove, he was informed of how the Rev. Towne
suffered in his early missionary days. His food was most primitive
and meager. Mr. Brown never seemed to be comforted by reference
to the past austerities of the Rev. Towne. The present trials and
tribulations of his own appeared more real and pressing. Once,
however, he was so overcome with emotion concerning his wife's
recital of the fearful missionland experiences that he pitched the
pot of "old friends" out the kitchen window.
He had no intention of hitting Snap next door. Yet he could not
convince the imbeciles who belonged to Snap of his innocence.
They, being regular members, felt that the Anti-Cruelty to Animals
Society of dowagers should come into the case. Julia, living down
the block, was the nearest Field Representative and was contacted
quickly by the central office. Her appearance at the Brown
threshold caused strong emotional reactions in both of the Browns.
Mr. Brown slammed the door in her face with a house rattling
crash, which did not quite drown out his imprecation. Mrs. Brown
fell away into what was the nearest thing to a faint she could
manage. Her recovery from this episode was slow. It was some
time before she ventured to show her face at St. Luke's. What
would Julia and the rest think?
Only the irreligious would call Mrs. Brown religious. We doubt that
they would consider her an ideal wife. Thus at the outset it
behooves us to understand that affiliation with and even regular
attendance at church in itself does not necessarily bring into being
the virtue of religion, at least not in the sense in which it should
be exercised by the ideal wife. Granted that it is a step in the right
direction, there are too many Muriel Browns around for any
church-going wife to be complacent. No wife can assume that she
is an ideal wife because she goes to church. It does happen that
she can be a pillar of the church and a pillory of grief for her
The word "religious" is used here in its true etymological sense.
The Latin word "ligare" means to bind, to tie, to connect something
with something. The "re" signifies "back." Thus the English word,
really a transliteration of the Latin word means a binding of the
creature back to its Creator. When the creature acknowledges its
Creator and translates this knowledge into its daily life, we say
that person is religious. In other words, when a person recognizes
her real worth as an image of God and her ultimate destiny in a
union of love with Him, she is said to be religious. For our purpose
we use the word "religious" in this sense and shun any secondary
meaning of the word, any false concepts of the word amounting
sometimes to a very travesty on true religion.
The little penny catechism told us that we are images of God,
made after His own likeness. We were created in closer likeness to
Him than any other creature in the world because He desired us to
love Him and be loved by Him. No one can love unless she possess
intelligence to know and free will to choose. Because of these
powers of God Himself, we are His children and closer to Him than
a child is to its human mother.
A human being is a most lovable being because she is an image of
God. The goodness and lovableness of God shines through her.
When a young man becomes aware of this wonderful and exciting
fact, he has already fallen in love with her. He has rubbed elbows
with thousands of other images of God during his life, but for
some mysterious reasons she disclosed to him a preview of and
glimpse of God. She became for him an image of God. Of course,
she was this all the time. No one else noticed it. At first he did not
either. Then the lightning struck. He was in love. He had found the
Ideal Woman of all the dreams of his life, and he was content.
Others may be blind and unable to see the image of God in her. To
him has been given the happy privilege of seeing what others
cannot see. "The beauty of a woman cheereth the countenance of
her husband, and a man desireth nothing more." Ecclus. 36, 24.
How often have we heard the question of how John could possibly
have married the girl he did. She was a rather plain girl, perhaps
even a little bit on the homely side. As frequently as not people
who were perplexed at John's choice admitted that the couple were
deeply in love. John thought that the sun rose and set on his wife.
They were happy and made an ideal husband and wife. The reason
is simple. They saw the goodness of God in each other. They
wanted this goodness above all else in life. They were in love.
It is thus obvious that no young man falls in love with a girl
because of the evil in her life. He may fall in love with her in spite
of evil or in ignorance of it but never because of it. He never is
really in love with her, unless he sees that she is an image of God.
Certainly he may become physically attracted and infatuated and
marry her on this basis. Though this may lead to love, still it is not
genuine love. Love is something spiritual and must have reference
to God. It has repercussions in the physical order of our natures,
but of its essence it transcends the biological. Human love could
never exist but for God. It will never endure, if God is shut out of
the picture. In the words of the poet, "All things betray thee who
betrayest Me." Sooner or later love will betray the wife who betrays
God, for the simple reason that devoid of God she has pitifully
little wherewith to command love.
A person, no matter how evil she becomes, always remains an
image of God. But, if she should allow evil in any form: dishonesty,
lying and deceit, racial or nationalistic hatreds, gluttony and sloth
to come into her life and practically obscure the beautiful image
she is or could be for her husband, who could be attracted to her,
who could love her? Young people often ask whether true love can
ever die. They seem to expect the answer in the negative. The sad
fact is that it happens every day.
Some women think that they can dispense with the precepts and
counsels of their youth. As children they learned from their
parents and from religious instruction that they could never be
happy in sin. Lying, they were told, would hurt them much more
than anyone else whom they might deceive. No lie could be
justified, even if it would spare the whole world its aches and
pains. Somewhere along the line in their lives they felt that this
was impractical. Life was a matter of dog eat dog. A lie here and
there made things much easier.
I wonder how many marriages I have seen ruined by the
untruthfulness of a wife. These lying creatures, caught in the mesh
of their vice, had to learn the hard way the wisdom of their
youthful religious training. Truth was lightly regarded, if not
condemned. They felt, apparently, that as long as they did not kill
or steal they were doing all right. That the truth is worth living and
dying for never entered their minds.
Cases of lost love and respect because of a lying wife crowd in
upon my memory. These husbands loved their wives with
sufficient love at least to marry them. With the years this love
normally would have deepened had they been able to continue
seeing the image of God which had originally attracted them. Soon
after marriage the true worth of these lying wives disclosed itself.
Instead of seeing in their wives the beauty of God these men saw
the deceit of the devil. Instead of the God of truth they saw the
father of lies. Is it any wonder that they were repelled and came to
the parting of the ways?
Without truth there can be no trust, and without trust there can be
no love. The lying wife so often learns only through bitter
experience in her remorse that by lying she flees from God, who is
truth. She should also know that by separating herself from God
she is in the greatest danger of separating herself from everything
worth while, her husband included.
"Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me.
Strange, piteous, futile thing . . .
And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited--
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worth of any love thou art!"
Francis Thompson did not write these lines about lying wives. Yet,
any woman careless of the truth could well ponder them. No one
can expect to merit human love by lying. Although no woman
becomes a desired wife by the possession of only the virtue of
truth, yet this virtue is an essential part of the picture of the ideal
wife. Without it all her other accomplishments and attributes may
Whatever has been said of truth holds good for all the other
virtues. Honesty, humility, kindness of manner, and generosity in
judging others, her husband included--these and all the other
virtues found in the truly religious wife make her a desirable
companion for life. How many wives have diminished their
lovableness in the eyes of their husbands by judging them rashly.
Generosity is an attractive quality of soul. All gravitate toward a
person generous in her opinions and judgments of others.
I remember a wife who guaranteed the everlasting love and
devotion of her husband by being kind and generous in judging
him. Although this husband foolishly, yet innocently enough,
allowed a series of circumstances to arise which seemed on the
surface to implicate him with another woman, he was entirely
innocent of any wrong. There was plenty to arouse the suspicions
of any wife. The wife of our story did not rashly judge him. She
never mentioned the episode. On the contrary she went out of her
way to show her husband her complete confidence and love.
When he told her the whole story and asked her if she was not
worried she told him, as her actions already had indicated, that
she trusted and loved him and could never stand in rash judgment
over him. She did not know all the facts and was confident that
there was an explanation. This wife merited by her bigness of soul
the admiration, fidelity, and love of her husband.
The religious wife is a wife desired because she merits the love of
her husband. She deserves and will have his love. Because she
remains close to God, the source of all true love, because, in other
words, she is religious and virtuous, she remains lovable and
desired by her husband. "A virtuous woman rejoiceth her husband,
and shall fulfill the years of his life in peace." Ecclus. 26, 2.
Christ did not wish His work of redemption to be a single historic
act dead and past. In many ways He has perpetuated Himself down
through the centuries. He wished to remain among the people of
the world until the end of time.
To point out and explain all the ways in which He has
accomplished this desire would carry us too far afield for the
purpose of this chapter. Suffice it to say that Christ still remains in
the world for those who want Him. Between Himself and His
followers there is a union of love all the more real because it is
spiritual. To ever remind us of this union of love He chose the love
of man and wife as a symbol and sign.
There is an old saying that all the world loves a lover. The love of a
bridal couple is always new and exciting. In other words, Christ
wished the visible union of man and wife in love to keep the world
aware of the invisible union between His followers and Himself.
Obviously Christ wished the love of husband and wife to be a
sacred thing. To effect this He raised the natural contract of
marriage to the dignity of a sacrament for His baptized followers.
Marriage is not all moonlight and roses. To enable husband and
wife to meet all the manifold problems and difficulties of married
life Christ gives them a title to His help for all their married lives.
They need and have His help to manifest to the world through
their love of each other the love which Christ and His followers
have for each other. Because the ideal wife is religious she realizes
the sacred character of her marriage and treasures it as her most
Although each must work out her eternal happiness alone in the
innermost recesses of her soul, yet to the wife God has given many
helps in the order of nature as well as in the supernatural sphere.
The greatest of these aids is her husband and the sacrament of
matrimony administered to her by him. He brings love and
companionship and warmth of life to help bridge the long nights
and days of self insufficiency. Realizing what a gift from God her
husband is to her, the ideal wife clings to him in appreciation. To a
greater extent than the average wife ever takes time to fathom, he
is her means of salvation. Divorced from him, particularly in the
earliest years of her life, she is a rudderless ship on the cruel sea
of life doomed to destruction in most cases.
The ideal wife has a sense of the right order of things. This is
religion in the right sense of the word. Just as she understands her
connection with God as creature to Creator, she also realizes the
proper relation between herself and her husband. The religious
wife knows and accepts the words of St. Paul on obedience. These
words of the Apostle are found in some marriage ceremonies. We
quote them at length because no one has ever given clearer
expression with more authority to the right order between man and
"Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a
husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church,
being Himself savior of the body. But just as the Church is subject
to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church,
and delivered Himself up for her...."
"Do wives actually have to obey their husbands?" is a sure fire
question from some lady in any panel discussion on marriage. I
usually try to soften the blow by remarking that any man who
enters marriage under the delusion of ordering his wife around is
in for a sad awakening.
It goes without saying that there are many equalities between man
and wife. Both are human beings. Both have souls to save with
inalienable rights. Yet there must be a head for the home. The
husband is it. No wife in her right mind will try to "wear the pants."
By trying to do so she forfeits the most charming and irresistible
aspect of her femininity, her surrender and submission. Likewise,
she hardly succeeds in making herself a man, try as she may. She
ends up being neither flesh nor fish.
Recently the newspapers carried a decision of the supreme court
of an Eastern State that a woman worker has no redress against a
male worker who swears at her. The court felt that, seeing that
women had won equal rights and responsibilities with men
workers in the factories, they must accept the same hazards--to
wit, being sworn at.
In a Christian society women need not worry about acquiring
"equalities" with men. They are head and shoulders above men--
way up on pedestals where they belong. It is the wild eyed feminist
who has won for her sex the dubious privilege of being sworn at.
An acquaintance of mine many years ago got himself so involved
in his personal affairs that he decided to move downstate and
begin all over. He was a physician. His wife resented leaving the
city for a small town. She felt that there she would waste the
sweetness of her social charms on the desert air. She began her
exile--so she considered it--in a petulant spirit soon degenerating
into a nagging of her husband to return to the city.
She had no concept of her obligation of obedience to go wherever
her husband knew that he could make a living and a home for
themselves. Finally she left him with the ultimatum that, if he still
wanted her, he would find her back at their old home in the city.
Because the doctor was still mentally confused over his past
difficulties and quite lacking in confidence in himself and because
he was very much attached to his wife, he shortly followed her
back to the city. The reunion was none too promising for their
future for he resented her domination over him and her failure to
be a real helpmate.
Her struggle for dominance, and his anguish continued until the
wife found him one day in the garage dead of monoxide gas. The
forlorn picture of this wife standing at the grave alone without
children and with only the memory of her fatal attempt to lead her
husband around by the nose--this melancholy picture remains with
Once an old lady came to me asking for a letter of
recommendation of some type or other. As I wrote the letter the
best I could, for I had never seen her before, I began to question
her about her attendance at church. She admitted that she seldom
if ever went. On being asked if she did not think that she could
better her life by practicing her religion she replied, "I never steal
or kill anybody. Why should I go to church?"
Apparently she considered church a refuge for criminals,
cutthroats, and outlaws. The likes of such she eschewed for she
was a law abiding citizen.
On another occasion I was confronted with the declaration that a
certain young wife never went to church for she did not want to be
a hypocrite. Her assumption seemed to be that church should be
some sort of nursery for young innocents. Whether she judged
those going to church to be innocents or hypocrites it is for the
reader to decide. In any case, she felt that only the spiritually
sound should be caught in church, should it burn down on a
Sunday morning. If a person felt the sting of the flesh she had no
business at church.
That a person neither a saint nor a devil could be found without
shame in a church never occurred to her. She must have thought
that it was down right dastardly for a sick person to go to a doctor,
a hungry person to go to the grocery store, a dirty person to take a
No doubt many hypochondriacs go to doctors about one more or
less imaginary ache or another. Should the sick be such victims of
human respect as to shun doctors lest they be considered
hypochondriacs? There may be some hypocrites in church. But
who is to pass that judgment? Are the self-appointed judges
looking down their noses at their poor, weak, sinful neighbors at
church--are these the real hypocrites vaunting themselves in self-
rightfulness over churchgoers?
Since it has been rumored around that the Son of God became
man, redeemed mankind, and became the way, the truth, and the
light for all to attain their eternal happiness, lots of people have
acquired the habit of going to church. They go to church because
they believe that there they will find the blueprints for a good life.
Briefly, they believe that at church they will find God. There they
will receive the help which they need to measure up to the ideal of
their state of life. They go to grocery stores because they believe
that there they will find bread and butter. They follow a doctor's
advice in order to guard their health. These beliefs are rather deep
seated in the human mind. It will take a good deal of sophistry to
disabuse mankind of these beliefs.
It is always exasperating to hear stupid statements of the type that
such and such a wife, admittedly a failure as a wife, went to
church. The innuendo always is that going to church was a waste
of time. Did her attendance make her less a wife? Who could
criticize a wife for frequenting the grocery store because she had
carelessly killed her husband with ptomaine poison?
The wife desired must be religious because she must love her
husband. The best and simplest definition of love is to wish
another well. How can a wife wish her husband well except she
wish him the only absolute good ? She will not even think of
leading her husband to God, much less be successful at so doing,
unless she herself makes an effort to remain close to God. If a wife
does not find God at church, it is not the fault of the church. A
wife approaches the ideal all the more by practicing her religion.
Surely every marriage counselor has dealt with church-going
failures at marriage. Yet from my own experience I am certain that
this type of failure is more the exception than the rule. The failure
as a wife is much more likely to be one who never had any
religion, or who abandoned it, or who became indifferent and
careless about its practice.
The truly religious wife finds God at church and from Him receives
the strength to become the ideal helpmate to her husband. She
does not leave God at church but keeps Him with her every minute
of the day in every nook and cranny of her home. Each menial,
repetitious task she must perform is a work of love for her
husband and children, and through them, a work of love for her
Reverent conversation with God is one of the best and simplest
definitions of prayer. The habit of prayer springs from a
consciousness of God in our lives. He is all about us. Through
prayer we become more aware of His presence.
No woman will attain the goal of success and happiness as a
desirable wife, unless her efforts are supplemented with God's
help. She who builds without God builds in vain. No woman can
reach by the natural powers of her soul the ideals set forth in this
little book. God must help her, is willing and anxious to help her if
she but dispose herself.
The wise wife recognizes her need of God. Frequently she tells
Him of her insufficiency. To inspire her husband, to be patient, to
be unselfish and loyal, to be the dozen and one other wonderful
things a desirable wife must be without in the least ever appearing
to be a "goody-goody"--all this postulates the presence of God
always at her side.
Since no woman can hope to escape completely the failings of our
weak natures, the ideal wife will have her moments of failure. She
goes down on her knees, in spirit at least, and asks God for the
courage to begin anew. Because gratitude is the badge of nobility
of soul, the happy wife tells God of her joy. She thanks Him for His
many graces not the least of which is a husband capable of
bringing out the best in her.
The pastor of old Saint Mary's approached the entrance to his
parish church. He felt the weight of his years more than ever that
damp winter evening. As he stood for a moment looking down the
street where grimy factories and lonely warehouses loomed over a
few remaining dwellings he felt chilled and puzzled over the cause
of his low spirits.
It could not be the dilapidated neighborhood. He was used to it,
had long ago resisted, and had never regretted so doing, the
importuning of his confreres to accept the ready willingness of the
bishop to move him up the ecclesiastical ladder to a better parish.
That expression, "better parish," had always galled him since
seminary days. He knew that life had passed his parish by and was
fast passing him by. He had no regrets. Only the poor remained.
They had no escape. He desired none.
It could not be the light rain falling. He had always loved the
outdoors and all the moods of the weather. Perhaps it was his
failure to accomplish any visible good over at the Smith home.
Mrs. Smith had the father of the house evicted by a court order.
The pastor had reached down into his bag of psychological tricks
and used them all on Mrs. Smith to no avail. He could not touch
her heart. She seemed not to have one and was as cold and hard as
ice. All his efforts to patch up her marriage were in vain. For a
moment he reflected upon one of the perversities of human nature
evidenced by Mrs. Smith, the obstinate refusal of help when most
Well, he would forget about Mrs. Smith and go into the church and
pray a little. As he opened the front door the light of the street
lamp fell upon his face and disclosed a rather expressionless, if
not hard, face likely to mislead one interested in knowing his real
self deep down inside.
The pastor was a romanticist, a little bit of a visionary, with stars
in his eyes which the years had failed to dim. His friends from
time to time had twitted him about his idealism. He was out of
touch with reality, wore his heart on his sleeve, and so on.
"Yes," he reflected as he passed into the dark church, "perhaps my
head has been up in the clouds too much." But he chuckled to
himself that he was still in harness and had his big flat feet hard
on the ground. In fact he wondered why the center aisle did not
give way with their weight as he went up toward the altar.
He knelt at the center of the altar railing for a while. His eyes were
on the tabernacle and his thoughts on God. "My King, my
everything. I am Thine and Thine I wish to be. But to be more
surely united to Thee . . . Why won't Mrs. Smith see a little of the
joy of life, of living and letting live? Why do married people so
readily lose the happiest road there is in this life to eternal
"What a scatterbrain I am," he muttered to himself as he rose to his
feet. He turned to the left and could just make out the statue of
our Blessed Mother. Vigil lights were a nuisance to take care of,
and they smoked up the church. However, they served some
purpose. He had to admit that they saved him from turning on a
light. In the dim rosy glow of a bank of vigil lights he looked at the
statue and knelt down.
"My love, my dove, my beautiful one. Lily of the King with eyes of
blue the better to let our God through." His face was turned up
slightly and his eyes were closed. He did not like the statue of the
Virgin. It gave him no help at all in visualizing Mary.
Only a few years previous he had been high pressured by a sharp
young salesman of a statuary firm. The formless, modernistic
shaft of marble resembling no human being ever found on earth
was his daily reminder to build up sales resistance for the future.
Since he seldom opened his eyes to look at the statue we could
wonder why he knelt there so often and so long. Perhaps it was an
act of humility and penance for all his past blunders, the statue
Although the pastor had never seen a statue of the Mother of
Christ with which he was enthralled, he had come with the years to
be less critical of artistic efforts to create in stone, wood, or
plaster an image of God's most beautiful creation. After all, how
could any artist come close to recreating in base materials her
upon whom God had lavished His infinite creative powers? Any
statue of the Virgin then was merely a feeble effort of some
sculptor to capture the fleeting visions which he had conjured up
of the loveliest of all creatures.
In whatever church the pastor might find himself and before
whatever statue of the Virgin he might kneel he always closed his
eyes to shut out the image before him. "No thanks," he seemed to
say to the sculptor, "I'll have my own image of Mary. No offense,
understand, but my statue is a living, pulsating one, and I much
prefer it to yours."
So, in place of the dead marble statue there would come to life one
of a number of women whom he had met over the years. For a
moment it would be Madeleine. In his imagination Madeleine
would stand on the pedestal all smiling.
In the long ago when he had known her, Madeleine was a young
lady who worked at the Red Cross attached to his bombardment
group. She was as ebullient and effervescent as champagne and as
steadfast in her goodness as a French soldier defending his
homeland. Perhaps her most noticed characteristic was her joy of
living. The fun of being alive bubbled over in her eyes and at
times set her feet to dancing. Once--the pastor smiled to himself-
as he recalled the time--like a colt in the spring of the year she
took off running across a meadow with head back and hair flying
until she was out of breath and stopped, panting.
To have known Madeleine was to want to be alive and to be
grateful to God for existence.
Her modesty was so genuine and unobtrusive that many rough,
sinful soldiers experienced a reverence in her presence they had
never before known. Many young men were better men for having
known Madeleine. The pastor was sure that he was.
Madeleine had always made the pastor think of the Virgin Mary. In
the French girl he had seen so many of the graces, the beauties,
and the virtues of the Mother of God, and not without wonder,
since the girl had modeled her life after Mary. One day the pastor
had come into the little village church near his squadron.
Madeleine was standing with face upraised before the statue of the
From that day on he had no more trouble with distracting thoughts
critical of gaudy plaster statues, sleek marble statue, weak and
clumsy wooden statues. Madeleine and subsequently many other
wonderful images of God, patterned after His own Mother, took
their place upon the pedestal before which he prayed.
Now Sister Mary stood before him. He had observed her work years
ago with the children in the school. There was something
outstanding and even unique about her smile. It was not only that
it was wholesome and warm; there was something else, an
indescribable quality. Perhaps her smile could best be said to have
depth, a depth which carried one beyond the surface into her soul
which in the generosity of its immolation did magnify the Lord in
imitation of the Handmaid of God.
The pastor's own mother always appeared in his vision on the
pedestal for a moment. Of all the women he had known she best
illustrated the self-sacrifice of the Virgin Mother. He could no
more imagine his mother thinking of herself than he could
visualize her robbing a bank.
Mrs. ** was sure to appear in the pastor's memory as he knelt in
prayer. He never meditated long on Mary without thinking of St.
Joseph, the Virgin's companion in sacrifice to God's plan of
redemption of mankind. Mrs. ** gave the pastor a glimpse of the
inspiration Mary must have been to Joseph to keep him faithful to
the humdrum daily tasks of his life. Mrs. ** was a similar
inspiration to her husband whose physical disabilities would have
caved him in had he been married to a lesser woman.
Then there was Mrs. * *, petite of figure with golden hair and blue
eyes. He could still see her bouncing along the side walk on the
way to church of an early morning. In her life she had evidenced a
courage of soul and acceptance of God's will. Mrs. * * always made
him think of Mary's flight into Egypt with all its dangers and
uncertainties. Yes, valiant was the word for Mrs. ** whose rosary
was daily in her hand in spite of her multitudinous tasks of caring
for her husband and children.
"My love, my dove, my beautiful one. Lily of the King with eyes of
blue the better to let our God through . . . Salve, Regina, Mater
misericodiae . . . Woman! above all women glorified, our tainted
nature's solitary boast; purer than foam on central ocean tost."
Contentment and peace of soul came to the pastor as he thought of
the Virgin standing before his mind's eye.
When the pastor rose to leave the church he felt grateful to God for
having given him the ability to see Himself in all the
multitudinous creatures of the world. He could remember St. Paul
saying that from the visible world about us we arrive at a
knowledge of the invisible God. Flowers, sunsets, a child's face
were not just flowers, sunsets, a child's face. They were
announcements of God. As he stepped out into the rain he thanked
God, too, for having led him to an acquaintance with His own
Mother. He reflected for a moment upon the various creatures
which had given him an ever deepening vision of the Virgin Mary.
And not the least of these were many ideal wives.