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 for himself. 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 while. 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 others 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 improvements. 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 were nearby. 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 husband? 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 destruction.
Natalie P said:
Or you could just make a sweetie-to-do list and keep it up on the fridge and then never bug him about it unless it’s super important to get something done now (practically never); and then make sure you love on him when he DOES do it. 😀 The problem is the nagging, not letting him know that something that needs to be done and communicating that lovingly. I think the key is in your hubby knowing that you need him to do these things because it would be a mess if you did it… LOL and that you are thankful for those things he does. A man likes to be needed!
Just my two cents… I know not every man is the same though. This probably wouldn’t work well for a man who is not an uber hard worker… I know for myself that I am sensitive sometimes when hubby keeps asking me to do something (that I had forgotten); but I know my predominant fault is to be wayyy too laid back so I have lots of little pokes by the devil reminding me of my fault; so naturally if I am feeling guilty in any way about slacking on something I don’t like people reminding me of it. LOL But after a few years we finally figured it out… me not be so sensitive and realize he means nothing by it, he just put whatever it is he needs on my desk as a reminder and I’ll get to it soon! 😀
Just goes to show that each couple has to figure out what works in their marriage. I read the above and it’s totally foreign to me… I guess Dale and I just work stuff out very straightforward; but I’m curious… are we odd in that way? I’d like to hear your input on how you work stuff like this out, Leane… and others reading this; if you don’t mind sharing. I don’t want to set up in my mind a particular way it should work; I want to get a bit more well rounded so I can help my daughters/sons in the future in choosing a spouse.
I think Father touches on both methods, the direct (which it sounds like you do in your own marriage) and the indirect.
Men’s egos are fragile things. The direct approach may not work well with some, therefore the reference to the DDT. 🙂
I can put up with a lot and I never liked to bug hubby so I didn’t mention things hoping he would catch on (thus, the indirect method)….it didn’t work most of the time…unless the cupboard door that had been falling off the hinges for a year fell right on his head (the direct method)! 😀
So I have had to figure out how to be direct without making it sound like a complaint in any way. Otherwise it would not be taken well. So I just ask and smile…and smile some more…haha. And it works. I am then appreciative.
I am only married to one man and therefore have learned what works for me. I wonder if the men who ARE more sensitive (hubby is not) and more in tune with details would do better with indirect method.
I would say that, like you, every couple is different, has their own dynamics, etc. What I so much liked about this article is that it points out that it is an art….living with a man. And we, as women, need to figure it out.
It takes work, but any career that we endeavor to follow, we have to go through schooling, and learn the way to make it work.
It sounds like you and Dale have figured this out and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!
Thank you for your insightful comment, Natalie!!
Natalie P said:
I hope I’m as wise as you eventually. 🙂 I love your idea of it being an art… that is so true!