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 worshiped 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.