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.
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