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.
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