Learning the Womanly Arts is always a good thing….
by Father Kinsella: The Wife Desired
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. 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 accomplishment. 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 girlfriends.
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 friends.
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, 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.
“Keep a hobby and ride it with enthusiasm. It will keep you out of mischief, to say the least; it will keep you cheerful. Here as in all things you can apply the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for the greater glory of God).” – Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book
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