Book Title: The Real Home
A story is told of Archbishop Ryan, who went to a mining district to administer confirmation to a class about to enter the Catholic Church. During the service a nervous little girl was asked what matrimony was.
“Oh,” she replied, “it is a state of terrible torment which those who enter are compelled to undergo for a time in order to fit them for a better world!”
“No, no!” interrupted an assistant priest, “you are thinking of the definition of purgatory.”
“Let her alone,” said the old archbishop, laughing. “What do you or I know about it? Maybe she’s right.”
Whether married life becomes purgatory or paradise depends on the persons who enter this sacred union. Many seem to think that matrimony is a state of bliss where troubles come no more; no, not exactly that, but where there will be much less to trouble them; and so they paint an imaginary picture of married life, lovely as a summer day.
These persons soon awake from their pleasant dream; and sad indeed it is if they have not prepared for coming storms and tempests. After the excitement of the wedding is over and the honeymoon has dipped silently into life’s restless sea, the trying hour comes. If any deception has been practiced, the persons involved are undeceived, for now they become really acquainted. The feverish desire for possession is gone. The business of adaptation is before them. They must learn how to live together happily and peacefully.
It is a great attainment for two frail, sinful hearts to become one. Two different musical instruments are not easily kept in tune; there must be constant adjusting and tuning. What can be expected, then, of two human harps with a thousand strings to be kept in unison and harmony? In keeping the wedded harps in tune, the husband must do his part, the wife hers.
One young wife confided this to her mother: “You know, mamma, a woman has to be very generous to be married. She has to care ever so much more about some one else than about herself or her work in the world or even about how much her husband cares for her. She must like helping out better than being helped out, or she can’t be happy.” …
Surely this sentiment is an essential factor of all true happiness I married or single life. If the husband will apply to himself the Scriptural measure, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it,” he will be all a wife should desire. He will not absent himself from wife and home unless it is necessary. When compelled to be away, his thoughts, his love, will be for the absent one….
“She that is married careth…how she may please her husband.” That should be her care. There is no one whom she will desire so much to please. Her thought, her effort, will be to make her husband happy. The hours will be long when he is absent. There will be an emptiness in her heart till he returns. While she will not make heavy demands on his time or strength, she longs to have him near….
Husband and wife will cleanse themselves of selfishness which fails to safeguard their hours of companionship. He will exert his best powers to become worthy of her hovering love, she will preserve the faith so dear to both in the hours of courtship. There will be no settling down in saddened silence.
But there will be trials hard to meet that must be borne together. In such times let this excellent counsel be followed:
“Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.” The Ministry of Healing p. 360.
Marriage gives no life insurance on happiness. It is not a panacea for the ills of life. It is not a bed of roses without thorns. Yet it opens wide the door to joys like those of Eden.
A weary husband reached his home after a trying day. As his glance fell on the cheerful lights, the tidy rooms, the simple meal waiting his coming, he caught hi wife to his heart, and exclaimed, “O darling, you are a homemaker!” The words were but the expression of his inmost thought, and the wife felt that never had he spoken praise so sweet.
The wife is truly the homemaker. Upon her management, good judgment, neatness, order, taste, energy, cheerfulness, depends the structure which we call Home. It is her business, her calling, to bring inside the walls of her dwelling an indefinable atmosphere that rests a tired man and makes him hasten his steps as he turns the last corner. Here peace, rest, hope, culture, companionship, make the home a haven to body and soul.
A lady wrote congratulations to some newly married friends, and received this reply:
“I want to tell you that Mr. A. and I both appreciated the little message of good wishes for our happiness that came from you and your husband. I do not know of any of our friends who, from an intimate knowledge of the word, could include more in a wish for our “happiness” than you. And I must tell you that you two did more to establish the foundation for happiness for us than any one else in the world. That my surprise you, but it is true. My short stay in your home upset some of my ideas very materially, and established other ideals that, as I said before, laid the foundation for our complete happiness. It was this way:
“While our engagement was in no sense a ‘business deal,’ we had agreed that it should be my privilege to continue my work; to do this, I had made the bargain with Mr. A. that we would room, and board at the restaurant, as we had been doing, and that I should continue my house at the office as before. Having made the bargain, I knew that Mr. A. would never ask me to do differently, and the matter was settled.
“I never realized that our room would never be a ‘home,’ and that the restaurant would never really feed us, until I visited you. Your home simply breathed peaceful, deep-seated contentment and happiness. Your husband was evidently still in love with his wife. You had been a success in the art of homemaking; and with it all, you held an active part in the world’s work.
“I began a mental comparison as to which plan would make the most contented husband, and decided that the chances were with Mr. C.’s and your plan. The more I saw of you two in your home, the more homesick I became; and before I left, I had decided a few things. When I saw Mr. A., I told him I had decided to keep house and have my office at home; that I could burn the beans and write letters at the same time just as well as not. He never doubted my ability along that line; but he was surprised that I had changed my mind, and more pleased than I had imagined he would be. When I told him that you were responsible, he said that he should always owe you a debt of gratitude and bless the day I visited you.
“And so you see you are missionaries in more ways than one. As a result we are housekeeping, and far happier than we would otherwise have been. It keeps me a little busier, but it is well worth the extra effort. So I must vote you my lasting gratitude for the lesson on life that you taught me. My thoughts of your home are of the sweetest. No experience in my life ever appealed to me more; and if, as a homemaker, I shall succeed as well as you have, my dear friend, my life’s dream will be fulfilled.”
Little had this friend thought, when entertaining her guest, that that guest was taking note of what was passing in the home. She was amazed at the appreciation expressed, for she had never supposed her homemaking was noticed by any outside her own family.
Every true man wants a home, not a boarding place. The modern custom of renting apartments and eating in restaurants deprives the wife of the privilege of being a homemaker. It robs husband and children of all that clusters about the name of home. It allows the wife too much time for idleness.
She must do something; so, when not employed there, she spends her time riding, visiting, attending theaters and movies, or studying the fashions. It is small wonder that both husband and wife tire of such a life, grow weary of each other, and that another case if brought into the divorce courts. Give us back the old-fashioned home with all it stands for, and it will add to the happiness and well-being of its inmates!
In some families husband and wife do not share confidences. They watch each other and guess what is going on underneath.
One husband tells of an arrangement that from the first brought peace to his home.
“Three years without a semblance of a quarrel! he said.
“And do you want to know how we do? – The big chair deserves all the credit.
When we were married, we had less than a hundred dollars with which to buy furniture. A quarter of it went into the purchase of a chair big enough to hold us both. Now it holds her and me and a little chunk of a fellow besides.
“That chair was ceremoniously christened “neutral territory.’
“A house rule was made that whenever anything went wrong, the offended should summon the offender into the good-natured depths of ‘neutral territory’ to talk things over quietly and sanely. In ‘neutral territory’ no high-pitched voices or excitable states of mind are permitted. The stories that big chair could tell would fill a book, but it has never failed to accomplish marvels as a friction eliminator.
“Talking it over is the best medicine for all misunderstanding, proved we talk on ‘neutral territory’; talk with soft voices, open minds, sympathetic hearts, and a desire to speak a common language.
“Silence is a blessing at times; but silence in the face of misunderstanding is more dangerous than matches in the hands of babies.”
The “big chair” represents a condition of mind. It represents getting closer together, each looking at matters from the viewpoint of the other.
All is not well when husbands and wives have secrets from each other. True love is confiding. Frankness in all intercourse, a kindly sharing of thought and experience, will prevent falsehood and misrepresentation.
Confidence cannot be bought. There must be the bedrock belief that each is true to the other; that no third party shares knowledge or an affection which the other may not know; that these two are one in living honest, clean lives, whether present or absent; and that love is the bond that unites them.
If husband and wife cannot trust each other, the cord that binds them is frayed, and if not strengthened, will eventually be broken. Confidence is life; distrust, a poison that ends in death. The secret of many shattered homes, the cause of many bitter disappointments, is that sacred trust has been betrayed. Perhaps the wife kept something back before marriage. Perhaps the husband did not reveal that which might have prevented their union. They sowed deception, and the harvest of distrust and suspicion is reaped.
LOVE MUST BE EXPRESSED
“Grandma, what makes your silver sugar bowl so black?” asked a child.
“Why, it has been standing in the cupboard ten years,” was the answer. “I haven’t though it worth while to bring it out for family use, and there hasn’t been a great occasion in the family for years.”
Thus in some homes golden love and the silver of affection are hidden away for rare occasions; perhaps for the funeral of the loved one, whose stilled heart has been yearning for words and deeds of appreciation, and the knowledge that somebody cared.
WATCH YOUR WORDS
The habit of nagging and teasing each other is to be deprecated. It may be the remarks are trifling, that what is said is spoken in jest, but such thrusts lead to unkind and unloving words that should never be uttered….
It either husband or wife is so unfortunate as to be unkind and exasperating, let the other act as a “shock absorber,” to ease the jolt and to say something pleasant. “In many things we offend all. If any man offend not in work, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body….But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 2:2-17. It takes only a look, a tone, a word, to cloud a whole day and grieve a loving heart.
The following story illustrates how many family quarrels are started. Happily, this case did not result in alienation.
“‘It is a perfect day,’ said Mrs. Morgan to herself one bright morning, ‘and I’m just going to enjoy every minute of it. I have earned a day off; the housecleaning is all done; there isn’t a ‘spicker and spanner’ house in town, if I do say it. My summer sewing is well on the way; so I am just going to enjoy life to-day.’ And Mrs. Morgan turned to the breakfast table with a smile of anticipation.
“If only she had not looked so absolutely complacent and serene when her husband came into the room a minute or two later in a frame of mind as far removed from hers as possible!
“Everything had seemed to go wrong with him all the morning. This was the last straw and proved his undoing.
“‘I do wish, Margaret,’ he said sharply, ‘that you would pay a little heed to my wishes, and let my papers alone.’
“‘What is the trouble, Robert?’ asked Mrs. Morgan quietly, though the quick color in her face showed that she resented her husband’s remarks.
“‘Matter enough!’ was the reply in an even more irritated tone. ‘I left a very important paper on my desk last night, and it is gone now. I have been looking all the morning for it, and cannot find it. I suppose you thought it was rubbish and destroyed it. Possibly if we are out several thousand dollars by the loss of it, you may be willing to oblige me by letting my things alone in the future.’
“‘I have not touched anything on your desk I do not know when, Robert. Are you sure that you left it there?’ asked Mrs. Morgan, still keeping her self-control.
“‘Perfectly sure. I am not in the habit of making mistakes, and I remember distinctly putting the paper there the first things when I came in last night, so I would not forget to take it to the office this morning. It is not there now, and I do not see who could have taken it but you, for I certainly did not. I suppose you consider it a great virtue to be so immaculately neat and particular; but it would please me better if you paid more heed to my wishes.’
“‘If only Mrs. Morgan had know how excruciatingly her husband’s head was aching, how troubled he was about business matters, and how very important the missing paper was! But alas! ‘Not even the tenderest heart and next our own know half the reasons why we smile or sigh.’ And, not knowing, she was cut to the quick by her husband’s words.
‘‘I have told you that I have not set eyes on your old paper, much less taken it; and I am no more in the habit of making mistakes than you are. You will doubtless find the paper exactly where you put it yourself. I am very sorry that I have not given satisfaction as a housekeeper. I am going to mother’s today on a visit, so you can have things to your own liking.’
“The words were hardly out of her mouth before she was halfway upstairs; and it would be hard to say which was more surprised, she or her husband. How had they come to say such things to each other!
“‘It is such a lovely morning, and I was so happy! He was as unjust as he could be; even if I did lose my temper, I will not give in first. I do like my home to look nice, and he would be the first to find fault if it did not; but I never destroyed any of his papers. He know I never did, and he ought not to have spoken to me so,’ sobbed Mrs. Morgan.
“‘There was no call for her to fly off like that,’ ejaculated Mr. Morgan, looking dismayed. ‘She ought to have known that I was worried to death over my business. If this paper does not show up before night, I shall lose five thousand dollars at least, and I cannot afford to lose a cent!’ (it did not occure to him that his wife could not very well know these things, since he never told her anything about business matters.”
“He stood hesitating in the hall for a moment or two. Conscience told him he ought to follow his wife and make peace. ‘I don’t mind other people’s having to apologize, but I can’t abide doing it myself,’ he muttered, with a shrug of his shoulders. ‘There are some letters I must get off this morning. I will see to those, then come home, and give one more search for the missing paper – and make up.’
“Mrs. Morgan heard the front door close. ‘If he had asked me, I would have helped him hunt for the paper; for it must be there somewhere. But he was to blame, and he will have to be he first to make up – so,’ she said with a little toss of her head. ‘Now I am going into the city to do a few errands; then I will come home, pack my suitcase, and go to mother’s this afternoon.’
“On the seat in front of her in the car were two business men, and without being really conscious of it at first, she found herself listening to their conversation.
“‘Business is pretty close these days,’ said one.
‘‘That’s a fact,’ replied the other. ‘It is about all any of us can do to keep going. I fancy Morgan is having hard work to keep from going under. He is a fine man, and has worked hard. I thought yesterday he was looking dreadfully worn and anxious.’
“‘O-h!’ exclaimed Mrs. Morgan softly, and then bent down, pretending to pick up something. To think that Robert was troubled and anxious and she did not know about it! He never complained; but now she thought of it, he had seemed sober lately.
“‘I ought to have been more observing and questioned him,’ she thought accusingly. ‘He said that paper was very important, and that he should lose money if he could not find it, and I was cross and hateful! Poor old Robert, I’m just as ashamed and sorry as I can be! I’m going straight home to help him find it. I’d as soon put a blind mosquito hunting anything, as Robert. He just can’t seem to see a thing when he is looking for it.’
“Mrs. Morgan did an errand; then, when passing a florist, she stopped suddenly. ‘I’m going to get some roses to take to Robert; he is so fond of them, and they are the first flowers he gave me.’
“Meanwhile, Mr. Morgan had gone down to his office, written his letters, and was starting for the post office, when he chanced to put his hand in his coat pocket. There was the missing paper!
“It all came to him like a flash. He had gone to the library last night to leave it on his desk, and as he started to take it from his pocket, had caught sight of some one passing he wished to see. He rushed to the door, and that was the last he thought of the paper.
“‘She said I should probably find it just where I left it; and I have. I was a mean old chump to speak to her as I did, and I expect the only thing for me to do is to tell her so, and the quicker the better. Oh, I’ll take her some roses! Perhaps they will remind her of the first flowers I took her; bless her heart!’
“So it came to pass that as Mrs. Morgan got off the car, Mr. Morgan was coming up the street, and each held out a bunch of roses.
“‘O Robert!’ cried Mrs. Morgan, ‘you ought not to have got those beautiful roses for me, when business is so bad and you’ll lose more if we cannot find that paper.’
“‘Paper be hanged!’ he replied. ‘I was a chump, but – I couldn’t live without you, sweetheart, I simply couldn’t.’
“‘Nor I without you, Robert; so we shall just have to make the best of each other, won’t we?’ replied Mrs. Morgan, with a happy little laugh. – Kate S. Gates
“The tongue can no man tame,” nor woman either. But there is One who can tame this unruly member, who can sweeten the temper and enable us to meet the vexations and trials of life in a calm, self-controlled spirit. We need not fail; or having failed, we can obtain victory over the selfishness that prompts accusation and condemnation. Before temptation comes, we should commit ourselves to the keeping of that power which will enable us to speak and act considerately.
Every pure, happy home is a fortress held for God in this revolted world. No wonder the enemy of purity and happiness is working with all power and strategy to bring disunion, strife, and hatred into it, thus breaking down the safeguard of the individual, the family, the church, and the state!
There is a court of last appeal which can settle every difficulty in married life. This is the supreme authority of the Word of God. Those who direct their lives by its counsel will never know defeat….