Book Title: The Real Home
The husband is the houseband, the one who strongly binds all members of the family together.
The first duty of the husband is to love his wife. How? – “Let every one…love his wife even as himself.” “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
When a husband loves his wife as Christ loves His church, it will not be with a foolish, selfish, sentimental love. He will not debase or discourage his wife, but will uplift, encourage, comfort, cherish, love her, even as he loves himself.
This is unselfish love. As we study the motive that led Christ to give Himself to us, we shall gain a better idea of the deep, pure love of the husband for his wife. Such love exalts a man and makes him Godlike.
A man on the street in a severe storm, was passing under a tree, when a weary, frightened bird dropped from above, lighten on his bosom, and crept under his coat for shelter. So should every wife find in her husband’s heart the protection, the comfort, the rest, she needs when buffeted by the storms of life.
Such a husband does not boast that he is the head of the house, and try to compel its inmates to bow to his will. Love does not make large demands for self. Instead, it seeks to give rather than to receive.
The love of “the best man in the world” is unselfish. It leads him to provide for his wife according to his ability. If he can afford luxuries for himself, he will see that she has an equal amount of pleasure, or the means to obtain it, as she may choose.
There is an old legend that tells of a magic stone that would turn anything it touched into gold. Many spent a lifetime looking for it, but it was never found. The talisman of love in a man’s soul will turn hard, everyday facts into beauty. It robs pain of its sting, and makes the heaviest burdens borne for loved ones at home a delight.
A man who possesses this love feels that he has everything in the world to live for. It fills his heart with courage in the daily struggle for existence. His plain, dull wife is to him a queen of grace and beauty. His children are princelings, endowed with wonderful gifts. Johnnie’s playing on the piano, while torture to other ears, convinces him that his child is a future Paderewski. Little Mary’s pictures, which bring smiles to other lips, proclaim to his soul that she will one day be a famous artist. Love changes a man’s outlook, therefore the greatest and highest qualification of a good husband is a loving heart. …
There are loving husbands who do not reveal the depth of their affection in words and actions. They enjoy their home life, but fail to tell the homemaker how much they appreciate her efforts. The dishes prepared especially to please them receive no commendation. The tasks performed that they may not be burdened call forth no word of praise.
“Did you enjoy your supper?” inquired a good wife of her husband, after he had eaten heartily of a meal upon which she had bestowed much thought.
“Why, certainly,” replied the well-fed, contented husband.
“Why not say so, then?” asked the wife, with a smile.
A man and his wife were invited to visit a neighbor. The wife took with her a loaf of bread of her own baking. During the meal her husband turned to the hostess, with the courteous remark: “I wish to compliment you, Mrs. Blank, on your delicious bread.”
“You flatter me,” replied the lady, “but I did not make this bread. Your own good wife deserves the praise you have given me.”
The husband blushed, seemed embarrassed, but, strange to say, uttered not a word to his wife, who surely would have appreciated it more than any other. Probably he had eaten her good bread week after week, but had never told her how much he enjoyed it.
It is not only the younger wives that notice the falling off of little compliments and courtesies that were so common in courtship days; but many who are middle-aged and elderly would find their days filled with sunshine, and the commonplace duties a joy, if words of appreciation or praise were spoken. Some wives never know whether their efforts to please are successful or not, except that they are not censured.
“How does your husband like your new suit?” one woman questioned another.
“Well, he hasn’t said anything against it, so I think it meets his approval,” was the reply. “If he hadn’t liked it, I should soon have heard of it,” was added, with some bitterness.
It is the little courtesies, the little acts and words, that make or mar the joy of home.
“A good-by kiss is a little thing,
“A kiss of greeting is sweet and fair
“‘Tis a little thing to say, ‘You are kind,’
“We starve each other for love’s caress;
There is nothing on earth more beautiful than to see husband and wife who have journeyed long together, sharing joys and sorrows, still confidants, friends, and lovers. “Father” is lost unless “mother” is there; and to him what she does is ever the right thing to do. There are small attentions, little utterances of tender regard, for the heart clings more fondly to the trusted companion as the years go by.
“You’re better looking than you ever were before, Mary,” one fond husband said.
The wife turned to a friend, and remarked: “He’s a terrible flatterer, my dear; I sometimes wonder when he will become sensible.” But she wouldn’t have had him different, and there was a low, sweet song in her soul as she went about her tasks. …
Joseph H. Choate, of New York, one time our ambassador to England, was attending a dinner party given in his honor. During the meal he was asked who he would like to be if not himself. He waited a moment before replying. Those present thought he was reviewing the great of earth before making his decision. Then his eyes rested a moment on Mrs. Choate at the other end of the table, and he replied: “If I could not be myself, I should like to be Mrs. Choate’s second husband.” Delicate compliment, was it not? How could greater appreciation of a wife have been shown? All honor to Mr. Choate! His wife must have been proud indeed of such a husband.
Solomon declares that the man who marries a good wife “praiseth her.” Perhaps she is better because of such commendation; for to the faithful wife no words on earth are sweeter than those of appreciation from her husband.
SMILE HUSBAND, SMILE!
Nothing can smile but man. Flowers, beautiful as they are, cannot smile. A smile is the color love wears, and it accompanies cheerfulness and joy. Laughter is like sunshine, and the sunshiny, cheerful husband is a joy forever. His presence brings light and gladness to the face and to the heart. He keeps his eye on the best things of life. He gathers its roses, lilies, and pinks, and brushes aside the briers and the thorns, that they may not wound his loved ones.
The gloomy husband resembles a dark cloud that obscures the sunshine. His troubles may be no greater than those of other men, but he fails to count his blessings. He needs to practice smiling before the mirror, that he may know how to appear before his own family. It is better to laugh than to grumble. …
As children come to gladden the home, let the husband not feel that his presence is less welcome than before. His evenings and spare time will be precious if they are spent with them. The home life is a partnership in which both parties are bound till death separates.
Husband and wife are at their best together; that is, when duty does not compel them to live apart. If separation must come, let it be from necessity, but not from choice. A door of temptation is left wide open when they are separated.
One of the best husbands in the world wrote to his wife when far away:
“Time goes slowly these days, but it does go after all. Soon the day will arrive when I can leave for home. Tell me that will not be a good day! Ah! I am sure it will be. I have heard people talk and read about the music of the bells, but there will be more music in the old locomotive bell when I can go, than all the music of all the bells ever made. So let the days go by, and they will soon bring the time when I can start for the haven of rest upon the mountain side.”
BEGGAR OR PARTNER, WHICH?
The beginning of trouble between many husbands and wives arises from the adjustment of financial relations. Time was when women were not wage earners as they now are; but few vocations were open to them. When married, they did not expect a share in the family income. The husband disbursed all funds. The wife had no money unless she asked for it, and this was sometimes an ordeal which led her to prefer doing without.
But late years have brought women greater independence. They have become wage earners themselves. They have been tried and found capable. The right of suffrage has been granted them. They have taken their place at the side of their husbands and brothers as equals. This gives them a new feeling of independence, even though their work is in the home. Though they do not labor the same as their husbands, yet they are entitled to a share of the family earnings without begging for it.
Woman has been called the “silent partner” in financial matters in the home, for her work brings no reward in dollars and cents. The husband earns the money and decides how it shall be spent.
Perhaps the wife earned wages before marriage, and knows the sweetness of spending her own money. One woman wrote thus to a friend:
“John is liberal in a way, but he keeps the pocketbook himself, buys the provisions, prefers to purchase the dry goods, the shoes, gloves, - everything, in fact, and does not see that I need any money when he gets everything I want. Our little daughter has more actual cash than I, for she doesn’t mind giving a kiss and a hug, and asking him for a dollar or two. He can deny her nothing. But I loathe asking him for money. I could make the same amount go farther than John does if I had it in my own hands. But how can I beg for it?”
This is a heart-burning question.
A woman who is fitted to be the wife of a man has a right to a portion of the family income without begging or asking for every cent she wishes to spend. She gives her time and the best of her life to the interests of the home in which both are partners. The wife is, or should be, the husband’s most cherished friend, without whom the world would be a wilderness, and she has a right to share in all the money that comes into the home through their united efforts.
If the husband thinks that one should do all the spending, let him hand over the purse half the time to his wife and let him go to her for cash when he has needs to supply.
It is the husband’s privilege to acknowledge the wife as his partner in business equally as in other relations. Their interests are one. The wife has no right to be extravagant, wasteful, or to spend money for that which is unnecessary. Likewise the husband should take his wife into fullest confidence, letting her know his plans, his losses, his gains. He will tell her why they will be unable to spend so freely as last year, and that they must plan not to use all their earnings, but to save something to meet losses, the expenses of illness, death, or other disasters which may overtake them. If mutual knowledge and understanding in business life exist between husband and wife during their wedded years, if the husband should die, it will not leave the widow a helpless, dependent woman, ignorant of simple business. Her experience with him will help her to meet much more bravely and wisely the exigencies of the future.
When an understanding is reached, let there be an agreement what share belongs to the wife to supply her own needs, to save in her own account, or to give to charitable objects. This plan enables her to be a partner, not a beggar. It will teach her how to handle money wisely, and there will be no mystery about the income. There should be no blind, prodigal spending which involves the head of the family in difficulty. Older children may be included in this partnership, and thus be brought into closer relationship with their parents and educated in the wise use of money.
Many husbands think they are generous with their wives in business matters; and they are. Still, a need exists which they have not supplied. It is illustrated by two young people who married, went to a new country, began with a sod house, but year by year added to their possessions until, twenty years later, they moved to another locality, that their children might have better educational advantages.
Through all their experience, this kind husband had said, “The money is yours as much as it is mine,” and when the wife asked, she received. Still she sometimes thought it would be a real pleasure to have a little all her own and to be able to decide whether she should spend, or save, or give.
One year several dollars came into her possession. With the money she purchased a birthday present for her husband. This was greatly appreciated; and when they were alone, he thanked her again. With tears, she asked, “Do you know this is the first birthday present I ever gave you?”
“Why, what do you mean?” he replied. “You always give me something, though perhaps not so nice as this.”
She explained, “But I mean this is the first present I ever really gave you. Always before, I have gone to your purse and taken money (for I wanted it to be a surprise), and I always felt like a thief, and thought I might as well leave the money there and let you buy your own present.”
Then the tears came to his eyes, and he exclaimed, “Why, mother, do you feel that way about it?”
“Every woman feels the same way,” she quietly answered.
Then they talked matters over. She said she didn’t want to be independent, would prefer to have the present arrangement remain; but she would like a small amount each month to regard as her very own, to spend as she pleased. This was agreed upon; and when the husband saw how happy she was, he was sorry they had not talked money matters over long before. Let there be proper and just division of income. …
BE FAITHFUL TO YOUR WIFE
This is an age of low morality. The associations of men and women are marked with so much freedom that temptation against loyalty in the marriage relation lurks on every hand.
There are women who are tempters, who delight in flattery, in seeking the society of men, and in enticing them to evil. “The lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil…Remove thy way far from her, and come not night the door of her house: lest thou give thine honor unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!” Proverbs 5:3,8-12.
Sometimes a woman goes to a man for sympathy. She weeps because her husband does not love and pity her. A true man will never try to supply what is lacking. He may recommend that she visit some woman and seek advice, but he will keep aloof from such a case and will never visit her unless his wife accompanies him. A woman who respects herself will not go to men for sympathy in marital troubles, and every appeal of this kind awakens distrust.
Social customs that lead to questionable familiarity between men and women, whether married or unmarried, should be abandoned. The husband’s smiles, sociability, kind words, and gentlemanly conduct will be appreciated by his family; and when he bestows them in his own home, he will experience a pleasure that leaves no sting.
“LET ME HELP YOU”
An invalid once said that the words she remembered and prized most from her husband were his “Let me help you,” when she had a task beyond her strength. He was often by her side, ready to attempt anything that would relieve her. The wife needs her husband’s help in the training of the children as well as in other tasks. She needs his prayers, his sympathy, to sustain and encourage; without them she would fail.
It is said that when Shakespeare made his will, he gave his wife “the second best.” Some husbands give “second best” to their wives in affection, attention, help, and courtesy. Why not give them “first best”?
It may be that the homemaker, the closest and most faithful companion the Creator ever gave to man, will slip away some day. No husband, in that dark hour, will reproach himself for having been too kind, too helpful, or too loyal. He is to be pitied if he did not manifest these traits, if he was not the husband he might have been….