Hints for Husbands
Timothy Shay Arthur
There is an article afloat in the papers entitled "Golden Rules for Wives," which enjoins upon the ladies a rather abject submission to their husbands' will and whims. Iron rules, not golden ones, we should call them. But the art of living together in harmony is a very difficult art; and, instead of confuting the positions of the authors of the Rules aforesaid, we offer the following, as the substance of what a wife likes in a husband:
Fidelity is her heart's first and most just demand. The act of infidelity, a true wife cannot forgive — it rudely breaks the tie that bound her heart to his, and that tie can never more exist.
The first place in her husband's affections, no true wife can learn to do without. When she loses that, she has lost her husband; she is a widow; and has to endure the pangs of bereavement intensified by the presence of what she no longer possesses. There is a living mummy in the house, reminding her of her loss in the most painful manner.
A woman likes her husband to excel in those qualities which distinguish the masculine from the feminine being, such as strength, courage, fortitude, and sound judgment. She wants her husband to be wholly a MAN. She cannot entirely love one whom she cannot entirely respect, believe in, and rely on.
A wife dearly likes to have her husband stand high in the regard of the community in which they reside. She likes to be thought by her own gender a fortunate woman in having such a husband as she has. She has a taste for the respectable, desires to have a good-looking front door, and to keep up a good appearance generally. Some wives, it is said, carry this too far; and some husbands, we know, are dangerously complaisant in yielding to the front-door ambition of their wives. But a good husband will like to gratify his wife in this respect as far as he can, without sacrificing more important objects.
A wife expects perfect sincerity from her husband. She desires to know the real state of the case, however it may be concealed from the world. It wrings her heart, and wounds her pride, to discover that her husband has not wholly confided in her. A man may profitably consult his wife on almost any project; it is due to her that he should do so, and she is glad to be consulted.
Above most other things, a wife craves appreciation from her husband. The great majority of wives lead lives of severe and anxious toil. With unimaginable anguish and peril to their own lives, they become mothers. Their children require incessant care. "Only the eye of God watches like a mother's," says Fanny Fern, in a chapter which depicts with such power and truth, a mother's agonizing anxieties. And besides her maternal cares, a wife is the queen-regent of a household kingdom. She has to think, and plan, and work for everybody. If, in all her labors and cares, she feels that she has her husband's sympathy and gratitude; if he helps her where a man can help a woman; if he notices her efforts, applauds her skill, and allows for her deficiencies — all is well. But to endure all this, and yet meet with no appreciating word, or glance, or act from him for whom and whose she toils and bears, is very bitter.
A wife likes her husband to show her all due respect in the presence of others; she cannot endure to be reproved or criticized by him, when others can hear it. Indeed, it is most wrong in a husband thus to put his wife to shame; and we cannot help secretly admiring the spirit of that Frenchwoman who, when her husband had so wronged her, refused ever again to utter a word, and for twenty years lived speechless in the house. We admire her spirit, though not her mode of manifesting it. Husbands owe the most profound respect to their wives, for their wives are the mothers of their children. No man has the slightest claim to the character of a gentleman who is not more scrupulously polite to his wife than to any other woman. We refer here to the essentials of politeness, not its forms; we mean kindness and justice in little things.
A wife likes her husband to be considerate. Unexpected kindnesses and unsolicited favors touch her heart. She appreciates the softened tread when she is sick; she enjoys the gift brought from a distance, and everything which proves to her that her husband thinks of her comfort and her good.
Husband, reflect on these things! Your wife has confided her happiness to you. You can make it unspeakably wretched, if you are ignoble and short-sighted. Let the contest between husbands and wives be this: which shall do most for the happiness of the other!