BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
[continued from yesterday]
...The lines upon which the cultivation of a husband's love should take place will be decided according to the character and dispositions of the wife. Generally, however, it must have the three qualities of being affectionate, practical, and exclusive.
It must be first of all affectionate. The double affection of a woman for her children and her husband springs from the same affectionate nature. If it is to flourish it must be fed. The need must be satisfied or it will shrivel away.
There is a tendency among men to regard the time of courtship as the time of poetry, and the time of marriage as the time of prose. And there is an axiom among women that they are to expect about half as much affection after marriage as before. It is very sad that it should be so, although it may be excusable. There are far more cares in the married state than in the single, which of their very nature tend to take the poetry out of life. It has been divinely foretold that such shall have trouble in the flesh. But it need not be so bad as it is. Nay, the very cares which tend to lessen the affection ought to be the occasion of its increase. To cultivate such affection requires an active will and a keen intelligence.
The man ought to be a man. That is, he ought not to allow himself to be moved merely by his passions and feelings. He ought to use his intelligence to find out what little acts of sympathy, kindness, interest, and attention affect his wife's feelings toward himself. Then he ought to put forth a strong will in the frequent repetition of such acts. I
t is extremely beautiful when an old Darby and Joan can look back on a married life of say forty years, and tell you with a knowing smile that they have not yet finished courting. They have learnt the secret of cultivating affection, of seizing upon adversity only as an occasion for deeper sympathy, of studying each other's likes and dislikes, of saying the word which gives pleasure, of avoiding the word which gives pain.
Secondly, a husband's love must be practical. Here again it is a question of external attractions against the attraction of the wife at home. Some men there are so absorbed in their business or profession as to regard their wife and home as a mere accident in life. Their business is not, as it were, a means of keeping one's self, wife, and family in comfort, but rather the wife and the family are the means of carrying on the business.
Or, again, the counter attraction may be only low pleasures, the pleasure of company, the pleasure of the club, the pleasure of the public-house. All are violations of the practical love due from husband to wife. Frequently the wife can just tolerate them, provided she gets the affection. But that is only because by nature she has such a strong affection....
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.