If, however, the wife had yielded in the beginning not only to her husband’s bad temper but also to the antagonism of her mother-in-law, which was, of course, annoying in many petty ways, she might have gained her husband’s friendship, and it is possible that she might, moreover, have gained the friendship of her mother-in-law.
The best rule with regard to all trying members of the family is to yield to them always in non-essentials; and when you disagree in essentials stick to the principle which you believe to be right, but stick to it without resistance. Believe your way, but make yourself willing that the trying member should believe her way. Make an opportunity of what appears to be a limitation, and, believe me, your trying member can become a blessing to you.
I go further than that—I truly believe that to make the best of life every family should have a trying member. When we have no trying member of our family, and life goes along smoothly, as a matter of course, the harmony is very liable to be spurious, and a sudden test will all at once knock such a family into discord, much to the surprise of every member. When we go through discord to harmony, and once get into step, we are very likely to keep in step:
Be willing, then, make yourself willing, that the trying member should be in the way. Hope that she will stay in your family until you have succeeded in dropping not only all resistance to her being there, but every resistance to her various ways in detail. Bring her annoying ways up to your mind voluntarily when you are away from her. If you do that you will find all the resistances come with them and you can relax out of the strain then and there. You will find that when you get home or come down to breakfast in the morning (for many resistances are voluntarily thrown off in the night) you will have a pleasanter feeling toward the trying member, and it comes so spontaneously that you will be surprised yourself at the absence of the strain of resistance in you.
Believe me when I say this: the yielding in the non-essentials, singularly enough, gives one strength to refuse to yield in principles. But we must always remember that if we want to find real peace, while we refuse to yield in our own principles so long as we believe them to be true, we must be entirely willing that others should differ from us in belief.
SUPPOSE your husband got impatient and annoyed with you because you did not seem to enter heartily into the interests of his work and sympathize with its cares and responsibilities and soothe him out of the nervous harassments. Would you not perhaps feel a little sore that he seemed to expect all from you and to give nothing in return? I know how many women will say that is all very well, but the husband and father should feel as much interest in the home and the children as the wife and mother does. That is, of course, true up to a certain point, always in general, and when his help is really necessary in particular. But a man cannot enter into the details of his wife’s duties at home any more than a woman can enter into the details of her husband’s duties at his office.