Human nature is not so bad—really in its essence it is not bad at all. If we only give the other man a real chance. It is the pushing and pulling and demanding of one human being toward another that smother the best in us, and make life a fearful strain. Of course there is a healthy demanding as well as an unhealthy demanding, but, so far as l know, the healthy demanding can come only when we are clear of personal resistance and can demand on the strength of a true principle and without selfish emotion. There is a kind of gentle, motherly contempt with which some women speak of their husbands, which must get on a man’s nerves very painfully. It is intensely and most acutely annoying. And yet I have heard good women speak in that way over and over again. The gentleness and motherliness are of course neither of them real in such cases. The gentle, motherly tone is used to cover up their own sense of superiority.
“Poor boy, poor boy,” they may say; “a man is really like a child.” So he may be—so he often is childish, and sometimes childish in the extreme. But where could you find greater and more abject childishness than in a woman’s ungoverned emotions?
A woman must respect the manliness of her husband’s soul, and must cling to her belief in its living existence behind any amount of selfish, restless irritability, if she is going to find a friend in him or be a friend to him. She must also know that his nervous system may be just as sensitive as hers. Sometimes it is more sensitive, and should be accordingly respected. Demand nothing and expect nothing, but hold him to his best in your mind and wait.
That is a rule that would work wonderfully if every woman who is puzzled about her husband’s restlessness and lack of interest in home affairs would apply it steadily and for long enough. It is impossible to manufacture a happy, sympathetic married life artificially—impossible! But as each one looks to one’s self and does one’s part fully, and then is willing to wait for the other, the happiness and the sympathy, the better power for work and the joyful ability to play come—they do come; they are real and alive and waiting for us as we get clear from the interferences.
“Why doesn’t my husband like to stay with me when he comes home? Why can’t we have nice, cozy times together?” a wife asks with sad longing in her eyes.
And to the same friend the husband (who is, by the way, something of a pig) says: “I should be glad to stay with Nellie often in the evening, but she will always talk about her worries, and she worries about the family in a way that is idiotic. She is always sure that George will catch the measles because a boy in the next street has them, and she is always sure that our children do not have the advantages nor the good manners that other children have. If it is not one thing it is another; whenever we are alone there is something to complain of, and her last complaint was about her own selfishness.” Then he laughed at what he considered a good joke, and in five minutes had forgotten all about her.