This wife, in a weak, selfish little way, was trying to give her husband her confidence, and her complaint about her own selfishness was genuine. She wanted his help to get out of it. If he had given her just a little gracious attention and told her how impossible it was really to discuss the children when she began the conversation with whining complaint, she would have allowed herself to be taught and their intercourse would have improved. On the other hand, if the wife had realized that her husband came home from the cares of his business tired and nervous, and if she had talked lightly and easily on general subjects and tried to follow his interests, when his nerves were rested and quiet she might have found him ready and able to give her a little lift with regard to the children.
It is interesting and it is delightful to see how, as we each work first to bear our own burdens, we not only find ourselves ready and able to lighten the burdens of others but find others who are helpful to us.
A woman who finds her husband “so restless and irritable” should remember that in reality a man’s nervous system is just as sensitive as a woman’s, and, with a steady and consistent effort to bear her own burdens and to work out her own problems, should prepare herself to lighten her husband’s burdens and help to solve his problems; that is the truest way of bringing him to the place where he will be glad to share her burdens with her as well as his own.
But we want to remember that there is a radical difference between indulging another’s selfishness, and waiting, with patient yielding, for him to discover his selfishness himself, and to act unselfishly from his own free will.
Quiet vs. Chronic Excitement
SOME women live in a chronic state of excitement all the time and they do not find it out until they get ill. Even then they do not always find it out, and then they get more ill.
It is really much the same with excitable women as with a man who thinks he must always keep a little stimulant in himself in order to keep about his work. When a bad habit is established in us we feel unnatural if we give the habit up for a moment—and we feel natural when we are in it—but it is poison all the same.
If a woman has a habit of constantly snuffing or clearing her throat, or rocking a rocking chair, or chattering to whoever may be near her she would feel unnatural and weird if she were suddenly wrenched out of any of these things. And yet the poisoning process goes on just the same.
When it seems immaterial to us that we should be natural we are in a pretty bad way and the worst of it is we do not know it.
I once took a friend with me into the country who was one of those women who lived on excitement in every-day life. When she dressed in the morning she dressed in excitement. She went down to breakfast in excitement. She went about the most humdrum everyday affairs excited. Every event in life—little or big—was an excitement to her—and she went to bed tired out with excitement—over nothing.