Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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When Marriage is Slavery.
Madam--What can I do to prevent my husband from sulk-
ing and quarreling when I wish to have my sister and her
husband come to see me for two weeks this summer?  I am
alone from 6:30 a. m. until 6:30 p. m., and as my sister is the
best friend I have, I love to see her.  My husband objects to
my visiting her at her home in New York.  About four times
each week he growls (I cannot use any other word) over my
not saving money.  We live plainly, I dress cheaply; my best
gown at the present time was six and one-fourth cents per yard.
   During the Dewey parade in New York last September,
my sister sent me a ticket (one fare) to New York, and the
morning I left, my husband said: "Give me all my money you
have in your pocketbook."  I did so, all but sixty cents, and
he even took ten cents of that, leaving me fifty cents.  I had
to pay my railroad fare from here to Boston--twelve cents--
leaving me thirty-eight cents for my journey.  You can imagine
my hunger and sadness when I arrived at my sister's home.
   My husband abuses my family for no cause. They never
injured him, rather the contrary; for once when my dear old
father was sheriff, he saved his father from going to prison
for debt and perjury.  I sometimes hate my husband.  I am
thirty-eight years of age and he forty.  I am quick-tempered,
but of a very happy disposition and see a laugh in everything.
I am not long-faced, am kind to God's creatures; in fact, some-
times deprive myself to make another happy.
   You may advise very freely, and if I am to blame I am
willing to own to my faults.  You will not wound my feelings
whatever you may say, as I have seen and heard much, and
am experienced in the ways of the world.
                                                                 NORFOLK DOWNS.
   I am afraid my advice to this unfortunate wife
will not be adequate for her needs.  If she has
drawn a correct pen picture of the man who
promised to love and cherish her until death should
separate them, he is quite beyond the reach of any
philosophy of mine.  It will require another incar-
nation to make a man of him.  At present he is an
insult to the brute creation.  He probably pos-
sesses a soul, but he has allowed it to become crusted
over with selfishness and piggishness, until nothing
short of the hand of death can bring it to light.  I
am sure I do not know what advice to offer in such
a case.  The wife might try a quiet, reasonable
talk with the man.  She might say to him, "I mar-
ried you with the wish and desire to make you
happy.  I have done my best.  If I have failed in
any one of my marriage promises, I want you to tell
me.  You have failed in many of yours.  You are
not trying to make me happy.  You are fretting
about saving a little money, and at the same time
you are wantonly wasting something of far greater
value to you and to both our lives--the love and
respect of my heart.  I cannot respect a man who
is so utterly unreasonable and unkind as you are in
your dealings with me.  You would not dream of
treating any man in business so unfairly as you
treat me.  I have a right to a little recreation and
to a reasonable association with my family.  So
long as I give you my first consideration, and in no
way neglect you or waste our mutual earnings,
there is every reason why I should be allowed to see
my family and friends occasionally.  I am utterly
tired of your heartless and mercenary and loveless
treatment, and I do not propose to go to the end of
life in such a miserable existence.  You have
broken your promise to love, cherish, and protect
me, and our marriage is now worse than a farce.  I
am willing to take you on a year's probation, and if
you can establish some sort of respect in my heart
at the end of that time, we will go on and try to
make each other happy.  But if at the end of the
year you are no different, I shall feel it is my
wisest course to let you live your life in your own
way, and I will earn my own living apart from you.
I am degrading womanhood by going on in this life,
which is no better than enforced slavery, and which
includes the subjugating of myself to a man who
has destroyed my love and esteem, and which
therefore renders me in my own eyes an immoral
   A talk of this kind might set the man to think-
ing.  Petty tyrants are usually great cowards.
   Whatever the outcome of such a talk, it could be
no worse than the present condition of matters.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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