Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Penurious Husbands.
There are only a few things in this life worth
getting angry over.  Almost everything bad
is sad, and our pity and our sorrow are needed, not
our blame and anger.
    But there is a type of man I never allow myself
to think about long at a time, lest a life reputation
for amiability be lost in disgusted indignation.
    I refer to the penurious and selfish husbands of
wives who have no income of their own.  Men who
are in comfortable circumstances, or at least in a
position which enables them to pay their bills of
necessity and enjoy occasional luxury, and yet
who make their own wives feel more dependent
than beggars or slaves.
    This kind of man pays the grocer and butcher
and dry-goods merchant each week or month.  He
goes over the items with careful scrutiny, and if
the wife who keeps his house and takes care of his
children has purchased anything but the barest
necessities of life for her own personal use, she is
lectured by word or look for her extravagance.
    She may have been a self-supporting girl, with a
snug, well-earned salary, when he married her; a
girl whom he admired for her trim up-to-date ap-
pearance.  She may have been the pride of parents
who took pride in dressing her well and giving her
pin-money; and if she looks back on the days of her
girlhood with heartsick regret and sighs for the in-
dependence which she resigned, who can blame
    A husband who compels his wife to ask for money
to buy herself a pair of slippers or a neck ribbon,
and who hands it out grudgingly even then, is cru-
cifying her daily and hourly.  He might as well
nail her to the cross and be done with it.
    It is the duty of every man who marries a woman
without any source of income, to provide her with a
certain allowance for her personal use.  The
amount should depend on the man's fortune or
salary and the position the woman occupies in the
world.  The matter should be talked over by them
reasonable and sensibly, and the husband should be
made to realize that his wife is entitled to her inde-
pendent purse just as fully as he is entitled to his.
    Her work, her duties, her time, are all as impor-
tant in the general result as his.
    He ought to save her from the possibility of feel-
ing dependent or humiliated, as any woman in the
world must feel who is obliged to ask a man for
every dollar she wishes to use.
    He has no more right to question her regarding
the use of the money he allows her, than she has to
question him about every cent he pays out.  The
money is her own, to do with as she pleases.
    The wife who receives her personal allowance
should study economy in the use of it, and not make
extra demands upon her husband's purse.
    "I envy the independence of my housemaid, who
gets her three dollars every week," said one wife
to me, with tears of mortification in her eyes.  "I
would gladly do the work if I could receive her
wages, but were I to discharge her, my husband
would expect me to fill the place without pay.  He
never imagines I can need anything but food and
    Not infrequently men of this kind are quick to
praise women who wear the latest style of dress.
    "What a natty look Mrs. A has," the purseholder
will remark admiringly to his wife.  "Queer what
good taste some women have in getting themselves
up," and the shabby wife, who knows that new,
well-made gowns are the secret of Mrs. A's natty
appearance, winks back the tears in silence.
    The bitterness of heart, the suffering, the cruci-
fixion of pride which these brutally selfish and blind
husbands have caused and are causing refined
women, is beyond words to express.
    Love, happiness, sentiment, all fly from such a
home.  Life becomes a dreary routine of duty and
marriage a bondage.
    Men like these have no business to possess wives.
They should keep slaves and concubines.
    These are the men who drove women out into the
world to wave the flag of emancipation.  "If the
old man had never been selfish and inconsiderate,
the new woman would never have existed."
    The wife of a wealthy self-made man once told
me that her whole life was embittered by the humili-
ation her husband subjected her to during their
early years of struggling for fortune.  "Once when
I asked for two cents, he would not give them to
me until I explained that I needed a yeast cake,"
she said, and the pain of that experience and many
similar ones never left her heart.
    It is a pity that some self-made men did not lose
the pattern before they completed the job.
    It is sometimes unnecessary for a rich man to
boast that he is self-made.  We would all know
without being told, that God had nothing to do with
    What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole
world and slay the soul of his wife?
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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