Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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A Husband's Duty.
    A Man who gives his wife a good home, a liberal
share of his purse and his loyal love usually
thinks he is doing his entire duty by her.  But
unless he is also giving her a portion of his undi-
vided attention, he is failing in a most important
part of his duty as a husband.
    There is a young lawyer who adores his pretty
wife.  He is ambitious to make name and fortune for
her sake, and he spends the greater part of his eve-
nings shut in his study, poring over books or papers
which mean future knowledge and riches for him.
    "I know all his work is for my sake, and I ought
not to complain," the young wife says, with tears
in her eyes; "but sometimes I feel as if I could burn
the old law books and dance around the bonfire.  I
so long to have him leave them and devote a little
time to me, the way he used to be before we were
    "I read and I sew, and I embroider and I play
the piano and the mandolin and friends drop in now
and then, and sometimes I go out with them to help
pass the time, but nevertheless I get very lonely and
nervous.  I suppose it is unreasonable when I know
my husband is working so hard for my sake."
    But the young wife is not unreasonable at all.  It
is the husband who lacks reason.
    From the lover who is ready to go anywhere and
everywhere to the husband who never goes anywhere
with his wife is a swift fall, and one which bruises
many a sensitive heart.
    It is just as much a man's business to take his
wife out occasionally, and to bestow his attention
upon her unreservedly two or three evenings each
week, as it is for him to pay rent or taxes.
    There are scores of reckless sad wives all over the
land who could be made happy and contented by
knowing that one evening each week was certain to
bring them the companionship of their husbands,
and some pleasant little outing, if not more than a
call upon mutual friends.
    The price of two theatre tickets occasionally, and
the surprise of a husband's request for his wife's
company, would, if tried in time, save the expense
of many a divorce suit.
    The majority of women do not require extrava-
gant pleasures to keep them happy or amused.  All
they want is a little attention and considerate thought.
    So many men with good brains and good inten-
tions have such stupid hearts.  They really want to
make their wives happy, and they work like slaves
to earn and save money for that ultimate purpose.
But were they to work only half as hard and to use
the merest trifle of what they are saving to give
their families a little diversion, the purpose they are
looking forward to would be attained and nothing
lost save worry and fatigue.  However bright our
prospects, unless we get some happiness or pleasure
out of the present, we are getting nothing out of life.
Unless we make those near to us happy to-day, we
need not expect to make them happy to-morrow.
We would call a man insane who starved his wife
for two or three weeks in order to give her a fine
feast after her system became too weak to digest it.
But that is what scores of husbands are doing with
their wives' hearts.  They deny them simple pleas-
ures and small attentions year after year in order
that they may give them a fortune in their old age.
    The wife who never shares her husband's waking
society save at meal hours is liable to develop into
one of two things--a narrow-minded gossip or a flirt.
If she associates only with her own sex, she is pretty
sure to degenerate into the former, and if she sees
much of men, unprotected by her husband's pres-
ence, it is ten to one that she finds her position full
of danger sooner or later.
    When a man keeps his wife sure that he is her
lover and protector, she is in no danger from the
society of other men; but when he allows himself to
become merely her banker, and is indifferent to her
pleasures or amusements, he must share the blame
she is liable to bring upon herself if she accepts the
attention of others.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.

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