TAKEN FROM THE WIFE DESIRED BY Fr. Leo Kinsella: The Wife Desired The Man For Her The average girl left to herself and her own resources would find it very difficult to develop her personality. Fortunately into her path are thrust several mediums for personality development. The scope of this chapter limits us to a discussion of only a few of these mediums. The first of these is her school. For many, school is just a hurdle to get over with as little pain as possible before life can begin. There is something to be said for this attitude. Essentially, school is preparation for the future. Most girls would prefer to get a hold on that "future" now. Moreover, school for too many loses its real purpose. It is not a place built just for the acquisition of a lot of factual information. It is also a place in which to learn how to live better with their neighbor and work out their destiny. A pig has only one destiny, to be slaughtered and eaten. So, farmers do not bother teaching their little pigs to stand on their hind legs and do tricks. But suppose that a particularly nice little pig did learn many cute tricks. No one would even then speak of the little pig's personality. Personality suggests a soul and immortality, a something almost intangible reaching out beyond the grave. A human being has only one destiny, to be united with God and share His happiness. She is unlike the little pig in another respect. She has a free will. She must choose what path she will walk in life, whether it lead to the love of God and neighbor as pointed out and traveled by Christ or the path of selfishness. In other words, she must decide whether the love of God or her own self satisfaction is to be the predominant driving force in her life. Whichever she chooses, she does so because she thinks that her choice will bring her the most happiness. In this connection it behooves us to remember the advice of the great Teacher. "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake, will find it." If a girl wants to be happy with herself, she must get out of herself. She must lose herself. It is the type of paradox G. K. Chesterton loved. He thought that this advice was the best that could be given to Alpine mountain climbers. Chesterton, with his tremendous bulk, probably never got anywhere near an Alpine mountain climber in action. Yet, he knew what he was talking about, when he suggested that they read and ponder these words of Christ. Wives tread a path beset with as many dangers as those besetting the mountain climber. Well might they reflect on their lives in the light of this God given advice. Wives should take this advice from the world's most renowned teacher, Christ Himself. To be happy here and for all eternity they must forget themselves. must get out of themselves, must develop their personality and beauty of soul. High school and college are tremendous occasions of grace put by God in the life of a girl. School is probably the greatest opportunity for personality development she will ever enjoy. Very many do not realize this. For a good many years I taught in high school. It was annoying to see so many girls just hibernating through four years. Some did nothing but rush home from school and do all their homework that they might be leaders scholastically. It was a Herculean task to budge the first type of girl out of her lethargy. The second looked sort of sideways at me when I told her to study less and play a little more. Both are missing too much of the best school offers. School provides the opportunity to learn to do very many things and to have much fun doing them. Algebra and Geometry have their purpose: mental exercise and development. But school should be much more than just algebra and the other subjects. The so-called extra curricular activities are important, for they give girls opportunities to do things. The glee club, the gym class, the school athletic teams the Latin club, the dramatic club, and many other activities are splendid chances for improving personality. As I write, the picture comes to my mind of a fat little girl complaining that gym was stupid and that she was going to sit it out as often as possible. If her criticism was true, the school was much at fault, just as much remiss as if it had an incompetent French or history instructor. But I am afraid that the fat little girl was more interested in sitting. She evidenced about as much life as a sack of potatoes and in posture and appearance she easily could double as such. She needed the gym like nobody's business. Some of the girls poked fun at her because she was overweight. So, instead of having loads of fun playing volleyball, badminton and basketball, she sat in the locker room and continued her phenomenal growth. The gym would have done wonders for her figure. Through the competitive games unlimited means are afforded for personality growth. Remember, a girl does not become interesting and attractive by sitting, only by doing many things for which school offers the opportunity. As most of us grow older and become less active physically, one of our greatest sources of entertainment is intelligent conversation. We derive satisfaction from the discussion of current events, of problems affecting our daily lives, and of sundry subjects of mutual interest. Too little stress is given today in educational circles to the art of conversation. I believe that there are a number of reasons for this lack of interest on the part of educators. A group of high school girls at recess time usually presents the same picture. All are talking; none are listening. Promote talking? Teachers naturally lift an eyebrow if one suggests more conversation at their school. Yet ninety-nine per cent of all this talk is just chitchat such as "Ja eet? No, jews?" Real conversation is an art. Like any other art it must be cultivated and practiced. The voice is an important phase of personality. Often the voice alone gives the cue to personality and character of a girl. A petulant, or frivolous, or frigid, or nagging young lady frequently rings a bell of warning in her voice to interested young men who have ears to hear as well as to catch dirt. Likewise, a warm hearted and generous woman refined and cultured with a well developed personality can tell others of her accomplishments simply by speaking a few sentences. "The flute and the psaltery make a sweet melody, but a pleasant tongue is above them both." Ecclesiaticus 40, 21. Perhaps by this time some find their thoughts wandering from the work at hand--namely, self appraisal and consideration of how to advance toward the goal of the ideal and desired wife. Maybe some are asking by now why they should strive to become this paragon of a girl. Too many young men are too stupid anyway to see and appreciate in a girl all the qualities of the ideal wife. Isn't a girl lucky for that! A girl can thank God that these imbeciles are not attracted to her. One of these cigarette sucking simpletons might rush her off her feet, and then see with what she would be stuck the rest of her life. It does seem that neurotics attract each other for marriage. I suppose it is one more bit of evidence of the old proverb, "Birds of a feather flock together." So the girls who develop their personalities and acquire the other features of the ideal wife have a much better chance of attracting their counterpart, the ideal husband. Again, let that all-interesting ideal husband take care of himself for a while. Let us get back to our "netting." Conversation is not a one way street. It connotes the ability to listen as well as to talk. Some people make a good audience. They stimulate conversation purely by the manner of their attention. They are alive, and thus they register. Because they are interested they are interesting. They bring out the best in others. A clever girl can do wonders by the way she listens with animation to her boy friend. The boy friend or the husband is only human. There will be times when he is going to want to tell "all about it." He is loquacious for a change. Then for heaven's sake, let the wife give him the stage. Or, perhaps, he is taciturn and yearns for quiet. The wise wife senses these various moods of her husband. I remember a case in which the wife hauled her husband down to the Chancery. Her major complaint was that her husband would not talk things over with her, would not confide in her. "He just never talks with me." This poor woman talked "like a blue streak" for an hour and a half. A number of times I tried to break in. At each failure I got a knowing look from the husband as much as if to say, "Know how you feel. For years I've been trying to get a word in edgewise." There is a theory of counseling based on letting the estranged husband and wife talk themselves into their own solution of the problems vexing their marital happiness. There are enthusiasts of this school of thought who maintain that they can solve any case by just letting them talk. I wish they had been in on the case just mentioned. I finally had to run from her one day later on, when she came down alone to see me. I could not take any more than two hours of it. I imagine that she is still talking, whether at her husband or not I do not know. How he could stand it, I do not know either. While at school a girl should "make hay while the sun shines." It is then that she can acquire and develop ability at conversation. As she learns to swim, to play tennis, to figure skate, and to sing, she can talk with interest and intelligence about these things. If she knows nothing about music, a girl will have to be pretty clever to be able to "get away with" talking about music. On the other hand, as she develops her personality by learning to do various things, she should acquire facility in conversing about these things. If she reads good literature, she opens another tremendous potential for conversation. True, she must practice, and school affords that opportunity not only in the classroom, but even during moments of recreation. Practice on your girl friends? Why not? They do on you! Friends have been defined as those between whom there need not be conversation. Husband and wife can spend a quiet evening at home with a minimum of conversation and be happy and content. They are aware of each other's presence, and that is enough. Yet intelligent conversation will add immeasurably to their lives. A dumb Dora may have her moments; but, if she cannot formulate two consecutive and coherent sentences, let us all pray for strength for that husband of hers.