From The Wife Desired, Fr. Kinsella, 1950’s
“Nobody will play with me” is a sad complaint made to mother by most every child. The grief of rejection by her playmates is announced with tears and sobs. The child makes no effort to hide the hurt. Dissimulation comes with age. We never get used to rejection. Only we learn to conceal our pain and to live with it.
If an adult smiles at these tears of childhood rejection, it is because he knows that the tears will dry as quickly as they flowed. Tomorrow is another day. As likely as not, the child spurned by his playmates today will be the happy center of attraction tomorrow.
It is another story when the young woman ready for marriage is continually avoided or when the wife is rejected by her husband. There are few sorrows in life equal to the misery of a wife no longer wanted by her husband.
It is so natural for a wife to be anxious to be accepted, to be sought after, to be desired and pursued by her husband. She was made that way. None of us have any choice about wanting to be happy. And happiness can come to a wife only through the love of her husband. Love does not go with rejection.
Several successful wives have jokingly said to me that they were more interested in being desired by their husbands than in being ideal wives. Yet, these wives were successful not because they were simply women, but because they were interesting women.
They had appealing personalities. Unless they had striven for the ideal and in great part had reached the goal, they would not have been so lighthearted in their remarks.
The ideal wife will be a desired and happy wife, if she merits the attention which she rightly craves from her husband.
It has been said that women are all sugar and spice. Then personality is the spice which makes the sugar desirable. After the first infatuation of marriage has vanished, too many men have awakened to the realization that they drew a blank in respect to personality. The wise woman assures herself of success and happiness in marriage by making the most of her spice. It is through the use of her spice that she keeps her husband interested in the sugar.
The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage and continues that development during marriage. By personality here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life than physical beauty. In fact, without personality beauty often tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty. None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it all the days of their lives.
A girl can develop personality chiefly by learning to do things. No matter how beautiful she is, the girl who does nothing but sit on a sofa and vegetate is not going to be a bargain for any husband. After the first flush of infatuation wears off, she will be very fortunate if she does not bore him stiff.
On the other hand, the girl who learns to swim, to play tennis, to sing, to play the piano, to dance, to sew, to cook, and to read good literature, is going to become an interesting person.
Her company will be sought after and enjoyed. Out of the long hours of practice at the piano or with the voice, for example, there evolves a stronger character. Patience, persistence, a realization of what it is to fail, to exult in momentary success, to suffer and, therefore, to be able to feel for others–all this and more will come to her because of her hours of work at the piano.
So, when she is called upon by her friends to play for them, she is happy to be able to entertain them. The thought that she brings music into their lives and thus adds to their happiness brings her a quiet confidence enhancing her luster.
To take another example, suppose that she learns to play tennis. She is awkward and slow on her feet.
There is the temptation to quit after the first ridiculous effort, to preserve her dignity, and to draw back within herself and thus avoid the embarrassment of ridicule from bystanders and the teasing of her friends. But she resists the temptation to remain a wall flower. She swallows her pride and through the little humiliations of clumsy failures grows in humility.
She already is reaping her reward for effort. Because she has begun to grow in the virtue of humility, there opens up before her all the various paths of virtue heretofore closed or even unknown to her. For instance, upon the foundations of humility now established in her life, she has to take but one easy step to a sense of humor. She is now able to laugh at herself as well as at others.
Perhaps some may think that I am exaggerating to say that the great virtue of humility, an entree to all the virtues, and even a sense of humor can be developed, by attempting to learn the game of tennis. Not in the least. How did the saints or anyone ever develop the virtue of humility? By sitting at home twiddling their thumbs? By withdrawing into their shells, so that no one could laugh at their shortcomings and mistakes? No.
They dared to fail, and in their mixture of failures and successes they drew a clearer picture of their real worth. They became humble and, therefore, very lovable in the eyes of God and man.
More will be said later about this incipient sense of humor accidentally, it may appear, found on the tennis court. It is so important a facet of personality, as a radiant jewel in the crown of the ideal wife, that a full chapter will be devoted to its consideration.
A last word about humility. If a sense of humor is a shining jewel in the crown of the ideal wife, then humility is the golden base of the crown and the support of all else it may contain. Many have the false idea that they are being humble by staying in the background and attempting nothing. The brash, bold and conceited girls are the ones out in the limelight doing things. More often than not it is just the opposite. The girl who dares to do things, especially in competition, is the humble girl. She may fall flat on her face. So what? She is not concerned with herself, not worried about what others may think. Because she is humble, she is not aware that anyone is thinking of her anyway. The girl who fears to venture is the conceited girl. She is afraid to provide laughter at her own expense. She flatters herself that everybody is watching her. Hardly anybody knows that she is alive.
By learning to do things the girl is developing unconsciously, as likely as not, her personality and thus is equipping herself to be able to contribute to the enjoyment of others, her future husband, for instance. She is able to hold down her end of the social teeter.
A certain girl learned to play bridge. She never entered any bridge tournaments, but she could hold her own with the better players.
Most of her bridge was played at college. She hardly played at all for a few years. In fact, she could not remember playing once since she was married three months ago.
Her husband invited his boss and wife over for dinner. He apprehensively told her that they were eager bridge fans. She was amused at her husband’s concern for what he thought would not take place after the coffee was served.
The husband’s apprehension turned to bewilderment as his wife got out the cards and table. What could have turned out to be a rather futile evening amounted to almost a personal triumph as she engineered a little slam. She derived the most satisfaction from the quiet pleasure manifested in her husband over a newly discovered accomplishment of his wife. Three people enjoyed themselves of an evening simply because she knew how to play a card game. She was able to promote the pleasure of others. When a wife is able to do that, more satisfaction eventually comes to her.
Just the other evening a young wife came up to me as the study group was leaving. She had a big problem. We met on Monday and Wednesday evenings. She had a chance to join a swimming class sponsored by the company for which she worked. The group was to meet on Wednesday evenings for six weeks. She very much wanted to learn to swim for her husband’s sake. He liked to swim.
She was deathly afraid of water and could not swim.
Last summer during and after their honeymoon she felt very stupid. She was able only to sit on the beach while her husband went into the water with the others. When he comes home from the Army next summer, she wants to surprise him with her ability to swim. However, the study club came first. She wanted more than anything else to finish the course. I encouraged her to take the opportunity to learn to swim. We could make up what she missed on the Wednesday evenings.
Several weeks later the young wife told me, with evident pleasure dancing in her eyes, how she was learning to swim. This girl is awake. Instead of sitting home just waiting for her husband to come home to her from the Army, she is developing her abilities and thus improving her personality.
Imagine the fun they are going to have together at the beach next summer. How proud her husband is going to be of her and how he will love her for her new accomplishment.
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