by J. R. Miller
It is a high honor for a woman to be chosen from among all womankind, to be the wife of a godly and true man. She is lifted up to be a crowned queen. Her husband’s manly love laid at her feet, exalts her to the throne of his life.
Great power is placed in her hands. Sacred destinies are reposed in her keeping. Will she wear her crown beneficently? Will she fill her realm with beauty and with blessing? Or will she fail in her holy trust? Only her married life can be the answer.
A woman may well pause before she gives her hand in marriage, and inquire whether he is worthy, to whom she is asked to surrender so much; whether he can bring true happiness to her life; whether he can meet the cravings of her nature for love and for companionship; whether he is worthy to be lifted to the highest place in her heart and honored as a husband should be honored.
She must ask these questions for her own sake, else the dream may fade with the bridal wreath—and she may learn, when too late, that he for whom she has left all, and to whom she has given all—is not worthy of the sacred trust, and has no power to fill her life with happiness, to awaken her heart’s chords, to touch her soul’s depths.
But the question should be turned and asked from the other side. Can she be a true wife to him who asks for her hand? Is she worthy of the love that is laid at her feet? Can she be a blessing to the life of him who would lift her to the throne of his heart?
Will he find in her all the beauty, all the tender loveliness, all the rich qualities of nature, all the deep sympathy and companionship, all the strength, uplifting love, all the sources of joy and help, which he seems now to see in her? Is there any possible future for him, which she could not share? Are there needs in his soul, or hungers, which she cannot answer? Are there chords in his life which her fingers cannot awaken?
Surely it is proper for her to question her own soul for him—while she bids him question his soul for her. A wife has a part in the song of wedded love—if it is to be a harmony. She holds in her hands on her wedding day—precious interests, sacred destinies, and holy responsibilities, which, if disclosed to her sight at once, might well appall the bravest heart.
Her opportunity is one which the loftiest angel might covet. Not the happiness only of a manly life—but its whole future of character, of influence, of growth, rests with her.
What is the true ideal of a godly wife? It is not something lifted above the common experiences of life, not an ethereal angel feeding on ambrosia and moving in the realms of imagination.
In some European cities they sell to the tourist models of their cathedrals made of alabaster, whiter than snow. But so delicate are these alabaster shrines that they must be kept under glass covers or they will be soiled by the dust; and so frail that they must be sheltered from every crude touch, lest their lovely columns may be shattered.
They are very graceful and beautiful—but they serve no lofty purpose. No worshipers can enter their doors. No melody rises to heaven from their aisles.
So there are ideals of womanhood which are very lovely, full of graceful charms, pleasing, attractive—but which are too delicate and frail for this wearisome, storm-swept world of ours. Such ideals the poets and the novelists sometimes give us.
They appear well to the eye—as they are portrayed for us on the brilliant page. But of what use would they be in the life which the real woman of our day has to live? A breath of earthly air would stain them!
One day of actual experience in the hard toils and sore struggles of life would shatter their frail loveliness to fragments!
We had better seek for ideals which will not be soiled by a crude touch, nor blown away by a stiff breeze, and which will grow lovelier as they move through life’s paths of sacrifice and toil.
The true wife needs to be no mere poet’s dream, no artist’s picture, no ethereal lady too fine for use—but a woman healthful, strong, practical, industrious, with a hand for life’s common duties, yet crowned with that beauty which a high and noble purpose gives to a soul.
One of the first essential elements in a wife is faithfulness, in the largest sense. The heart of her husband safely trusts in her. Perfect confidence is the basis of all true affection.
A shadow of doubt destroys the peace of married life. A true wife, by her character and by her conduct, proves herself worthy of her husband’s trust. He has confidence in her affection; he knows that her heart is unalterably true to him.
He has confidence in her management; he confides to her the care of his household. He knows that she is true to all his interests, that she is prudent and wise, not wasteful nor extravagant.
It is one of the essential things in a true wife—that her husband shall be able to leave in her hands the management of all domestic affairs, and know that they are safe.
Wifely wastefulness and extravagance have destroyed the happiness of many a household, and wrecked many a home. On the other hand, many a man owes his prosperity to his wife’s prudence and her wise administration of household affairs.
Every true wife makes her husband’s interests her own. While he lives for her, carrying her image in his heart and toiling for her all the days—she thinks only of what will do him good.
When burdens press upon him—she tries to lighten them by sympathy, by cheer, by the inspiration of love. She enters with zest and enthusiasm into all his plans. She is never a weight to drag him down; she is strength in his heart to help him ever to do nobler and better things.