So States Woman District Attorney After Long Period of Hearing Matrimonial Troubles.
Do Most Men Dislike Their Wives?
So States Woman District Attorney After Long Period of Hearing Matrimonial Troubles.
DO most men dislike their wives? A woman writer in Hearst's Magazine says so and she is in a position to know something about matrimonial tangles. As assistant District Attorney for Brooklyn, Miss Helen P. McCormick has listened to the plaints of no less than two thousand unhappily married couples and out of the facts and impressions thus gained she has woven the following theory:
Some men hate their wives. Many, perhaps a majority, dislike them. Nearly all men think they dislike them.
A prime reason for this is that it is human to revolt, inwardly or outwardly, against authority. To his surprise the man who marries discovers that the authority that he fatuously thought would be his is being wrested from him and is being exercised by the one who is ironically termed the weaker, but more chivalrously described as “his better half.”
A surprisingly large number of husbands, perhaps the majority, have the same feeling for their wives that the leopards in the circus have for the young woman with yellow hair and pink tights who compels them daily to jump through hoops.
They admire vaguely the artistic perfection of her work, but they grumblingly or silently resent being driven. Few of them fight their driver, but all of them nurse a growing distaste for the whip and the holder of it. I have heard the complaints of many male spouses. A great number began with “I had no idea that when I married I was losing all right to myself or my possessions. But I soon learned that I had.” In this frame of mind, which becomes chronic, men regard their wives as tyrants.
A chief reason for the actual dislike of husbands for their wives is that women are prone to exact an inordinate money levy. The dissatisfied husband sincerely believes that women are the mercenary sex. He thinks he is looked upon in his household as a mere provider of the wherewithal to meet constantly increasing needs. He thinks, and he is right, that all American women dress beyond their means. He considers his wife merciless in her exactions. He visualizes himself as a slave that is pouring a stream of gold coins into a bottomless pit. I have heard sharply uttered the masculine cry: “Every man hates the woman who wastes his money.” An extreme view? Yet Flaubert, who laid the scalpel to women’s weaknesses, held it. He said : “There is no wind that blows so coldly upon love as the demand for money.”
What every man wants is to be comfortable. Comfort he compounds of peace of mind and well-being of body. The woman who doesn’t make a man comfortable he considers a matrimonial failure. The man who works hard all day is resentful, and rightly so, if his wife, having been at the movies all afternoon, doesn’t come home in time to prepare a nourishing meal for him. “She won’t cook my meals. She gives me only delicatessen stuff,” is the indictment of the righteously angered husband.
The lack of a sense of humor has brought upon thousands of women the dislike of their husbands. W’omen, as a sex, are natural gloom dispensers and cheer crushers. They know that a smile costs nothing yet they withhold it as though it were beyond price. Women are enthusiasm extinguishers. They are the wet-blanket sex. Every man wants to laugh. Most women want to cry. A husband wants to tell his wife the joke on Bill Brown or to roar over the comics in the newspapers. His wife wants sympathy. Every woman is a sympathy craver.
A man amply planned and of jovial countenance said: “Every woman has some ingrowing grief.” At all events, woman’s conversation tends toward the morbid side of life. She wants an audience for the oft-told tale of her "operation,” of her troubles with her maid, and, even though he be the audience, of her husband and his shortcomings. Men abhor the trouble retailer. Women are redundant with sympathy. Men are nearly barren of it. The first week or two of a man’s love for a woman he will listen to her tale of troubles and offer sympathy. But
even then, if she be observant, she can see that it is a perfunctory offering. A woman may avoid her husband’s dislike, or may for a long time defer it, if she waits with her tale, of the day’s woes until he is well into his dinner or the dinner is well into him. She argues that the home and the children are his and that he should share the responsibility and griefs thereof and help administer the household and adjust the troubles. That is true. But she might wait until he hangs up his hat and his feet are placed under the table.
Men dislike their wives because their wives are selfish. Women don’t like to grant this. They are accustomed to being regarded as the world’s martyrs. They like the role. What man was ever proud of being a martyr? If he is a martyr to a cause or to a family he tries to hide the fact. A woman, on the contrary, exults in martyrdom. She is at her dramatic beet when she tells her husband about its hideous details. And she tells him about it every day.
It seems to be impossible for women to realize that ordinary sacrifice is not martyrdom. A man’s sacrifice for his family is one of the modem dramas. He works hard, union hours and over-union hours. Down-town is a vast place of sacrifice. The man makes this sacrifice of his day and of most of his life, not for himself, but for his family. Lift the family responsibility from most men and they would become joyous Hooligans. But the woman seems unable to understand this. Her conception is that John goes down-town to his office, and puts his feet on his desk, and talks to the other men all day, then comes home. Foremost in her mind is her own daily martyrdom. Her yearning to relate every detail of it is infinite.
Her selfishness manifests itself in another way. Since her husband’s duties' have been so light she wants him to use his surplus energy in jobs about the house. Why shouldn’t he hang pictures? Or why should he not amuse himself in the way she dictates instead of the'manner he wishes? A woman who had spent the afternoon at a picture show bitterly re-
roached her husband for selfishness,
ecause he wanted to relax at a movie house instead of taking her out for a drive in their automobile. So to woman a grievance is born. She nurses it. How a woman can cherish what she regards as a grievance ! Even as a hen sitteth. upon a nest of fresh-laid eggs. Particularly does she nurse it if she is not busy in a home or in other useful employment.
Naturally, if she hasn’t anything worth while to do she spends much time in devising plans which represent the outlay of her husband’s profitable energy. Taking the coldest possible view of the matter this is shortsighted on the wife’s part. It is evidence of puny cerebration. For she is destroying an excellent investment value. Say a woman is married to a man with an earning capacity of five thousand dollars a year. He represents in terms of money approximately $75,000, yielding six or seven per cent, dividend. Let him become incapacitated, and, save for his insurance, which will be consumed in doctor’s bills and funeral expenses, the $75,000 investment is wiped out '
The average working husband knows that he is daily burning up energy and that depreciation, if not disintegration, constantly threaten him—that time is poking its fingers into him to test his ripeness. His aim is to keep his wife happy, his credit sound, hold his job, try to believe he has a future, provide a good home and leave a competence to his family. He knows he is the capital of the household and he protests against being depreciated by constant inroads upon his ever-decreasing store of latent energy, or white wifely fingers ever in his trousers pockets. Not recognizing his fixed purposes, she calls his defensive efforts mere “grouchiness,” and the breach grows. She is wrong.
If a woman owned a horse that earned the famMy Kving by pulling a dray six days a week she wouldn’t lake the horse oui for a pleasure drice in the evening or on Sunday. Especially on the remarkable grounds that the exercise was for the horse's own health]
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