Skip to main content


A woman writes me: " You would laugh if you knew the time I have had in getting the dollar which I enclose for your inspiring magazine. I would get a pound less of butter, a bar less of soap. I never have a cent of my own. Do you think it wrong of me to deceive my husband in this way? I either have to do this or give up trying at all."

There are thousands of women who work harder than their husbands and really have more right to the money, who are obliged to practise all sorts of deceit in order to get enough to buy clothing and other things essential to decent living. The difficulty of extracting money from an unwilling husband has been the beginning of thousands of tragedies. The majority of husbands are inclined to exert a censorship over their wives' expenditures. I have heard women say that they would go without necessary articles of clothing and other requirements just as long as possible and worry for days and weeks before they could summon courage to ask for money, because they dreaded a scene and the consequent discord in the home. Many women make it a rule never to ask for money, except when the husband is leaving the house and in a hurry to get away. The disagreeable scene is thus cut as short as possible, as he has not time then to, go into all the details of his wife's alleged extravagances and find out what has become of every cent of the money given her on some similar previous occasion.

The average man does not begin to realize how it humiliates his wife to feel that she must ask him for fifty cents, a dollar, or five dollars every time she needs it, and to tell him just exactly what she is going to do with it, and then perhaps be met with a sharp reproof for her extravagance of foolish expenditures. Men who are extremely kind and considerate with their wives in most things are often contemptibly mean regarding money matters. Many a man who is generous with his tips and buys expensive cigars and orders costly lunches for himself and friends at the club because he wants to be considered a " good fellow," will go home at night and bicker with his wife over the smallest expenditure, destroying the whole peace of the household, when perhaps she does not spend as much upon herself as he does for cigars and drink.

Why is it that men are so afraid to trust their wives with money when they trust them implicitly with everything else, especially as women are usually much more economical than men would be in managing the home and providing for the children? A large part of the friction in the average home centers around money matters and could be avoided by a simple, definite understanding between husband and wife, and a business arrangement of household finances. A regular advance to the wife for the household and a certain sum for personal use which she need not account for, would do more to bring about peace and harmony in the majority of homes than almost anything else.

To be a slave to the home, as many women are, and then to be obliged to assume the attitude of a beggar for every little bit of money she needs for herself, or to have to give an accounting for every cent she spends and tell her lord and master what she did with her last money before she can get any more, is positively degrading.

When the husband gets ready to regard his wife as an equal partner in the marriage firm instead of as an employee with one share in a million-dollar company, or as merely a housekeeper; when he is willing to regard his income as much his wife's as his own and not put her in the position of a beggar for every. penny she gets; when he will grant her the same privileges he demands for himself; when he is willing to allow his wife to live her own life in her own way without trying to " boss " her, we shall have more true marriages, happier homes, a higher civilization.

Some one says that a man is never so happy as when he has a few dollars his wife knows nothing about. And there is a great deal of truth in it. Men who are perfectly honest with their wives about most things are often secretive about money matters. They hoodwink them regarding their incomes and especially about any ready cash they have on hand. No matter how much the average man may think of his wife, or how considerate he may be in other matters, he rarely considers that she has the same right to his cash that he has, although he may be boasting to outsiders of her superior management in matters of economy. He feels that he is the natural guardian of the money, as he makes it; that he has a little more right to it than has his wife, and that he must protect it and dole it out to her.

What disagreeable experiences, unfortunate bickerings, misunderstandings and family prejudice could be avoided if newly-married women would insist upon having a certain proportion of the income set aside for the maintenance of the home and for their own personal needs, without the censorship of their husbands and without being obliged to give an itemized account of their expenditures !

It is a rare thing to find a man who does not waste ten times as much money on foolish things as does his wife, and yet he would make ten times the talk about his wife's one-tenth foolishness as his own ten tenths.

On the other hand, thousands of women, starving for affection, protest against their husband's efforts to substitute money for it - to satisfy their cravings, their heart-hunger, with the things that money can buy.

It is an insult to womanhood to try to satisfy her nature with material things, while the affections are famishing for genuine sympathy and love, for social life, for contact with the great, throbbing world outside. Women do admire beautiful things; but there is something they admire infinitely more. Luxuries do not come first in any real woman's desires. She prefers poverty with love to luxury with an indifferent or loveless husband. How gladly would these women whose affections are blighted by cold indifference or the unfaithfulness of their husbands, exchange their liberal allowance, their luxuries, for genuine sympathy and affection

One of the most pathetic spectacles in American life is that of the faded, outgrown wife, standing helpless in the shadow of her husband's prosperity and power, having sacrificed her youth, beauty, and ambition, nearly everything that the feminine mind holds dear to enable an indifferent, selfish, brutish husband to get a start in the world.

It does not matter that in her unselfish effort to help him she burned up much of her attractiveness over the cooking stove; that she lost more of it at the washtub, in scrubbing and cleaning, and rearing and caring for their children during the slavery of her early married life; it does not matter how much she suffered during those terrible years of poverty and privation. Just as soon as the selfish husband begins to get prosperous, finds that he is succeeding, feels his power, he often begins to be ashamed of the woman who has given up everything to make his success possible.

It is a sad thing to see any human being whose life is blighted by the lack of love; but it is doubly pathetic to see a woman who has given everything to the man she loved and who gets in return only her board and clothes and an allowance, great or small.

Some men seem to think that the precept, "Man does not live by bread alone," was not meant to include woman. They can not understand why she should not be happy and contented if she has a comfortable home and plenty to eat and wear. They would be surprised to learn that many a wife would gladly give up luxuries and live on bread and water, if she could only have her husband's sympathy in her aspirations, his help and encouragement in the unfolding of her stifled talents. I know a very able, promising young man who says that if he had had a rich father he never would have developed his creative power; that his ambition would have been strangled; that it was the desperate struggle to make a place for himself in the world that developed the real man in him.

This young man married a poor girl who had managed by the hardest kind of work and sacrifice to pay her way through college. She had just begun to develop her power, to feel her wings, when her husband caged her in his home, took away her highest incentive for self-development. He said that a man who could not support a wife without her working had no business to marry. He dressed his wife like a queen; gave her horses and carriages and servants. But all the time he was discouraging her from developing her self-reliance, taking away all motives for cultivating her resourcefulness and originality.

At first the wife was very eager to work. Her ambition rebelled against the gilded chains by which she was bound. She was restless, nervous, and longed to use her powers to do something for herself and the world.

But her husband did not believe in a woman doing the things she wished to do. He wanted his wife to look pretty and fresh when he returned from his business at night; to keep young and to shine in society. He was proud of her beauty and vivacity. He thought he loved her, but it was a selfish love, for real love has a tender regard for a person's highest good, for that person's sake. '

Gradually the glamour of society, the lethe of a luxurious life, paralyzed her ambition, which clamored less and less peremptorily for recognition, until at length she subsided into a life of almost total inaction. Multitudes of women in this country today are vegetating in luxurious homes, listless, ambitionless, living narrow, superficial, rutty lives, because the spur of necessity has been taken away from them; because their husbands, who do not want them to work, have taken them out of an ambition-arousing environment.

But a life of leisure is not the only way of paralyzing the development of a wife's individuality. It can be done just as effectively by her becoming a slave of her family. I believe that the average wife is confined to her home a great deal too much. Many women do not seem to have any existence outside of the little home orbit; do not have any special interests or pleasures to speak of apart from their husbands. They have been brought up to think that wives have very little purpose in life other than to be the slaves and playthings of their lords and masters, to bear and bring up children, and to keep meekly in the background.

The wife who wishes to hold her husband's affection, if he is ambitious, must continue to grow, must keep pace with him mentally.

She must make a continual investment in self-improvement and in intellectual charm so that her mental growth will compensate for the gradual loss of physical charm. She must keep her husband's admiration, and if he is a progressive man he is not likely to admire a wife who stands still mentally. Admiration is a very important part of love.

You may be very sure that if you have an ambitious husband you must do something to keep up with him besides lounging, idling about the home, reading silly novels, dressing stylishly and waiting for him to return at night. If he sees that your sun rises and sets in him, that you have little interest outside, that you are not broadening and deepening your life in other ways by extending your interests, reaching out for self-enlargement, self-improvement, he will be disappointed in you, and this will be a great strain upon his love.

It is impossible for a girl who has had only a little schooling to appreciate the transforming power that comes from liberal education and broad culture. For the sake of her husband and children and her own peace of mind and satisfaction, she should try to improve herself in every possible way. Think of what it means to be able to surround one's home with an atmosphere of refinement, culture and superior intelligence! The quality of one's own ideals has a great deal to do with the quality of the ideals of one's family.

Even considered alone from the standpoint of self-protection, as a safeguard, a woman ought to get a liberal education; a college education, if possible. The conditions of home life in this country are such that it is very difficult for the wife to keep up with her husband's growth, to keep pace with him, because he is constantly in an ambition-arousing, stimulating environment. Unless she is unusually ambitious and has great power of application and concentration and plenty of leisure, she is likely to drop behind her husband.

As a rule, the husband has infinitely more to encourage and stimulate him than has the wife. Success itself is a tremendous tonic. The consciousness of perpetual triumph, of conquering things, is a great stimulus.

It is true that women have developed more admirable and loving qualities in their home life than have men; but during all these centuries, while women have been shut up in the home, men have been touching hands with the great, busy world, absorbing knowledge of human nature and broadening their minds by coming into contact with men and things. They have developed independence, stamina, strength, by being compelled to solve the larger, more practical problems of life.

The business man and the professional man are really in a perpetual school, a great practical university. The strenuous life, however dangerous, is essentially educative. The man has the incalculable advantage of a great variety of experiences and of freshness of view. He is continually coming in contact with new people, new things, being molded by a vast number of forces in the busy world which never touch the wife.

If women, equally with men, do not continue to grow and expand after marriage, how can we expect race improvement? Woman must ascend to higher, wider planes, or both man and woman must descend. " Male and female created He them." There is no separating them; they must rise or fall together.

The woman's cause is man's; they rise or sink Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free."

Many a man has tired of his wife because she has not kept pace with him; because, instead of growing broader and keener as the years pass, she has become narrow. It never occurs to him that the fault may be wholly his own.

In the early years of their married life he perhaps laughed at her " dreams," as he called her longings for self-improvement. He discouraged, if he did not actually oppose, every effort she made to grow to the full stature of her womanhood. His indifference or hostility quenched the hopes she had indulged before marriage. The bitterness of her disappointment crushed her spirit. She lost her buoyancy and enthusiasm and gradually sank to the level of a household drudge. And the husband wonders what has changed the joyous, high-spirited girl he married into the dull, apathetic woman who now performs her duties like an automaton.

There are today thousands of wives doing the work of ordinary housemaids, who, putting it on a low standard, are smothering ability to earn perhaps more money than the men who enslave them, if they only had an opportunity to unfold the powers which God has given them; but they have been brought up from infancy to believe that marriage is the only real career for a woman, that these longings and hungerings for self-expression are to be smothered, covered up by the larger duties of a wife and mother.

If the husbands could change places with their wives for a year, they would feel the contracting, narrowing influence in which the average wife lives. Their minds would soon cease to reach out; they would quickly feel the pinching, paralyzing effect of the monotonous existence, of doing the same things every day, year in and year out. The wives, on the other hand, would soon begin to broaden out. Their lives would become richer, fuller, more complete, from contact with the world, from the constant stretching of their minds over large problems.

I have heard men say that remaining in the home on Sundays or holidays just about uses them up; that it is infinitely harder and more trying than the same time spent in their occupations, and that while they love their children their incessant demands, the noise and confusion would drive them to drink if they had to bear it all the time. Strong men admit that they can not stand these little nerve-racking vexations of the home. Yet they wonder why the wife and mother is nervous, and seem to think that she can bear this sort of thing three hundred and sixty-five days in the year without going away and getting relief for a half-dozen days during the whole time.

Few men would exchange places with their wives. Their hours are shorter, and when their day's work is done, it is done, while a wife and mother not only works all day, but is also likely to be called during the night. If any one is disturbed in the night by the children, it is the mother; rarely the father.

How long would men continue to conduct their business offices or factories with the primitive, senseless methods in vogue in the average kitchen today? Man puts all his inventiveness, his ingenuity, in improving methods, in facilitating his business and getting the drudgery out of his work in his office and factory, but the wife and mother still plods along in an ill-fitted kitchen and laundry. And yet our greatest modern inventor has said that the cares of the home could be reduced to a minimum and the servant problem solved if the perfectly practicable devices for lightening household labor were adopted in the home!

" But," many of our men readers will say, " is there any profession in the world grander than that of home making? Can anything be more stimulating, more elevating,, than home making and the rearing of children? How can such a vocation be narrowing or monotonous? "

Of course it is grand. There is nothing grander in the universe than the work of a true wife, a noble mother.

But it would require the constitution of a Hercules, an infinitely greater patience than that of a Job, to endure such work with almost no change or outside variety, year in and year out, as many wives and mothers do, without breaking down.

The average man does not appreciate how almost devoid of incentives to broadmindedness, to many sidedness, to liberal growth, the home life of many women is. There is a disease called arrested development, in which the stature of the adult remains that of a child, all physical growth and expansion having stopped.

One of the most pitiable phases of American life and one of the most discouraging elements in our civilization is the suppressed wife who is struggling with arrested development after marriage. I have known of beautiful young wives who went to their husbands with the same assurance of confidence and trust as to their hopes and ambitions with which a child would approach its mother, only to meet with a brutal rebuff for even venturing to have an ambition which did not directly enhance the husband's comfort or convenience in his home.

It is a strange fact that most men think that when a woman marries she goes to her new home with as rigid vows as the monks take on entering the monastery, or the nuns the convent, and they regard the suggestion of a career for her, which does not directly bear upon the home, as domestic treason.

There are some women, especially sensitive ones, who would never again tell their husbands of their hopes and aspirations after they had been laughed at and ridiculed a few times, but would be forever silent, even when the canker of bitter disappointment was consuming them.

Suppose a girl has the brains and the ability of a George Eliot and she marries a young business man who thinks that writing articles or books or devoting a large part of her time to music is all nonsense; that her place is at home, taking care of it and bringing up her children, and denies her the right to exercise her talent. How would he like to have the conditions reversed? It is true that woman is peculiarly fitted for the home, and every normal woman should have a home of her own, but her career should not be confined or limited to it any more than a man's. I do not see why she should not be allowed to live the life normal to her; why she should be denied the right of self-expression, any more than the man. And I regard that man as a tyrant who tries to cramp her in the natural expression of her ambition or sneers at, nags, and criticizes her for seeking to bring out, to unfold, the sacred thing which the Creator has given her. This is one of her inalienable rights which no man should dare interfere with. If he does, he deserves the unhappiness which is likely to come to his home.

A wife should neither be a drudge nor a dressed-up doll; she should develop herself by self-effort, just as her husband develops himself. She should not put herself in a position where her inventiveness, resourcefulness, and individuality will be paralyzed by lack of motive. We hear a great deal about the disinclination of college girls to marry. If this is a fact, it is largely due to the unfairness of men. The more education girls get, the more they will hesitate to enter a condition of slavery, even under the beautiful guise of home.

Is it any wonder that so many girls refuse to marry, refuse to take chances of suppressing the best thing in them? Is it any wonder that they protest against put ting themselves in a position where they will not be able to deliver to the world the sacred message which the Creator has given them?

I believe in marriage, but I do not believe in that marriage which paralyzes self-development, strangles ambition, discourages evolution and self-growth, and which takes away the life purpose.

To be continually haunted by the ghosts of strangled talents and smothered faculties prevents real contentment and happiness. Many a home has been made miserable, not because the husband was not kind and affectionate, not because there was not enough to eat and to wear, but because the wife was haunted with unrealized hopes and disappointed ambitions and expectations.

Is there anything more pitiful than such a stifled life with its crushed hopes? Is there anything sadder than to go through life conscious of talents and powers which we can not possibly develop; to feel that the best thing in us must be strangled for the want of opportunity, for the lack of appreciation even by those who love us best; to know that we can never by any possibility reach our highest expression, but must live a sordid life when under different conditions a higher would be possible?

A large part of the marital infelicity about which we hear so much comes from the husband's attempt to cramp his wife's ambition and to suppress her normal expression. A perversion of native instinct, a constant stifling of ambition, and the longing to express oneself naturally, gradually undermine the character and lead to discontentment and unhappiness. A mother who is cramped and repressed transmits the seeds of discontent and one-sided tendencies to her children.

The happiest marriages are those in which the right of husband and wife to develop broadly and naturally along individual lines has been recognized by each. The noblest and most helpful wives and mothers are those who develop their powers to their fullest capacity.

Woman is made to admire power, and she likes to put herself under the domination of a masterful man and rest in his protection.

But it must be a voluntary obedience which comes from admiration of original force, of sturdy, rugged, masculine qualities. The average man can not get away from the idea of his wife's service to him personally; that she is a sort of running mate, not supposed to win the race, but to help to pull him along so that he will win it. He can not understand why she should have an ambition which bears no direct relation to his comfort, his well-being, his getting on in the world.

The very suggestion of woman's inferiority, that she must stand in the man's shadow and not get ahead of him, that she does not have quite the same rights in anything that he has, the same property rights, the same suffrage rights; in other words, the whole suggestion of woman's inferiority, has been a criminal wrong to her. Many women who are advocating woman's suffrage perhaps would not use the ballot if they had it. Their fight is one for freedom to do as they please, to live their own lives in their own way. The greatest argument in the woman's suffrage movement is woman's protest against unfair, unjust treatment by men. Man's opposition to woman suffrage is merely a relic of the old-time domestic barbarism. It is but another expression of his determination to " boss " everybody and everything about him.

The time will come when men will be ashamed that they ever opposed woman's suffrage. Think of a man considering it right and just for his most ignorant workman to have an equal vote with himself on public matters and yet denying the right to his educated wife and daughters !

" Mony a mickle makes a muckle." - SCOTCH PROVERB.

"A penny saved is a penny earned." - ENGLISH SAYING.

"Beware of little extravagances; a small leak will sink a big ship."-FRANKLIN.

" No gain is more certain than that which proceeds from the economical use of what we have." - LATIN PROVERB.

"Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can." - JOHN WESLEY. "

“All fortunes have their foundation laid in economy." - J. G. HOLLAND.

In the philosophy of thrift, the unit measure of prosperity is always the smallest of coins current. Thrift is measured not by the pound but by the penny, not by the dollar but by the cent. Thus any person in receipt of an income or salary however small finds it in his power to practise thrift and to lay the foundation of prosperity.

The word thrift in its origin means the grasping or holding fast the things that we have. It implies economy, carefulness, as opposed to waste and extravagance. It involves self-denial and frugal living for the time being, until the prosperity which grows out of thrift permits the more liberal indulgence of natural desires.

One of the primary elements of thrift is to spend less than you earn, to save something however small from the salary received, to lay aside at regular intervals when possible some part of the money earned or made, in provision for the future.


Syndicate content