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A Woman Of The World: Her Counsel To Other People's Sons And Daughters - To Mr. Charles Gordon Post by :musashi Category :Nonfictions Author :Ella Wheeler Wilcox Date :May 2012 Read :1108

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A Woman Of The World: Her Counsel To Other People's Sons And Daughters - To Mr. Charles Gordon

_Concerning the Jealousy of His Wife After Seven Years of Married Life

I have read your letter with care. I can readily understand that you would not appeal to your wife's mother in this matter upon which you write me, as she has been the typical mother-in-law,--the woman who never gets along well with her children, and who never wants others to succeed where she fails. I recollect your telling me how she marred the wedding ceremony, by weeping and fainting, after having nagged her poor daughter during twenty years of life, and interfered with her friendships, through that peculiar jealousy which she misnamed "devoted love."

And now you are afraid that your wife is developing the same propensity, and you ask me to use my influence to cure her of it in its incipiency. You think I stand closer to Edna than any other friend.

"It is only during the last two or three years that Edna has shown this tendency," you say. "Until then she seemed to me the most sensible and liberal-minded of women, always admiring the people I liked, and even going out of her way to be courteous and cordial to a woman I praised. Of late she has seemed so different, and has often been sarcastic, or sulky, or hysterical, when I showed the common gallantries of a man fond of the society of ladies."

You think it is her inherited tendency cropping out, and that she is unconscious of it herself.

Well now permit me, my dear Mr. Gordon, to be very frank with you.

I met your wife only once before she married you.

She was a merry-hearted, healthy girl, with superb colour, and the figure of a young Venus. She was a belle, and much admired by many worth-while men.

During her honeymoon, she wrote me a most charming letter speaking of her happiness, and of her desire to make you an ideal wife.

You and Edna were my guests for a few days when your first child was a year old. She seemed more beautiful than ever, with an added spiritual charm, and you were the soul of devotion.

You are the type of man who pays a compliment as naturally as he breathes, and whose vision is a sensitive plate which retains an impression of every feminine grace. This impression is developed in the memory-room afterward, and framed in your conversation.

The ordinary mind calls such a man a flirt, or, in common parlance, "a jollier;" but I know you to be merely appreciative of womankind in general, while your heart is beautifully loyal to its ideal. You are a clean, wholesome man, who could not descend to intrigue. You are fine-looking, and you possess a gift in conversing.

Of course women are attracted to you. Edna was proud of this fact, and seemed to genuinely enjoy your popularity.

That was five years ago.

One year ago I visited your home. Edna was the mother of three children, born during the first five years of marriage.

She had sacrificed her bloom to her babies, and was pallid and anaemic. Her form had lost its exquisites curves, and she seemed years older than her age--older indeed than you, although she is four years your junior. It is a mere incident to be a father of three children. It is a lifetime experience to be their mother. She had developed nerves, and tears came as readily as laughter came of old.

She was devoted to her children, and felt a deep earnestness regarding her responsibility as a mother. But she was still the intensely loving wife, while you had sunk your role of lover-husband in that of adoring father.

You did not seem to think of Edna's delicate state of health, or notice her fading beauty. You regarded her as a faithful nurse for your children, and whenever you spoke of her it was as the mother, not as the sweetheart and wife.

When I mentioned the drain upon a woman's vitality to bring three robust children into life in five years, you said it was only a "natural function," and referred to the old-time families of ten and twelve children. Your grandmother had fourteen, you said, and was the picture of health at seventy-five.

My own grandmother gave ten children to the world. But we must recollect how different was the environment in those days.

Our grandmothers lived in the country, and knew none of the strain and excitement of these modern times. The high pressure of social and financial conditions, as we know them, the effort to live up to the modern standards, the congested city life and the expensive country life, all these things make motherhood a different ordeal for our women than our grandmothers. Where our grandfathers took their share of the care and guidance of children, and the children came up in a wholesome country fashion, our men to-day are so driven by the money gadfly that they can only whirl around and around and attend "to business," and all the care of the children falls upon the mother, or else upon the nurses and governesses, who in turn are a care and a worry to the wife.

You assured me Edna had all the assistants in caring for her children she wanted, but you did not realize that every paid employe in a household is, as a rule, just so much more care to the mistress, not less than a tax on the husband's purse and, consequently, on his time.

What Edna craves is _your love, _your attention, _your sympathy, not the service of paid domestics. She wants you to notice her fading bloom, and to take her in your arms and say, tenderly, "Little girl, we must get those old roses back. And we must go away for a new honeymoon, all alone, and forget every care, even if we forget the babies for a few days."

One little speech like that, one little outing like that, would do more toward driving away the demon of jealousy than all I could by a thousand sermons and homilies.

I remember at your own board you made me uncomfortable talking about my complexion, which you chose to say was "remarkable for a woman of my age." And then you proceeded to describe some wonderful beauty you had seen at the Country Club the day previous, and all the time I saw the tears hidden back under the lids of Edna's tired eyes, and a hurt look on her pale face. Do you imagine she was _jealous of your compliment to me? or of your praise of the girl's beauty at the Country Club?

No, no, my dear Mr. Gordon, I know Edna too well to accuse her of such petty feelings. She was only hurt at your lack of taste in accenting her own lost bloom by needlessly emphasizing another's possession of what had once been hers.

Yet she called upon the young lady that very day and invited her to luncheon, and even then you indulged in pronounced admiration of the guest's cheeks, gallantly requesting your wife to have the bouquet of carnation pinks removed from the table, as they were so shamed by the complexions of the ladies.

Of course it was gracefully worded in the plural, but your pallid wife could not claim her share of it, and you should have realized the fact. And the reason she could not was that she had sacrificed her health in your service, in giving your children to you, and in losing her lover.

She adores her splendid babies, but she is still a woman and a wife,--though you seem to ignore that she is anything but a mother.

Right about face, Mr. Gordon, and become the lover you were, and jealousy will be driven from your threshold.

It is your own lack of thoughtfulness, your own tactless and tasteless methods with your wife, which have caused the change in her manner. She is not jealous, she is only lonely, heart-hungry, disillusioned.

You are less noble, less considerate, less tender, less sympathetic than she believed. For the man to whom these adjectives can be applied will guard, love, and cherish the wife of his youth, and the mother of his children, before all other considerations; and he will understand how sensitive a fading wife may be, and not confound that sensitiveness with ignoble jealousy.

It is you, Charles Gordon, who must cure your wife of nerves, hysteria, and incipient jealousy, not I.

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