The Mirror of True Womanhood Chapter 8

The Wife As Her Husband’s Friend

A story very apposite to our purpose is told by a writer of the middle ages. A man who wished to make a visit to Cologne, famed at that time as a pilgrimage, possessing as it did the tomb of the Three Wise Kings. He was a wealthy man, but not a wise one. He had an admirable wife, whose worth he knew not, and whose company he neglected for that of two neighbours, who played friends with him because he was rich and lavish of his money. As he was sitting out on his pilgrimage, he asked his friends what he should bring them from Cologne: one answered that he would like a rich cloak, and the other begged him to buy a tunic of rare stuff. He next asked his wife what he should get for her, and she besought him to bring back sense and wisdom which might enable him to see and correct the evil of his ways.

After having paid his devotions at the shrine of the Three Kings, he went among the merchants, bought the cloak and the tunic, but sought in vain for some one who would sell him sense and wisdom. They were not to be found in the market. As he returned crestfallen to his inn, the host inquired why he seemed downcast, and, learning the cause, advised him on his return home to pretend to his friends that he had lost all his money and could give them neither cloak nor tunic. He followed this piece of advice, and both of the false friends turned him out of doors, abusing him as a fool and a vagabond.

Not so his wife, however: he told her the story of his loss; but she, seeing that he was weary from the road and filled with sorrow and indignation because of this ill treatment, tenderly embraced him, consoled and refreshed him, assured him that God would send him heavenly treasures for the money he had lost. So his eyes were opened to know what wealth he possessed in her true love and faithful friendship; and thus did he “find sense and wisdom from having visited the City of the Three Kings.”

“What is friendship?” asks Alcuin, and he answers forthwith, “A similitude of souls.” Where the wife labours conscientiously to be a true companion to her husband, there is little fear but she will also become a true, faithful, and constant friend. For the successful effort made to establish perfect companionship must end in effecting that “similitude of souls,” which constitutes the essence and ground of friendship.

The reasons which will urge every right-minded and true-hearted woman to be the most delightful and constant of companions and the most devoted of helpmates, must also inspire her with the resolution of being the most cherished of friends. She must not be jealous of the men for whom her husband entertains feelings of real friendship. On the contrary, it were wise to vie with him in showing them every mark of regard, as if she were thereby the interpreter of his dearest wishes. Nothing pleases a man more than to see his old and true friends warmly acknowledged and treated with all honour and affection by the persons most dear to him.

This, however, is only a passing admonition to which every woman who is careful of her home duties will do well to attend. It is not only virtue but good policy in a wife to have the sincere good will and respect of all who consider themselves to be her husband’s friends. Not only will they contribute much to the pleasantness of the home in which they are always welcome and honoured guests, but they will not fail to spread far and wide the fame of its hospitality and the good name of its mistress.

It happens but too often that women will take it into their heads to regard the friends of their husband as persons who steal away a heart which should exclusively belong to themselves, and through an unwise and narrow jealousy make themselves odious and their homes intolerable to men whom they ought to conciliate and to bind to themselves. More than one wife has lost forever the heart of her husband and destroyed the peace of her fireside by such insane conduct.

Let the young and the wise take warning therefrom, and learn betimes how a true wife can be the counsellor, the guide, as well as the sanctifier and saviour of her husband.