The Wife as Helpmate in the Home
In the earthly paradise of the true Christian home, the wife is a helpmate of her husband, not his servant. It is not in such homes that our modern theories or discussions about “Woman’s Rights,” or “the Sphere of Woman,” have originated. No woman animated by the Spirit of her Baptism, filled with the humility and generosity which are the soul of that self-sacrificing love indispensable to husband and wife in the performance of their undivided life-labour, ever fancied that she had, or could have, any other sphere of duty or activity than that home which is her domain, her garden, her paradise, her world. There, if she is truly a wife, all are subject to her.
This is true especially of the home of the wealthy and the great, where reigns and should ever reign the infinite respect and reverence of man for woman, in whom Christian faith bids us see the majesty and purity of her who is Mother of Christ. There is no excuse for the high-born and the wealthy, when they fail to honour themselves, by doing service inside their homes to mother, wife, and sister. The difficulty will here be with the poor man, the labouring man, coming home at evening worn out by the toil of the day, faint with hunger too, and fearful, it may be, of the morrow. Has he not to be served rather than serve?
The answer is an easy one, and easily understood, where minds are enlightened and hearts are upright. If the poor man’s wife has done her duty throughout the day, she will have found in her housework enough to weary. The very labour of preparing for her husband and her sons, perhaps, the meal which is to restore their strength, and the care required to brighten up that home so as to make it look a paradise of repose for them, is the task of her who is the natural helper in the household and whose blessed help consists precisely in making the home what it ought to be, man’s heart-rest form all outside cares.
But that is enough about the fundamental notion of equity between husband and wife, the father and the mother in the Christian family. Both are necessary to each other, they ought to have but one heart and one mind in the pursuit of the one great purpose of their lives, the happiness of their home and the rearing to the practice of all goodness the children whom God sends them. Understanding this, their only position toward each other, the husband never can entertain any notion of domineering over his wife, nor the wife feel any sense of servile inferiority toward her husband.
But the love which binds her to him is an enlightened love which makes her view their respective labours as only two distinct parts of one task. Beside all that she accomplishes in ordering, brightening, and warming the home, there are a thousand ways in which she can be a helpmate to her husband, beyond what is required for mere companionship.
For it is one thing to be delightful company to a person one is travelling with, by being able to converse with him in his own language, or to discuss with him every favourite topic, or to enter into his recreations and amusements with zest, and thus to lighten the weariness of the road and charm away its dullness; and another to be a helper. One’s companion may fail in strength, or be beset with dangers and difficulties- and then it is that the office of the helper begins.
It is precisely when man’s heart fails him, and his courage yields to disappointment or difficulty, that woman comes to his aid. And if this help is most sweet and welcome and above all price in moments of professional weariness, of business difficulties, or when all seems dark and bleak and hopeless to the stoutest heart, – how much more valuable is it in matters which concern the soul’s welfare, in troubles of the heart, in the dark and stormy hours of temptation!
But we must not trench on the bestand dearest function of wifely love, – that of being the truest and most faithful of friends