We have been married for three years and my wife has changed completely from the happy carefree girl I fell in love with. We have a nice little house, well furnished and labour-saving, but sometimes nowadays I hate the sight of it. The place is spotless. Spilt cigarette ash drives my wife frantic. Icannot put down a book for five minutes without her putting it away in the bookshelf. She is a good cook and a marvellous manager, but she fusses over our home to such an extent that I sometimes wish the place were burned down so that we could move into furnished apartments and start all over again.
Some women enjoy housework, others do not dislike it and a few detest it. But whether she likes it or not, the ordinary wife has to do it. It is her job, and naturally she cannot help taking more interest in it than her husband is likely to do.
Husbands should always remember this important fact. They should bear in mind also that keeping a house clean is never easy work, and that even a little untidiness or carelessness on the part of the occupants increases the housewife’s task.
Let us suppose, however, that this particular wife has become too house-proud and is unreasonably fussy. There are some women like that, and there can be no denying that they are rather difficult to live with.
A man who has a wife of this kind ought to face facts and not run away from them. Let him ask himself whether his wife’s excessive preoccupation with household matters is not due to the fact that she has few other interests to occupy her mind. There are many women living in small suburban villas who go on from day to day, week to week, and almost year to year without making fresh contacts. They have few friends. They are alone all day and their husbands, coming home often grumpy and often tired, are not always the most lively company in the evening. Under such circumstances any woman is likely to lose her sense of proportion.
The first thing to do then, if you happen to be married to a Martha, is to provide her as far as you can with some interest outside housework. Take her out more often. Get her to meet people. Talk to her, as no doubt you do talk to your men friends, about the latest news, pictures, books or whatever is likely to interest you both.
The next thing to do—and the hardest—is to take an intelligent and sympathetic interest in the home yourself. Discuss household matters reasonably with her, not merely giving her the bare half of your impatient attention, grunting from behind a newspaper and looking terribly bored.
In small practical matters the wisest thing to do is not to resist her " fussy " wishes, but to comply with them good-humouredly. It may be perfectly true, for instance, that cigarette ash does not hurt the carpet, but ash trays are not expensive and they save a lot of cleaning up. Again, though her scrupulous tidiness may exasperate you, it is really more thoughtful to put your book away yourself than leave it for someone else to do so for you.
A confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool Martha will always be rather fussy, but if her husband meets her with tact and sympathy and understanding, she will not be unduly difficult to live with. Indeed, the time may come when she will begin to laugh at her own fussy ways, even though she cannot quite give them up. When that happens, they will cease to exasperate.
From "Everybody’s Best Friend", By Harold Wheeler, Date Unknown.
**Tell me this and tell me no more: what the heck is a Martha? This advice was issued long before we knew and loved our very own Ms Stewart, and yet the insult is parried about today in exactly the same way….
So are you, or are you not a dyed in the wool Martha? If so please do your best to cease to exasperate. Your husband might burn your house down…**