Must Women Worry, Nag, And Complain? It’s A Tragic Fault
By: KATHY MILLER KRAMER
Worrying is a fault and a habit. It is also stupid. But of this faulty, stupid habit many women make a virtue. They are proud of their worrying. It nearly drives every hut they are meekly, resignedly proud of it. Take the wife of the man who writes the following letter. He, Jim, is 40; his wife Rose is 36. These are wonderful ages, the very cream of life. But for Rose the cream is curdled.
“The girls and I Jove Mama,” writes Jim, or rather typewrites, on paper that show the head of a wood and coal business. “We’ve got everything we want — a nice home friends—and we’re all normal people, no sickness of body or mind.
Proud of It
“So what can keep a sensible woman like Rose fretting and worrying, nagging and complaining is more than I can see. She says her mother was a great worrier, and says it as if it were something rather fine.
“But what she doesn’t know,” Jim adds, “is that a man is apt to meet other worn en who don’t make such a darned fuss about everything.” My agent in a nearby town is a young war widow, and is just a streak of sunshine. Nothing worries her.
She’ll fix a little meal up in the office, she’ll laugh if any thing goes wrong, she’s sure this’ll come out right and that’ll all clear up, and it’s pleasure to be with her. But she’s got a boy of 5 and the way she handles that little fellow is pleasure to see. They laugh together like a couple of kids.
No End to It
“At home Rose begins nagging when I arrive and doesn’t stop until I leave the next morning Our girls are only 9 and 5, but already they are beginning to ignore her criticisms.
“Their clothes, their health, our financial status, the weather, the people she sees and doesn’t want to see, and the ones she wants to see who don’t come, my manners if I’m too cordial, my manners I’m too cool, my family’s treatment of her when she was a bride 12 years ago—there’s no end to it. If I get in a helper, the girl wastes everything and isn’t clean if I don’t get her anyone, she’s half dead with work.
And all the time she’s capable and hardworking: and economical and would die for anyone of us,” the letter continues. “But she sure does make life a burden for her self and everyone else.” This Rose of Jimmy’s sounds to me like a too-well known type. There isn’t any advice or suggestion that will reach such a woman. She is too entrenched in her own conviction of righteousness.
Consider Herself Perfect
Her defense would be that Jimmy is careless, that there are many accidents, that someone has to watch the family safety and sanity, that people would be wasting money and getting sick and spotting their clothes and leaving lights burning and running into traffic if she wasn’t on guard.
She would argue that she kept a perfect house, never rested day or night, had to assume responsibility because no one else would, and altogether considered herself pretty nearly the perfect wife and mother.
No, you can’t reach the worriers, complainers, and naggers with even the gentlest criticism. They are letter-perfect, and they would laugh at the idea that households need the spirit as well as the letter. The letter, says the wisest book in the world, killeth. But in the spirit is eternal life.
What might reach Rose’s impregnable fortress of perfection is the hint of the other woman, in Jim’s letter. The other woman, in his branch office in the neighboring town. The woman who is simple and cheerful and philosophical. Grief and change already have struck at this woman. She is one of hundreds who were widowed in the war years. She had a child to protect. She had her living to make. And still she is happy and self-reliant and free from the swarms of mosquito cares that beset the more fortunate Rose.
Any Man Gets Tired
Jim doesn’t sound the kind of man who raises arguments, gets into domestic quarrels easily. But any man is the sort that just gets deadly, deadly tired of constant nagging reminders that everything is all wrong. Lots of things in life are all wrong. Lots of things are worrisome today. But the things that make Rose, and so many other women, as destructive as termites to the walls of home are not these big world problems.
No, with them it is the weather, and that the kitchen clock stopped, and Rose-Marie lost a rubber and that silly little pain in he back has come back and other trivia of that sort to the number of thousands. And when Jim finds another woman who is just sunny and sweet, it is time for Rose to wake up
KATHY MILLER KRAMER is a New York City-based freelance writer. Additional reporting by CARLY CARDELLINO.