Snare Of The Boarding House
( Originally Published 1918 )
ONE of the temptations that assails young people who are contemplating matrimony is to start their united life in a boarding house. It seems to the young bride such an easy way to solve the new problem that confronts her. She knows her own inexperience, and it seems to her it would be much easier and pleasanter to let some one else cook the meals, do the marketing and perform the many other tasks to which she feels herself unequal. Then, too, as she may sagely observe, you know just how much you're going to spend each week when you are boarding, whereas you are always in danger of running expenses up a little higher when you're buying and cooking for yourself. She may even persuade herself that it would be better all around for her to continue in business and so make it possible for them to follow what seems to her to be an ideal plan.
She may be right, in many respects, as to the advantages of the plan; but she probably has forgotten to consider the real price that one must pay for all of these so-called comforts.
One does not realize, until one has tried the experiment, how much the union of two lives may depend upon the cheerful, intimate association which is possible at mealtime . In rush sea-sons that is often about the only time when the wife will see her husband; and it is most important, therefore, that this intimate companionship shall not be destroyed by the constant presence of outsiders.
The atmosphere of a boarding house is most destructive of all that goes to make for a happy married life. There is the carping criticism of each other which the guests are sure to indulge in, the daily gossip which inevitably goes on where a number of more or less idle individuals are gathered together and which so easily deteriorates into slander. There are the idle hours, if the wife is not in business, which leaves her open to all sorts of dangerous temptations. Frequent attendance at afternoon teas in public places where dancing takes place, and where questionable characters are often to be met, is one form of allurement which the young wife who is wise will want to avoid. Frequent bridge parties, where the spirit of gambling prevails, have led many a young wife to incur indebtedness which has resulted in her husband's financial ruin, and, it may be, her own moral downfall.
It may seem preposterous to the young bride to suggest that her devotion can ever wander from her husband. But in the hours of unoccupied lei-sure which may be hers in the boarding house, she may easily be caught in the net of some fascinating man who has nothing else to do but to make himself agreeable to the feminine folk, and without any disloyal intentions, bring disaster upon her own head.
Even if these more tragic occurances do not come to her, there is inevitably a tendency to in-creased selfishness through living this sort of a life. There is so little that she can do for her husband under these conditions that by and by she forgets what her duty in this respect really is. She gets to think only of his obligation to provide her with all the money she thinks she needs, and she is constantly stimulated by the extravagances of those about her to exceed the conservative limit of expenditure. In other words, she be-comes a real parasite, living upon his earnings and giving him practically nothing in return for it all.
Moreover it is never possible, in even the best of boarding houses, to get food which is as healthful, or as daintily prepared, as it may be in one's own little home. Probably the reason why so many Americans suffer from indigestion is be-cause so many of them live in hotels and boarding houses. A wife should make it her business to see that her husband's digestion is kept as nearly unimpaired as possible, and she should not endeavor to shirk this responsibility.