But there is always a possibility of the cold touch of monotony intervening to turn aside the joy of such quiet evenings. It would be wise, to avert any mischance of the sort by accepting invitations, visiting the play, or hearing concerts or other entertainments.
There is a double wisdom in acting thus, for one of the great secrets of married happiness is found in the continual sharing of experiences, in going about together in circumstances grave or gay. In this way they store up material for conversation, for laughing over things together, or sympathising with others. Everything the two see or hear together is a new bond of union, a very tiny one, perhaps, but when multiplied by thousands it helps to form a very strong and binding cord. Without these shared experiences, journeys, amusements, social gatherings, a famine of subjects for home talk would arise, and the two might find themselves growing just a little out of sympathy with each other. It is not only young couples who run this risk of drifting apart in interests. Middle-aged married folk are equally, if not more, in need of fresh topics. Some of them, not realising this, and having lost the gay spirits, spring, and elasticity of youth, wonder why life appears so tame and stale, so commonplace and so drearily uninteresting.
It is the business of the wife to recognise that something is amiss, and to set to work to find a remedy. The husband is so absorbed in the routine of business - as a rule - that he merely accepts the dulness of his life without inquiring the reason or seeing whether it could not be amended.
A wife who finds that after years of domestic harmony and uninterrupted goodwill she and her partner are growing irritable and critical towards each other, is alarmed at the prospect of entering upon a discordant phase of home life. If she thinks the matter out, she will find that fresh interests are needed. There are many ways of introducing these into ordinary existence. If means permit, a country cottage is an excellent brightener of the thoughts for those who have spent their days in town or city with but a short holiday once or twice a year. A garden, however small, opens a wide door into a fresh world for such as have never enjoyed an opportunity of growing flowers beyond the very meagre one afforded by the cat-infested London tank," as someone has aptly christened the metropolitan apology for a garden.
The very furnishing of a week-end home provides a fresh interest, especially if the two set about it in that best of ways, saving up to pick up old " bits," such as are to be found in the secondhand furniture shops in every country town. There is much joy to be had from a country cottage.
Another and an excellent way of aerating the thoughts is to go far afield from the everyday routine, and make a break in the routine of the days with their iterant and reiterant happenings. A trip abroad, even if no further than Boulogne or, perhaps, Dieppe, and a stay of three weeks at least, suffices to store the mind with new impressions - to study the ways of a nation so intensely interesting. Here is a fruitful source of inspiration for home talk, which helps that mental growth without which life is a vain and fruitless thing.
It is fatally easy to become narrow and shrink mentally. Foreign travel is one of the means of avoiding this catastrophe. The many various travel agencies have made this not only easy but astonishingly inexpensive. It is worth some self-denial and saving-up to leave the backwater of "everydayness" and share in the pleasures of the great river of life. A score of interests spring up. The intellect awakes, and possibilities arise that had been undreamed of before. The two become comrades in a wider sense than has been possible within the limits of the home and the circumscribed set in which they move. It is of such that Tennyson wrote:
" They deemed the cackle of their burg The murmur of the world."
There are many thousands of families who consistently neglect opportunities afforded by lectures for becoming interested in the great concerns of the world - dis-coveries of science, heroic travel under hardships to distant countries, personal narratives of explorers, and many other topics. There is a popular idea that a lecture must be dull. But a dull man would scarcely venture to present himself in the capacity of lecturer now that everyone is expected to have something illuminating to say, some fresh experience to relate, some new discovery to describe. It is often the husband who is unwilling to leave the comfortable fireside at such times, but it is a rare thing for him to fail to acknowledge that he is glad he had been induced to do so.
A simple, amusing play, attended together, remains a lively source of mutual laughter for many days; a few hours together on the golf-links are better spent than in " frowsting" in the house. Anything is to be preferred to growing dull and vacant-minded merely for lack of supplying a little pabulum to the intelligence.