By Ben Welter
The syndicated Mary Haworth advice column added color and spark to the dull society pages of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune during the war years. Haworth (pronounced hay-worth) was the “slender, well-tailored, attractive” Elizabeth Young of the Washington Post. Hundreds of letters a week poured into her burlap-screened nook in the Post newsroom.
Mary Haworth’s Mail
Perfect Wife and Mother for Seven Years,
Woman Worries Husband by Her Flirtations
DEAR MARY HAWORTH: I am 33, married seven years to a girl who has been an excellent wife and mother up to this point. For the past two years she has been holding a full-time job, plus keeping a clean attractive home and doing an excellent job of training our happy little daughter.
She has always been a very virtuous woman but I fear she is becoming demoralized.
Usually we spend our evenings at home, but every now and then she or I will go to the theater or social gathering alone, it being almost impossible to get someone to stay with our child. Once a month we get together with friends for a party and recently on these occasions my wife has been making a spectacle of herself.
She doesn’t drink but she is always the center of a group of men and she loves it.
Once when I chided her about this she laughed and called me a “fuddy-duddy.” She said she likes the women with whom she works but that our women friends are a bunch of idle, gossiping housewives who don’t interest her in the least.
That, she explained, is why she prefers talking to the men in our crowd. I don’t believe her. I think she is becoming man-crazy.
The other night at a party she went out on the porch with one of the men. I trailed them. They did not see me. After some small talk the man made a pass at her.
Before we were married she would have slapped a man for that. I know!
Instead, she said very calmly, “I am sure your wife would appreciate such a beautiful speech. Don’t be a goon. I am not interested.” Then there was a pause. He may have been kissing her. I couldn’t see.
Finally, she laughed and said, “Come on inside. Maybe the hot air will revive you.” Then she sat and talked to that man for 15 minutes.
That incident – which she has never mentioned to me – has spoiled my love and admiration for her. I feel I can trust her no longer.
Is she growing tired of me? She is always teasing me because I am getting a bay window.
She is always laughing and turns everything into a joke. Should I tell her I heard her on the porch that night, and that she had no business there?
Men would not make passes at her if she behaved as a married woman should. How can I make her see that? – E. F.
DEAR E. F.: Your wife is not demoralized – yet. Her rollicking coquetry of recent days is an unconscious attempt to brief in, as it were, that segment of her youth which she let go by the boards in marrying at 19, before she got her social growth.
She has extraordinary vitality, as proved by her top rating as mother, housekeeper and job holder combined, with energy left over to be a laughing wife, sparkly party-goer and playtime companion to her child.
I think she is bored with you, yes; and perhaps justifiably so, but still with no thought of being unfaithful.
If you had the forceful character to hold her in check with bold maneuvers coined to suit the occasion, or the finesse to minimize her coquetry with a debonair counter-thrust, no doubt she would drop her game in a hurry.