Washington Irving's The Wife is a schmoozy love story. Well, it isn't much of a story, but a single questioning thought: After all this, will you still love me?
Nowadays, many more women are entering the workforce while many men are either losing jobs, laid off, or remaining unemployed. While becoming more acceptable these days, to be a layabout or a "kept man" was unthinkable in Irving's time.
The dark cloud of worry seems to follow the protagonist, George, everywhere he goes. At the same time his wife reassures him of her love for him, he worries and doubts yet again she will be able to "handle" the tribulations that may occur. George's main problem is that he follows the road laid before him, the likes of Shakespeare's Othello more than an other. It comes down to the simple idea that communication is key to any relationship.
Doubt is never a good thing. I can speak of this point quite clearly, as I am still wondering what my own wife is doing with me after seven years. Self doubt, or the little buzzing in one's ear about why they will never be good enough, is a nasty little demon that takes hold of a person and eats them alive from inside. The dreadful balance of truth and happiness can be described in this line: "The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched." (Irving, 44)
But for all the fretting and skull-scrambling George does, Mary loves him for what they have, not what they are without, all the way to the end of the story.
The only question I have is why the narrator refers to his friend as Leslie, and Mary calls him George. Perhaps Leslie is his surname? Or is the narrator taking one last chance to have a secret George is keeping from us?