"The Country Husband" is a short story in the book written by John Cheever called 'The Stories of John Cheever', which was published in 1978. The Country Husband revolves around the character of Francis Weed, who is is married with children and escapes death in an airplane crash. His family are too self-absorbed to hear his story and the near-death experience leaves Francis feeling as if he has been given a second chance at life. Francis then goes onto fall in love with the family's baby-sitter, Anne Murchison. He kisses her but she resists. Francis later argues with his wife, who threatens to leave him, but they later reconcile. Francis still loves Anne and wonders what to do, especially because he finds out Anne is engaged to Clayton Thomas, a young boy in the neighbourhood. Finally, Francis goes to a psychiatrist. A week later, it seems as though everything is about the same at home. The psychiatrist has recommended woodwork as a therapy and the story ends with Francis busy making a coffee table.
"The Country Husband" was written by the author to display how someone who has escaped a near-death experience can start to live life more impulsively in an effort to make the most of their 'second chance' at life. However, as the author shows, this can result in a person's everyday life being ruined and so it is better to appreciate life rather than try to change it so rapidly.
The Stories of John Cheever, the novel which contains the short story of "The Country Husband", was received well by both critics and fans alike. In fact, The Washington Post commented that "John Cheever's stories are, simply, the best". Also, The Boston Globe commented that the book contained "...some of the most wonderful stories any American has written".