4. A Quick Way To Make Everybody Happy: Give Honest Appreciation
Carnegie had the following advice on how to attract vain men: “’Most men when seeking wives,’ says Paul Popenoe, Director of the Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles, ‘are not looking for executives, but for someone with allure and willingness to flatter their vanity and make them feel superior. Hence, the woman office manager may be invited to luncheon, once. But, she quite possibly dishes out warmed-over remnants of her college courses on “main currents in contemporary philosophy” and may even insist on paying her own bill. Result: She thereafter lunches alone.’ [¶] In contrast, the noncollegiate typist, when invited to luncheon, fixes an incandescent gaze on her escort and says yearningly, ‘Now, tell me some more about yourself.’ Result: He tells the other fellows that ‘she’s no raving beauty; but, I have never met a better talker.’”
Carnegie also had advice for men: “Men should express their appreciation of a woman’s effort to look well and dress becomingly. All men forget, if they have ever realized it, how profoundly women are interested in clothes. For example, if a man and woman meet another man and woman on the street, the woman seldom looks at the other man. She usually looks to see how well the other woman is dressed.
“My grandmother died a few years ago at the age of ninety-eight. Shortly before her death, we showed her a photograph of herself that had been taken a third of a century earlier. Her failing eyes couldn’t see the picture very well; and, the only question she asked was: ‘What dress did I have on?’ Think of it! An old woman in her last December, bedridden, weary with age as she lay within the shadow of the century mark, her memory fading so fast that she was no longer able to recognize even her own daughters, still interested in knowing what dress she had worn a third of a century before! I was at her bedside when she asked that question. It left an impression on me that will never fade.
“The men who are reading these lines can’t remember what suits or shirts they wore five years ago; and, they haven’t the remotest desire to remember them. But, women—they are different; and, we American men ought to recognize it. [¶] … And, while you’re about it, don’t be afraid to let her know how important she is to your happiness. Disraeli was as great a statesman as England ever produced. Yet, as we’ve seen, he wasn’t ashamed to let the world know how much he ‘owed to the little woman.’
“Just the other day, while perusing a magazine, I came across this. It’s from an interview with Eddie Cantor: ‘I owe more to my wife than to anyone else in the world. She was my best pal as a boy. She helped me to go straight. And, after we married, she saved every dollar and invested it and reinvested it. She built up a fortune for me We have five lovely children. And, she’s made a wonderful home for me, always. If I’ve gotten anywhere, give her the credit.’
“Out in Hollywood, where marriage is a risk that even Lloyd’s of London wouldn’t take a gamble on, one of the few outstandingly happy marriages is that of the Warner Baxters. Mrs. Baxter, the former Winifred Bryson, gave up a brilliant stage career when she married. Yet, her sacrifice has never been permitted to mar their happiness. ‘She missed the applause of stage success,’ Warner Baxter says, ‘but I have tried to see that see is entirely aware of my applause. If a woman is to find happiness at all in her husband, she is to find it in his appreciation and devotion. If that appreciation and devotion is actual, there is the answer to his happiness, also.”
5. They Mean So Much to a Woman: Pay Little Attentions
Carnegie wrote: “From time immemorial, flowers have been considered the language of love. They don’t cost much, especially in season. And, often, they’re for sale on the street corners. Yet, considering the rarity with which the average husband takes home a bunch of daffodils, you might suppose them to be as expensive as orchids and as hard to come by as the edelweiss which flowers on the cloud-swept cliffs of the Alps. [¶] Why wait until your wife goes to the hospital to give her a few flowers? Why not bring her a few roses tomorrow night? You like to experiment. Try it. See what happens.
“George M. Cohan, busy as he was on Broadway, used to telephone his mother twice a day up to the time of her death. Do you suppose he had startling news for her each time? No, the meaning of little attentions is this: It shows the person you love that you are thinking of her, that you want to please her, and that her happiness and welfare are very dear, and very near. to your heart.
“Women attach a lot of importance to birthdays and anniversaries—just why will remain forever one of those feminine mysteries. The average man can blunder through life without memorizing many dates. But, there are a few which are indispensable: 1492, 1776, the date of his wife’s birthday, and the year and date of his own marriage. If need be, he can even get along without the first two—but, not the last!
“Judge Joseph Sabbath of Chicago, who has reviewed 40,000 marital disputes and reconciled 2,000 couples, says: ‘Trivialities are at the bottom of most marital unhappiness. Such a simple thing as a wife’s waving goodbye to her husband when he goes to work in the morning would avert a good many divorces.’ [¶] Robert Browning, whose life with Elizabeth Barrett Browning was perhaps the most idyllic on record, was never too busy to keep love alive with little tributes and attentions. He treated his invalid wife with such consideration that she once wrote to her sisters, ‘And, now I begin to wonder, naturally, whether I may not be some sort of real angel after all.’
“Too many men underestimate the value of these small, everyday attentions. As Gaynor Maddox said in an article in the Pictorial Review: ‘The American home really needs a few vices. Breakfast in bed, for instance, is one of those amiable dissipations a greater number of women should be indulged in. Breakfast in bed to a woman does much the same thing as a private club for a man.’ [¶] That’s what marriage is in the long run—a series of trivial incidents. And, woe to the couple who overlooks that fact!”
6. If You Want To Be Happy, Don’t Neglect This One: Be Courteous
Carnegie wrote: “Rudeness is the cancer that devours love. Everyone knows this, yet it’s notorious that we are more polite to stranger than we are to our own relatives. We wouldn’t dream of interrupting strangers to say, ‘Good heavens, are you going to tell that old story again!’ We wouldn’t dream of opening our friends’ mail without permission, or prying into their personal secrets. And, it’s only the members of our own family, those who are nearest and dearest to us, that we dare insult for their trivial faults.
“Dorothy Dix said: ‘It is an amazing but true thing that practically the only people who ever say mean, insulting, wounding things to us are those of our own households.’ [¶] ‘Courtesy,’ says Henry Clay Risner, ‘is that quality of heart that overlooks the broken gate and calls attention to the flowers in the yard beyond the gate.’ Courtesy is just as important to marriage as oil is to your motor.’
“Oliver Wendell Holmes, the beloved ‘Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,’ was anything but an autocrat in his own home. In fact, he carried his consideration so far that when he felt melancholy and depressed, he tried to conceal his blues from the rest of his family. It was bad enough for him to have to bear them himself, he said, without inflicting them on the others as well. [¶] That is what Oliver Wendell Holmes did. But what about the average mortal? Things go wrong at the office. He loses a sale or gets called on the carpet by the boss. He develops a devastating headache or misses the five-fifteen. And, he can hardly wait till he gets home—to take it out on the family. [¶] … Many men who wouldn’t dream of speaking sharply to a customer, or even to their partners in business, think nothing of barking at their wives. Yet, for their personal happiness, marriage is far more important to them, far more vital, than business.
“The average man who is happily married is happier by far than the genius who lives in solitude. Turgenev, the great Russian novelist, was acclaimed all over the civilized world. Yet, he said, ‘I would give up all my genius, and all my books, if there were only some woman, somewhere, who cared whether or not I came home late for dinner.’
“Dorothy Dix sums the whole thing up like this: ‘Compared with marriage,’ she says, ‘being born is a mere episode in our careers, and dying a trivial incident. [¶] ‘No woman can ever understand why a man doesn’t put forth the same effort to make his home a going concern as he does to make his business or profession a success. [¶] ‘But, although to have a contented wife and a peaceful and happy home means more to a man than to make a million dollars, not one man in a hundred ever gives any real serious thought or makes any honest effort to make his marriage a success. He leaves the most important thing in his life to chance; and, he wins out or loses, according to whether fortune is with him or not. Women can never understand why their husbands refuse to handle them diplomatically, when it would be money in their pockets to use the velvet glove instead of the strong-arm method.
“’Every man knows that he can jolly his wife into doing anything—and doing without anything. He knows that if he hands her a few cheap compliments about what a wonderful [money] manager she is, and how she helps him, she will squeeze every nickel. Every man knows that if he tells his wife how beautiful and lovely she looks in her last year’s dress, she wouldn’t trade it for the latest Paris importation. Every man knows that he can kiss his wife’s eyes shut until she will be blind as a bat; and, that he has only to give her a warm smack on the lips to make her dumb as an oyster.
“’And, every wife knows that her husband knows these things about her, because she has furnished him with a complete diagram about how to work her. And, she never knows whether to be mad at him or disgusted with him, because he would rather fight with her and pay for it in having to eat bad meals, and have his money wasted, and buy her new frocks and limousines and pearls, than to take the trouble to flatter her a little and treat her the way she is begging to be treated.’
“So, if you want to keep your home life happy: Be courteous.”
7. Don’t Be a “Marriage Illiterate”: Learn about Good Sex in Marriage
Dr. Katherine Bement Davis, general secretary of the Bureau of Social Hygiene, conducted a study of a thousand married women in which she asked very intimate questions about their marriages. Her conclusion was the main causes of divorce in America is physical mismatching. Another study conducted by Dr. G. V. Hamilton confirmed this finding. Dr. Hamilton spent four years analyzing the marriages of 100 men and 100 women. He asked each of them 400 questions about their married lives and discussed their marital problems thoroughly and painstakingly.
When the four years was over, and all the information studied and analyzed, Dr. Hamilton said, “It would take a very prejudiced and very reckless psychiatrist to say that most married friction doesn’t find it’s source in sexual maladjustment. At any rate, the frictions which arise from other difficulties would be ignored in many, many cases if the sexual relation itself were satisfactory.”
Carnegie wrote: “Dr. Paul Popenoe, as head of the Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles, has reviewed thousands of marriages and he is one of America’s foremost authorities on home life. According to Dr. Popenoe, failure in marriage is usually due to four causes. He lists them in this order:
1. Sexual maladjustment.
2. Different opinions on how to spend leisure time.
3. Financial difficulties.
4. Mental, physical, or emotional abnormalities.
“Notice that sex comes first and that, strangely enough, money difficulties come only third on the list. [¶] ‘Sex,’ says the famous psychologist John B. Watson, ‘is admittedly the most important subject in life. It is admittedly the thing which causes the most shipwrecks in the happiness of men and women.’ And, I have heard a number of practicing physicians in speeches before my own classes say practically the same thing. Isn’t it pitiful, then, that, in the twentieth century, with all of our books and all of our education, marriages should be destroyed and lives wrecked by ignorance concerning this most primal and natural instinct?
“The Rev. Oliver M. Butterfield, after eighteen years as a Methodist minister, gave up his pulpit to direct the Family Guidance Service in New York City. And, he has probably married as many young people as any man living. He says: ‘Early in my experience as a minister, I discovered that, in spite of romance and good intentions, many couples who come to the marriage altar are matrimonial illiterates.’ Matrimonial illiterates!
“And he continues: ‘When you consider that we leave the highly difficult adjustment of marriage so largely to chance, the marvel is that our divorce rate is only 16 percent. An appalling number of husbands and wives are not really married but simply undivorced: They live in a sort of purgatory. [¶] Happy marriages,’ says Dr. Butterfield, ‘are rarely the product of chance. They are architectural in that they are intelligently and deliberately planned.’ [¶] To assist in this planning, Dr. Butterfield has, for years, insisted that any couple he marries must discuss with him, frankly, their plans for the future. And, it was as a result of these discussions that he came to the conclusion that so many of the high contracting parties were ‘matrimonial illiterates.’
“’Sex,’ says Dr. Butterfield, ‘is but one of the many satisfactions in married life. But, unless this relationship is right, nothing else can be right.’ But, how to get it right? ‘Sentimental reticence—I’m still quoting Dr. Butterfield—‘must be replaced by an ability to discuss objectively, and with detachment, attitudes and practices of married life. There is no way in which this ability can be better acquired than through a book of sound learning and good taste.’”
RECAP OF SEVEN RULES FOR MAKING YOUR HOME LIFE HAPPIER
1. Don’t nag.
2. Don’t try to make your partner over.
3. Don’t criticize.
4. Give honest appreciation.
5. Pay little attentions.
6. Be courteous.
7. Learn about good sex in marriage.