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“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 women 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 non-collegiate 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.'”
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. French boys of the upper class are trained to express their admiration of a woman’s frock and chapeau, not only once but many times during an evening. And 50 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong!
I have among my clippings a story that I know never happened, but it illustrates a truth, so I’ll repeat it:
According to this silly story, a farm woman, at the end of a heavy day’s work, set before her men folks a heaping pile of hay. And when they indignantly demanded whether she’d gone crazy, she replied: “Why, how did I know you’d notice? I’ve been cooking for you men for the last twenty years, and in all that time I ain’t heard no word to let me know you wasn’t just eating hay!”
The pampered aristocrats of Moscow and St. Petersburg used to have better manners; in the Russia of the Czars, it was the custom of the upper classes, when they had enjoyed a fine dinner, to insist on having the cook brought into the dining room to receive their congratulations. Why not have as much consideration for your wife? The next time the fried chicken is done to a tender turn, tell her so. Let her know that you appreciate the fact – that you’re not just eating hay. Or, as Texas Guinan used to say: “Give the little girl a great big hand.”
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,” says Eddie Cantor, “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 she 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.”
There you are. So, if you want to keep your home life happy, one of the most important rules is Rule 4:
GIVE HONEST APPRECIATION.