In a Nutshell


Rule 1: Don’t nag.

Rule 2: Don’t try to make your partner over.

Rule 3: Don’t criticize.

Rule 4: Give honest appreciation.

Rule 5: Pay little attentions.

Rule 6: Be courteous.

Rule 7: Read a good book on the sexual side of marriage.


In its issue for June, 1933, American Magazine printed an article by Emmet Crozier, “Why Marriages Go Wrong.” The following is a questionnaire reprinted from that article. You may find it worth while to answer these questions, giving yourself ten points for each question you can answer in the affirmative.


1. Do you still “court” your wife with an occasional gift of flowers, with remembrances of her birthday and wedding anniversary, or with some unexpected attention, some unlooked – for tenderness?

2. Are you careful never to criticize her before others?

3. Do you give her money to spend entirely as she chooses, above the household expenses?

4. Do you make an effort to understand her varying feminine moods and help her through periods of fatigue, nerves, and irritability?

5. Do you share at least half of your recreation hours with your wife?

6. Do you tactfully refrain from comparing your wife’s cooking or housekeeping with that of your mother or of Bill Jones’ wife, except to her advantage?

7. Do you take a definite interest in her intellectual life, her clubs and societies, the books she reads, her views on civic problems?

8. Can you let her dance with and receive friendly attentions from other men without making jealous remarks?

9. Do you keep alert for opportunities to praise her and express your admiration for her?

10. Do you thank her for the little jobs she does for you, such as sewing on a button, darning your socks, and sending your clothes to the cleaners?


1. Do you give your husband complete freedom in his business affairs, and do you refrain from criticizing his associates, his choice of a secretary, or the hours he keeps?

2. Do you try your best to make your home interesting and attractive?

3. Do you vary the household menu so that he never quite knows what to expect when he sits down to the table?

4. Do you have an intelligent grasp of your husband’s business so you can discuss it with him helpfully?

5. Can you meet financial reverses bravely, cheerfully, without criticizing your husband for his mistakes or comparing him unfavourably with more successful men?

6. Do you make a special effort to get along amiably with his mother or other relatives?

7. Do you dress with an eye for your husband’s likes and dislikes in colour and style?

8. Do you compromise little differences of opinion in the interest of harmony?

9. Do you make an effort to learn games your husband likes, so you can share his leisure hours?

10. Do you keep track of the day’s news, the new books, and new ideas, so you can hold your husband’s intellectual interest?

Don’t Be a “Marriage Illiterate”

Dr. Katherine Bement Davis, general secretary of the Bureau of Social Hygiene, once induced 1,000 married women to reply frankly to a set of intimate questions. The result was shocking – an incredibly shocking comment upon the sexual unhappiness of the average American adult. After perusing the answers she received from these thousand married women, Dr. Davis published without hesitation her conviction that one of the chief causes of divorce in this country is physical mismating.

Dr. G. V. Hamilton’s survey verifies this finding. Dr. Hamilton spent four years studying the marriages of 100 men and 100 women. He asked these men and women individually something like 400 questions concerning their married lives, and discussed their problems exhaustively – so exhaustively that the whole investigation took four years. This work was considered so important sociologically that it was financed by a group of leading philanthropists. You can read the results of the experiment in What’s Wrong with Marriage? by Dr. G.V. Hamilton and Kenneth Macgowan.

Well, what is wrong with marriage? “It would take a very prejudiced and very reckless psychiatrist,” says Dr. Hamilton, “to say that most married friction doesn’t find its 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.”

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. Difference of opinion as to the way of spending 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.

All authorities on divorce agree upon the absolute necessity for sexual compatibility. For example, a few years ago Judge Hoffman of the Domestic Relations Court of Cincinnati – a man who has listened to thousands of domestic tragedies – announced: “Nine out of ten divorces are caused by sexual troubles.”

“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 per cent. 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. I always keep a number of these books on hand and recommend one or the other of them to the married couples who come and consult me.”


So, Rule 7 of “How to Make Your Home Life Happier” is:



Learn about sex from books? Why not? A few years ago, Columbia University, together with the American Social Hygiene Association, invited leading educators to come and discuss sex and marriage problems of college students. At that conference, Dr. Paul Popenoe said: “Divorce is on the decrease. And one of the reasons it is on the decrease is that people are reading more of the recognized books on sex and marriage.”

So I sincerely feel that I have no right to complete a chapter on “How to Make Your Home Life Happier” without recommending a short list of books that deal frankly and in a scientific manner with this problem.

  • Sex Outline for Young People, by Helena Wright (Benn).
  • The Book of Love, by Dr. David Delvin (Paperback – New English Library).
  • The Joy of Sex, by Dr. Alex Comfort (Quartet books – hardcover and paperback editions available).


Any good bookseller should have a selection of books on the subject and most paperback booksellers will stock a number of cheaper books on the subject which you can choose yourself from the racks.

If You Want to be Happy, Don’t Neglect This One

Walter Damrosch married the daughter of James G. Blaine, one of America’s greatest orators and one-time candidate for President. Ever since they met many years ago at Andrew Carnegie’s home in Scotland, the Damrosches have led a conspicuously happy life.

The secret?

“Next to care in choosing a partner,” says Mrs. Damrosch, “I should place courtesy after marriage. If young wives would only be as courteous to their husbands as to strangers! Any man will run from a shrewish tongue.”

Rudeness is the cancer that devours love. Everyone knows this, yet it’s notorious that we are more polite to strangers 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.

Again to quote Dorothy Dix: “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.

In Holland you leave your shoes outside on the doorstep before you enter the house. By the Lord Harry, we could learn a lesson from the Dutch and shed our workaday troubles before we enter our homes.

William James once wrote an essay called “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings.” It would be worth a special trip to your nearest library to get that essay and read it. “Now the blindness in human beings of which this discourse will treat,” he wrote, “is the blindness with which we all are afflicted in regard to the feelings of creatures and people different from ourselves.”

“The blindness with which we all are afflicted.” 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.”

What are the chances of happiness in marriage anyway? Dorothy Dix, as we have already said, believes that more than half of them are failures; but Dr. Paul Popenoe thinks otherwise. He says: “A man has a better chance of succeeding in marriage than in any other enterprise he may go into. Of all the men that go into the grocery business, 70 per cent fail. Of the men and women who enter matrimony, 70 per cent succeed.”

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 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, Rule 6 is:


They Mean So Much to a Woman

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 forever remain 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 good-bye 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 new 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 overlook that fact. Edna St. Vincent Millay summed it all up once in one of her concise little rhymes:

‘Tis not love’s going hurts my days,
But that it went in little ways.”

That’s a good verse to memorize. Out in Reno, the courts grant divorces six days a week, at the rate of one every ten minutes. How many of these marriages do you suppose were wrecked upon the reef of real tragedy? Mighty few, I’ll warrant. If you could sit there day in, day out, listening to the testimony of those unhappy husbands and wives, you’d know love “went in little ways”.

Take your pocket knife now and cut out this quotation. Paste it inside your hat or paste it on the mirror, where you will see it every morning when you shave:

“I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”


So, if you want to keep your home life happy, Rule 5 is:


A Quick Way to Make Everybody Happy

“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:


Do This and You’ll Be Looking Up the Time-Tables to Reno

Disraeli’s bitterest rival in public life was the great Gladstone. These two clashed on every debatable subject under the Empire, yet they had one thing in common; the supreme happiness of their private lives.

William and Catherine Gladstone lived together for fifty-nine years, almost three score years glorified with an abiding devotion. I like to think of Gladstone, the most dignified of England’s Prime Ministers, clasping his wife’s hand and dancing around the hearthrug with her, singing this song:

“A ragamuffin husband and a rantipoling wife,
We’ll fiddle it and scrape it through the ups and downs of life.”

Gladstone, a formidable enemy in public, never criticized at home. When he came down to breakfast in the morning, only to discover that the rest of his family was still sleeping, he had a gentle way of registering his reproach. He raised his voice and filled the house with a mysterious chant that reminded the other members that England’s busiest man was waiting downstairs for his breakfast, all alone. Diplomatic, considerate, he rigorously refrained from domestic criticism.

And so, often, did Catherine the Great. Catherine ruled one of the largest empires the world has ever known. Over millions of her subjects she held the power of life and death. Politically, she was often a cruel tyrant, waging useless wars and sentencing scores of her enemies to be cut down by firing squads. Yet if the cook burned the meat, she said nothing. She smiled and ate it with a tolerance that the average American husband would do well to emulate.


Dorothy Dix, America’s premier authority on the causes of marital unhappiness, declares that more than fifty per cent of all marriages are failures; and she knows that one of the reasons why so many romantic dreams break up on the rocks of Reno is criticism – futile, heart-breaking criticism.

So, if you want to keep your home life happy, remember Rule 3:



And if you are tempted to criticize the children… you imagine I am going to say don’t. But I am not. I am merely going to say, before you criticize them, read one of the classics of American journalism, “Father Forgets”. It originally appeared as an editorial in the People’s Home Journal. We are reprinting it here with the author’s permission – reprinting it as it was condensed in the Reader’s Digest:

“Father Forgets” is one of those little pieces which – dashed off in a moment of sincere feeling – strikes an echoing chord in so many readers as to become a perennial reprint favourite. Since its first appearance, some fifteen years ago, “Father Forgets” has been reproduced, writes the author, W. Livingston Larned, “in hundreds of magazines and house organs, and in newspapers the country over. It has been reprinted almost as extensively in many foreign languages. I have given personal permission to thousands who wished to read it from school, church, and lecture platforms. It has been ‘on the air’ on countless occasions and programmes. Oddly enough, college periodicals have used it, and high-school magazines. Sometimes a little piece seems mysteriously to ‘click.’ This one certainly did.”


W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily, I came to your bedside.

These are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Good-bye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your Shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boy friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive- and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in, timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. It was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

Love and Let Live

“I may Commit many follies in life,” Disraeli said, “but I never intend to marry for love.”

And he didn’t. He stayed single until he was thirty-five, and then he proposed to a rich widow, a widow fifteen years his senior; a widow whose hair was white with the passing of fifty winters. Love? Oh, no. She knew he didn’t love her. She knew he was marrying her for her money! So she made just one request: she asked him to wait a year to give her the opportunity to study his character. And at the end of that time, she married him.

Sounds pretty prosaic, pretty commercial, doesn’t it? Yet paradoxically enough, Disraeli’s marriage was one of the most glowing successes in all the battered and bespattered annals of matrimony.

The rich widow that Disraeli chose was neither young, nor beautiful, nor brilliant. Far from it. Her conversation bubbled with a laugh-provoking display of literary and historical blunders. For example, she “never knew which came first, the Greeks or the Romans.” Her taste in clothes was bizarre; and her taste in house furnishings was fantastic. But she was a genius, a positive genius at the most important thing in marriage: the art of handling men.

She didn’t attempt to set up her intellect against Disraeli’s. When he came home bored and exhausted after an afternoon of matching repartee with witty duchesses, Mary Anne’s frivolous patter permitted him to relax. Home, to his increasing delight, was a place where he could ease into his mental slippers and bask in the warmth of Mary Anne’s adoration. These hours he spent at home with his ageing wife were the happiest of his life. She was his helpmate, his confidante, his advisor. Every night he hurried home from the House of Commons to tell her the day’s news. And – this is important – whatever he undertook, Mary Anne simply did not believe he could fail.

For thirty years, Mary Anne lived for Disraeli, and for him alone. Even her wealth she valued only because it made his life easier. In return, she was his heroine. He became an Earl after she died; but, even while he was still a commoner, he persuaded Queen Victoria to elevate Mary Anne to the peerage. And so, in 1868, she was made Viscountess Beaconsfield.

No matter how silly or scatterbrained she might appear in public, he never criticized her; he never uttered a word of reproach; and if anyone dared to ridicule her, he sprang to her defence with ferocious loyalty.

Mary Anne wasn’t perfect, yet for three decades she never tired of talking about her husband, praising him, admiring him. Result? “We have been married thirty years,” Disraeli said, “and I have never been bored by her.” (Yet some people thought because Mary Anne didn’t know history, she must be stupid!)

For his part, Disraeli never made it any secret that Mary Anne was the most important thing in his life. Result? “Thanks to his kindness,” Mary Anne used to tell their friends, “my life has been simply one long scene of happiness.”

Between them, they had a little joke. “You know,” Disraeli would say, “I only married you for your money anyhow.” And Mary Anne, smiling, would reply, “Yes, but if you had it to do over again, you’d marry me for love, wouldn’t you?” And he admitted it was true.

No, Mary Anne wasn’t perfect. But Disraeli was wise enough to let her be herself.

As Henry James put it: “The first thing to learn in intercourse with others is non-interference with their own peculiar ways of being happy, provided those ways do not assume to interfere by violence with ours.”

That’s important enough to repeat: “The first thing to learn in intercourse with others is non-interference with their own peculiar ways of being happy…”

Or, as Leland Foster Wood in his book, Growing Together in the Family, has observed: “Success in marriage is much more than a matter of finding the right person; it is also a matter of being the right person.”

So, if you want your home life to be happy, Rule 2 is:


How to Dig Your Marital Grave in the Quickest Possible Way

Seventy-Five years ago, Napoleon III of France, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, fell in love with Marie Eugenie Ignace Augustine de Montijo, Countess of Teba, the most beautiful woman in the world – and married her. His advisors pointed out that she was only the daughter of an insignificant Spanish count. But Napoleon retorted: “What of it?” Her grace, her youth, her charm, her beauty filled him with divine felicity. In a speech hurled from the throne, he defied an entire nation: “I have preferred a woman I love and respect,” he proclaimed, “to a woman unknown to me.”

Napoleon and his bride had health, wealth, power, fame, beauty, love, adoration – all the requirements for a perfect romance. Never did the sacred fire of marriage glow with a brighter incandescence.

But, alas, the holy flame soon flickered and the incandescence cooled – and turned to embers. Napoleon could make Eugenie an empress; but nothing in all la belle France, neither the power of his love nor the might of his throne, could keep her from nagging.

Bedeviled by jealousy, devoured by suspicion, she flouted his orders, she denied him even a show of privacy. She broke into his office while he was engaged in affairs of state. She interrupted his most important discussions. She refused to leave him alone, always fearing that he might be consorting with another woman.

Often she ran to her sister, complaining of her husband, complaining, weeping, nagging, and threatening. Forcing her way into his study, she stormed at him and abused him. Napoleon, master of a dozen sumptuous palaces, Emperor of France, could not find a cupboard in which he could call his soul his own.

And what did Eugenie accomplish by all this?

Here is the answer. I am quoting now from E.A. Rheinhardt’s engrossing book, Napoleon and Eugenie: The Tragicomedy of an Empire:

“So it came about that Napoleon frequently would steal out by a little side door at night, with a soft hat pulled over his eyes, and, accompanied by one of his intimates, really betake himself to some fair lady who was expecting him, or else stroll about the great city as of old, passing through streets of the kind which an Emperor hardly sees outside a fairy tale, and breathing the atmosphere of might-have-beens.”

That is what nagging accomplished for Eugenie. True, she sat on the throne of France. True, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. But neither royalty nor beauty can keep love alive amidst the poisonous fumes of nagging. Eugenie could have raised her voice like Job of old and have wailed: “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me.” Come upon her? She brought it upon herself, poor woman, by her jealousy and her nagging.

Of all the sure-fire, infernal devices ever invented by all the devils in hell for destroying love, nagging is the deadliest. It never fails. Like the bite of the king cobra, it always destroys, always kills.

The wife of Count Leo Tolstoi discovered that – after it was too late. Before she passed away, she confessed to her daughters: “I was the cause of your father’s death.” Her daughters didn’t reply. They were both crying. They knew their mother was telling the truth. They knew she had killed him with her constant complaining, her eternal criticisms, and her eternal nagging.

Yet Count Tolstoi and his wife ought, by all odds, to have been happy. He was one of the most famous novelists of all time. Two of his masterpieces, War and Peace and Anna Karenina will forever shine brightly among the literary glories of earth.

Tolstoi was so famous that his admirers followed him around day and night and took down in shorthand every word he uttered. Even if he merely said, “I guess I’ll go to bed”; even trivial words like that, everything was written down; and now the Russian Government is printing every sentence that he ever wrote; and his combined writings will fill one hundred volumes.

In addition to fame, Tolstoi and his wife had wealth, social position, children. No marriage ever blossomed under softer skies. In the beginning, their happiness seemed too perfect, too intense, to endure. So kneeling together, they prayed to Almighty God to continue the ecstasy that was theirs.

Then an astonishing thing happened. Tolstoi gradually changed. He became a totally different person. He became ashamed of the great books that he had written, and from that time on he devoted his life to writing pamphlets preaching peace and the abolition of war and poverty.

This man who had once confessed that in his youth he had committed every sin imaginable – even murder – tried to follow literally the teachings of Jesus. He gave all his lands away and lived a life of poverty. He worked in the fields, chopping wood and pitching hay. He made his own shoes, swept his own roof, ate out of a wooden bowl, and tried to love his enemies.

Leo Tolstoi’s life was a tragedy, and the cause of his tragedy was his marriage. His wife loved luxury, but he despised it. She craved fame and the plaudits of society, but these frivolous things meant nothing whatever to him. She longed for money and riches, but he believed that wealth and private property were a sin.

For years, she nagged and scolded and screamed because he insisted on giving away the right to publish his books freely without paying him any royalties whatever. She wanted the money those books would produce.

When he opposed her, she threw herself into fits of hysteria, rolling on the floor with a bottle of opium at her lips, swearing that she was going to kill herself and threatening to jump down the well.

There is one event in their lives that to me is one of the most pathetic scenes in history. As I have already said, they were gloriously happy when they were first married; but now, forty-eight years later, he could hardly bear the sight of her. Sometimes of an evening, this old and heartbroken wife, starving for affection, came and knelt at his knees and begged him to read aloud to her the exquisite love passages that he had written about her in his diary fifty years previously. And as he read of those beautiful, happy days that were now gone forever, both of them wept. How different, how sharply different, the realities of life were from the romantic dreams they had once dreamed in the long ago.

Finally, when he was eighty-two years old, Tolstoi was unable to endure the tragic unhappiness of his home any longer so he fled from his wife on a snowy October night in 1910 – fled into the cold and darkness, not knowing where he was going.

Eleven days later, he died of pneumonia in a railway station. And his dying request was that she should not be permitted to come into his presence.

Such was the price Countess Tolstoi paid for her nagging and complaining and hysteria.

The reader may feel that she had much to nag about. Granted. But that is beside the point. The question is: did nagging help her, or did it make a bad matter infinitely worse?

“I really think I was insane.” That is what Countess Tolstoi herself thought about it – after it was too late.

The great tragedy of Abraham Lincoln’s life also was his marriage. Not his assassination, mind you, but his marriage. When Booth fired, Lincoln never realized he had been shot; but he reaped almost daily, for twenty-three years, what Herndon, his law partner, described as “the bitter harvest of conjugal infelicity.” “Conjugal infelicity?” That is putting it mildly. For almost a quarter of a century, Mrs Lincoln nagged and harassed the life out of him.

She was always complaining, always criticizing her husband; nothing about him was ever right. He was stoop-shouldered, he walked awkwardly and lifted his feet straight up and down like an Indian. She complained that there was no spring to his step, no grace to his movement; and she mimicked his gait and nagged at him to walk with his toes pointed down, as she had been taught at Madame Mentelle’s boarding school in Lexington.

She didn’t like the way his huge ears stood out at right angles from his head. She even told him that his nose wasn’t straight, that his lower lip stuck out, and he looked consumptive, that his feet and hands were too large, his head too small.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln were opposites in every way: in training, in background, in temperament, in tastes, in mental outlook. They irritated each other constantly.

“Mrs Lincoln’s loud, shrill voice,” wrote the late Senator Albert J. Beveridge, the most distinguished Lincoln authority of this generation – “Mrs Lincoln’s loud shrill voice could be heard across the street, and her incessant outbursts of wrath were audible to all who lived near the house. Frequently her anger was displayed by other means than words, and accounts of her violence are numerous and unimpeachable.”

To illustrate: Mr and Mrs Lincoln, shortly after their marriage, lived with Mrs Jacob Early – a doctor’s widow in Springfield who was forced to take in boarders.

One morning Mr and Mrs Lincoln were having breakfast when Lincoln did something that aroused the fiery temper of his wife. What, no one remembers now. But Mrs Lincoln, in a rage, dashed a cup of hot coffee into her husband’s face. And she did it in front of the other boarders.

Saying nothing, Lincoln sat there in humiliation and silence while Mrs Early came with a wet towel and wiped off his face and clothes.

Mrs Lincoln’s jealousy was so foolish, so fierce, so incredible, that merely to read about some of the pathetic and disgraceful scenes she created in public – merely reading about them seventy-five years later makes one gasp with astonishment. She finally went insane; and perhaps the most charitable thing one can say about her is that her disposition was probably always affected by incipient insanity.

Did all this nagging and scolding and raging change Lincoln? In one way, yes. It certainly changed his attitude toward her. It made him regret his unfortunate marriage, and it made him avoid her presence as much as possible.

Springfield had eleven attorneys, and they couldn’t all make a living there; so they used to ride horseback from one county seat to another, following Judge David Davis while he was holding court in various places. In that way, they managed to pick up business from all the county-seat towns throughout the Eighth Judicial District.

The other attorneys always managed to get back to Springfield each Saturday and spend the week-end with their families. But Lincoln didn’t. He dreaded to go home: and for three months in the spring, and again for three months in the autumn, he remained out on the circuit and never went near Springfield.

He kept this up year after year. Living conditions in the country hotels were often wretched; but, wretched as they were, he preferred them to his own home and Mrs Lincoln’s constant nagging and wild outbursts of temper.

Such are the results that Mrs Lincoln, the Empress Eugenie, and Countess Tolstoi obtained by their nagging. They brought nothing but tragedy into their lives. They destroyed all that they cherished most.


Bessie Hamburger, who has spent eleven years in the Domestic Relations Court in New York City, and has reviewed thousands of cases of desertion, says that one of the chief reasons men leave home is because their wives nag. Or, as the Boston Post puts it: “Many a wife has made her own marital grave with a series of little digs.”

So, if you want to keep your home life happy, Rule 1 is:


Letters That Produced Miraculous Results

I’ll bet I know what you are thinking now. You are probably saying to yourself something like this: ” ‘Letters that produced miraculous results!‘ Absurd! Smacks of patent-medicine advertising!”

If you are thinking that, I don’t blame you. I would probably have thought that myself if I had picked up a book like this fifteen years ago. Sceptical? Well, I like sceptical people. I spent the first twenty years of my life in Missouri – and I like people who have to be shown. Almost all the progress ever made in human thought has been made by the Doubting Thomases, the questioners, the challengers, the show-me crowd.

Let’s be honest. Is the title, “Letters That Produced Miraculous Results,” accurate?

No, to be frank with you, it isn’t.

The truth is, it is a deliberate understatement of fact. Some of the letters reproduced in this chapter harvested results that were rated twice as good as miracles. Rated by whom? By Ken R. Dyke, one of the best-known sales promotion men in America, formerly sales promotion manager for Colgate-Palmolive Peet Company and Chairman of the Board of the Association of National Advertisers.

Mr. Dyke says that letters he used to send out, asking for information from dealers, seldom brought more than a return of 5 to 8 per cent. He said he would have regarded a 15 per cent response as most extraordinary, and told me that, if his replies had ever soared to 20 per cent, he would have regarded it as nothing short of a miracle.

But one of Mr Dyke’s letters printed in this chapter, brought 42 1/2 per cent; in other words, that letter was twice as good as a miracle. You can’t laugh that off. And this letter wasn’t a sport, a fluke, an accident. Similar results were obtained from scores of other letters.

How did he do it? Here is the explanation in Ken Dyke’s own words: “This astonishing increase in the effectiveness of letters occurred immediately after I attended Mr. Carnegie’s course in ‘Effective Speaking and Human Relations.’ I saw that the approach I had formerly used was all wrong. I tried to apply the principles taught in this book – and they resulted in an increase of from 500 to 800 per cent in the effectiveness of my letters asking for information.”

Here is the letter. It pleases the other man by asking him to do the writer a small favour – a favour that makes him feel important.

My own comments on the letter appear in parentheses.

Mr John Blank,
Blankville, Indiana.

Dear Mr Blank:

I wonder if you would mind helping me out of a little difficulty?

(Let’s get the picture clear. Imagine a lumber dealer in Arizona receiving a letter from an executive of the Johns-Manville Company; and in the first line of the letter, this high-priced executive in New York asks the other fellow to help him out of a difficulty. I can imagine the dealer in Arizona saying to himself something like this: “Well, if this chap in New York is in trouble, he has certainly come to the right person. I always try to be generous and help people. Let’s see what’s wrong with him!”)

Last year, I succeeded in convincing our company that what our dealers needed most to help increase their re-roofing sales was a year ’round direct-mail campaign paid for entirely by Johns-Manville.

(The dealer out in Arizona probably says, “Naturally, they ought to pay for it. They’re hogging most of the profit as it is. They’re making millions while I’m having hard scratchin’ to pay the rent… Now what is this fellow in trouble about?”)

Recently I mailed a questionnaire to the 1,600 dealers who had used the plan and certainly was very much pleased with the hundreds of replies which showed that they appreciated this form of co-operation and found it most helpful.

On the strength of this, we have just released our new direct-mail plan which I know you’ll like still better.

But this morning our president discussed with me my report of last year’s plan and, as presidents will, asked me how much business I could trace to it. Naturally, I must come to you to help me answer him.

(That’s a good phrase: “I must come to you to help me answer him.” The big shot in New York is telling the truth, and he is giving the Johns-Manville dealer in Arizona honest, sincere recognition. Note that Ken Dyke doesn’t waste any time talking about how important his company is. Instead, he immediately shows the other fellow how much he has to lean on him. Ken Dyke admits that he can’t even make a report to the president of Johns-Manville without the dealer’s help. Naturally, the dealer out in Arizona, being human, likes that kind of talk.)

What I’d like you to do is (1) to tell me, on the enclosed postcard, how many roofing and re-roofing jobs you feel last year’s direct-mail plan helped you secure, and (2) give me, as nearly as you can, their total estimated value in dollars and cents (based on the total cost of the jobs applied).

If you’ll do this, I’ll surely appreciate it and thank you for your kindness in giving me this information.



Sales Promotion Manager

(Note how, in the last paragraph, he whispers “I” and shouts “You.” Note how generous he is in his praise: “Surely appreciate,” “thank you,” “your kindness.”)

Simple letter, isn’t it? But it produced “miracles” by asking the other person to do a small favour – the performing of which gave him a feeling of importance.

That psychology will work, regardless of whether you are selling asbestos roofs or touring Europe in a Ford.

To illustrate. Homer Croy and I once lost our way while motoring through the interior of France. Halting our old Model T, we asked a group of peasants how we could get to the next big town.

The effect of the question was electrical. These peasants, wearing wooden shoes, regarded all Americans as rich. And automobiles were rare in those regions, extremely rare. Americans touring through France in a car! Surely we must be millionaires. Maybe cousins of Henry Ford. But they knew something we didn’t know. We had more money than they had; but we had to come to them hat in hand to find out how to get to the next town. And that gave them a feeling of importance. They all started talking at once. One chap, thrilled at this rare opportunity, commanded the others to keep quiet. He wanted to enjoy all alone the thrill of directing us.

Try this yourself. The next time you are in a strange city, stop someone who is below you in the economic and social scale and say: “I wonder if you would mind helping me out of a little difficulty. Won’t you please tell me how to get to such and such a place?”

Benjamin Franklin used this technique to turn a caustic enemy into a lifelong friend. Franklin, a young man at the time, had all his savings invested in a small printing business. He managed to get himself elected clerk of the General Assembly in Philadelphia. That position gave him the job of doing the official printing. There was good profit in this job, and Ben was eager to keep it. But a menace loomed ahead. One of the richest and ablest men in the Assembly disliked Franklin bitterly. He not only disliked Franklin, but he denounced him in a public talk.

That was dangerous, very dangerous. So Franklin resolved to make the man like him.

But how? That was a problem. By doing a favour for his enemy? No, that would have aroused his suspicions, maybe his contempt.

Franklin was too wise, too adroit to be caught in such a trap. So he did the very opposite. He asked his enemy to do him a favour.

Franklin didn’t ask for a loan of $10. No! No! Franklin asked a favour that pleased the other man – a favour that touched his vanity, a favour that gave him recognition, a favour that subtly expressed Franklin’s admiration for his knowledge and achievements.

Here is the balance of the story in Franklin’s own words:

“Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book and requesting that he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days.

He sent it immediately, and I returned it in about a week with another note expressing strongly my sense of the favour.

When next we met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before) and with great civility; and he ever afterward manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends and our friendship continued to his death.”

Ben Franklin has been dead now for a hundred and fifty years, but the psychology that he used, the psychology of asking the other man to do you a favour, goes marching right on.

For example, it was used with remarkable success by one of my students, Albert B. Amsel. For years, Mr Amsel, a salesman of plumbing and heating materials, had been trying to get the trade of a certain plumber in Brooklyn. This plumber’s business was exceptionally large and his credit unusually good. But Amsel was licked from the beginning. The plumber was one of those disconcerting individuals who pride themselves on being rough, tough, and nasty. Sitting behind his desk with a big cigar tilted in the corner of his mouth, he snarled at Amsel every time he opened the door, “Don’t need a thing today! Don’t waste my time and yours! Keep moving!

Then one day Mr. Amsel tried a new technique, a technique that split the account wide open, made a friend, and brought many fine orders.

Amsel’s firm was negotiating for the purchase of a new branch store in Queens Village on Long Island. It was a neighbourhood the plumber knew well, and one where he did a great deal of business. So this time, when Mr Amsel called, he said: “Mr C____, I’m not here to sell you anything today. I’ve got to ask you to do me a favour, if you will. Can you spare me just a minute of your time?”

“H’m-well,” said the plumber, shifting his cigar. “What’s on your mind? Shoot.”

“My firm is thinking of opening up a branch store over in Queens Village,” Mr Amsel said. “Now, you know that locality as well as anyone living. So I’ve come to you to ask what you think about it. Is it a wise move – or not?”

Here was a new situation! For years this plumber had been getting his feeling of importance out of snarling at salesmen and ordering them to keep moving.

But here was a salesman begging him for advice; yes, a salesman from a big concern wanting his opinion as to what they should do.

“Sit down,” he said, pulling forward a chair. And for the next hour, he expatiated on the peculiar advantages and virtues of the plumbing market in Queens Village. He not only approved the location of the store, but he focused his intellect on outlining a complete course of action for the purchase of the property, the stocking of supplies, and the opening of trade. He got a feeling of importance by telling a wholesale plumbing concern how to run its business. From there, he expanded into personal grounds. He became friendly, and told Mr. Amsel of his intimate domestic difficulties and household wars.

“By the time I left that evening,” Mr. Amsel says, “I not only had in my pocket a large initial order for equipment, but I had laid the foundations of a solid business friendship. I am playing golf now with this chap who formerly barked and snarled at me. This change in his attitude was brought about by my asking him to do me a little favour that made him feel important.”


Let’s examine another of Ken Dyke’s letters, and again note how skilfully he applies this “do-me-a-favour” psychology.

A few years ago, Mr. Dyke was distressed at his inability to get business men, contractors, and architects to answer his letters asking for information.

In those days, he seldom got more than 1 per cent return from his letters to architects and engineers. He would have regarded 2 per cent as very good, and 3 per cent as excellent. And 10 per cent? Why, 10 per cent would have been hailed as a miracle.

But the letter that follows pulled almost 50 per cent… Five times as good as a miracle. And what replies! Letters of two and three pages! Letters glowing with friendly advice and co-operation.

Here is the letter. You will observe that in the psychology used – even in the phraseology in some places-the letter is almost identical with that quoted [earlier]. As you peruse this letter, read between the lines, try to analyze the feeling of the man who got it. Find out why it produced results five times as good as a miracle.



Mr John Doe,
617 Doe Street,
Doeville, N.J.

Dear Mr Doe:

I wonder if you’ll help me out of a little difficulty?

About a year ago I persuaded our company that one of the things architects most needed was a catalogue which would give them the whole story of all J-M building materials and their part in repairing and remodelling homes.

The attached catalogue resulted – the first of its kind. But now our stock is getting low, and when I mentioned it to our president he said (as presidents will) that he would have no objection to another edition provided I furnished satisfactory evidence that the catalogue had done the job for which it was designed.

Naturally, I must come to you for help, and I am therefore taking the liberty of asking you and forty-nine other architects in various parts of the country to be the jury.

To make it quite easy for you, I have written a few simple questions on the back of this letter. And I’ll certainly regard it as a personal favour if you’ll check the answers, add any comments that you may wish to make, and then slip this letter into the enclosed stamped envelope.

Needless to say, this won’t obligate you in any way, and I now leave it to you to say whether the catalogue shall be discontinued or reprinted with improvements based on your experience and advice.

In any event, rest assured that I shall appreciate your co-operation very much. Thank you!

Sincerely yours,
Sales Promotion Manager.

Another word of warning. I know from experience that some men, reading this letter, will try to use the same psychology mechanically. They will try to boost the other man’s ego, not through genuine, real appreciation, but through flattery and insincerity. And their technique won’t work.

Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.

Let me repeat: the principles taught in this book will work only when they come from the heart. I am not advocating a bag of tricks. I am talking about a new way of life.

In A Nutshell


Rule 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Rule 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.

Rule 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Rule 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Rule 5: Let the other man save his face.

Rule 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Rule 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Rule 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.

Rule 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.