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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:
PAY LITTLE ATTENTIONS.