Articles

How to Save Your Husband’s Life

GEORGE LAWTON September 1 1949
Articles

How to Save Your Husband’s Life

GEORGE LAWTON September 1 1949

How to Save Your Husband’s Life

GEORGE LAWTON

HAVE YOU ever entered the lobby of a large hotel in a large city in the evening? Have you noticed the women sitting about in the comfortable lounge chairs? You will notice that most of them are in the middle years, well-dressed and well-groomed, there are lines of disappointment and worry showing through the fastidious make-up, and they are alone. Every time the doors swing open they look up hopefully.

Who are these women and what are they waiting for? They are some of the millions of women in North America who are widowed, divorced, separated or permanently single—women without men.

They are waiting and hoping that by some miracle a man will appear who will rescue them from being creatures who apparently belong nowhere, who push out no roots, and have no plan to live by.

I have found that one of the major problems of middle and late maturity is this problem of the woman alone. Statistics show that the average wife will be a widow at least eight years, assuming no remarriage, because (1) a woman will live four years longer than a man; and (2) a wife is, on the average, four years younger than her husband. Two thirds of women over 65 are living without husbands.

Why do women find themselves in this predicament? One reason is that women just naturally live longer than men. A Canadian baby girl these days can expect to live until 66 years of age. A

boy infant can count on only 63 years. These figures are based on the 1941 census.

The startling fact is that, in spite of the fiction of her being the weaker sex, woman is undeniably the stronger sex.

Nature has seen to it that the bearer of children is more resistant to disease and deterioration than lier male counterpart. Women have more sex hormones, more nitrogen, more calcium, more of some vitamins and other elements, and more white blood corpuscles.

Woman also has more moral stamina than man. She can handle frustrations and incapacities better. If you don’t believe me, look about you. Observe a man when he must have an operation, when he loses a job or money, when he is faced with a drop in vocational status, when he must acknowledge the end of sexual activity. Crises such as

This famous psychologist urges women — the much stronger sex — to fight harder to avoid ending up as lonely women without men

these in a man’s life hit him hard and sometime knock him out. Why?

For one thing, man is under constant strain to protect his ego, to save face. He feels he must constantly live up to an ideal picture he has built up of himself. Any cracks in the façade of the building and he is sure the entire building is about to tumble down.

Man is an extremist in all things, an all-or-nothing sort of person. Although this characteristic produces great flights of the imagination, great genius, great creativity, it unfortunately also produces more criminals, more suicides, more mental cases, and more illnesses leading to death.

Woman is a much better compromiser. With her greater equanimity she takes such crises in her stride. She is more placid, cautious and patient, and this makes her strong. There is a mistaken notion going about that women are more nervous than men. This is not true. Women talk more about their troubles and have more time to think about them. But more men actually land in the psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ offices.

There is another reason why women live longer then men. Men lead harder lives and wear out faster. From my experience I should say that the average North American male overworks himself while his wife underworks herself. Before some hardworking wife with 10 children rushes out to scalp me, let me say that I am speaking now of the middle-income group, not of the lower-income group where both men and women are likely to be overworked.

I am speaking of the wife who is in a position to take advantage of all the labor-saving devices, whose children are almost or entirely grown, but whose husband is still striving to raise their standard of living higher and higher.

The strain of earning a living in our society, the high pressure and the murderous competition take their toll of men’s lives. It is high time that women faced this fact squarely. Is it not ironic that the sex less able physically and emotionally to stand the pressures of life is the one that is obliged to face them day in and day out?

What can a married woman do to relieve this situation? I am assuming that you would like to have your men live longer. After all, they are useful things to have around—or aren’t they? Let’s be kind and assume they are.

Here is one suggestion. Look at the standard of living your husband’s earnings make possible, and evaluate it carefully in terms of what it takes out of him to produce it. Is keeping up with the Joneses worth the dreary prospect of being sooner or later a woman alone?

If you truly love your husband go over with him his budget of energy expenditure. Is he working too hard? Does he get time to rest, to relax? Is he in good shape physically and emotionally?

Another suggestion: Because of the lessening

of the burden of housekeeping many of you middleincome, middle-aged wives find yourself with a good deal of time on your hands. Fill it up as you might with bridge clubs and cocktail parties, you are still bored. You know you are wasting your time and your talents. The best way out of boredom is to go to work. Real work—work that pays a salary. By adding to the family income, you can take some of the burden off your overworked husbands.

Unless he is an old -fashioned codger whose ego

is all wrapped up in being able to exhibit an idle wife, I assure you he will be grateful and happy. He might even live longer and repay you by saving you from becoming a woman alone.

Let That Man Relax

1KNOW an insurance agent who did fairly well, but his standard of living gave him no chance to relax from his high-pressure work. His days and evenings were filled with calls on clients and prospects and his mind was a mill of plans and figures constantly grinding away. As he neared middle age he began to grow absent-minded, irritable, and couldn’t sleep.

He was lucky; he had an affectionate and intelligent wife. She went out and got a job. She became a saleswoman in an exclusive little shop, and she loved it.

As the weight of entire financial responsibility was lifted from his shoulders her husband became more cheerful. He took time off to relax. He resumed an old hobby, woodworking.

Both husband and wife found they had given themselves a new lease on life. One of their happiest moments was when one afternoon the husband met his wife for cocktails at the end of her day’s work. During his hectic business hunting he had never had time to do anything as gracious and leisurely as this.

The net result of this wife’s wisdom was a better husband and one who is likely to live past the normal span.

I know another man, a lawyer, who let his work and his fear of financial insecurity drive him ragged. His wife, who happened to be a wonderful pastry maker, formed the idea of starting a catering service from her home. First she just sold cakes, then expanded to include a complete party service. In time she developed a lucrative business.

The added income relieved her husband and he

became a different man. The shadows under his eyes cleared up, a wrinkle or two in bis forehead flattened out, he laughed more freely, and there was a new spring to his step.

You wives with time on your hands and hardworking husbands, isn’t it worth a little effort to give your man some ease, a chance to sit. back and enjoy life, an opportunity to be a real husband? If you find earning money distasteful and difficult, is it less distasteful and difficult to face a worried, harassed, overworked and short-lived husband? Think it over.

Among the simpler methods a wife may use to preserve her husband is to encourage him to have hobbies to offset the business strain. Take my word for it that this is a very rewarding thing. I have known scores of people who have found new emotional health through the practice of some art or craft. The human imagination is a marvelous thing. It never grows old. Give it a chance to exercise itself and it does wonderful things to the body and soul. It keeps the spirit lively and young; it generates its own happiness.

One way to solve the problem of wives outliving their husbands would be for men to marry women eight years their senior. This notion, I’m sorry to say, meets with a singular lack of enthusiasm on the part of men. In fact, older men show a curious and often fatal tendency to fly in the face of all common sense and seek to marry women 10, 15, even 20 years younger than themselves. Thus they add to the procession of women bereft of men in their later years.

The woman alone: who will support her? How can she earn a living? Where, with whom and how can she live? How can she get male companionship?

A woman in this situation should work hard at whatever interests she has or has had. If she hasn’t cultivated any she should do so now. If she is wise, and they suit her temperamentally, she will choose interests that also find favor with men. Sports are good, politics is good, intellectual pursuits are also good. One woman client of mine took a course in Japanese and in calculus at a university; she was the only woman in these classes.

Finding a job which brings one in contact with men is a help. I know one older woman who switched from an office job entirely staffed by women to a job in a travel agency; another became a clerk at the transportation desk of a big hotel; a third sold a service which involved calling on men in their offices.

I had a lonesome client one summer and suggested, in a moment of inspiration, that she try becoming a cashier at a golf course. She took eagerly to the notion. What kind of men did she meet as she rang up the cash register? All kinds—married, permanent bachelors, mama’s boys, wolves and jerks.

She told me she had a job of weeding out and doing some fast side-stepping —as all women have. But at least she had a fighting chance to get a man.

Some women are alone because they are not emotionally ready for a man; other women are alone because they do not meet men. The problem then is one of social mechanics rather than psychology and complexes.

Married Couples Can Help

If the unattached 30-plus woman cannot meet men in her daily work she must try other ways. One way is eating alone in restaurants frequented mostly by men. Keeping a list of choice vacation spots and cruises popular with men and using them during her own vacations has been known to bring results. In this respect let me give you a tip. Women have told me that the very worst thing a woman alone seeking to alter her state can do is to have another woman tagging along for company.

How women can meet men easily without seeming “easy” is certainly a problem. In some cases it cannot be solved by the woman herself. Here is where the community should step in. Although there are clubs and recreation centres for older men and women in several large cities, they are usually designed for the lower-income group of 60-plus population. For the 35-50 lower-income group, and for both age groups in the middle-income bracket there is nothing.

Clubs and recreation centres are good ways for men and women to meet. The ideal is to pursue interests that will bring one in contact with people, but with the emphasis on the interests.

Of course the normal way in which unattached women, and men, should meet members of the opposite sex is in social gatherings at the homes of friends. But here a rather deplorable situation exists.

Most married people—and they are the ones who do the most entertaining —rarely invite unattached men and women to their gatherings. I have heard many reasons for this: persons

living alone are not geared to entertaining in return; when you invite married couples you get two birds with one stone; married women, who do the actual inviting, like to have other married women around—it’s a proof of their success; if the single woman is attractive, the married woman is afraid her husband will find her too interesting; if the single woman is not very attractive, the husband will be bored; single women seem to be so envious of the married bliss of their hosts, that it is embarrassing to have them up.

These are not very good reasons. They show lack of understanding, lack of feeling, and above all, lack of foresight. For what happily married woman knows when her own double status will change, and she will be a woman alone? She will then know how it feels to be “poor Mildred,” and will bitterly resent her former married friends when they neglect her.

I recommend that all married couples should make nonattached men and women part of their social life. You will be doing your single friends a very great favor and will be indirectly providing insurance for yourself if the day when you are alone should come.

You may not be one of those girls who believes that man is God’s gift to women. You may have other adjectives for men. You think you can live alone and love it. You insist unattached women can be just as happy or even happier than married ones. You may be that kind of woman. But you are very much in the minority.

Most women want to share their lives with a man. For such women, who are alone, I have one last word. You have a real problem. Part of it is how to live alone and not show it.

Whatever your circumstances do your own entertaining. Invite anyone and everyone you know—even married folks. Get into active circulation. Go to every gathering, lecture, party, meeting to which you are invited.

Don’t ask whether your hostess is boring or not. A bore may be the unwitting link between you and the person you want to meet.

Make a note of the name and address of every unattached man you meet. He may not be a romantic possibility, but he will be an important ingredient in your social life.

Remember—if you want to meet men, you will never meet them sitting alone in your room or apartment waiting for them to come to you. Enlarge your interests, circulate, become active, use your head—and the chances are you will meet an unattached man who will want to join forces with you for life—at least for his life.

Most women, whether married or single, will sooner or later face the problem of being a woman alone. You women married now, give a sympathetic thought to the problems of the woman now alone.

And when you remember you may not see that husband of yours for the last eight years of your life perhaps you will look at him with new and loving eyes at dinner tonight.