My mom once told me that the secret to a happy marriage is to do all of your construction projects while your husband is at work. She knew well what she was talking about — over the years, she cut into walls to create built-in cabinets; she put up new shelves in rich and vibrant woods and hung hinged doors on other shelves that she wanted covered. All construction debris was cleared neatly away, though, each day before my father got home — and this year marked their 65th year together.
What my mom never had to tell me, though, is that the real key to a long and happy relationship is a sense of humor. Life is far too important to take seriously.
When my father passed away last month, among his things we found a treasure that his mother had saved from her wedding shower on June 5, 1919. The gifts to her included a collection of spices in tins to start her kitchen in her new household — and a book of personal and spicy advice, written in acrostics, called How to Manage a Husband. By the Experienced and the Inexperienced. When I started reading, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I got to the “T” in “Edith,” I knew that the women of that long-ago post-war generation were no different. I’ll never think of my seemingly serious and elegant grandmother in quite the same way again.
Eat everything prepared and
Invite no quarrels
Tie him to a tree if unmanageable
Help in everything
Make the ice cream
Receive his friends
Never give up
Never leave him
Love him a little more
Serve him plenty of food
Hang him if necessary
Attract no one else
Get up early in the mornings
Educate him to help with the work
Okay, so I did a double-take on this one. “Hang him if necessary”? One hopes that Nellie was one of the “inexperienced” . . . . Continue reading →