Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead


I enjoyed The Beginner Housewife (1956) so much that I have decided to read all of the books advertised on the back of the book jacket. First up, How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead In His Social and Business Life, by Mrs. Dale Carnegie. If the name sounds familiar, her husband, Mr. Dale Carnegie is the author of How to Make Friends and Influence People (1936). First of all, let's be real. Mrs. Carnegie, I am positive you have a first name of your own, though the "Mrs." does really highlight the married thing. I was pretty dubious about the claim this book was making right in the title. I thought, What if my husband is a total loser? Luckily, Mrs. Carnegie addresses this in the first chapter.  She says, "Professional social workers, psychiatrists and other specialists may object that the rules I have formulated will not work in every case. What about husbands who are drunkards, drifters, ne'er-do-wells and congenital misfits? (3). I don't really know what to do if your husband is a drunkard or ne'er-do-well. I guess you have to get a different book.

This book is filled with all the sexist crap you might expect. You should cut your husband a ton of slack. Let him go out with his male friends. Stay off his back, even if he stays out all night. But there was also some very thoughtful passages as well. She urges wives not to be jealous of the women who work in the office or your husband's secretary. They're at work making their living--presumably because they don't have husbands who are as good of a provider as your husband is. I thought that was pretty open minded advice for the time.

I thought I was really going to hate this book. Seriously, it has all the hallmarks of something I would despise, but I was actually surprised. My "husband" is my wife and I just assumed there would be little for me. But I found myself, directly after reading this book, drawing on some of Mrs. Carnegie's wisdom. My partner travels a lot for work. I mean, sometimes A LOT. I get lonely and have to watch Columbo and The Dick Van Dyke Show and sometimes eat potato chips for dinner, even though I know it's just going to make me feel bad. So when my partner said she had to go to an "emergency" meeting, I was just about to protest. Then Mrs. Carnegie's words came to mind. She asks wives to keep the complaining and the disappointment to themselves. Traveling is hard. No one wants to be gone all the time. Traveling is part of my partner's job. Actually, a pretty cool part and I don't want to make her feel bad. If I did make her feel bad, there's really nothing she could do about it anyway, so why do it. As my friend Rosa says, "It's time to put on your big girl panties." This is sound advice. Mrs. Carnegie couldn't have said it better.

(I stole this cute photo from PEAKaBooDesign on Etsy. My book had no cover.)


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