By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
When but a bride the writer penned a small book entitled, "The Secret of a Happy Married Life." Husband was of course greatly surprised when I brought out the manuscript. He smiled and said he did not know I could write, but added that he wondered how the production would be received by the public since I had not had much experience. He published the book however, and when it was exhausted I revised and enlarged it. This book has had such a fabulous sale that we have had to publish a number of editions, -- two of which came out within six months time.
Possibly some are wondering if one really could experience a life-long honeymoon; or, if it is but theory. It may be an encouragement to such to know that in our case, -- after more than twenty-two years -- it has been a blessed reality.
Of course, there are times when the best of people do not quite understand each other, but through God's abiding grace such things are quickly adjusted, so that life flows on like an undisturbed river. Thank God, this may be true of any couple provided special precaution be taken by both parties to have it so.
May we present a few little secrets which will aid in bringing happiness to any home.
The first is a magnanimity of soul which gives to each other the right to his own opinion. This will save quibbling and quarreling over little things. If one party feels called to a certain line of work, it should be the pleasure of the other to assist. One's divine call should be considered, however before marriage, lest he be cramped and hindered by the one he loves.
It is my pleasure to say that so far as husband is concerned, he has done his part to promote our happiness. Had he discouraged my desire to win souls I never would have accomplished even the little God has enabled me to do, as it is my disposition to allow others to crowd me out if they are so disposed.
Though we have not had much hired help in the home, husband h~ always tried to see that I had time for writing, insisting that no time be spent on fancy cooking, or unnecessary, things.
Perhaps another secret of happiness has been that we have had one purse -- a joint ownership of what little we possessed. Right here there is food for thought, for many lives are unhappy because of trouble along financial lines. Of course there are two sides to this question for I have known women who were extravagant; they had to have so many new things; they did not know how to piece out and remodel; they could get up a good meal provided they had plenty of fresh or canned goods, but lacked the art of making a tasty meal out of left-overs. Perhaps it would be wise to give such an one a certain allowance each week for living expenses with the privilege of keeping as her own what was left. If she keep an itemized account of each expenditure, it will greatly aid her in planning how she can save a little more the next week.
Perhaps I may be pardoned for saying that on the other hand, we have known men to be unkind and unreasonable regarding domestic finances. This is one reason why some women refuse to raise families and prefer to work outside the home instead.
We once had a friend who though well-to-do, would not give his wife sufficient to run the kitchen. She did all the work -- washing included, and if she needed a quarter's worth of soap she had to hunt up her husband and ask him for the money. If he happened to have nothing smaller than a half-dollar, she was told to bring the change back. In order to have what she needed she was obliged to. keep boarders.
We had another friend who would not allow his wife to know much about their business affairs. Everything was kept in his own hands. When she fell heir to some property, he sold it and declared she did not know how to use the money. When she wants clothes, she works for them, hence secures a job three or four times a year. I might add that love has died in that home.
But, thank God, all men are not like these two cases. We knew a man in Atlanta, Georgia, who gave his wife a certain amount each week for running the home, another allowance for her work, and still another, just because he loved her.
Shall we continue? Another little item that must needs be mentioned here as necessary to the happiness of the home is that each parent see to it that due respect be given the other in the presence of the children. Even though one has made a mistake, it should be the rule to conceal that error from the little ones.
In training children, differences of opinion may arise between parents. Those differences should be hid from the children and calmly and lovingly discussed privately. Nothing is more important than to train the child to fully and forever give due respect to his superiors.
Another great secret of conjugal felicity is the absence of suspicion. While all are subject to temptation, yet it is blessed to know that grace has kept the heart true. Our work has kept us separated much of the time -- husband in the evangelistic field and the wife either at home, or on another field of labor. But God has kept us so that we have had no fear of heart wanderings, or infidelity even in thought. We cannot help but pity the thousands of homes where love has flown, because of the entering into the affections a third party and we would warn all such that sin begins in the mind.
I trust that no one will feel that we are at all putting ourselves up as examples. We are not, for we have often erred in judgment and sometimes wish we might live our lives over again that we might make fewer mistakes. We wish only to make some homes happier by suggesting these few little secrets of a life-long honeymoon.