JUST “LIFE AND LOVE”
Kay Francis says it’s easy to hold a man if done the right way
By Virginia Maxwell
Originally appeared in the June 1933 issue of Photoplay.
“Marriage is a give and take affair, a big job in itself. And there are definite rules for success in this important business as there are in other games,” Kay Francis said to me.
“I really think that women today have forgotten their femininity. And I don’t mean that they can’t wear tweed suits or work as hard as their brothers, either. I mean those moments at home when wives forget to be glamorous to their men.
“Every women has her little mysteries, even if it’s only a trick of clothes or makeup. And do you think men don’t notice when a woman’s nose isn’t powdered? Or when the straps of her undies are slipping off her shoulders or when she is not dainty in her clothes?”
Husband Kenneth MacKenna was due any moment. And Kay was certainly an attractive wife for him to come home to. She had been too busy to have a shampoo and set that week. But her hair proved the point of what she had been saying. She had merely run her comb through her permanent, fluffed it up a little at the back, then patted it down over the ears. A little fragrant hair tonic had made it lovely.
“Modern wives,” someone demurred, “are usually too busy to bother much with their looks.”
“Keeping attractive is really such an important part of a wife’s job,” Kay shot back, “that she should make time. Girls going to business every day—I see them early mornings when I’m on my way to the studio—are the essence of loveliness. They have perhaps less time than the wives who stay at home. Yet they know that looking attractive is part of their office jobs and they don’t neglect this point.”
“But suppose one isn’t born good-looking or charming or anything,” one of the unmarried girl friends lamented, “what then? Don’t men always fall for a pretty face and figure regardless of anything else?”
“Of course, beauty always attracts a man,” Kay said, “but it’s charm that holds him. You know, I believe that a man who passes up a charming girl just because she isn’t pretty is cheating himself, not the girl. The man who can see through a plain looking girl, right through her features to the think behind her eyes which is her inner charm, is the man who would make a better husband. It’s a sort of barometer for measuring a man’s emotional depth, too, don’t you see?”
“Honestly, now,” someone asked, “do you think a modern 1933 wife would have taken on so seriously about her husband’s affair as you did over Ronnie Colman’s philandering in ‘Cynara’?”
Kay’s green eyes opened wide.
“Not sophisticated wives, she said. “But they are in the minority. There are thousands of women all over this country who could never have brought themselves to live with again after they’d found out infidelity. As in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where I once lived. Women in that down, and it’s typical of other towns, would have felt the blow to their pride too severely to make up after a public scandal such as followed the husband’s affair in ‘Cynara.’
“I think that’s true of so many divorces. It’s pride that goads woman on to an unforgiving attitude. They simply can’t believe it and they can’t walk out of the house and know the neighbors are whispering.”
WE thought of the tragedies for which neighbors are sometimes responsible; women who, quite content to overlook their own husband’s faults, goad other women to the divorce court.
And, usually, great mountains are built of molehill troubles. Like the young married woman who thought she was being terribly snubbed because her husband buried himself in the newspaper at breakfast. Or the wife whose day was made miserable because friend husband, rushing off to make the 8:10 train for the office, forgot to kiss her goodbye.
“It’s never really the big things which wreck the marriage,” asserted Kay. “It’s the little things—petty arguments, personal habits, perhaps.
“Women have gone through tragic financial disasters with husbands today and they are happily rebuilding their lives. Even the mercenary wife has withstood this sort of blow. But let the same husband hurt her pride of get on her nerves, and more domestic damage can be done than a dozen bank failures can cause.”
“Then you think a woman can plan her life for happiness?” one woman asked Kay. “That no matter what big, shocking blow comes to her marriage, she can still go on?”
“I see it this way,” Kay answered, “Unless a marriage is just all wrong from the beginning; unless two people are hopelessly mismated, I do think a woman can plan her happiness. True, she may lose the love of her husband, but she can make up for some of that in other interests such as children, or work, or her home, or something she can be terribly interested in. It isn’t necessary to dash into the divorce court and come out with a decree which eventually may tear her life to pieces.
“And don’t think I believe marriage is a one-sided game,” Kay added.
“There are little curiosities which a man contributes to keep the glamour in a marriage. The man who forgets to arise when his wife meets him, or to draw out her chair at the table or to hold her wrap…that man is forgetting his glamour. For, you see, as I said before, it’s the little things which put beauty into marriage.
“Of course, I don’t mean that men ought to go around drawing out chairs for their wives and expecting to build marital happiness on anything so slender. What I mean is that, granted two people are well mated, the loveliness of that marriage relationship need never become tarnished if each one remembers that the beauty of love is an illusion. Each must work to preserve that intangible thing, and it is the little curiosities, the little exchanges which grow into every marriage. They vary with the individual, of course.
“Only when this fragile sense of reciprocation has fled it seems do we realize what had been given to us—to preserve or to destroy. Illusion is enjoyed by the man as by the women. Both must strive to keep a little glamour and they will run less risk of becoming uninteresting to each other as years go on.”