She sat up a little at that, and started in to tell me that while you had said “some very, very cruel, cruel things to her, still—” But I cut her short by allowing that, sorry as I was to own it, I was afraid you had a streak of the brute in you, and I only hoped that you wouldn’t take it out on her after you were married.
Well, sir, the way she flared up, I thought that all the Fourth of July fireworks had gone off at once. The air was full of trouble—trouble in set pieces and bombs and sizzy rockets and sixteen-ball Roman candles, and all pointed right at me. Then it came on to rain in the usual way, and she began to assure me between showers that you were so kind and gentle that it hurt you to work, or to work at my horrid pig-sticking business, I forget which, and I begged her pardon for having misjudged you so cruelly, and then the whole thing sort of simmered off into a discussion of whether I thought you’d rather she wore pink or blue at breakfast. So I guess you’re all right. Only you’d better write quick and apologize.
I didn’t get at the facts of the quarrel, but you’re in the wrong. A fellow’s always in the wrong when he quarrels with a woman, and even if he wasn’t at the start he’s sure to be before he gets through. And a man who’s decided to marry can’t be too quick learning to apologize for things he didn’t say and to be forgiven for things he didn’t do. When you differ with your wife, never try to reason out who’s in the wrong, because you’ll find that after you’ve proved it to her shell still have a lot of talk left that she hasn’t used.
Of course, it isn’t natural and it isn’t safe for married people, and especially young married people, not to quarrel a little, but you’ll save a heap of trouble if you make it a rule never to refuse a request before breakfast and never to grant one after dinner. I don’t know why it is, but most women get up in the morning as cheerful as a breakfast-food ad., while a man will snort and paw for trouble the minute his hoofs touch the floor. Then, if you’ll remember that the longer the last word is kept the bitterer it gets, and that your wife is bound to have it anyway, you’ll cut the rest of your quarrels so short that she’ll never find out just how much meanness there is in you. Be the silent partner at home and the thinking one at the office. Do your loose talking in your sleep.
Of course, if you get a woman who’s really fond of quarreling there isn’t any special use in keeping still, because she’ll holler if you talk back and yell if you don’t. The best that you can do is to pretend that you’ve got a chronic case of ear-ache, and keep your ears stuffed with cotton. Then, like as not, she’ll buy you one of these things that you hold in your mouth so that you can hear through your teeth.
I don’t believe you’re going to draw anything of that sort with Helen, but this is a mighty uncertain world, especially when you get to betting on which way the kitten is going to jump—you can usually guess right about the cat—and things don’t always work out as planned.