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Part Four on Improving Your Relationship: Dale Carnegie on Marriage: Smile

Dale Carnegie, in his best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has some pointers in business that would be helpful at home.  In our blog today we’ll look at his suggestion to smile.  Most of our homes could use more smiles.

He writes,

Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says. “I like you .  You make me happy.  I am glad to see you.”  That is why dogs make such a hit.  They are so glad to see us that they almost jump out of their skins.  So naturally, we are glad to see them.” (p. 63)

The ancient Chinese were a wise lot—wise in the ways of the word; and they had a proverb you and I ought to cut out and paste inside our hats. It goes like this: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” (p. 69)

This is why the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld is so funny.  Imagine going to a shop and the owner greets you with disdain.  You wouldn’t stay long.  You wouldn’t come back.

Some of us greet our spouse and children with the same scowl as the Soup Nazi and then we wonder why our home life lacks a little joy.  You set the tone.  Yes, you.

Carnegie goes on to write:

You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you. P. 65

Here’s a recipe to destroy your marriage. It’s a very simple plan.  Very subtle, quite easy to do: only smile at your spouse and be happy to see her, if she’s happy to see you.  I’m amazed how many of us operate our lives this way.  It’s like we’ve got these little radar machines constantly going to determine if she’s happy or not and if she’s happy, fine and if she’s not, watch out!  Meanwhile, she’s got radar going out wondering if you’re happy and if you are not happy, watch out!  Then you can blame each other for the negative spirit in your home and start longing for a happy spouse.  Why don’t you take charge of your life instead of waiting for your spouse to make you happy?

Here’s another surefire way to dump your marriage in the toilet. Do not pass go.  Go directly to the D word:  Make it your goal to make your spouse happy on the one hand or assume it is your spouse’s job to make you happy on the other.  In case you haven’t figured this out, parasites don’t make good marriage partners.  If you have this view of happiness, then you are in the parasite category.  NOTE to the uneducated: You can’t make anyone else happy.  You can only affect your own happiness and you don’t get that by seeking happiness or by seeking it in someone else.

Look at how this works. You are in a bad mood from work dead tired.  You come home in a funk.  You walk in the door and your spouse looks up and sees your unsmiling face and then he gets an unsmiling face and you think what a sad husband.  He never smiles and he’s thinking what a sad wife.  She’s never happy.  And you both are discouraged and downhearted and nobody picks anybody up and both parties blame the other for their unhappiness.  And then, if this goes on for awhile, pretty soon you start associating each other with pain and agony and start to entertain the idea you should divorce and then, if you keep living your life this way, getting your feelings from the other person instead of owning your own feelings, you will start to ponder divorce as an option and then you divorce and go looking for a spouse who smiles a lot and is happy to see you and you find someone that smiles at you and is happy to see you, at least initially, because everything is new and fresh and exciting and you are such a nice person, don’t you know, and then you marry and he comes home one day in a funk and since you’ve never learned to have your own feelings, but to get them from everyone else, and he’s not in a good mood, so you can’t be either, and you start the mess all over again and then you divorce in spades all over again because you never learned the purpose of marriage is not to make you happy or your spouse happy for that matter, and you don’t get happiness on someone else’s shirttail, you get happiness from living rightly and living rightly includes being responsible for your own feelings and the simple rule of feelings is they respond to what you do and you do what you choose and you choose what you think and if you think you can only be happy if your spouse is happy and he is operating under the same false belief, you two leeches will soon suck the blood out of each other and there won’t be anything left after awhile and you’ll be right back to the judge needing someone else to solve your problems for you because you aren’t mature enough to figure out you can only be happy if you do the right thing and the right thing is not to be offended by everything and to actually choose to reach out to your spouse whether he’s in a good mood or not so he can learn to reach out to you whether you are in a good mood or not so the both of you can rise above discouragement and heartache and to not let either of your downheartednesses get the other down.

For heaven sakes, quit blaming your unhappiness on your spouse and get a life.  Happiness isn’t something you seek.  It is the result of living rightly.  It is the result of taking charge of your own life.  Taking Dale Carnegie’s quote of Abraham Lincoln:

Abe Lincoln once remarked that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” P. 68

So: if you want your husband to be happy to see you, be happy to see him regardless of whether he appears to be happy to see you.  If you want your wife to be happy to see you, be happy to see her regardless of whether she appears to be happy to see you.


Don’t react.  Choose.

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