This is such a beautiful excerpt that gives us an opportunity to meditate on something that should never grow old…that old-fashioned virtue, Courtesy. Yes, it is very “in” to be courteous, especially to those within our four walls.
by J.R. Miller
A secret of happiness in married life is courtesy. By what law of nature or of life is it, that after the peals of the wedding bells have died away, and they have established themselves in their own home, so many husbands and wives drop the charming little amenities and refinements of manner toward each other, that so invariably and delightfully characterized their interaction before marriage?
Is there no necessity for these civilities any longer ? Are they so sure now of each other’s love, that they do not need to give expression to it, either in affectionate word or act? Is wedded love such a strong, vigorous and self-sufficing plant that it never needs sunshine, rain or dew?
Is politeness merely a manner that is necessary in interaction with the outside world, and not required when we are alone with those we love the best? Are home hearts so peculiarly constituted, that they are not pained or offended by things that would never be pardoned in us, if done in ordinary society?
Are we under no obligations to be respectful and to pay homage to our dearest friends— while even to the rudest clown, or the greatest stranger, which we meet outside our own doors— we feel ourselves bound to show the most perfect civility?
On the contrary, there is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained, as in the home. There are no hearts which hunger so, for expressions of affection, as the hearts of which we are most sure. There is no love which so needs its daily bread—as the love that is strongest and holiest.
There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable, as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved! The tenderer the love and the truer— the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart!
It is not costly presents at Christmas and on birthdays and anniversaries, that are needed ; these are only mockeries— if the days between are empty of affectionate expressions.
Jewelry and silks will never atone for the lack of warmth and tenderness. Between husband and wife there should be maintained , without break or pause— the most perfect courtesy, the gentlest attention, the most unselfish amiability, the utmost affectionateness!
Coleridge says, “The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions, the little soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling .”
These may seem trifles, and the omission of them may be deemed unworthy of thought; but they are the daily bread of love, and hearts go hungry when they are omitted.
It may be only carelessness at first in a busy husband or a weary wife— which fails in these small, sweet courtesies, and it may seem a little matter— but in the end the result may be a growing far apart of two lives which might have been forever very happy in each other— had their early love but been cherished and nourished.