Why I stay married
Are you wives on the spot? Jealous of your husbands? A Famous husband named Gable tells his side of the story
By Gladys Hall
If you have an attractive husband --- or contemplate annexing one --- you have the same problems that beset Ria Gable. She has the constant worry of predatory women --- so have you. She has to fear flattery that turns a man's head, ego that breeds superiority --- so do you. Her husband's reactions must be your husband's reactions. so I sought out Clark. his answer is revealing, helpful to us all.
I said to Clark, over the luncheon table, "What kind of a woman do you think an actor should marry? In order to make marriage successful, I mean?"
Clark said, without an instant's hesitation, "The kind of a woman I am married to --- my wife."
We had been talking about Hollywood marriages and their failures and the why of their failures --- Kay Francis and Kenneth MacKenna, Ruth Chatterton and George Brent, Ann Harding and Harry Bannister, Gloria Swanson and her exes, Jean Harlow and Hal Rosson, the sadly swelling list of them.
Clark said, " It's all predicted, I believe, on the basic law of things --- where the husband, or in our business the 'star,' is the breadwinner, the marriage has a seventy-five percent of chance of success. You can look about and make, off hand, a list of vital statistics proving this contention. For instance, the Jean Hersholts, the Clive Brooks, the Leslie Howards, the John Boles, the Warner Baxters, the Morgans, Frank and Ralph --- in every one of these marriages the husband is the one in the arena and the wife is just the wife. And in every one of these marriages, too, the marriage has stood and appears to be standing on the firm bedrock of many years. Also, in every one of these marriages the husbands and wives are of approximately the same respective ages and the wives are intelligent, self-sufficient women who have been around and know what it is all about. They are real people, neither jealous rivals nor paper-doll appendages.
"On the other hand, and in such cases as Ann Harding's, Gloria Swanson's, and so on, the wives were the stars. The men are known as the ' the husbands of...' To be 'a husband of' means the divorce court even as you stand at the altar. You can't get away from the fundamental laws separating and governing men and women. Grease paint on the face does not alter immutable laws. Man is born with a dominant ego --- offend that ego or compete with it in the same field and, if you are a woman, you will soon be a divorcee." I said, "You've never talked, specifically, about your own marriage, clark, or your own wife. Do you mind?"
Clark said, "Not at all. You've asked me what kind of a woman an actor should marry and the only way I can answer that question is to describe my own wife."
To begin, then I am the 'star,' Ria is my wife. But she is a wife, who though not in my profession is in it --- for me, not for herself. She is interested in it and she is thoroughly informed about every phase of it. She is ambitious about it for me. She is interested in it as she would be interested in medicine, in law, or in banking if any one of these were my life work.
"She is, also, a very self-sufficient woman, which is very important in the making of a successful 'movie marriage.' She has her own interest, her own friends, she has her bridge clubs and parties and children and our home. She doesn't seize hold of my life with idle, and therefore morbidly curious hands. When I come home at night and am too tired to talk about the studio or what I've been doing I don't have to. Ria doesn't care. these are dozens of other things, vitally important, to talk about. On the other hand, if I do fell like talking about what has been going on, she is as keen about it as I am, and knows as much. If I want advice, I can get it.
"I could not, I would not, be married to an actress. In the first place, one professional ego is enough in any home. Two egos of the same stamp would blow the roof off Buckingham Palace. If I were married to an actress, and I never will be, here is what would happen: We would have had a bad day, each of us. We would come home with nerves frayed and teeth on edge and we would want to talk about it; we would want peace and comfort and sympathy. We wouldn't get it, either one of us. And all hell would break loose. In the course of many times like this one or both of us would look for comfort and sympathy elsewhere. Or we would have had a good day in the studio and would be full of it, wanting an admiring and appreciative audience, eager to do a little strutting, a bit of boasting. W would both want the floor, in other words.
I don't have to combat that situation. If I'm tired and fed up, Ria has other things to talk about; other things to do. And because she is a mature woman and knows men and how to handle them, she does just that. If I'm keen about something, want to blow off steam over some scene I think I've done especially well, I can do it without having the nervous fear that she will want to break in with some similar bragging of her own.