A DOMESTIC act, by definition, involves two persons, because it performed by one person on behalf of another. We have hitherto considered only its source or origin; we are now to consider its effect as well. With reference to any particular domestic net, we can designate the two family members involved by calling them respectively the active member and the beneficiary member. The active member is the person performing the domestic act: the beneficiary member is the person for whose benefit the act is done.
It lies before us now to inquire whether there is any mode of domestic behavior which is proper to the beneficiary member. The active member, we have seen, is known by his domestic motive, his preponderant interest in the welfare of another person. What response on the part of the beneficiary member constitutes domestic behavior?
Certainly the family permits and encourages a reciprocity of domestic activity, so that a beneficiary member with reference to one act may be the active member with reference to another. The wife prepares a dessert which she knows will delight her husband; the husband buys something which he is sure will please his wife. It would be possible perhaps to regard the husband’s activity as being in some way a complement to the wife’s. But such [p.124] an interpretation of the facts would stultify our conception of the principles of marriage. For benevolent activity would then become a mere matter of exchange. The principle of do ut des, I give that you may give, is an economic principle, not a principle of domestic relations. An act done in consequence of some benefit to be received, and with intent to repay an equivalent benefit, loses its domestic character and becomes economic. In so far as the attempt is made consciously to maintain a balance of benevolent activity, so that the quantity rendered by one member shall be equal to the quantity he receives, that activity is no longer domestic. It is therefore excluded that we should consider that the beneficiary member responds to domestic activity in his favor by himself entering upon domestic activity. The interplay of benevolence in a family is not a mere exchange of favors on a market basis; it is spontaneous.
Domestic behavior in the beneficiary member is passive. It is not an act but an attitude – the attitude of appreciation. Appreciation is the complement of domestic activity. It is the passive mode of domestic behavior. If A does something for B, and B appreciates what A has done, the domestic act is completed.
Far from compromising the domestic quality of an act, or reducing it to a mere exchange of services, appreciation rather intensifies its domestic quality by bringing more clearly to the attention that component in the motive which was domestic. If the wife assumes that it is solely for her sake that the husband has bought two tickets to the theater, the husband is likely to forget that he bought them partly to please himself. There is a magic in appreciation by which, as the deriva[p.125]tion of the word suggests, it enormously magnifies little things.
In the interplay of domestic activity and appreciation – a total behavior to which we give the name “domestic interaction” – there is comprehended both the active and the passive side of love. The attitude of appreciation, in its most intense form, can amount to a worship of the beloved. In a more commonplace form it is a simple recognition of benefits which a loved one confers upon one.
In the ever significant act of sex, where domestic attitudes come most sharply to focus, there can develop a fine balancing of the active and passive sides of love. This act is not fully developed aesthetically, it has not reached its full beauty, unless each participant has at once the sense of giving pleasure to the other, and of recognizing spontaneity in the free gift he receives. These two attitudes are distinct. Sometimes they are separated. Dr. Hamilton found in his inquiry into the sex lives of a hundred married women that for thirty-two of them the sex act was often less than mutual; for eight of them it was always sheer submission. The frigid woman who derives no direct pleasure from her husband’s embraces performs a domestic act when she submits to them; her husband for his part may appreciate her sacrifice, but he cannot regard his own action as domestic, nor is there any ground for appreciation by the wife. The act of sex is appropriately the central fact in the psychological situation of marriage, for in this act a complete system of domestic behavior, both active and passive, can be manifested.
The ratio of domestic activity to appreciation is a sig[p.126]nificant index of the quality of a domestic life. This ratio can be observed in the individual members, where it may be a consequence of the set of one’s character or an indication of the way family life is organized. And it can be studied in the relationship of the family members among themselves, where it serves to distinguish the fundamental types of family from each other.
When we first contemplate the fact that an individual’s domestic behavior may consist of an active or a passive component, we realize that we will have to explore the consequences of individual differences among men. Some people will seem predisposed to a passive attitude, and others will tend to meet each situation with action.
It would contribute greatly to the convenience of students of mankind if individual human beings showed no variations among themselves, and if all of them behaved exactly alike when placed in like situations. We feel the initial inadequacy of any general rule of human behavior, because none of the people with whom we become acquainted turn out to be average men. We set up this standard of domestic behavior, and we imagine the uniform benevolence of a domestic man, but we know that real people differ from this ideal type, and that they differ in varying degrees and in diverse ways.
The idiosyncrasies which we sum up in the word “character” resist systematic classification. We say in an offhand way that this person is stupid and that one bright, that this one is good and that one bad, that one is passionate and another frigid and so forth. A more comprehensive scheme is suggested by the ancient tradition of our culture which distinguishes men as choleric, sanguine, bilious, or phlegmatic. There have been a [p.127] number of attempts to found a science of character in recent years. Kretschmer’s “six fundamental temperaments” and Spranger’s “ideally basic types of individuality” are examples. One scheme for classifying psychological types which may turn out to be of real service in studying domestic behavior is Jung’s distinction between the introvert and extravert. The introvert makes internal adjustments to his situation: the extravert always tries to “do something about it.” The introvert is acutely conscious of his own feelings; the extravert is less given to introspection and more inclined to purposive action. The domestic behavior of an extravert will perhaps tend to take the form of domestic activity, of cherishing. The introvert may manifest his domestic behavior more frequently in the form of appreciation. The pale lovers who sicken and sigh in despair are introverts: the red-blooded lovers who try to abduct their women are extraverts. Intraversion and extraversion are of course relative terms. There is nothing absolute about the classification. The introvert is still capable of purposive action, the extravert can entertain the feeling and make the gesture of appreciation.
We took note of the fact that within the meaning of the word love are included experiences of feeling on the one hand and of evaluating and purposing on the other. These two kinds of love experience, when looked upon from the standpoint of the natural family, are, respectively, appreciation and domestic activity. The introvert type tends to stress the one, the extravert the other. Both are necessary to the complete functioning of the family.