....... Divertimento: Sensible marriage advice

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sensible marriage advice

Donts for Husbands Donts for Wives

I was fascinated by two little books (or should I say booklets as they only measure 7cm by 11cm) titled “DON’TS FOR HUSBANDS” and “DON’TS FOR WIVES” by Blanche Ebbutt. Never heard of her? Well, neither had I. The books were originally published in 1913! Okay I was intrigued - how can this still be relevant a hundred years hence? I had to read them….

You know what? Many of the advice are still so applicable in this day and age. In those days, the English “wives” the author was referring to generally did not work outside the home. It was not until 1918 when women over the age of 30 and who met minimum property qualifications were enfranchised. This was extended to all women above the age of 21 in 1923 ie a good 10 years after the book was first published. In any case, if you read the book bearing in mind the period in which it was written, it is surprisingly sensible and not at all sexist. The book also has references to how to treat servants-how relevant to Hong Kong today!

Here are few that I really like, see what you think of them:

For Husbands –

  • Don’t think that because you and your wife married for love there will never be a cloud in your sky. Neither of you is perfect, and you will have to learn to avoid treading on each other’s corns.

  • Don’t hesitate to mention the fact when you think your wife looks especially nice. Your thinking so can give her no pleasure unless you tell your thought.

  • Don’t forget your wife’s birthday. Even if she doesn’t want the whole world to know her age, she doesn’t like you to forget.

  • Don’t quarrel with your wife. She can’t if you won’t. Mud sticks and so do words spoken in anger.

  • Don’t refuse your wife’s overtures when next you meet if you have unfortunately had a bit of a breeze. Remember it costs her something to make them, and if you weren’t a bit of a pig, you would save her the embarrassment by making them yourself.

For Wives –

  • Don’t omit to pay your husband an occasional compliment. If he looks nice as he comes in dressed for the opera, tell him so. If he has been successful with his chickens, or his garden, or his photography, compliment him on his results.Don’t let him fall back on self-esteem all the while for want of a little well-directed praise.
    Don’t nag your husband. If he won’t carry out your wishes for the love of you, he certainly won’t because you nag him.

  • Don’t say “I told you so” to your husband, however much you feel tempted to. It does no good, and he will be grateful to you for not saying it.

  • Don’t sulk with your husband. If he has annoyed you, ‘get it off your chest’. A sulky wife is as bad as a termagant.

  • Don’t refuse to give way about trifles. When a principle is at stake it is a different matter, but most matrimonial differences arise from trifles.

  • Don’t return to an old grievance. Once a matter has been thrashed out, let it be forgotten, or at least never allude to it again.

Definitely a good read and a good gift for couples with a sense of humor.

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