Tuesday, 9 July 2013

DON'TS FOR WIVES - Then and Now

Copyright Janet Cameron, Family Album
In 1913, Blanche Ebbutt wrote a tiny book of "Don'ts" for wives. Here are some selected quotations from Mrs. Ebbutt:  Some seem archaic, yet others indicate that some things just never change!

I doubt many modern wives would argue with this one: "Don't interpret too literally the "obey" of the Marriage Service. Your husband has no right to control your individuality."  But, thankfully, women aren't required to agree to "obey" these days. Likewise: "Don't be talked down by your husband when you want to express your views on any subject. You have a right to be heard."  For 1913, I reckon Blanche was a pretty feisty lady!

Good advice then and now!  "Don't put your husband up on a pedestal and then cry when you find that he is only an ordinary man after all."

Don't be a Cow!

But - a slightly different take in 1913 on being a cow. "Don't vegetate as you grow older if you happen to live in the country. Some women are like cows, but there is really no need to stagnate. Keep both brain and body on the move."

Blanche takes this even further: "Don't consent to be treated as a child who cannot be expected to take any responsibility. Insist on hearing bad news as well as good. You did not marry your husband to be wrapped in cotton wool and put away in a glass case; you married him to be the partner of his joys and sorrows."   How I approve of this sentiment - to shut yourself off from the darker side of the world is to be half a person, in my opinion.

And Don't be a Shrew Either

But, how any wife could manage to follow this "Don't" to the letter, I really don't know:

"Don't quarrel with your husband. Remember, it takes two to make a quarrel; don't you be one of them. Lovers' quarrels may be all very well, but matrimonial doses are apt to leave a bitter flavour behind. The quarrels of spouses are not always the renewal of love."

Of course, negotiation and discussion is better than arguing, but sometimes a darned good row can clear the air and it's so great making up afterwards.

Isn't it? :)


Ebbutt, Blanche, Don'ts for Wives, A. & C. Black, Ltd., London, 1913.

Further reading:

10 More Tips from "Don'ts for Wives"

Blanche on "Jealousy" from "Don'ts for Wives"

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