Don’ts for Wives by Blanche Ebbutt

The other day John brought me this little manual for wives called "Don’ts for wives". I suspect he got it for me to improve my skills as a wife, but at the same time I’m sure that he knew already that this noble intention would be futile. Still, I want to share some of the pearls of wisdom of Blanche Ebbutt, who wrote this vade mecum for us girls in 1913.

Actually some of her tips are still quite relevant. She supports mutual respect and advises us to interpret the "obey" in our marriage vows not too literally. After all our husbands have no right to take away our individuality. And she tells us not to be a "dear little woman" because men find them boring and despise women with an "unintelligent attitude".

Other tips made me think that Ms. Ebbutt thought than women are far superior to men (a thought I wholeheartedly support) and that men are basically big kids (now, isn’t that true?).  "Don’t "manage" your husband too visibly. Of course, he may require the most careful management, but you don’t want your friends to think of him as a hen-pecked husband. Above all, never let him think you manage him." or "Don’t let your husband think it is a matter of indifference to you if he wears his socks wrong side out, or odd boots on his feet. Some men are absent-minded enough even for this; and if they can’t keep a valet, their wives should see that they are dressed properly."  And an even more unflattering way of putting it…”Don’t forget to “feed the brute” well. Much depends on the state of his digestion.” This is followed by a hint never to address sensitive topics before he’s finished his meal.

Probably the tip most valid still today is the following: “Don’t take your husband on a laborious shopping expedition, and expect him to remain good-tempered throughout. […] Men, as a rule, hate indiscriminate shopping.”

This is a pretty neat little book with some interesting insights into the married life hundred years ago. Not totally obsolete either.

Available at amazon.

As a gift idea for husbands you might pick up Ms. Ebbutt’s Don’ts for Husbands.

2 Comments Write a comment

  1. I bet you, like me, don’t approve of men who treat women as stupid, naive children that need looking after. So what a hypocrite you are for treating men in the very way, that you as a woman, would hate to be treated.

    “women are far superior to men”
    “men are basically big kids”

    What sexist rubbish. You are no better than the men who feel women should still be chained to the kitchen sink.


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