Grant Jantzen

Totally Designed Lifestyle

Wives & Husbands

A while back I found these two hilarious little books in a shop in Santa Monica and just had to buy them as I knew they had many more gems in them than just the few I had time to read in the store. They are called Don’ts For Wives and Don’ts For Husbands, both written by a Ms. Blanche Ebbutt in 1913.  They are each filled with short little words of advice, filed under categories such as How To Avoid Discord, Household Matters, Jealousy and Habits.  While most are humorous, especially when picturing the couples they were written for, quite a few are certainly applicable nowadays as well.

“Remember it takes two to make a quarrel;
don’t you be one of them.”

Don’ts For Husbands begins with a short preface from Ms. Ebbutt, and I think, gives you a good picture of just what kind of a lady she was:

“MY DEAR SIR,

You are neither as bad nor as good a fellow as you imagine yourself to be. No doubt you know a good deal about women, but (if you are in the early years of your married life) not nearly as much as you will in another decade……Women, married or single, are kittle-cattle; and, as for men — well, I have a husband myself!”      
                                                                                                               BLANCHE EBBUTT

The little volume goes on to give a multitude of helpful tidbits, some outdated, some completely relevant — all hilarious.

  • — Don’t flourish a grimy handkerchief about because you have forgotten to take a clean one out of your box or your drawer.  If your wife provides you with a reasonable stock, you might at least take the trouble to remember to use them.
  • — Don’t separate your pursuits from your wife’s more than is necessary. Do your gardening together; work, talk, and plan together, and you will become truer comrades every year.
  • — Don’t call your wife a coward because she is afraid of a spider. Probably in a case of real danger she would prove to be quite as brave as you.
Don’ts For Wives starts out with a note to the female readers:

“Art is a hard mistress, and there is no art quite so hard as that of being a wife.  So many women exhaust their artistic power in getting married, which is, after all, a comparatively easy business.  It takes a perfect artist to remain married — married in the perfect sense of the term; but most of us have to be content to muddle through.”
                                                                                                               BLANCHE EBBUTT

Here are some witty and quite useful excerpts.
  • — Don’t be surprised, if you have married for money, or position, or fame, that you get only money, or position, or fame; love cannot be bought.
  • — Don’t nag your husband.  If he won’t carry out your wishes for love of you, he certainly won’t because you nag him.
  • — Don’t check your husband’s high spirits.  Let him sing at the top of his voice in the bathroom, or whistle out of tune on the stairs, and be thankful for a cheerful man about the house.
When I first saw these books, published nearly 100 years ago, I assumed that most of their content would be outdated and sound silly to a couple of the 21st century. How wrong I was!  Almost all of Ms. Ebbutt’s instructions and bits of advice are rather timeless.  She suggests many of the very things Mike and I have learned ourselves over the last 11 years of marriage.  While reading through them, I have found myself thinking, “Oooh…that’s a good one.  I should be doing that.”, or “Wow!  I would have never thought of that, but it makes so much sense.”  I encourage anyone reading this to consider checking out these tiny tomes.  Whether you’re just dating or have been married for years, these words of wisdom will do much to help the way you interact with the person you love.  And above all, never forget this crucial tip:
  Don’t forget to buy your wife a pair of gloves occasionally.  
  She will always be pleased to have them.  
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