Vintage Marriage Advice, Updated for the 21st Century
Some vintage marriage advice, like telling women that they shouldn’t talk to their husbands about their concerns and stresses, needs to stay in the past. But some of it, like making an effort to look good for your spouse, is just as valuable today as it was in the 20s. That’s why I’ve put together this list of vintage marriage advice, and looked at how these timeless pieces of wisdom fit into marriages in 2019.
1.) Have Tact When Dealing With Your Spouse
This bit of advice, written in 1893 and published in the Sunderland Echo, advises that a wife could have the looks of “Helen of Troy and the intellect of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom” but without “tact” it means nothing. And honestly, that goes both ways. When we speak critically to our spouses, we need to be sure to do so with love and respect. Addressing sensitive topics and bringing up concerns, if done thoughtlessly, can be the cause of arguments. Instead, learning to approach the topic with grace and, yes, tact can have a big impact on the way your husband or wife responds to your concerns.
2.) Don’t be Slovenly
While we may not use the word “slovenly” anymore, we all know someone fitting of that description. Mrs Dobbin Crawford, a Liverpool surgeon, published in the Bath Chronicle in 1930, “Nothing destroys the happiness of married life more than the lazy, slovenly wife.” The way the comment looks strictly at wives is dated, but the general concept is valid. You don’t like it when your husband is messy and unkempt, so it stands to reason that he’d feel the same way. If you’re expecting your spouse to keep putting in effort to look nice for you, then you should hold yourself to the same standard.
3.) Be a Good Listener
Edward Podolsky had a good idea when he wrote “Be a good listener. Let him tell you his troubles…” in the 1947 publication on Sex Today in Wedded Life, but he lost us when he added on “yours will seem trivial in comparison.” A good marriage requires strong listening skills and communication on both sides, and a Godly marriage requires that a husband care for his wife as Christ cared for the church. So if you want to show your spouse how much you value them, work on your active listening skills.
4.) Compliment Your Spouse
Blance Ebutt’s 1913 publication Don’ts For Wives is a treasure trove of valuable advice. One bit in particular that stands out is “Don’t omit to pay your husband a compliment.” We all like to hear we look good, especially if we’re following tip two and putting in a real effort in our appearance. Take notice of that effort in your spouse and let them know that you notice and appreciate it. Plus, I don’t know about you, but when my husband tells me I look good, I usually feel extra motivated to keep it up, and I know the same is true for him.
5.) Don’t Impose on Your Spouse’s Good Nature
Another tidbit worthy of mention comes from Mrs Ebutt’s Don’ts For Wives again. The original piece says “Don’t impose on your husband’s good nature. Because he is ‘such a dear,’ and will give you anything you like to ask for, don’t take advantage and ask for something unreasonable” and I’ve got to say, this is still relevant for husbands and wives today. It boils down to not taking advantage of your spouse, and not taking their generosity for granted. Just because your spouse will do anything you ask, doesn’t mean you should always ask it of them.
P.S. The handbook Dont’s for Wives, and its companion piece Don’ts for Husbands are both cute and is totally available on Amazon.
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Which tip is your favorite? Which one do you think you need to work on more? I know I could stand to dole out compliments more liberally. Share your opinions in the comments!