My wife is a gifted vintage shopper. She always finds those perfect little things that only cost a couple bucks but you wouldn’t want anyone else to own. Last week she came home with Don’ts For Husbands, a slim treatise from 1913 chockfull of surprisingly relevant advice. Actually, it’s not that surprising. Not only is good advice timeless, but also I believe our ancestors knew better than we do. So I went through and cherry-picked a whole bunch of advice to help make your relationship smoother. As you’ll see on the following pages, it pretty much speaks for itself.
"Don’t increase the necessary work of the house by leaving all your things lying about in different places. If you are not tidy by nature, at least be thoughtful of others."
"Don’t sit down to breakfast in your shirt-sleeves in hot weather on the ground that ‘only your wife’ is present. She is a woman like any other woman. The courtesies you give to womankind are her due, and she will appreciate them."
"Don’t slouch. No one who cares for a man likes to see him acquire a slouching habit."
"Don’t look at things solely from a man’s point of view. Put yourself in your wife’s place and see how you would like some of the things she has to put up with."
"Don’t delegate the carving to your wife on the plea that you ‘can’t’ carve. You should be ashamed to own that you can’t do a little thing like that as well as a woman can. It is just laziness on your part. Besides, a man ought to take the head of his own table."
"Don’t always refuse to go shopping with your wife. Of course it’s a nuisance, but sometimes she honestly wants your advice, and you ought to be pleased to give it."
"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 her 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 think that because you can’t afford to buy an expensive present, it is best to take no notice at all. The smallest gift will be appreciated if prompted by love."
"Don’t sulk when things go wrong. If you can’t help being vexed, say so, and get it over."
"Don’t quarrel with your wife. She can’t, if you won’t. Mud sticks, and so do words spoken in anger."
"Don’t think that it is no longer necessary to show your love for your wife, as she ‘ought to know it by this time.’ A woman likes to be kissed and caressed and to receive little lover-like attentions from her husband even when she is a grandmother."
"Don’t dwell on any lack of physical perfection in your wife. Beauty of mind is much more important than beauty of body."
"Don’t despise your wife’s everyday qualities because she is not what the world would call brilliant. Sound common sense is of more value than fireworks when one is running a home."
"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’t expect your wife to hold the same views as yours on every conceivable question. Some men like an echo, it is true, but it becomes very wearisome in time."
"Don’t drop, when alone with your wife, the little courtesies you would offer to other women. For instance, always get up to open a door for her, as you would for a lady guest."
"Don’t insist on having the last word. If you know when to drop an argument you are a wise man."