Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Duties of a Wife  

Yesterday, my post concerned the Duties of a Husband in 1883. Here are the duties of a wife, according to my grandmother's grandmother, along with comments on how Mrs. Happy measures up.

Duties of the Wife
Make your personal appearance as beautiful as possible for your husband. Your dress may be calico, but it should be neat. While hair dye is not advisable, the eyebrows may be improved by a slight application.

My wife sometimes gets frustrated with me because I think she's beautiful no matter what she's wearing. When she puts on a fancy, sexy dress and I tell her she looks beautiful, she sighs and says "Yeah, but you'd say that if I was wearing a potato sack." She doesn't dye her hair, but she periodically plucks her eyebrows. I don't know if Great-Great-Grandmother Happy would have approved, but I certainly don't mind.

Make every attempt to spend wisely the dole your husband offers for household expenses. Purchase with care.

We're both responsible for the household budget. Sometimes we're good about it. Other times we're more reckless.

Whatever the day's circumstances, greet your husband with a smile.

On the rare days when my wife's mood prevents a ready smile, she doesn't waste time finding something to smile about.

Do not estimate your husband by his ability to make display. His employment may not be favorable for fine show, but his superior qualities of mind and heart are all that matter.

When I proposed to the Happy Girlfriend, I was a college student earning $18,000 a year—my highest salary ever at that point in my life. At the time of our wedding, I was a college graduate earning exactly $0 a year—still the lowest salary I've ever had. I know she didn't marry me for money, and it's obvious to all who know me that she cares nothing about looks. Mind and heart are the only things left.

In your husband's dealing with his employees he is in the habit of giving commands and being obeyed. In his absentmindedness the same dictatorial spirit may possess him at home, so avoid all disputes until he gains his senses.

Mrs. Happy does periodically have to give me time to come to my senses after work, but certainly not because I have anyone to order around.

Maintain dignity in public with your husband. Loud talk or laughter, pointing, running, allowing your skirt to drag or sucking on your parasol handle all show bad manners.

Mrs. Happy is as dignified, confident, and comfortable with herself as any woman I have ever met. To my knowledge, she has never sucked on a parasol handle.

Do not use profanity, slang, or words of double meaning that will bring the blush to your husband.

Though every day she's surrounded by coworkers and clients who constantly use profanity and street slang, she generally refrains and lets no unwholesome word proceed from her mouth. At home, in private, she is not above using words of double meaning in order to make me blush.

I think we'd have a good marriage even in the 19th century.