Advice to Husbands, 1939
It’s another entry for my series of historical marital advice articles today.
This time – advice from an Austrian newspaper, as reprinted in The Berwickshire News in 1939, a few months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. It’s almost the counter advice to a previous post of mine – a policeman’s advice to wives from 1912. There, the policeman counsels a wife to “Have your own way by letting him think he is having his.” Here, it says that the husband should let his wife think she is in control of his life, without actually being so.
The phrase – “A woman’s happiness always wears the face of a man,” stands out for me here. What I have deduced so far from all this marital advice is that the wife wants to be in charge and the husband wants his ego boosted, and that each should act in such a manner as to let the other think they are getting what they want, without really letting them have it. Exhausting, this battle of the sexes.
If your wife is unbearable, take it with a smile and remember that the woman who never nags you or reproaches you for anything most certainly does not love you any more. If your wife is pretty don’t tell her so, because she knows it. But if she isn’t – and this is often the case – insist that she is and she will think; “He has the soul of an artist.”
If you are on a little holiday with your men friends and you have a good time, don’t admit it in your letters. On the contrary, say that you think of her all the time, that you miss her and are bored without her. Women do not believe that men have the right to be happy with something because they can only be happy with somebody. A woman’s happiness always wears the face of a man.
Let a woman think she regulates and directs your life, but do not let her do it.
A husband should not compare his wife’s looks with those of slimmer and richer women – for that matter not even with her own in the dear days of their engagement.
Nor should he neglect using the hair tonic she’s bought at great expense to prevent a threatening baldness on her darling’s head. And he must never say “I won’t have to shave to-day. It’s going to be just the two of us so I guess it’s all right.”
Never forget the fundamental truth: you will only be happy if your wife is happy.