Continuing with the same theme as last week, which is to say the dispensing of free marital advice -- this time for ladies -- as recommended from a British point of view. These tidbits come from a booklet titled "How to be a Good Wife," published in 2008 by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. The booklet was originally published as "Do's and Don'ts for Wives" by Universal Publications Ltd. in 1936. Although some of the advice is dated, much of it is timeless, if not otherwise amusingly presented.
"Even the best of us will find that, at times, married life is a trial. However much we may endeavor to do the right thing, perplexities have an unfortunate way of looming up and clouding the horizon. But here is a book full of sound advise. It should help you sense the dangers before they arise.
"There is no doubt about it; women can make or mar the marriage partnership more than men. Therefore, if you find you are both drifting on the rocks, don't throw all the blame on your husband. Ask yourself fairly and squarely if you have done your best.
"Don't be one of those wives who demand that their husbands do this or that for them. No man worthy of the name will be 'bossed.' On the other hand, don't be a tame kitten or a doormat, for husbands look down on spineless women. Steer a middle course and your husband will appreciate your wisdom.
"Woman is more of an enigma than man. Therefore, if your husband has not understood your wishes, don't straight-away rate him as dull or heartless. It is quite likely than he cannot fathom you; and for that you are more to blame than he is.
"Wives are usually better at saving than husbands, in spite of what all the comic papers say. Therefore, if your husband makes a poor hand at the job, persuade him to let you be the banker for a trial period.
"If your husband has a hobby that makes the place untidy, don't be too hard on him. It certainly is aggravating, at times, to find everything upside down. But look on the bright side of things, and thank your lucky stars that he prefers to come home and be with you than to be sitting at the club and spending money.
"Don't overlook the fact that the average husband likes being made a fuss of. If you do it honestly and don't gush about it, there is nothing that he won't do for you. Of course, it has got to be genuine.
"After all is said and done, husbands are not terribly difficult to manage. Certainly, they are not nearly as difficult as they imagine in their own hearts. If your husband is of the awkward class, you either picked a bad one or you don't know the elementary rules of 'husband management.'
"Don't run away with the idea that you will never lose your temper and that your husband will never lose his. You will both do it at times. The only thing is that you must not both lose it at the same time.
"There is one great difference between a husband and a wife. If a husband starts a row, he will allow himself to say his mind pretty freely; but when he has said it, it is said and done with. The wife, on the other hand, may be more careful of what she says at the time, but she will rake it up again at a later opportunity, and she will keep on doing it. This looks as if the man is more forgiving than the woman, which is after all something to his credit. Therefore, don't rake up any old scores if you have any self-pride.
"Don't neglect the powerful weapon you possess in the shape of a little judicious flattery. Remember the lines:
'Man flattering man, not always can prevail,
But woman flattering man can never fail.'
"Don't get slovenly. The necessity for keeping smart doesn't conclude with the signing of the marriage roster.
"Don't become one of the blood-red nail brigade. Most men dislike this attempt to improve on nature, especially as it is largely associated with the demi-monde.
"Don't become a furniture wife. It's a very natural desire on your part to keep the drawing room perfect, but don't fly into a rage if your husband goes in and generally upsets things. Scold laughingly, or better still head him off in some other direction.
"Don't ever allow yourself to get the reputation of being frivolous. It's one of the easiest reputations in the world to acquire and one of the most difficult to lose.
"Don't forget the very true remark that, while face powder may catch a man, baking powder is the stuff to hold him.
"Do bear always in mind that refinement in dress is generally associated with refinement in manners.
"Do remember that there is one rule of dress which apparently never changes and that is that it is not good form for a hostess to be dressed more richly than her guests. If in any doubt it is best to play for safety and err on the side of simplicity.
"Do not be induced to wear something that doesn't suit you because all the other women are wearing it. You ought to know what best suits you and stick to that.
"Do all that you can for the children, but in caring for them still remember that you have a husband and that at times he requires a little attention.
"Do not be led into buying something that you do not want simply because it is cheap.
"Don't refuse to entertain because you can't do it on a champagne basis. With a little care and trouble it is possible to run the jolliest of little parties on claret cup.
"Do take care that every guest room is supplied with writing materials, a reading lamp and a few carefully selected books.
"Don't forget that the perfect hostess never gives the impression that the usual routine of the house has been altered for her guests.
"Don't ever greet an acquaintance at a party with the remark: 'How did you come to be here?' Although you may not mean it so, it implies that you are surprised that they should be so honored as to be allowed to be present at any place that you may see fit to honor.
"Don't be too stand-offish with your neighbors and pride yourself that you never bother with them. There comes a time in the life of everyone when we are only too glad of a little help and sympathy and we can scarcely expect it from those we have hitherto ignored.
"Don't forget that while the role of wife is the hardest and most exacting in the world it is still the most popular and with care can be made the happiest."
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at email@example.com.