Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Instructions To A Good Wife?

The other day I came across a pamphlet/letter published in 1894 that caused Evie and I to laugh and cry at the same time. This instruction to brides to be was written by a Methodist minister’s wife. Between the mid 1800s and the early part of the 1900s there were documents outlining similar sentiments. While I will let the document speak for itself, I will offer that the vestiges of the thoughts reflected by Ruth Smythers continue to linger within the Church and society.

“To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of a proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and the most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.”

“One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRRUDGINGLY. ….. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured.”

“Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes on she should make every effort to reduce this frequency. Feigned illness, sleepiness and headaches are among the wife’s best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove effective, if used in late evening….Cleaver wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying…A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the first year of marriage and to once a month by the fifth year of marriage…..By their tenth anniversary, many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with their husband.”

“Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quiet a variety of the most revolting practices…including among others performing…mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.”

“A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness….Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always hope he will stumble and incur some slight injury, which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.”

“When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband.”

“If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand, she should make a fist….”

If the husband attempts to seduce her with lascivious talk, the wise wife will suddenly remember some trivial non-sexual question to ask him. Once he answers she should keep the conversation going, no matter how frivolous it may seem at the time….She will be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while he is huffing and puffing away. Above all she will lie perfectly still…”

“The wise wife….relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband’s desire for sexual expression.”


Jenn said...

oh dear - i guess i would have been an old spinster in 1894

Barbara said...

Now why didn't Mom send me a letter like this to warn me???

Joanne said...

Oh my, I would have been considered an awfully baaaaaaaaad wife!