Advice for brides (1903)

Original publication: The Commoner (Lincoln, Neb.) Date: July 24, 1903
Categories: 1900s, Love & marriage, Newspapers, Weddings
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Our June brides

by Helen Watts McVey, The Home Department

The printed page is full of advice to this class of our daughters, and, much of it is so impracticable as to be discouraging to the young wife who is ambitious to keep the love of her husband.

In no less than five papers lying before me as I write, the young wife is assured that she must positively, under all circumstances, meet her young husband with a smile. Her own troubles and worries must be carefully hidden, no matter how serious their nature. “John” must not know that she has any. But she must listen, smilingly, of course, to all of his. He should feel free to tell her all his business perplexities, and she must enter fully into the spirit of them, sympathizing with him, and accepting all his plans with wifely zest.

If he gets to staying out of nights, she must not question him, or allow him to know that she notices it. She must “wear the little bow in her hair which caught his fancy,” as her lover; the colors he liked she must be sure to wear, even about her work — and that work, whatever its character, should, according to these advisors, be invariably performed in a dress of immaculate neatness and daintiness of fitting.

I always imagine, on reading such advices, that the writer has failed to take his (?) own prescription. If John has, a mother and sisters, and knows anything about domestic matters he will know how impossible it is for the average woman even one of large practical experience to do the work of the house in a “spotless gown,” unless she have a goodly quantity of them and can do, or hire done, a large amount of laundering; and even then Angelica is more apt than not, in her unskilled handling of smudgey cooking vessels, to get a good many smutty dabs on her face, hands and gown during her “battle for bread.”

Some women, I must admit, can go through the whole kitchen performance and come out of it “unspotted from the contest,” not even the “smell of the smoke” clinging to her garments, but they are few. I should advise that the experimental housekeeper be supplied with a goodly supply of big gingham aprons, oversleeves, or comfortably-fitted work dresses, warranted to wash, and that she lay aside the dainty lawns until the dinner dishes are safely on their shelves.

If John is a sensible fellow, and of course he is, he will think she is far prettier in her comfortable print gown as she goes about her household duties, than she possibly could be in a stained and rumpled lawn or untidy silk, be just as pretty and as neat as you can, dears, but do dress sensibly and comfortably.

No, girls, don’t imagine that you can live your life apart from John’s life; you must learn to bear each other’s burdens, and thus lighten both. Be just as cheerful, hopeful, optimistic as you may; let your daily trials and perplexities worry you as little as possible, using them as stepping-stones to a higher plane. You will find many discouragements; make many failures; so will John. You will also, each of you have many pleasant, cheering successes: make the most of both, and it will do no harm to talk them over with each other. Remember, it should be no more “I” or “mine,” but “we” and “ours.”

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and bear them lovingly, encouragingly; do not forget that “ye are yoke-fellows,” and to insure the true pulling, each must keep your own trace-chain taut. You must “pull together,” and in order to do this, it is necessary that each should know the strength of the other. Your business, henceforth, is John’s business; his business is yours.

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Source publication: The Commoner (Lincoln, Neb.)

Publication date: July 24, 1903


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