In 1936, this is what a perfect marriage looked like… 190



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I have this wonderful old book called “Home Chat” from 1936, one of the earliest women’s magazines, and in it I found this advice for husbands; the writer was doing her bit for a harmonious relationship. I think she showed incredible insight and forward thinking during an era of male dominance.

Amongst the advertisements for Jeyes fluid, Brasso, Cardinal red polish, Spry cooking fat, Snowfire vanishing cream and Robin Starch were these pearls of wisdom:

“The first habit any newly-wedded wife should cultivate is that of getting up late on Sunday mornings. But it’s no fun stopping in bed if the household timetable is knocked endways, so at the same time her husband must cultivate the habit of arising and making himself useful! That is to say, he should first make a pot of tea and bring it up to his wife, sipping his share as he sits on the side of the bed. Then, like a giant refreshed, he should scurry off, cook a dainty breakfast for two and return in triumph to the bedroom”.

I was quite delighted by this – who would have thought that in those days they encouraged men to be waiting on their women?  Then I looked back and I decided my Dad must have read that, as he always got everyone their tea in bed on Sundays. My parents were married in 1938.

This writer then gave the other two rules: she decrees you must have an interest away from the marriage, or she warns “the world’s worst bores…will bore each other to distraction”. So she advised husband and wife to have outside interests, friend and hobbies.

The third rule was to have “a gay adventure”, not meaning what we take that to be today!

Her quote included this:

“I’ve never met a difficulty yet that couldn’t be conquered or tackled in a spirit of light-hearted adventurousness, nor one that didn’t take on proportions of unbearable magnitude if viewed with gloomy apprehension”.

Who would have thought at that time in England there was a woman who was able to give such advice? A woman who asked men to wait on her, advising fellow wives to take up outside interests to keep them from being boring, and whom encouraged light hearted ways of coping.

Do you agree with the writer of this 1936 article? Do you think if this advice was followed there’d be fewer divorces?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

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