I spotted an article earlier this week entitled “The Worst Marriage Advice of Every Decade Since the 1900s.” Curiosity compelled me to click through and read.
I’ll admit that the advice from the most recent decades truly was horrible. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce, if the guidelines couples are attempting to live by these days revolve around keeping secrets until their deathbed or saying one thing while doing another.
But the earlier advice from bygone eras? Not surprisingly, many of those recommendations were actually spot on. In fact, I suspect marriages would fare much better if more folks adopted such attitudes toward their mates as were so highly prized in past generations.
Once source referenced was particularly good, I thought. It was a piece written by Abigail van Buren in 1965 called The Ten Commandments for Wives.
She wrote a companion column devoted to the Ten Commandments for Husbands, then later combined the two, but as this is the one referenced in the above article, I’ve chosen to reprint it in its original form, along with some of my own thoughts about what Abby advised:
10 Commandments for Today’s Wives
- “Defile not thy body neither with excessive foods, tobacco, or alcohol, that thy days may be long in the house which thy husband provideth for thee.”
Doctors, health gurus, and the Word of God all agree: overeating and excessive drinking are bad for us (as is smoking). Why then would encouraging wise choices in these areas constitute bad advice for married women? Shouldn’t it be easier to “live happily ever after” in good health than in poor?
“Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” – Proverbs 23:20-21
- “Putteth thy husband before thy mother, thy father, thy daughter, and thy son, for he is thy lifelong companion.”
If you want your marriage to succeed, you must make it your priority to nurture your relationship. That’s why most marriage vows include the promise to “forsake all others and cleave only unto thee.” You can’t just toss your spouse an occasional scrap of attention and expect love to flourish.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
- “Thou shalt not nag.”
This advice is both sound and Biblical. Not only does the husband benefit when his wife refrains from nagging, but she will be much happier, as well, when she learns to identify and be grateful for all the blessings in her life rather than focusing her thoughts solely on the irritations.
“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” – Proverbs 21:19
“…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
- “Permit no one to tell thee that thou art having a hard time of it; neither thy mother, thy sister, nor thy neighbor, for the Judge will not hold her guiltless who letteth another disparage her husband.”
Be faithful to your husband in word and deed. You would not want him to say disparaging things about you to his friends, so treat him as you’d want to be treated — even when he’s not around to hear what you’re saying.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29
- “Thou shalt not withhold affection from thy husband, for every man loveth to be loved.”
Be a generous lover. As I’ve said many times before, you are the only person on earth who can rightfully meet your husband’s need for intimacy. When you starve him sexually, you shoot yourself in the foot.
“The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another” – 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
- “Forget not the virtue of cleanliness and modest attire.”
This is good advice, whether you are married or not.
“Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4
- “Forgive with grace, for who among us does not need forgiveness?”
I know of nothing that will destroy a marriage faster than bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Let all those things go, for your own sake as much as for his.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
- “Remember that the frank approval of thy husband is worth more to thee than the admiring glances of a hundred strangers.”
Some people go to far greater lengths to bless and impress friends and coworkers than they do to please their own spouse. If you are going to concern yourself with gaining the admiration and approval of anybody, shouldn’t it be the man you married?
“My beloved is dazzling and ruddy; he stands out in comparison to all other men. ” – Song of Solomon 5:10
- “Keep thy home in good order, for out of it cometh the joys of thy old age.”
Keeping an orderly home goes far beyond making sure your house stays neat and tidy. It includes raising your children to be respectful and obedient and honoring the Lord in the way you relate to your husband and extended family members.
“She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” – Proverbs 31:27
- “Honor the Lord thy God all the days of thy life, and thy children will rise up and call thee blessed.”
This, of course, is straight out of Scripture, as well. Glorifying God is what we were created to do in the first place. If we will honor Him in the way we love and serve our family, and they will love and praise and honor us, as well.
“Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:28-30