Rules for my Guidance as a Wife
taken from The Romance of Isabel, Lady Burton , by Isabel Lady Burton (1831-1896)
Lady Burton at marriage
- 2. Be a careful nurse when he is ailing, that he may never be in low spirits about his health without a serious cause.
- 3. Make his home snug. If it be ever so small and poor, there can always be a certain chic about it. Men are always ashamed of a poverty-stricken home, and therefore prefer the club. Attend much to his creature comforts; allow smoking or anything else ; for if you do not, somebody else will. Make it yourself cheerful and attractive, and draw relations and intimates about him, and the style of society (literati) that suits him, marking who are real friends to him and who are not.
- 4. Improve and educate yourself in every way, that you may enter into his pursuits and keep pace with the times, that he may not weary of you.
- 5. Be prepared at any moment to follow him at an hour's notice and rough it like a man.
- 6. Do not try to hide your affection for him, but let him see and feel it in every action. Never refuse him anything he asks. Observe a certain amount of reserve and delicacy before him. Keep up the honeymoon romance, whether at home or in the desert. At the same time do not make prudish bothers, which only disgust, and are not true modesty. Do not make the mistake of neglecting your personal appearance, but try to look well and dress well to please his eye.
- 7. Perpetually work up his interests with the world, whether for publishing or for appointments. Let him feel, when he has to go away, that he leaves a second self in charge of his affairs at home ; so that if sometimes he is obliged to leave you behind, he may have nothing of anxiety on his mind. Take an interest in everything that interests him. To be companionable, a woman must learn what interests her husband ; and if it is only planting turnips, she must try to understand turnips.
- 8. Never confide your domestic affairs to your female friends.
- 9. Hide his faults from every one and back him up through every difficulty and trouble; but with his peculiar temperament advocate peace whenever it is consistent with his honour before the world.
- 10. Never permit any one to speak disrespectfully of him before you; and if any one does, no matter how difficult, leave the room. Never permit any one to tell you anything about him, especially of his conduct with regard to other women. Never hurt his feelings by a rude remark or jest. Never answer when he finds fault ; and never reproach him when he is in the wrong, especially when he tells you of it, nor take advantage of it when you are angry ; and always keep his heart up when he has made a failure.
- 11. Keep all disagreements for your own room, and never let others find them out.
- 12. Never ask him not to do anything — for instance, with regard to visiting other women, or any one you particularly dislike; trust him, and tell him everything, except another person's secret.
- 13. Do not bother him with religious talk, be religious yourself and give good example, take life seriously and earnestly, pray for and procure prayers for him, and do all you can for him without his knowing it, and let all your life be something that will win mercy from God for him. You might try to say a little prayer with him every night before laying down to sleep, and gently draw him to be good to the poor and more gentle and forbearing to others.
- 14. Cultivate your own good health, spirits, and nerves, to counteract his naturally melancholy turn, and to enable you to carry out your mission.
- 15. Never open his letters, nor appear inquisitive about anything he does not volunteer to tell you.
- 16. Never interfere between him and his family; encourage their being with him, and forward everything he wishes to do for them, and treat them in every respect (as far as they will let you) as if they were your own.
- 17. Keep everything going, and let nothing ever be at a standstill : nothing would weary him like stagnation.