The following article was written by Benjamin Franklin about marriage almost 300 years ago and yet the advice could easily be applied to many of today’s troubled marriages with positive results.
This is a continuation of the same article that I quoted on April 12th. It was printed in 1730 in The Philadelphia Gazette –
“I am now about to lay down such rules and maxims as I think are most practicable and conducive towards the end and happiness of matrimony. And these I address to all females that would be married or are already so, not that I suppose their sex more faulty than the other, and most to want advice, for I assure them, upon my honor, I believe the quite contrary; but the reason is, because I esteem them better disposed to receive and practice it, and therefore am willing to begin, where I may promise myself the best success. Besides, if there is any truth in Proverbs, Good Wives usually make for Good Husbands.
RULES and MAXIMS for promoting Matrimonial Happiness’
Addressed to all Widows, Wives and Spinsters
The likeliest way, either to obtain a good husband, or keep on so, is to be good yourself.
Never use a lover ill whom you design to make your husband, lest he either upbraid you with it, or return it afterwards: and if you find, at any time, an inclination to play the tyrant, remember these two lines of truth and justice.
Gently shall those be ruled, who gently swayed;
abject shall those obey, who haughty were obeyed.
Avoid, both before and after marriage, all thoughts of managing your husband. Never indent to deceive or impose on his understanding: nor give him uneasiness (as some do very foolishly) to try his temper; but treat him always beforehand with sincerity, and afterwards, with affection and respect.
Be not overly sanguine before marriage, nor promise yourself felicity without alloy, for that’s impossible to be obtains in this present state of things. Consider beforehand, that the person you are going to spent your days with, is a man, and not an angel; and if, when you come together, you discover anything in his humor or behavior that is not altogether agreeable as you expected, pass it over as a human frailty: smooth your brow, compose your temper; and try to amend it with cheerfulness and good-nature.
Remember always, that whatever misfortunes may happen to either, they are not to be charged to the account of matrimony, but to the accidents and infirmities of human life a burthen which each has engaged to assist the other in supporting, and to which both parties are equally exposed. Therefore instead of murmurs, reflections and disagreement, whereby the weight is rendered abundantly more grevious, readily put your shoulder to the yoke, and make it easier for both.
Resolve every morning to be good-natured and CHEERFUL that day: and if any accident should happen to break that resolution, suffer it not to put you out of temper with everything besides, and especially with your husband.
Dispute not with him, be the occasion what it will, but much better deny yourself the trivial satisfaction of having your own will, or gaining the better of an argument, than risk a quarrel or crate a heartburn, which is impossible to know the end of.
Be assured, a woman’s power, as well as happiness, has no other foundation in her husband’s esteem and love, which consequently it is her undoubted interest by all means possible to preserve and increase. Do you, therefore, study his temper, and command your own; enjoy his satisfaction with him and share and soothe his cares, and with the utmost diligence conceal his infirmities.
Read frequently with due attention the matrimonial service; and take care in doing so, not to overlook the word obey.
In your prayers be sure to add a clause for grace for to make you a good wife; and at the same time resolve to do your utmost endeavor towards it.
Always wear your wedding ring, and therein lies more virtue than usually imagined.If you are ruffled unawares, assaulted by improper thoughts, or tempted in any kind against your duty, cast your eyes upon it, and call to mind who gave it you, where it was received, and what passed at that solemn time.
Let the tenderness of your conjugal love be expressed with such decency, delicacy and prudence, as that it may appear plainly and thoroughly distinct from the designing fondness of a harlot.
Have you any concern for your own ease, or for your husband’s esteem? Then, have a due regard to his income and circumstances in all of your expenses and desires:for if necessity should follow,you run the greatest hazard of being deprived of both.
Let not many days pass without serious examination how you have behaved as a wife, and if upon reflection you find yourself guilty of any foibles or omissions, the best atonement is, to be exactly careful of your future conduct.
I am fully persuaded, that a strict adherence to the foregoing rules would equally advance the honor of matrimony, and the glory of the fair sex: and since the greatest part of them, with a very little alteration, are as proper for wives as for husbands to practice, I recommend them accordingly to their consideration, and hope, in a short time, to receive acknowledgements from married persons of both sexes for the benefit they receive thereby.”