The Don’ts of Marriage 

Saturday, October 02, 2004

One of our collections assistant Kathryn’s latest discoveries is a date-less newspaper clipping with a few words of warning from American advice columnist, Dorothy Dix. Perhaps the clipping was meant to highlight instead the opposite side: an article on creating a "colourful stamped cushion" and a column on knitting, embroidery and crochet ("Wider Shamrock Edging").

Dorothy Dix was the pen name of Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer (1861-1951), whose advice column for the lovelorn appeared around the world for fifty years, had a readership of about sixty million. Rumour suggests she wrote the more tantalizing letters herself, with her astute responses already prepared. No matter, her admonitions still resonate.

The Advice of Dorothy Dix

Adolescent Love Cannot Stand Strain of Reality

Girls, if you want to be happy though married-DON’T marry until you are grown up. Marriage is for adults. It is no business for girl babies to tackle. It is hard enough to pick out a man with whom you will enjoy living after your own tastes and habits are formed and you know what sort of husband you want. It is impossible to do it while you are still a child and your own ideals and desires are continually changing and the thing you are crazy about one day is poison to you the next. Adolescent love is the most perishable thing on earth. It won’t stand the strain of work and worry and responsibility and babies. Besides, if you marry in your teens you will miss your playtime.

DON’T marry outside of your class. This goes for everything, age, social position, education, money, everything. The only happy marriages are those in which the husbands and wives stand on the same footing.

DON’T marry a man to reform him, or thinking you can change him. It can’t be done. There is no magic in the marriage ceremony that quenches a drunkard’s thirst, or galvanizes a lazy man into action, or puts a backbone into a weakling, or that turns a boor into a polished gentleman. After marriage a man is just as he was before, only a little more so. Wait until you find a man who is readymade, with all the qualities you want in a husband, before you marry.

DON’T marry a man who is hard to get along with and who has to be handled with gloves. A man’s disposition is what a wife has to live with, and she can get mighty tired of having to always walk on eggs to keep from stepping on some of his pet prejudices. The grouch, the fault-finder, the wet-blanket, the critic are the worst matrimonial bets.

DON’T marry a jealous man unless you have the skin of a rhinoceros and will not be wounded by continual insults and suspicions, and unless you feel that it will add spice to life to be forever watched and spied upon.

DON’T marry Mother’s pet, for if you do, you will have to wait upon him hand and foot and keep up the spoiling she has started and, no matter how much of a slave you are to him, you will always run a poor second to Mama.

DON’T marry a man who is better looking than you are. He will think that you should wear your last year’s wardrobe while he has three new suits. Women will always be running after him and wherever you go you will hear people wondering how he came to marry a frump.

DON’T marry a man who has holes in his pockets, nor one who counts his change too carefully.

DON’T marry a boy who honks his horn for you to come out and climb in his automobile, or who tries to boss you before he has a legal right to do so.

DON’T marry a man who doesn’t measure up to you ideal, for marriage lasts a long time and it seems longer if you get the wrong man.

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