Wedding bands ehowcomContinuing with a very brief exploration of women and marriage — the first part of which was yesterday’s post on wife selling — today’s looks at old advice about this honourable institution.

Molly Guinness, writing for The Spectator, scoured the publication’s archives and reported on them in ‘Never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker or a fribble’.

What, readers might ask, is a fribble?

Americans living along or visiting the East Coast might recognise the word if they have ever stopped for refreshment at Friendly’s. Indeed, their home page shows CEO John Maguire with a Fribble in his right hand. Friendly’s Wikipedia page says:

A Fribble is a thick shake, originally made with iced milk, now made with soft serve ice cream.

One of my best friends loved Fribbles.

Fribbles among ladies

The word ‘fribble’ is an old one, dating from 1633, so it comes as no surprise that the two brothers from Massachusetts who founded Friendly’s revived an ancient word which was probably once widely used in New England.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘fribble’ as a ‘trifle’ as well as

a frivolous person, thing, or idea.

This is the context of the word’s use in The Spectator, specifically this passage from 1876:

As we should say to women who wish for domestic happiness, never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker, or a fribble; so we should say to men with the same yearning, never marry a fool of any sort or kind. There is no burden on earth like a foolish woman tied to a competent man; unable to be his sweetheart, because she cannot help dreading him; unable to be his confidant, because she cannot understand him; unable to be his friend, because she cannot sympathise even with his ordinary thoughts.

To that, I would add another piece of old advice: never marry a woman with long fingernails or a perpetual nail job. She’ll never be able to cook or clean herself. Those nails will take priority. I know of no woman with elaborate nails who cooks or cleans. It’s hiring a woman-what-does and buying expensive ready meals from the supermarket as well as dining out on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

A quiet home

The same article from 1876 also mandates a quiet home, for which the woman is responsible:

Let the woman’s first requisite be a man whose home will be to him a rest, and the man’s first object be a woman who can make home restful…

I know wives who think that quiet is unimportant. They are wrong. Home should be a perpetual refuge from the chaos of the outside world.

In order to achieve that, the wife must create an orderly household and make sure children make a minimum of noise when Dad is at home to unwind.

Why feminism never succeeded in France — good advice

In 1906, the French Ambassador to London, M. Cambon, was appalled by English marriages, particularly the wives’ active social lives. The Spectator‘s entry explains:

Legally, English wives occupied a better position than their French sisters, but actually the latter were better off and better satisfied. No feminist movement, he pointed out, had ever succeeded in France.

That is still rather true today, although the laws regarding women have evolved immensely.

Yes, France has feminists, but feminism is a minority movement restricted to a niche of leftist intellectuals. It is not as vocal, strident or widespread as it is in English-speaking countries.

Cambon said that a French wife is the power behind the throne. Instead of seeking a career or social life outside the home that fulfils her, she immerses herself in her husband’s. In fact, the husband asks her for advice, which she freely gives. Cambon’s view was:

… she found at home all the satisfaction and all the responsibility inseparable from power, and consequently “had no pleasure in meddling with things outside”.

Although the Frenchwomen I have known since the 1970s do have outside activities, their home life is paramount and takes pride of place.

And there is much more of an equilibrium between husband and wife in most French marriages than there is in those of English-speaking countries.

Conclusion

This recent complementarianism thing of a husband ‘covering’ a woman is a worrying trend.

If I had a daughter, I would be most concerned about her marrying a domineering mate ruled by a misunderstanding or over-interpretation of Pauline verses in the New Testament. Such men are turning Christianity into fundamentalist Islam.

No wonder young women are becoming atheists or agnostics, seeking a non-religious mate. I cannot blame them.

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