In 1897, Sylvanus Stall published a book called What A Young Husband Ought To Know. It was a guidebook for young men on how they should approach their marital duties, including sex, procreation, fidelity, "care of the bride," and "questions concerning offspring."
So, answer these questions about women, men, wives, and husbands, and find out if you would've made the kind of husband Stall approved of, or if you would've known how to spot one for yourself!
Her dull intellectThat she is given to hysteria and flights of fancyThe articulation of her bones and the size of her musclesThe softness of her skin
The articulation of her bones and the size of her muscles.
Stall wrote that "the form of her body, the articulation of her bones and the size of her muscles" all indicate her sense of dependance upon man (which is why man's divine purpose is to protect and defend women).
Woman provides wit and whimsy, man provides seriousnessWoman keeps life stable, man keeps it from stagnationWoman is naturally temperate, man is attracted to alcoholic drinkWoman is defiant, man is naturally law-abidingAll of the above
Woman keeps life stable, man keeps it from stagnation.
The author says that one of the reasons men and women complement each other so well is that man's nature is one of impetuosity and velocity while woman's is one of stability and permanency. WHO'S HYSTERICAL NOW, GENTS?
Stall writes that this theory is contrary to the laws of God and nature and is not even worthy of consideration by "fair-minded and decent people." This checks out even by 21st century standards tbh.
Having sex with their husbandsWorking outside the homeAllowing their husbands equal responsibility in child-rearingCorporal punishment of children (spanking, the belt, etc.)Drinking alcoholAll of the above
Women are generally indifferent — and often absolutely averse — to having sex with their husbands.
According to the author, "In married life, all the sexual aggressiveness is with the male." So while the husband always wants to have sex, the wife could take it or leave it (but would strongly prefer to leave it entirely). :(
Sacrifice personal luxuries such as the saloon, lodge, and club so that he might enjoy home and hearth with his wife and familyPartake occasionally on the delights of the saloon, lodge, and club, so that he might afford a much-needed release from the responsibilities of his occupation and his familial duties
To ensure a happy marriage, a husband must sacrifice personal luxuries.
A husband must sacrifice luxuries and self-indulgences so that he might share with his wife and family "the comforts and blessings of their home." Sorry, fellas.
Sexual relations outside the marriageWhen a man is denied sexExcessive sexual indulgence between husbands and wivesAll of the above
Excessive sexual indulgence drains physical powers and weakens the intellect.
It is for this reason that Stall recommends that married couples "restrain the consummation of the reproductive act."
To share a bed only large enough for both persons; overlarge beds are thought to encourage non-procreative sexDepending on how well the husband can control his sexual urges, to sleep in separate beds or roomsBoth are recommended
Couples should sleep in either separate beds or rooms, depending on whether the husband can control himself.
In fact, if the husband is unable to control his "amorous propensities," the couple should sleep in separate rooms with an adjoining door that only the wife has a key to. Extreme or just right?
Desire to refrain from sexual overindulgenceHeadache, exhaustion, or dizzinessChronic constipationHysteriaAny of the above
Chronic constipation causes women to eschew sex with their husbands.
"There can be but little doubt that much marital indifference upon the part of wives is due to chronic constipation, which is so prevalent among women." There you have it. Hey, I mean, chronic constipation isn't exactly an aphrodisiac...
Waiting three days after the wedding to consummate the marriagePassing time unchaperoned before the wedding dayRefraining from all sexual contact (including kissing and petting) before marriageSeeking both a father's and a mother's permission to ask a woman for her hand in marriage
Waiting three days after the wedding to consummate the marriage.
According to Stall: "It would allow the exhausted, nervous, timid bride to bring to the consummation of the marriage relation renewed vigor and mental composure. It would prepare the mind of the young husband for such self-possession and restraint as would be becoming in this new relation..." Three days, folks. Mark your calendars.
Glowing / even more handsome than before they were with childA terror / sexually repellantTiresome / tediousHighly emotional / Exhausting
When pregnant, some women become a terror to their husbands, as well as sexually repellant.
The author explains: "During gestation some women are a terror to their husbands, and render themselves miserable, and all about them uncomfortable and unhappy. During this period the wife ceases to be physically attractive, and for her own protection and the protection of the embryo, nature makes the wife sexually repellant." No, YOU'RE SEXUALLY REPELLANT.
It is a father's duty to look after his own children.
In fact, "It is not only the father's duty, but it ought also to be his pleasure, to look after his own children." Stall drives his point home further with this zinger at uninvolved fathers: "Some husbands speak of 'the baby' as though it belonged wholly to the wife, and not to them. The thought of caring for or tending the child seems to be as foreign to their minds as though it were a child adopted by their wives from a foundling asylum."
A fortnightIf the child was born in an even month, six weeks; if it was born in an odd month, seven weeksSix weeks after the birth of a male child and three months after the birth of a female childUntil his wife declares herself ready to resume
Sex should resume six weeks after the birth of a male child and three months after the birth of a female child.
This rule, Stall points out, comes from the Old Testament and even though no one is sure of its origins or meaning, "we can rest assured that there are good and sufficient reasons, whether they be physical, social, sanitary, or political" for the guidelines to exist, and therefore, to be followed.
"while a new body is being developed." (i.e. Don't have sex with your wife while she is pregnant.)"while your wife be experiencing her monthly expulsions." (i.e. Don't have sex with your wife while she has her period.)"by engaging in sexual intercourse without the intention of planting your seed." (i.e. Don't have non-procreative sex.)
"while a new body is being developed."
The quote comes from a paragraph in which Stall explains that it goes against the law of nature and God for a man to have sex with his pregnant wife. He says: "Do not, I pray you, oh, parents, do this unclean thing. Do not taint your clean bodies, do not foul your pure souls with the lustful of your natures, while a new body is being developed, a new soul being organized." Noted.
Overindulgence in alcoholExcessive masturbation and sexGoing to the moviesReading erotic fictionExcessive communication via the tele-phone
Excessive masturbation and sex can cause impotence.
Or, as Stall refers to it, "excessive solitary and social vice," which can weaken and debilitate the "masculine function." Big, if true.
Nightly Bible readingsRefraining from indulging in alcoholic beverages and spicy food.Exercise followed by a bath and vigorous rubbing of the skinVigorous swimming
Exercise followed by a bath and vigorous rubbing of the skin.
Thinking too much about sex diverts blood flow from the brain and muscles and causes depletion and drain in the husband. On the other hand, exercising will "send the blood into all parts of the body, and let the vigorous rubbing after the bath produce a healthy glow, and contribute to good health and to the attainment and maintenance of a well-rounded manhood." Got that? Post-shower rubbing will dampen sexual desire.
Would You Have Had A Good Marriage In The Victorian Era?
Which is not the end of the world considering it's 2017. But maybe you learned a thing or two!
You have a pretty alright grasp on being a husband ~120 years ago~. You either have great Victorian instincts or you've read/watched a lot of Jane Austen.
You really know what's up when it comes to expectations for husbands in the Victorian era. VERY impressive.