Marriage In The Old West: Love, Honor And Obey

B1If random Facebook memes are to be believed, everything about years past was good. That’s what makes them the “good old days”, right? Marriages were stronger. Kids were heartier. Parents were wiser. And advice was just plain better. But was it really?

Some of the people posting those memes on Facebook might want to check out this book of advice for men, written by Rev. George W. Hudson in 1883—The Marriage Guide for Young Men: A Manual of Courtship and Marriage. Today, I would like to share some of Hudson’s “wisdom” along with some of my favorite funny quotes on marriage.

Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here, Today

“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” ~ Socrates”

B3When you’re all gathering together, pay special attention to the folks who are sitting on the bride’s side of the church. Hudson understood that when you married a woman, you married her family. He understood that because his wife’s no account brother once hid from the law in Hudson’s cabin. That unfortunate incident is probably what led Hudson to write:

If they are of such character as to shame you, it will be very unpleasant for you. You might move away from them and have no intercourse with them. You might get so far away from them that the people about you would not know anything of the family into which you had married.

That was way easier before the internet! Now, try as you might, those pesky in-laws can hunt you down!

To Join This Couple In Holy Matrimony

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~Rita Rudner

B4Rita Rudner may love annoying her spouse, but Hudson had no desire to be annoyed by some irritating female. He wrote:

Shun as you would shun death the woman who never agrees with anybody, and who never has a good word for anybody. … True, you cannot always tell by appearances, for Satan often “appears as an angel of light”; but with a little care you can usually determine pretty accurately.

Hmm… Methinks the good minister had been burned before.

To Have and To Hold

“Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.” ~Stephen Leacock.

B5Beauty may be only skin deep, but Hudson still believed it was beneficial to select a bride with certain physical characteristics. He wrote:

Choose for your wife a woman with a full bust and good round limbs, as well as a good, large, well-proportioned head—one who can run and walk and lift a good load. …What if her waist be a little large and her hands too? This is a good fault in a woman who is to become a mother.

Does your woman have giant, man hands? No problem! The better for hauling things and pulling a plow, my dear! And, what was that bit about having a large, well-proportioned head? Hudson had a special theory about that.

B5aWhenever you see a woman with a good, full, round back head, combined with a good front, you may be sure that she is capable of giving a good degree of energy and pluck to her children; and better still, that full back head denotes that she is well sexed, capable of loving husband and children devotedly, and capable of giving her children a good sexual endowment.

Well, alrighty then! It’s not like Hudson instructed men that a well-formed body was the only thing to look for in a woman. But he seemed to think it was one of the more important things. Intelligence was important, but it wasn’t a deal breaker! After all, it really didn’t matter if she was incapable of forming a complete sentence, as long as she had a nice bulbous head and she could haul a load with those man-hands of hers!

For Better, For Worse. For Richer, For Poorer

“Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.” ~Erma Bombeck

B6There are no guarantees in marriage, but, for the love of all that is good and holy, a man should marry a good cook! If Hudson’s words are to be believed, the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach:

You will find many who say they can learn to cook: you may be inclined to try one of them. But suppose she should not learn! It is running considerable risk. Think of that fearful period of learning, during which your stomach must be made the receptacle for all sorts of messes, and your home remain in a chaotic state! You may die of dyspepsia, or go mad before she succeeds.

Am I the only one who thinks Hudson was a bit of a drama queen? Hey, at least he didn’t die of dyspepsia!

In Sickness and In Health

“Research has shown that married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die.” ~Johnny Carson

B7Hudson had some special thoughts on the subject of health. It’s not like he was an irrational ogre who felt the sickly had no right to marry. He just thought they should marry each other and not gunk up the more superior bloodlines:

Why should men with good mental endowment, good physique, good lungs and sound in every part, marry poor, sickly, weak-minded, consumptive, scrofulous women, and bring into the world families of children either doomed to sink into premature graves or drag out a sickly, whining existence?

What a humanitarian!

To Love, Honor, and ObeyB10

“Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” ~Mae West

I don’t even want to try to analyze this little gem from Hudson’s book:

It is a fact that woman is largely in your power.

Yeah, I’m going to leave that one alone.

‘Til Death Do Us Part

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” ~Paul Sweeney

B9Let’s get real. Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses, even if you find a healthy woman who is good cook with a bulbous head. Hudson allowed for that possibility. Paraphrased, his advice might be summed up as: Suck it up, Buttercup! In his own words, he wrote:

Command your affections steadfastly to their lawful object; you can if you will, no matter how unfortunate your married life may prove. Better that you do so, and live in a perfect purgatory, than that you incur the awful disgrace and ruin resulting from the desertion of your wife.

Who wouldn’t want to live in holy purgatory? To quote one more wise man from the good old days, the great Henny Youngman, “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.”

But we’ve come a long way since 1883! Watch this short video with some hilarious advice on how to choose a wife, from sociologist Craig Henley, a the man who developed the Universal Hot-Crazy Matrix.

Happy Trails,

Anita Lequoia

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