Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘cheating’

Falling in Love with a Married Man

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

tender anguish and exciting unfulfillmentThis was originally written long ago with Monica Lewinsky on the mind, but perhaps it will continue to guide other young people as they make decisions about who they spend their time with.

1956: Falling in Love with a Married Man

Very little has ever been written about falling in love with a married man. It is supposed not to happen. Yet it is not at all uncommon, especially among teen-age girls, and even among older women, too. The reasons are understandable.

Married Men are Older. For the teen-age girl, the married man is usually older and therefore, in her eyes, more experienced and mature. We have already seen that girls mature earlier than boys of their own age. So it often happens that a girl who is growing up much faster than the boys around her thinks that they are childish and silly and finds herself dreaming about the charms of older men. The married men she has contact with ~ the coach, a teacher, perhaps the principal, or a minister ~ seems so much more grown up and excitingly mature that her love interests turn to them rather than to the boys of her own age who are still just “children.”

Girls may do foolish things in their attachments to older men. They should guard themselves from becoming either too obvious in their infatuations or too deeply engrossed inside themselves. Fortunately, most girls outgrow this stage fairly soon and may look back upon these early crushes with amused wonder. But while emotionally entangled with the older man, it is not funny at all.

The Romance of Unfulfillment is Different. Not being able to do something about love makes the romance especially exciting. When one loves a boy of one’s own age and kind, who is a possible fiancé and husband, one can date and dream and plan for a common future. One’s friends can talk about the plans and one’s family may tease. One is free to tell the world about his love and its great promise. It pours out in a thousand ways.

But loving a married man gives no such outlets. It just isn’t done. Almost no one can be told about how wonderful he is. There can be no plans that give promise ~ nothing but dreams that go around and around, tenderly reliving his possible light touch, the way he looks, the way one feels about him, and the utter hopelessness of the affection. Love with no place to go tends to be absorbing, tensely frustrating, full of tender anguish and exciting unfulfillment. With all its excitement and romance, it still has no future, no place in our fullest lives.

Society Scorns the Other Woman. In almost all triangles involving married persons, it is the unmarried outsider who is blamed for the affair. Marriage is such a sacred institution that any girl or woman who alienates the affection of the married man is apt to be held in contempt by most people. The girl who wants to punish herself will find that getting involved with a married man is a sure way of doing it. Girls who are going through difficult days in breaking away from their parents may unconsciously get themselves into disgrace as a way to hurt their families. They find that social disapproval falls fast and hard upon the heads of the silly school girls who do it.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 316-17, 320-21 ~

The Erring Husband

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

such unhappy circumstances[Note to readers: this one was posted originally back in the heat of the Lewinsky scandal, if you didn’t guess that already…]

Bill Clinton, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill. Sigh. You sure are giving husbands a bad name, now, aren’t you? What to do? What to do? Perhaps this bit of advice to wives from Bernarr Macfadden’s Womanhood and Marriage will help your family in these difficult times.

1923: The Erring Husband

A still greater problem is presented to the wife who discovers that her husband has been unfaithful to her.

We are apt to feel that there can be no degrees of comparison in unfaithfulness. One act of infidelity seems as great an outrage as a long period of unfaithfulness. In reality, there may be a great difference. The man who is carried away by the passion of a moment, but whose real, underlying desire is to be true and faithful, is a very different being from the one who permits himself to remain in a state of infidelity. The one act may be but the result of an overwhelming impulse which sweeps the individual away from his moorings for the time being. A soon as reason regains her throne, however, he returns once more to his allegiance. The other seems to lack the very essentials of loyalty.

Of course, the wife whose husband has momentarily transgressed may say that he had no right to allow himself to be placed in a position where he could be so tempted, and to a certain degree she is right. Yet women should take into account the designing actions of other women, the way in which they many times throw themselves into the path of some man who has attracted them, and artfully draw him into a net before he has become aware of their real purpose. For this he is more to be pitied than blamed, and his wife should be the first one to realize his helplessness in the hands of a designing female.

It will be apparent from these remarks that I do not feel it the wife’s duty immediately to repudiate her husband upon the discovery that he has been unfaithful to her. Let her first learn what the real state of his heart is. Suppose he has become temporarily enamoured of another woman, even to the point of unfaithfulness; does that mean that he has no love in his heart for his wife? Has he considered what it would mean to him to be deprived of wife and home and children, and is he ready to sacrifice it all for what seems to him to be another’s love? These are questions to which she should know the answer before she decides upon her course of action. . . .

When the husband is guilty of repeated acts of infidelity the wife finds herself in a different and a very difficult situation. Here is a man who is apparently incapable of faithfulness. Is it her place to forgive his repeated offences and receive him always with open arms whenever he feels impelled to return to her? Is she doing him any real good by so doing? Are there children in the home, and under what conditions are they being brought up? . . .

Not only may it be necessary for the wife to separate herself from the erring husband for her own sake and the sake of the children, but his welfare also may demand it. It may be the only thing which will cause him to pause and ponder upon the path which he is pursuing. It may serve to bring him to his senses, so that, whether their lives are rejoined or not, he will master himself to the degree of being faithful to someone, and thus he will really be benefited by the separation.

The question as to what should be done when unfaithfulness has been discovered, therefore, is one which can be answered only by those who are involved, and the right solution can be found only by considering the welfare of all concerned. This much may be said, however, for the guidance of all under such unhappy circumstances, that what is really best for one will be found to be best for all concerned.

Source: Macfadden, Bernarr. Womanhood and Marriage. New York: Macfadden Book Company, Inc.,1923.
~ pp. 212-13, 216-18 ~

The Plight of the Other Woman

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

zig when she zagsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am seeing a married man, who has a four-year-old daughter. He tells me that he loves me with all of his heart, and that his marriage is going to end soon, and for me to just be patient, and he will be with me. What should I do? I do love him.

The Other Woman

A Dear Other Woman:

When Nina Farewell talks, Miss Abigail listens, and you might consider doing the same. The following is from a chapter in The Unfair Sex, which closes with an utterly simple, yet ever-so-important thought: “If you settle for less, you will always feel cheated.” Now that’s what I call advice!

1953: Don’t Have an Affair with a Married Man

The most unsatisfactory lover in the world is the man who has a wife. A liaison with him is encumbered with all the customary inconveniences of a love affair, plus the irritation of having a rival who outranks you.

In every aspect of your relationship with him, you feel her influence. The very hours you spend with him are dictated by her tastes and her schedule. If she loves a gay social life, you can be sure her husband will seldom be at your disposal in the evening ~ you must content yourself with odd hours during the day. If she is the athletic type, it is unlikely you will ever get to go sailing, fishing, or golfing with him. Whatever her habits, you must at all times be prepared for the sudden cancellation of a carefully planned rendezvous and equally prepared for an unexpected message that he is free ~ just when it is least convenient for you.

You have no choice but to zig when she zags, and zag when she zigs. And heaven help you if she is a woman who frequently changes her mind!

Of one thing you can be sure ~ your lover will not spend Christmas, New Year’s, or Easter Sunday with you. All the important dates on the calendar belong to his wife and children, and you will be forced to celebrate with relatives or female friends ~ a sad prospect for a lively girl. Manless amid the festivities, you will look about indignantly at other women proudly displaying their escorts.

When you do get together, your married beau, with recommendable caution, will rule out all the nice places to which you ask to be taken, and you will pass the time tucked away in some little room or in your own apartment. This has the value of being economical as well as discreet ~ important considerations for a family man. . . .

The most cogent argument against having an affair with someone else’s husband, is that

Married men virtually never marry their girl friends.

Men hate divorce. They dislike the nuisance of moving, and besides, they resent paying alimony. If a man can possibly endure his wife, he will stay married to her.

In any event, the fact that a man takes a sweetheart does not indicate that he prefers the sweetheart to his wife. Not at all. Ninety times out of a hundred he would be aghast at the idea of trading his good old wife for some wanton stranger.

Can a girl really be happy with the humble assignment of amusing a man who belongs to someone else?

Source: Farewell, Nina. The Unfair Sex : An Expose of the Human Male for Young Women of Most Ages. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953.
~ pp. 205-208 ~