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 ‘wooing’

The Husband as Lover

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

keep on wooingThis was originally posted as the wedding of my baby sister approached, with thoughts of love and marriage obviously been on my mind. This excerpt is from the 1940 edition of the ever-informative and open-minded Happiness in Marriage, by none other than the founder of the birth control movement, Margaret Sanger.

1940: The Husband as Lover

Happiness in marriage must be endlessly recaptured and renewed. It cannot be gained once and held forever in the possession of the husband. Therefore to husbands of all ages ~ young, middle-aged and even old ~ these directions are indispensable:

Keep on wooing.

Make the love you have found and which means so much to both of you your religion. For it can be the noblest of religions.

Keep your wife eternally youthful. This may seem an impossible task, but it is not and will more than repay you. Happiness is essential for the health and growth of love. Love must keep on growing. It cannot stand still. It grows or it dies. Love cannot thrive in silence. Therefore assure her, reassure her of your deep and growing affection. Good tidings invigorate the flagging energies of a band of explorers; a deep joy enables men and women to transcend the frailties of human weakness. Disappointment, sorrow, depress and disturb the vital functions. Therefore, husband and wife as well, tell your love at all times to each other.

Some men only do this occasionally, or when desire is at high tide. They make a grave mistake. Acts may express this love more eloquently than words. But do not, on this account, conclude that words are not necessary also. They are. Love needs constant reassurance. Your wife is in all probability not a mind reader. Unless you tell her, break through the reticence and embarrassment of expessing your thoughts, she may never know what you are thinking and feeling.

This is a greater problem among men who are naturally taciturn and silent, among men who are born and brought up in a tradition which encourages a suppression of stirred emotions. But do not make the mistake of supposing that women do not like to be told over and over again of the love she inspires. This is a story women never tire of hearing. This is a thought all husbands should keep constantly in mind. This is the tonic that rejuvenates and keeps both young.

This next section is from later in the book…

In homes where there are no servants, the household duties such as washing and clearing away the dishes are often shared equally, and the slight burdens become an easily and pleasurably accomplished task.

What were formerly considered exclusively feminine duties seem today to be voluntarily taken on by the husband. Surely there is no loss in manliness or dignity in sharing the heavier and more disagreeable household tasks. In my estimation this mutual acceptance of household duties by the husband as well as the wife does more than any other single thing toward the creation of that splendid comradeship and companionship which are the solidest foundations of permanent homes and happy marriages.

The husband who balks at such tasks and looks upon such duties as essentially feminine, who considers himself henpecked when asked to help in them, is indeed a pathetic creature. He is, moreover, exhibiting an ungenerous and thoughtless side of his nature which will be apprehensively watched by his wife. He cannot know the real joys of true companionship in his married life, and he has himself only to blame when his own action brings out similar traits in his wife. This has been the traditional and unfortunate attitude of many foreign born men toward their wives. Women were not made merely to serve the physical and sexual needs of husbands, with no obligation on the part of the latter except to provide a house and to pay the bills. Fortunately for all of us this type of husband is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Source: Sanger, Margaret . Happiness in Marriage. Garden City, New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1940.
~ pp. 221-222, 225-26 ~

Courtship ~ For the Man

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

don't forget the passion, kidsWooing. There is no word greater, as far as I am concerned, in the world of dating and marriage advice. So here it a bit of advice for young men about this delicate art from Margaret Sanger’s 1940 edition of Happiness in Marriage.

1940: Courtship ~ For the Man

For the young man, wooing must be a great adventure. It is a voyage of discovery and exploration. He discovers the hidden beauties in the character of the one he loves concealed behind the curtain of her modesty, or even unknown to her. He discovers her innocent whims, her buried wishes. Then, by compliments, little gifts or thoughtful acts, he brings to her attention by a series of surprises the results of this voyage.

Long before physical love between them is possible, there may be a psychic or spiritual communion between two young persons. This psychic prelude is absolutely necessary as a prerequisite for successful love-making on a physical plane. Psychic and spiritual unity is essential ~ otherwise love would remain on the level of a physiological function.

Inhibited and restrained by the false restrictions of so-called polite society, too many repressed young men take up the task of love-making in too tame and effete a style. “Faint heart ne’er won fair lady,” says the old adage.

I have perhaps over-emphasized the danger of becoming a slave to passion, but one must not forget that there must be passion. There must be an imperious, driving force in back of all wooing. It should never be permitted to sink to the boresome fulfillment of a certain number of weekly or monthly calls, tiresome, restrained participation in ordinary social functions. Romance, to live, must not be caged in the atmosphere of tame domesticity, nor deprived of the opportunity to soar.

To the young man, therefore, who would woo successfully, I urge these suggestions:

First, Dramatize your love;

Second, Carry into action the generous impulses inspired and awakened by your beloved;

Third, Be aggressive. It is the role of love to act; be fearless but at the same time be chivalrous, for aggressiveness without respect is brutal and offensive.

But this does not mean that the lover should not “act out” his ardor. When I counsel you to dramatize your love, I mean that instead of seeking satisfaction in reveries, day dreams, or morbid fancies, you should seek to awaken and hold the interest of the girl of your heart by a continuous series of surprises, unexpected meetings, gifts, tokens and evidences that indicate to her that she is uppermost and supreme in your thoughts.

Source: Sanger, Margaret . Happiness in Marriage. Garden City, New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1940.
~ pp. 40-42 ~