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We can’t stop thinking about this marriage advice from 1880

Published Monday, Sep. 18th, 2023

Photo: acrogame / Adobe Stock

What do you think... Would you want your officiant to read this marriage advice at your wedding?



Over the weekend, a Redditor shared a photo of vintage marriage advice they’d found attached to their grandparent’s marriage license… and we can’t stop thinking about it.


Titled “How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon,” the advice was given to the poster's grandparents on their wedding day in 1946, but it turns out it’s actually much older than that. 


We did a little research… and discovered this advice was originally published for newlyweds in 1880. Over a hundred and forty years ago! 



Photo of How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon

"How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon," shared by Redditor notoriousbsr on r/TheWayWeWere. See the original Reddit post here. 



The excerpt comes from a book called ‘Home and health and home economics: a cyclopedia of facts and hints for all departments of home life, health, and domestic economy,’ written by Charles Henry Fowler and co-author W. H. De Puy (alt DuPuy). (Published by Phillips & Hunt, 1880, via Library of Congress


Some of the advice is definitely questionable – like recommendations to "avoid the appearance of evil" (whatever that means?), or to "conform" your tastes to those of your companion in order to please them (please don’t do this). 


But some of the advice remains pretty solid all these years later – like advice to “gauge your expenses by your revenues” (budget wisely), and to “make the best of the inevitable” (stay positive when life gets challenging). 


It's an interesting glimpse into the past, into the ways our views and attitudes about marriage have changed in the last 143 years… and how they’ve stayed the same. 



Selections from “How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon”


“Continue your courtship. Like causes produce like effects.”


"Do not assume a right to neglect your companion more after marriage than you did before."


"Make the best of the inevitable. Persist in looking at and presenting the best side. Smile and smile. A cheerful disposition can be acquired, and it will carry you thru many a discouraging situation."


“Do not both get angry at the same time. It takes two to make a quarrel.”


“Start from where your parents started, rather than where they now are. Hollow and showy boarding often furnishes too strong temptation, while the quietness of a humble home would cement the hearts beyond risk.”


“Avoid debt. Spend your own money, then it will not be necessary to blame anyone for spending other people’s.”


"Gauge your expenses by your revenues. Love must eat. The sheriff often levies on Cupid long before he takes away the old furniture."



The most notable change from then to now is probably the modern shift toward gender equality and equal partnership in marriage. 


For example, advice to “keep a lively interest in the business of the firm,” was likely directed toward a new wife, but can now be given to a spouse of any gender… and thank goodness for that. There's also been wide acceptance and support for civil marriages, and increasing celebration of individuality, creativity, and independence in marriage.


It turns out we’re not the only ones intrigued by this accidental time-capsule of advice – it’s been making the rounds for decades!


Mentions of this wedding reading pop up every few years, to the delight and confusion of increasingly modern readers. It's been read by wedding officiants at weddings, and given to newlyweds alongside their marriage licenses. Many find the old fashioned language funny and antiquated, others call the sentiments timeless and straightforward.


It was still circulating back in 1929 (as described in this 1979 newspaper article from Wisconsin), throughout the late 30s (as demonstrated by this 1938 Methodist wedding in Ohio), and into the late 40s, as this recent Reddit post shows. One Reddit commentor even mentioned it was read by the officiant at their wedding, in 1978! 


And here it is, surfacing again in 2023, over one hundred and forty years after it was written...



What do you think? Will this advice still be relevant in another hundred years? 


Updated September 19, 2023


Read Next: 




colonial Williamsburg photo

A marriage certificate issued to two women in Colonial Williamsburg was discovered by researcher Ren Tolson, documenting an early same-sex love story. Read the full article here. 



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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