This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
Married couples should most carefully husband their affections for each other. It is a most deplorable fact, that the love between many too soon loses its fervor. This loss is not due to familiarity, nor is it a natural result of daily association; but decidedly the effect of a reprehensible disregard of a mutual endeavor to maintain it. We love only that which is lovely; and the person who makes himself lovely will be loved. It is more frequently the case that the wife loses her husband's affections than the reverse. This is not so much the result of the inferior affectionate nature of man as it is of neglect and imprudence on the part of a woman. Women, if they would rule men's hearts, must deserve and unwittingly exact the approval and admiration of their minds. Her variability of temper is most unfortunate. It goes up like a rocket and comes down like an aerolite; a miracle of smiles or weeping Niobe, a driving tempest or a flashing sunbeam. A never-varying, bland, lullaby sort of temperament is most deplorable; sparkle, buoyancy, and even an irrepressible dash of fun, now and then, are most healthful and appetizing; but more feminine diplomacy should forbid the not unfrequent dovetailing of winsome caresses and childish poutings on the part of the wife, and so should the whimsical interplay of foolish indulgences and churlish neglect on the part of the husband be abandoned. Principle, not caprice, should be the energizing and controlling motive. The most charming views of wedded life are to be taken from the higher mounts of vision -- those of settled design and steady purpose. There must, of course, be mutual concessions and mutual agreements to disagree. There is a way to win by commanding, and a way to command by winning. By the wise interblending of self-centered strength, and a prodigal wifely affection, she may achieve marvels of wifely management. The husband may unconsciously lead: but never essay to drive. At the same time, we are frank enough to confess that there are too many women who need the flaming sword of an archangel to awe and repress them. There is no such thing as conquering them by love; as well prate of love to a blackbird. But if kindness fails, severity will fail all the more surely. Flies still continue to take more kindly to molasses than to vinegar. If they but knew how a cheerful temper, joined with innocence, will make their beauty more attractive, knowledge more delightful, and wit more good-natured, they surely would endeavor to cultivate and cherish it. It is an unquestioned fact that too many wives neglect the most important elements of wifely conduct.
To her is entrusted the care and management of the home -- if it is agreeable, it is her work, if it is attractive, it is to her credit alone that it should be ascribed. If the home is not a cheery place, it is because she does not render it so. It is not requisite that elegance and luxury -- that only wealth can procure -- should characterize it; cleanliness, order, and, above all, her bright, sunny smiles, and cheerful company, adorn it more than the richest household furniture. The atmosphere of the home must not be darkened by the clouds of discontent, perplexity or anger, but lit up by the effulgence of social conviviality, good nature, and buoyancy of spirit. The husband coming from his daily task must, in return for the bright smiles of the wife and children that welcome him home, throw aside all cares of business, and devote himself to their enjoyment. It will put a new life in him as well as in his wife and children. If exhausted and fatigued, or if his mental energies have been overtaxed, he must not thrust the fact too forcibly upon his family, but on the contrary bring freshness and buoyancy of spirit into the family circle. He must not recuperate his energies at the expense of the vitality of his wife and little ones. The wife should also as early as possible dispense with household duties, and, until the retiring hour, be ever ready to engage in that social comunion, which is so healthful, and so conducive to happiness of married life. But how frequently is it the case that the weary husband, who would gladly engage in that relaxation afforded by domestic conference in play, reading, etc., is only beguiled by the din of pots and kettles, the clatter of dishes, the music of a wash-tub, etc., in the kitchen, which often is incessant, until the poor husband, desirous of social comforts, but weary of waiting for them, goes to bed with nothing to lull him to sleep but the confused noises that come from the kitchen, made by his busy and industrious, but indiscreet spouse. We would not deprecate industry on the part of the wife. We well know that many a wife, whose household duties and personal attention to the children absorb most of her time, can find but little opportunity to engage in recreation or social enjoyment, but while we admire thrift, coupled with industrious habits, we cannot but deplore the state which rubs from her the best energies, instead of applying some, at least, upon the effort to render the atmosphere of the home, not one of incessant labor only, but also one that is brightened and rendered cheerful by the relaxation afforded by an occasional leisure hour, in which the man, wife, and children are brought in contact, and stimulated and refreshed by social concourse. As well might the husband file his saws, grind his axes, and chop his wood at the same time, as the wife to be continuously drawn from his presence by the labor of the home. It is, we know, not a pleasing contrast, to compare a thrifty and industrious wife with one who is indolent and careless, but we only argue for a limit, as we know that matrimonial happiness, health, and noble qualities of children are dependent in a great measure upon enlivened social intercourse in the family. We would have no wife merit the exclamation of "How shiftless!" from an Aunt Priscilla, but they must not be so busy either, that her husband has in her no social companion. Such wives cannot much blame their husbands if they seek social pasttime in the club, in the inn, or even in his neighbor's house, where Mrs. Sparkle makes everything so pleasant. It is the duty of the husband, whenever possible, to give his leisure hours to the companionship of his wife and children, but it is also a duty that the wife so arranges everything that they can not only be passed tolerably but agreeably. It should be the effort of both husband and wife to make the home the dearest place on earth to them, and when that is accomplished, connubial happiness is certainly achieved. It is often that the best-meant efforts are fruitless, simply because they are driven in the wrong direction, and the disappointment occurring in consequence of misapplied energy is full hard to bear; but if the married man or woman would study the wants and desires of their consorts a little more, and make earnest effort to supply them, the apple of discord would not be eaten in so many instances.
I cannot too strongly impress the importance of fidelity. Could I have but one word of advice to give to the conjugal pair, I would say: -- "Be true to each other." Disloyalty in the marriage bond is the cause of infinite trouble, misery, and ruin. It is the rock upon whose ugly and jagged contour lie the wrecks of numberless matrimonial vessels. Fidelity is the rudder that guides the bark safely through the course, let adversity and all else assail her, as long as not without her rudder, she will out-ride the storms, and glide triumphantly and peacefully along in smooth water. Disloyalty pitches her at once into the breakers, where she will pitch and toss, heave and thump, and should she even escape, it is only at the expense of important appendages, and most frequently the best directed efforts will not save her from utter ruin.