This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
This should be a large, well-ventilated room, with a southern or western exposure, which can receive the direct sunlight for several hours of the day. At least twelve hundred cubic feet of air ought to be allowed each occupant, so if two sleep in the room, and the ceiling be twelve feet high, about fifteen feet square is a desirable size. If one or more children sleep in the same room the dimensions should be proportionately increased, or extra pains should be taken to secure a rapid change, in the air of the room. No doubt much of the mortality which characterizes the courts and alleys of our great cities is due to the narrow and crowded rooms in which the tenants sleep; and no matter how many other causes of disease are removed, so long as this remains, we cannot expect to see a proper and normal degree of health established.
In this country it is customary for married persons to sleep in the same bed. In Europe, in the higher classes, they nearly always occupy separate rooms. Louis Philippe, the "citizen king" of France, who thought it policy to assimilate himself in mode of life to the middle classes, chose to make his family an exception to this rule, and, during his reign, visitors to the Tuileries were duly pointed out the great double bed in which the king and queen slept. Probably under most circumstances it is well to adopt the American habit, as such nearness of body leads to a nearness of spirit, and mutual trust and love are fostered by the fact of contiguity.
Only when disease, or some avocation which leads to disturbed slumbers, is to be taken into account, do we recommend the opposite plan. Some physicians suppose that consumption is contagious, and of course many chronic skin diseases notoriously are so; and if present, it is too severe a demand for the sufferer to make that a healthy person should needlessly be exposed to the danger of illness.
Physicians, who are called up nearly every night, can hardly with propriety insist that their wives shall partake of this annoyance inseparable from their avocation. But we forget. We need not extend to them advice on the subject of sanitary rules, as with these they are supposed to be already familiar.
Cleanliness of person is a point about which married people of both sexes cannot be over-scrupulous. When in health, we urgently recommend them to use a bath every morning or every evening. An unpleasant odor almost always attends those who neglect this direction, and certainly few small things can sooner or more inevitably lead to aversion than a bad smell. Persons whose feet, or whose perspiration is generally foul, can obtain relief from this by seeking medical advice. When it is their own fault, as for instance from chewing tobacco, or from frequent indulgence in spirits, they will stand sadly in their own light unless they renounce these indulgences. The man who likes his quid better than his wife is not much of a man.
Frequent changes of underclothing are desirable on this account as well as for general hygienic reasons, and any pains bestowed on keeping the attire neatly arranged and well cared for will not be lost. Women have more delicate sensibilities than men, they are more readily pleased or repulsed by little things, and the husband who is anxious to maintain pleasant relations in his home circle will do well not to neglect the cares of the toilet.
We pass from these considerations of general hygiene to those which more particularly have to do with the state of marriage ; and first