Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Victorian Britain, Household Management And An Ode To Olde Fashioned Marriage (According To Me)

Hello dear friends, 

I'm going to prattle on about (my) nuanced non-ecclesiastical Victorian version of housewifery minus the engrained subtlety of suffrage. I remain old-fashioned and dignified as a lady with manners, self-confidence and (as Mary from Downton Abbey often said) "knowing her own mind". If that sounds like your cup of tea, well then, you've stepped to the appropriate spot. This will not be a post about how we must remain subjective to our husbands, downtrodden, and subservient. If you choose to be this way, that is perfectly wonderful (as a somewhat startling confession, I was this way for decades with my previous husband), and I would never scornfully judge you for how you choose to live your life.

On the contrary, as a now merry tempered lady, I salute you and boldly hold the utmost respect for every woman in her choices. I'm high minded, with dashes of salty demeanour and have lived a very different life before now. It's vital for those reading to be understanding and keep a viewpoint of compassionate respect. You may disagree with me, and that's perfectly acceptable. I will preface I adore men and appreciate all they add to our lives. They have their responsibilities, and we as women have ours. Both are equally important in extraordinary ways and much needed to create a home life of structure. I have always loved being a homemaker and housewife. As many of you know, I homeschooled my children and performed most duties such as I do to this day (minus the homeschooling... smile.)


In many ways, I haven't changed from my previous marriage to this new one, but in many ways, I have. I remain a person that keeps a lovely and well-organised home, visually appealing, smile on my face, greets my husband at the door, playing soft music and candles to smell the house nicely. There is a mood that is commonly present in our home. Even when my children were young, my home was quiet and immaculate (again, that was from an overly destructive alcoholic father. When there is alcoholism in a house, an added sense of desire for over achievement and perfection becomes a deeply rooted belief.)


When it pertains to being a housewife, I perform similar aspects in both marriages. However, if either person has low self-worth or unresolved trauma issues, in due time, those vast implications will begin to surface in the marriage. I was mindful and did the internal work not to repeat this in my second marriage, phew. What I want to preface is that we must create new beliefs that are dominantly filled with possessing a high value of oneself. Just as I frequently get asked if I am Amish or what religion I am, It's important to remember this kind of labelling should be replaced with a more open-minded approach to being a traditional housewife. Not every marriage is precisely the same. I am not a religious person by any measure though I am always placed in that presumption. It used to bother me to the olympic degree, but now If someone asked what religion I am, I smile and pleasantly return, "I'm not religious; I simply never grew out of my childhood dream of pretending to be Laura Ingall's Wilder." They smile and tell me how much they love my clothes and even more often could they pay me to sew them a dress all for their own. It's quite wonderful, and I'm chuffed to bits that there is a little slow living culture being created in my little one-horse town. I feel more and more as if we're living in the television series 1883 on Paramount plus. Are you watching?  


I often feel I'm very much a paradox. Whereas I voice my truth and hold my own, I am also a lady always in a frock. I'm rather dignified with soft touches of grace, sense and sensibility. I don't often apologise because I disperse my energy on due diligence and hold myself and my actions accordingly. If there is a need for apologising, I do so promptly with large doses of empathy. I work diligently not to be hasty by inferring others.

Furthermore, that doom is a chicken and always comes home to roost. We reap what we sow in deed and in thought. Let us remember those words and allow them to penetrate thy soul. 


I stand firmly in support of my dearly beloved husband. I trust him immensely because I trust myself. When we women get ourselves in order and hold ourselves accountable, the outside world will reflect back to us with precision. I am a complex woman, and whilst, I'm entirely self-sufficient, and  do not need another person to fulfil me; I desire (want) the connection of a mate in equal measure. I've always greeted my companion at the door for kisses and cuddles, neatly dressed, the smell of a  delightful rose with a gigglemug of apricot stained lips and flushed cherry cheeks.


A husband should be an addition to being a couple of stability, not one outweighing the other by measures. I'm not fishing, nor is he. As a woman of the home, I should feel my home is incomplete while my spouse is away; when he is home, well, then it's complete. If it is of no matter of implication whether our mates are home or not and there's no longing, well, then what's the need for a union between the two of you? For that matter, a roommate or a circus clown will do.


Now let's have a natter about Household Management.


A Victorian woman darning in her home of 

domesticity also entailed pressures to conform to other new standards. As a result, there will always be a history of publications explaining how to be good wives and household managers.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was first published in 1861 and remained a bestseller for over 50 years. It contained advice on becoming the perfect housewife and creating a domestic interior that provided a welcoming haven for the man of the house. Whereas these are great as subjective guides, remember that we all get to cherry-pick and create our very own uniquely perfect home and definition of an ideal housewife. Many of these articles were delightfully warming of the heart, and I rather fancy most of them as long as I am discretionary regarding ultra-strict Christian pursuits. For example, in 1890, The Christian Miscellany and Family Visitor (a religious magazine) wrote in its 'Hints for Home Life' column:

'She [the housewife] is the architect of the home, and it depends on her skill, her foresight, her soft arranging touches whether it shall be the "lodestar to all hearts", or whether it shall be a house from which husband and children are glad to escape either to the street, the cinema, or the tavern. Whereas this is delightful, I do not believe in the hierarchy of persons or diety. Most middle-class households had one servant, even the poorer families. It was the age of having servants no matter your class; the grade and wealth determined how many servants one had.

But of course, maintaining a middle-class household in the 19th century involved hard physical labour, most of it carried out by women. A few significant tasks were fetching and boiling water. The floors were scrubbed and washed with sand, and the food was prepared at home.


Understandably we have significantly advanced, and if I chose, I could decide not to carry out an olde fashioned life of a Victorian lady, but I simply enjoy it. It keeps me humble and in step with my world. I find so much joy in the makings of what creates a wonderful happy home. I know this because my children (now all grown) and husband remind me of this truth constantly. Isn't that worth it's weight in gold? I believe it is. 


In addition, before closing this post, here are a few more Victorian details. In the Victorian era, few families had flushing toilets before the end of the century. Although ready-made clothing became available in the middle of the century, underclothes were still made by hand and bed linen was hemmed and repaired at home. So, servants were hired to carry out these domestic tasks if it could be afforded.

It is a fallacy that most middle-class women could afford sufficient servants to allow them to spend their lives in idle leisure. On the contrary, most middle-class households had just one servant - adequate to give the woman of the house a certain status but insufficient to allow her to spend days doing embroidery, sketching and playing the piano. (excerpt from an online article about domesticity in the victorian Britain age, history trails BBC/UK.)


Here's a fun book I just collected and contains a wealth of knowledge. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. 

Most affably yours til my next swim, Raquelxxx

2 comments:

  1. I have a few of such books including Mrs. Beeton's. It is interesting to compare certain guides like how much of one's income should be spent on room and board, economical meals, how much to pay a footman (haha). I consider them books of ideals, though there are times when there are valuable pieces of information.
    Also, I think it's funny people ask you to sew them a dress - that's awesome.

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    Replies
    1. I love the Newton's book what a wonderful amount of knowledge and information. Yes, definitely ideals, footman... When thoughts of those parts, it strikes me back to a much different time in life.

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