About the Duties of Husbands and Wives
Benjamin Wadsworth, A Well-Ordered Family(Boston,
Concerning the duties of this relation we may assert a few things.
It is their duty to dwell together with one another. Surely they should
dwell together; if one house cannot hold them, surely they are not affected
to each other as they should be. They should have a very great and tender
love and affection to one another. This is plainly commanded by God. This
duty of love is mutual; it should be performed by each, to each of them.
When, therefore, they quarrel or disagree, then they do the Devil's work;
he is pleased at it, glad of it. But such contention provokes God; it dishonors
Him; it is a vile example before inferiors in the family; it tends to prevent
As to outward things. If the one is sick, troubled, or distressed, the
other should manifest care, tenderness, pity, and compassion, and afford
all possible relief and succor. They should likewise unite their prudent
counsels and endeavors, comfortably to maintain themselves and the family
under their joint care.
Husband and wife should be patient one toward another. If both are truly
pious, yet neither of them is perfectly holy, in such cases a patient,
forgiving, forbearing spirit is very needful. . . .
The husband's government ought to be gentle and easy, and the wife's
obedience ready and cheerful. The husband is called the head of the woman.
It belongs to the head to rule and govern. Wives are part of the house
and family, and ought to be under the husband's government. Yet his government
should not be with rigor, haughtiness, harshness, severity, but with the
greatest love, gentleness, kindness, tenderness that may be. Though he
governs her, he must not treat her as a servant, but as his own flesh;
he must love her as himself.
Those husbands are much to blame who do not carry it lovingly and kindly
to their wives. O man, if your wife is not so young, beautiful, healthy,
well-tempered, and qualified as you would wish; if she did not bring a
large estate to you, or cannot do so much for you, as some other women
have done for their husbands; yet she is your wife, and the great God commands
you to love her, not be bitter, but kind to her. What can be more plain
and expressive than that?
Those wives are much to blame who do not carry it lovingly and obediently
to their own husbands. O woman, if your husband is not as young, beautiful,
healthy, so well-tempered, and qualified as you could wish; if he has not
such abilities, riches, honors, as some others have; yet he is your husband,
and the great God commands you to love, honor, and obey him. Yea, though
possibly you have greater abilities of mind than he has, was of some high
birth, and he of a more common birth, or did bring more estate, yet since
he is your husband, God has made him your head, and set him above you,
and made it your duty to love and revere him.
Parents should act wisely and prudently in the matching of their children.
They should endeavor that they may marry someone who is most proper for
them, most likely to bring blessings to them.