‘Their first spat’: Marriage advice for 19th century newlyweds

This short story about fighting spouses appeared in The Weekly Irish Times 125 years ago

‘Their first spat’. Photograph: iStock/Illustration

‘Their first spat’. Photograph: iStock/Illustration

 

The following story, published on the front page of The Weekly Irish Times on December 10th, 1892, might offer a clue as to the nature of day-to-day marital “spats” 125 years ago.

“Their first spat”

They had been married three weeks and had just gone to housekeeping. He was starting for the city one morning, and she followed him to the door.

They had their arms wrapped around each other, and she was saying: “Oh, Clarence, do you think it possible that the day will ever come when we will part in anger?”

“Why, no, little puss,” he said, “of course not. What put that foolish idea into my little birdie’s head, eh?”

“Oh, nothing, dearest. I was only thinking how perfectly dreadful it would be if one of us should speak harshly to the other.”

“Well, don’t think of such wicked, utterly impossible things any more,” he said. “We can never, ever quarrel.”

“I know it darling. Good by, you dear old precious, good by, and - oh, wait a second! I’ve written a note to mamma, Clarence. Can’t you run down to the house and leave it for her some time to-day?”

“Why, yes, dearie, if I have time.”

“If you have time! Oh, Clarence!”

“What is it little girlie?”

“Oh, to say if you ‘have time’ to do almost the first errand your little wife asks you to do.”

“Well, well, sissy, I am awfully busy just now.”

“Too busy to please me! Oh, Clarence, you hurt my feelings so.”

“Why, child, I - “

“I am not a child, Clarence - I am a married woman, and I - “

“There, there, my pet, I - “

“No, no, Clarence; if I was your p-p-pet, you’d t-t-try to - “

“But, Mabel, do be reasonable.”

“Oh, Clarence, don’t speak to me so” -

“Mabel, be sensible, and - “

“Go on, Clarence, go on; break my heart!”

“Stuff and nonsense.”

“Oh, o-oh!”

“What have I said or done?”

“As if you need to ask. But go - hate me if you will. I -”

“This is rank nonsense!”

“I’ll go back to mamma, if you want me to. She loves me if you don’t.”

“You must be crazy.”

“Oh, yes, sneer at me, ridicule me, break my poor heart! Perhaps you had better strike me!”

He bangs the door, goes down the steps on the jump, and races off muttering something about women being the “queerest creatures.”

Of course, they’ll make it up when he comes home, and they’ll have many such a little tiff in the years to come, and when they are old they will say: “We’ve lived together forty-five years and never - no, never - spoke a cross word to each other in all that time.”

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