Interesting post from First Things on an old book about what young husbands should know (What a Young Husband Ought to Know (1897, link has free ebook thanks to Scott Lamb) by Lutheran pastor Sylvanus Stall). Here’s a bit of nineteenth-century wisdom for young men, filtered through Russell Saltzman’s commentary:
This is where I start to like the guy. A young husband, Stall admonishes, should continue to court his wife. He should, in dress and attire around the home, remember he has but one woman to captivate by his “manly charms” (I think he uses that in an ironic sense), and, being a man, it will likely require continuous effort. A father should be prepared and able to care for the children while his wife is out, and a proper one will find time to play with his kids. A real husband should be home after work, avoiding bars and clubs, and he should quiet the house when he gets there so the wife can get an hour’s rest. He should keep the house trim and the yard clean; even a modest house will benefit from male attention.
This is simple stuff, but good stuff. It can be hard to push away from big projects at work and to reenter home life, but it is necessary that young husbands learn to do this and sublimate their work to the life of the family. It’s important to get down on the floor with your kids when you get home, hug them, play with them, laugh with them, and generally show them a picture of a father who is kind, strong, attentive, and loving.
Broadly speaking, it is the duty of a young Christian husband and father to image the character of a greater father. Central to this, I think, is being sacrificial, not selfish, even as our heavenly father gave up his son for our salvation. Theology informs practice.
Young husband: what patterns are you setting for your future? Do you willingly push away from work to go home a bit early in order to help your wife? Do you play with your kids? Do you give generously of yourself to your wife? Or do you save the best part of yourself for work?