Seeing that it is a girl’s destiny on reaching womanhood to go to a new home and live in submission to her father-in-law and mother-in-law, it is even more incumbent upon her than it is on a boy to receive with all reverence her parents’ instructions. Should her parents, through excess of tenderness, allow her to grow up self-willed, she will infallibly show herself capricious in her husband’s house and thus alienate his affection, while, if her father-in-law is a man of correct principles, the girl will find the yoke of these principles intolerable. She will hate and decry her father-in-law, and the end of these domestic dissensions will be her dismissal from her husband’s house and the covering of herself with ignominy. Her parents, forgetting the faulty education they gave her, may indeed lay all the blame on the father-in-law. But they will be in error, for the whole disaster should rightly be attributed to the faulty education the girl received from her parents.
In China, marriage is called returning, for the reason that a woman must consider her husband’s home as her own, and that, when she marries, she is therefore returning to her own home. However humble and needy may be her husband’s position, she must find no fault with him, but consider the poverty of the household which it has pleased Heaven to give her as the ordering of an unpropitious fate. The Sage of old taught that, once married, she must never leave her husband’s house. Should she forsake the “way,” and be divorced, shame shall cover her till her latest hour. With regard to this point, there are seven faults, which are termed The Seven Reasons for Divorce: (1) A woman shall be divorced for disobedience to her father-in-law or mother-in-law; (2) A woman shall be divorced if she fails to bear children, the reason for this rule being that women are sought in marriage for the purpose of giving men posterity. A barren woman should, however, be retained if her heart is virtuous and her conduct correct and free from jealousy, in which case a child of the same blood must be adopted; neither is there any just cause for a man to divorce a barren wife if he has children by a concubine; (3) Lewdness is a reason for divorce; (4) Jealousy is a reason for divorce; (5) Leprosy, or any like foul disease, is a reason for divorce; (6) A woman shall be divorced who, by talking overmuch and prattling disrespectfully, disturbs the harmony of kinsmen and brings trouble on her household; (7) A woman shall be divorced who is addicted to stealing.
It is the chief duty of a girl living in the parental house to practice filial piety toward her father and mother. But after marriage, her chief duty is to honor her father-in-law and mother-in-law—to honor them beyond her own father and mother—to love and reverence them with all ardor, and to tend them with every practice of filial piety. While you honor your own parents, think not lightly of your father-in-law!
Let her never even dream of jealousy. If her husband is dissolute, she must expostulate with him, but never either nurse or vent her anger. If her jealousy is extreme, it will render her countenance frightful and her accents repulsive and can only result in completely alienating her husband from her and making her intolerable in his eyes. Should her husband act ill and unreasonably, she must compose her countenance and soften her voice to remonstrate with him—and if he is angry and does not listen to the remonstrance, she must wait over a season and then expostulate with him again when his heart is softened. Never set yourself up against your husband with harsh features and a boisterous voice!
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