Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Laundry {Life} Lessons for Wives with Abigail Adams

“Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee…”
 ~ Proverbs 2:11

Did you know that Abigail Adams used the "unfinished" East Room of the White House to hang her husband’s freshly washed clothes? As President, she felt his laundry shouldn’t be exposed for everyone to see. This showed a deep respect for her husband and a lot about her discerning and devoted character. She once said of her spouse, “When he is wounded, I bleed.” What love, what affection, what passion!

Abigail Adams and granddaughter Susanna watch as a servant hangs laundry in the East Room– by Gordon Phillips
In a society where many women share intimate information about their marital relationships via the internet and telephone, etc., I think our foremothers would be greatly distressed. In modern language, we call it being “transparent” or "venting" but the old fashioned upbringing of Abigail Adams might insist that we are “airing out the laundry”!

“… remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.”
~ Abigail Adams: Her Letters

The Bible teaches to confess our sins one to another and to pray for one another (James 5:16). However, it doesn’t write that we should be confessing other people’s sins, one to another, especially not our husband’s! Irritations and bad habits are also uncomely subjects to share. A godly wife will seek to preserve the character of her beloved (Ephesians 5:33).

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”
~ Proverbs 11:22

There are instances when a woman does need to speak up (domestic violence, danger to children, etc.). This is where church elders and civil authorities should be turned to for support and guidance. However, in other circumstances, to share with the world all his defects will only create a heart of distrust. This is the exact opposite of what a Proverbs 31 wife would desire to do, for a wise woman builds up her home (Proverbs 14:1)!

"He trusts in her conduct, that she will speak in all companies, and act in all affairs, with prudence and discretion, so as not to occasion him either damage or reproach."
~ Matthew Henry's Commentary

“A gracious woman retaineth honor .” ~ Proverbs 11:16a

If you feel a situation that personally happened in your marriage may be a help to others, be gracious and ask your husband for his consent prior to sharing. The “golden rule” is always the best policy in any relationship. Trust in your spouse is very important! He should feel secure in your love, your presence and even in your absence knowing that “you will do him good and not evil all the days of his life” (Proverbs 31:12). Dear reader, may we all endeavor to walk in the noble path of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:
but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."
~ Proverbs 12:4

“Are there little frictions or grievances in the wedded life? Has her husband fault which annoys her or causes her pain? Does he fail in this duty or that? Do differences arise which threaten the peace of the home? In the feeling of disappointment and pain, smarting under a sense of injury, a wife may be strongly tempted to seek sympathy by telling her trials to some intimate friends. Nothing could be more fatal to her own truest interest and to the hope of restored happiness and peace in her home. Grievances complained of outside remain unhealed sores. The wise wife will share her secret of unhappiness with none but her Master, while she strives in every way that patient love can suggest to remove the causes of discord or trouble.”


  1. Wise words! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  2. Thanks for sharing this today. Words to live by. Heather

  3. Dear JES, thank you for this beautiful post...this is one I will be saving for one day, Lord willing of course, I find myself a wife... I will remember these wise words!
    Blessing and much love,

  4. Excellent post, JES! Abigail Adams was an astute lady. She lived under a microscope (however, not near so powerful as social media is today) and knew that saying the wrong things in life could bring horrid repercussions. I'm so glad I was taught, back when I was growing up to keep the family's laundry under wraps, and it's a lesson that remains a social safeguard. I hope your post on the subject will reach those on social media as those outlets are rife with TMI (too much information, mostly personal) that can never be taken back.
    Have a lovely,.... tight-lipped day! ;) Sorry, I couldn't resist, lol.

  5. One of my little adages... to remember!

    "Go to the throne, not the phone".

    Great post, today!!

  6. This is timely for me. I used to read Laines Letters and she always said "private private" and to not disclose private things that are between a husband and wife.
    Currently my daughter use almost due to have a baby. People ask her all kinds of really personal questions! I am telling her you do not have to answer questions like that! It is private! And an option is to say "that is private between my husband and me". Mostly people are doing it in view to give their opinion on every subject from child birth to immunisation to feeding... And push their views. It is very bossy. So I am saying you do not have to tell strangers and acquaintances anything!
    Is it Facebook and tv etc that make it seem every detail is for public airings? Whatever the cause I think keeping things private needs a revival!

  7. This is an excellent post containing very solid advice. In my own marriage there have been some very serious problems, to the point where I should have gone to a trusted authority or a professional - but instead I went to several different family members who sadly, could not be trusted and who then spread the information around. Very personal information about us made it to my husband's workplace and caused him a great deal of difficulty and stress. Since then I have been so much more careful about what I share and with whom. Yes, there are times a woman needs help - but it may be better to go to a clergyman, social worker, or psychologist with your problems. I feel great sorrow now that I didn't refrain from speaking freely and I was foolish enough to trust family members with "juicy" information. All I did was add to our already significant problems.

    1. Dear Laura,

      I am sorry to hear of your experience but thank you for sharing so that others may profit. My only thoughts to add are to seek advice from God-fearing sources. They will desire to heal and mend (and pray for) a marriage to where some advice from secular sources wouldn't care to encourage the preservation of marriage. Also, as a woman, I would feel more comfortable (and prudent) going to an active and respected MARRIED couple/elders in the church to avoid being one-on-one with another man. May God bless you with wisdom in your marriage. Love, JES

  8. Yes! Men need to be respected. When we show them respect they will often rise to the occasion and seek to be respectable! If women who bash their husbands only knew that they are shooting themselves in the foot when they shoot down their husbands, whether privately or publicly.

  9. True words. Marriage may not be the easiest relationship that the Lord may bless us with, but it is one of the most important. It is representative of Christ and His bride, the church. May we be a blessing to our husbands and if they are doing something that is irritating or a bad habit, may we by the grace of God discern whether or not it is worth getting help for and who we should ask.

  10. So well said. Thankfully, I had an example in my mother for never criticizing one's husband in public but instead praising him and expressing appreciation for him. Why would you want to share your husband's shortcomings? Is it not a reflection on you also?

  11. I've often thought if a wife speaks ill of her husband, what does that say about her? I want people not only to respect my husband for his sake (and for the glory of the Lord), but for my sake, too. If he is respected, chances are good that others will think I chose wisely and that reflects well on me and on the Lord, too!. Great post, JES. Hugs.

  12. Jes, this is very good. I agree with a Joyful Cottage, if we speak ill of our husbands I think it does indeed speak the same for us. I always speak praise about my husband, no one needs to know his down falls. I want to be the virtuous wife to my husband, not the one that tears him down.

    Great post! Hugs, Amy

  13. How convicting is this is in such a good way! A wonderful reminder! Thank you!

  14. As an unmarried young lady this is something I see quite often. It sometimes saddens me to hear how other women talk about their husbands.

  15. Such gracious encouragement. Thank you for speaking words of wisdom.

  16. Dear Jes, Women need to learn this Godly truth as it can bring real sorrow and destruction on a family.Blessings, Roxy

  17. Hi Jes, thank you for sharing your heart and your words of wisdom. One must uphold a husband with honor and never talk against him to others. Woman can take the lead and do so much to making a wonderful home and marriage by keeping God's truths.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hugs, CM

  18. Lovely, very lovely and interesting post, my dearest JES, you know how much i do love history and home traditions, I've read it all at once, wonderful, truly !
    Thank you for your work, so pleasant to read and so useful to remember, my sweet friend,
    be blessed

  19. JES, I love this and is very timely. It is so easy to be "transparent" or to feel the need to share when one is feeling the weight of something in marriage, but I agree that without the agreement of one's spouse, a wife's mouth should be kept closed. I am no angel in this regard, but my heart has been pinched recently, and I know it is the Spirit - and here is another sign to show me the way. Thank you! And thank you for your lovely comment on my blog, so encouraging!

  20. This is a very insightful post. How can others or even we as wives respect our husbands if we expose our husbands to outside scrutiny. We are human, of course, and so are our husbands but flaunting our faults for all to see is not the answer. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Dear, sweet JES, you always write in such a loving manner, but also in a manner that grabs the readers attention. I love the way you intertwine God's Word with your words of wisdom and experience.

    This was an excellent and very insightful post, my friend. I would have to say "Amen" to what A Joyful Cottage said. Thank you so much for sharing with Roses of Inspiration. Hugs to you!

  22. Excellent, excellent post Jes and very timely for a world where women want to pull men down. I feel it is so important to keep things close to our hearts unless given permission to share and help others. Thanks for sharing this great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  23. Excellent, excellent post Jes and very timely with the world we live in trying to bring men and husbands down. It is so important to lift up and honour our husbands and I feel we need to keep things close to our heart and only share if given permission. Thanks for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings