THE other day, my mother-in-law gave me a book entitled Don’ts for Wives.

Originally printed in 1913, the book was republished in 2007. I think the jury’s still out on whether the sentiments are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.

I’m not quite sure what my mum-in-law was trying to tell me, perhaps that after 33 years of being married to her youngest son, I’m not looking after him properly.

But I’m not likely to change now and I don’t think he’s suffered too much.

He still does all the things he likes to do — ie sport — playing it, watching it, breathing it.

I long since realised that it’s best to just leave him to it.

But as with any book, I’m always interested in what it has to say, so I gave this tome a read and it proved to be a real source of amusement.

Written by Blanche Ebbutt, she shares nuggets of wisdom to do with husbands’ recreation time: “Don’t try to wean him from any pet hobby he may have because his things are always about, or because it is a messy occupation, let him be as messy as he likes in his own home.”

It sounds much better if you can channel Harry Enfield’s Mr Cholmondley-Warner.

“Don’t attempt to dictate to your husband on any subject. He won’t stand it, and there will be trouble.”

Blanche realises that men often need a little help with what to wear: “Don’t let your husband wear a violet tie with grass-green socks. If he is unhappily devoid of colour sense, he must be forcibly restrained.”

Blanche points out that there is always more to learn: “Don’t expect to know your husband inside and out within a month of marriage. For a long time you will be making discoveries; file them for future reference.”

Other guidance for marital bliss includes: “Don’t ever seem to join forces with those who criticise your husband even in the length of his moustache or the cut of his hair. He is more sensitive to his little vanities than in his big exploits.”

Useful views on entertaining comprise: “Don’t refuse to entertain your husband’s friends on the ground that it is a ‘bother’. Nothing pains a man more than finding only a cold welcome when he brings home a chum.”

And Blanche instructs that there is more to life than looks: “Don’t be troubled if your husband is not an Adonis. Beauty is only skin deep and the cleverest men are rarely the handsomest, judged by ordinary standards.”

In a chapter giving advice on financial affairs, Blanche directs: “Don’t hesitate to plan out large expenditures with your husband. Usually a woman is very good at small economics, but often a man has a better grip of essentials in spending large amounts.”

A whole chapter devoted to food has some wise counsel such as: “Don’t talk to your husband about anything of a worrying nature until he has finished his evening meal.”

And I rather like the tip for dealing with relatives: “Don’t quarrel with your husband’s relatives. If you can’t get on with them, don’t ask them to visit you, but persuade your husband to visit them, occasionally.”

Now that’s what I call sound advice.

A search on the internet shows that Blanche has only written one other book: Don’ts for Husbands — well, that’s one Christmas present sorted, then!