Read MEDITATION X - OF THE LOVER. of The Physiology of Marriage‚ Part II., free online book, by Honore de Balzac, on

We offer the following maxims for your consideration: 

We should despair of the human race if these maxims had been made before 1830; but they set forth in so clear a manner the agreements and difficulties which distinguish you, your wife and a lover; they so brilliantly describe what your policy should be, and demonstrate to you so accurately the strength of the enemy, that the teacher has put his amour-propre aside, and if by chance you find here a single new thought, send it to the devil, who suggested this work.

To speak of love is to make love.

In a lover the coarsest desire always shows itself as a burst of
honest admiration.

A lover has all the good points and all the bad points which are
lacking in a husband.

A lover not only gives life to everything, he makes one forget life;
the husband does not give life to anything.

LXIX.  All the affected airs of sensibility which a woman puts on invariably deceive a lover; and on occasions when a husband shrugs his shoulders, a lover is in ecstasies.

A lover betrays by his manner alone the degree of intimacy in which he
stands to a married woman.

LXXI.  A woman does not always know why she is in love.  It is rarely that a man falls in love without some selfish purpose.  A husband should discover this secret motive of egotism, for it will be to him the lever of Archimedes.

A clever husband never betrays his supposition that his wife has a

LXXIII.  The lover submits to all the caprices of a woman; and as a man is never vile while he lies in the arms of his mistress, he will take the means to please her that a husband would recoil from.

A lover teaches a wife all that her husband has concealed from her.

LXXV.  All the sensations which a woman yields to her lover, she gives in exchange; they return to her always intensified; they are as rich in what they give as in what they receive.  This is the kind of commerce in which almost all husbands end by being bankrupt.

LXXVI.  A lover speaks of nothing to a woman but that which exalts her; while a husband, although he may be a loving one, can never refrain from giving advice which always has the appearance of reprimand.

A lover always starts from his mistress to himself; with a husband the
contrary is the case.



LXXX. A lover is never in the wrong.

LXXXI.  The lover of a married woman says to her:  “Madame, you have need of rest.  You have to give an example of virtue to your children.  You have sworn to make your husband happy, and although he has some faults ­he has fewer than I have ­he is worthy of your esteem.  Nevertheless you have sacrificed everything for me.  Do not let a single murmur escape you; for regret is an offence which I think worthy of a severer penalty than the law decrees against infidelity.  As a reward for these sacrifices, I will bring you as much pleasure as pain.”  And the incredible part about it is, that the lover triumphs.  The form which his speech takes carries it.  He says but one phrase:  “I love you.”  A lover is a herald who proclaims either the merit, the beauty, or the wit of a woman.  What does a husband proclaim?

To sum up all, the love which a married woman inspires, or that which she gives back, is the least creditable sentiment in the world; in her it is boundless vanity; in her lover it is selfish egotism.  The lover of a married woman contracts so many obligations, that scarcely three men in a century are met with who are capable of discharging them.  He ought to dedicate his whole life to his mistress, but he always ends by deserting her; both parties are aware of this, and, from the beginning of social life, the one has always been sublime in self-sacrifice, the other an ingrate.  The infatuation of love always rouses the pity of the judges who pass sentence on it.  But where do you find such love genuine and constant?  What power must a husband possess to struggle successfully against a man who casts over a woman a spell strong enough to make her submit to such misfortunes!

We think, then, as a general rule, a husband, if he knows how to use the means of defence which we have outlined, can lead his wife up to her twenty-seventh year, not without her having chosen a lover, but without her having committed the great crime.  Here and there we meet with men endowed with deep marital genius, who can keep their wives, body and soul to themselves alone up to their thirtieth or thirty-fifth year; but these exceptions cause a sort of scandal and alarm.  The phenomenon scarcely ever is met with excepting in the country, where life is transparent and people live in glass houses and the husband wields immense power.  The miraculous assistance which men and things thus give to a husband always vanishes in the midst of a city whose population reaches to two hundred and fifty thousand.

It would therefore almost appear to be demonstrated that thirty is the age of virtue.  At that critical period, a woman becomes so difficult to guard, that in order successfully to enchain her within the conjugal Paradise, resort must be had to those last means of defence which remain to be described, and which we will reveal in the Essay on Police, the Art of Returning Home, and Catastrophes.