Inside: The Good Wife’s Guide 1955: An Absolutely Humorous Look Back.
One of my favorites finds on the web in the last several years is The Good Wife’s Guide. The Good Wife’s Guide is an article that was published way back in May 1955 in Housekeeping Monthly. The article detailed the ways in which a wife should act with her husband and handle herself around the house and the children.
1955 would have been during the beginning of my parent’s marriage for sure and I can’t imagine my mother taking part in any of the information that’s provided in this article. Moreso I can’t think that there are any women today that subscribe to this behavior. Women are fiercely independent these days and many might argue that they desire to be treated the same way as the husbands in this article.
For the purpose of this piece, I thought it might be interesting to look back on some topics of the original content 50+ years after it was published and provide some commentary to see if these “suggestions” have stood the test of time.
1.) The Good Wife’s Guide suggests having dinner ready.
“Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.”
In the 50s women spent most of their time at home while their husbands went to work for the day. Today women aren’t’ chained to the house and are balancing their own career, children’s school, and everything else they deal with during a normal day.
Just like the husbands, many spend their day battling the commute, co-workers, and management and the last thing they want to think about is having dinner ready for their husband. In my house we try to prepare as best we can that morning for what we can make for dinner that night. Remember, the slow cooker is your best friend when it comes to cooking!
Have dinner ready
“Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.”
Forget doing it for their husbands! What most women wouldn’t give for any rest throughout the day, let alone 15 minutes for themselves. I assume those work-weary men in the 50s were tired from drinking scotch all day in their office. I saw Mad Men, I know what went on in those offices.
Instead, let your wife take 15 minutes for herself to meditate and take her mind off the day she just had.
Freshen up before your husband comes home
3.) “Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him”
“His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.”
I’m not sure being “a little gay” would be ideal for your relationship using our current day definition of gay unless he’s into that kind of thing (and there’s anything wrong with that). I bet it was pretty difficult to fulfill your duty of being more interesting when all you did was run the vacuum, make his meals, and stay in the house all day.
Be more gay
4.) “Clear away the clutter”
“Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables.”
If you could see my kitchen table at any given time it is a slew of schoolbooks, computers, backpacks, and everything else school-related. As for dusting, we have 3 dogs, as quickly as the hair is removed it’s back again. My beagle sheds the equivalent of a small chihuahua every day. Walk around with no socks on and your feet will look like your shuffling along on puppies by the end of the day.
Most women dressed up just like the lady below in a skirt and high heels to vacuum the house. That is the exact reason that yoga pants were created. Not for yoga, but for everything else in life.
Vacuum, dust, and clear the table
5.) “Prepare the children”
“Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. Children are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. At his time of arrival minimize all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.”
With barely enough time to get herself together, you can’t possibly expect the children to have their clothes changed and be clean as well. Kids are like dirt magnets, especially boys. Most need to be taken out back and hosed down at the end of the day. I suspect most moms would pay dearly to have quiet children.
In my house, my youngest daughter is usually sleeping right before dinner as she gets up early for school and then has kickline or dance practice after school. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that she makes an appearance in anything other than a pair of shorts or sweatpants for dinner. She’ll be quiet but that’s only because she’s exhausted or done speaking for the day.
Remember to change the children’s clothes and clean them.
6.) “Be happy to see him”
“Free him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. Listen to him.”
Working from home I haven’t expereinced the joy of coming in the door after a long day of work and being greeted by my wife, with a cold beverage and an open ear to listen to the goings on of my day. Come to think of it I never expereinced this feeling even when I went to an office every day.
I’ve seen some of the comments in our local Facebook moms groups. Most men probably wonder, “Could you be happy, or at least act like you are that I’m home”?
I’m all ears dear.
7.) “Let him talk first”
“You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.”
Stop complaining Karen! So what that the car broke down in the middle of the highway, and the oven went on fire ruining dinner and causing the entire house to fill up with black smoke, and little Billy got his ass kicked at school again today. That is all trivial compared to the day your husband had. Remember the Good Wife’s Guide says that your husband’s day is way more important. No one likes a complainer.
Act interested even if you’re not
8.) “Make the evening his”
“Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.”
Husbands are under a lot of stress at work and sometimes need to go out to dinner or “other places of entertainment (like the casino, strip club, or all you can eat wing place) without you. You can possibly expect us to come home and unwind with all that loud vacuuming and screaming kids. Please understand our strain and let us relax.
If your husband comes home with glitter on his pants don’t jump to conclusions that he was out at the Boobie Bungalow receiving a lap dance or two. Maybe, just maybe, he and his colleagues were making Christmas tree decorations for needy children and some errant glitter spilled on his crotch.
It’s all about him
9.) “Make him comfortable”
“Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.”
I don’t recommend that anyone should be removing my shoes after a long day at the office without some sort of mask or respirator. High dress socks and leather shoes for 8 hours are not a good combination. I don’t even want the shoeshine guy in the train station cleaning my shoes for fear of knocking him out.
I would however be 100% down for a cool drink and a comfortable chair. Throw in a low soothing voice for good measure. Problem is, once I hit that chair or bed I’m out for the night.
Comfortable chair and couch
10.) “Don’t complain if he’s home late for dinner or even if he stays out all night”
“Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment of integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.”
By far this is my favorite Good Wife’s Guide tip and why I saved it for last. Ladies, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned when your husband is out all night and doesn’t call or let you know (see #8). Don’t ask questions or begin to judge his integrity or loyalty. I’m sure this is all on the up and up.
When he gets home the next morning don’t ask any questions. Simply remove his shoes and make him comfortable by removing his shoes and that huge wad of singles from his pocket.
Don’t ask questions when I’m out all night!
The Good Wife’s Guide was written in a very different time. A time when many women didn’t work outside of the home and were expected to spend all day tending to the house, keeping their kids quiet, and catering to the needs of their husband.
Would you have survived as a housewife (or husband) in the 50s? Comment below.
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