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The Good Wife's Guide from 1955
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Much like our Women in the Workplace article a few months back, this 1955 article from Housekeeping Monthly reveals just how much has changed in the household over the past few decades. Some of my personal favorites:
  • "Be a little gay"
  • "Show your sincerity in your desire to please him"
  • "A good wife always knows her place"
(I've written out the article after the jump)

  • Have 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 favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • 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.
  • 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 dustcloth over the tables.
  • Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • 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. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • Listen to him. 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.
  • 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.
  • You goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.
  • 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.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or 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.
  • A good wife always knows her place.
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40 Comments

Echo, as a newly engaged gal, this advice comes at the perfect time.

Of course it would be a complete turnaround from any behavior I've ever exhibited, so my dear FH would probably have me committed....

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 12:02 PM.

I have these rules tattooed to my forearm so I never forget.

said CindylovesScara on February 11, 2009 12:03 PM.

"Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours." Words to live by, ladies.

said Scaramouch on February 11, 2009 12:04 PM.

"A good wife always knows her place"

yep...at the mall...with his credit card...

that's the Stepford wife motto, no?

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 12:10 PM.

This is my fave :
"Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity."

Unless you married Ted Bundy that is.

said E on February 11, 2009 12:26 PM.

it's a great work of fiction....

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 12:35 PM.

I think if you're a stay at home, non-working housewife, then this is mostly a good standard to go by. There's a few things that I would even still consider a bit over the top...

If both people are working, then it's a whole different ballgame.

There are some women out there (a small percentage) who claim to look for the 1950's ideal of being a housewife. If that is what they think is so attractive, then articles like this are invaluable for them to realize that if you plan to ride someone else's gravy train, let him be the GD conductor.

Full Disclosure: I was married to a "housewife" who really thought that being a housewife meant that you didn't have to do anything and someone else would take care of you. So, I'm coming from the opposite extreme. I spent 6 years with someone who broke every single one of these "rules". I came home to a house that was a chaotic disaster area and a "housewife" that immediately dumped her entire day on me the second I walked in the door.

said LostInDaJungle on February 11, 2009 1:10 PM.

I think they forgot the rule about greeting your husband at the door with a blowjob.

Lostindajungle..I hear where you're coming from, but take offense to your non-working housewife reference. You may have had a "non-working" housewife, but I can assure you that this housewife works her tail off (not a word out of you, Scara..) :) As far as it being a good standard to go by for housewives..WTF??


said CindylovesScara on February 11, 2009 1:16 PM.

I keep this article on the coffee table. Whenever my wife falls asleep on the couch, I place the article in her hands and whisper these rules in her ear.

She usually wakes up, cleans for five minutes, puts a ribbon in my hair and heads for the mall.

I don't think my plan is working.

said Tim on February 11, 2009 1:27 PM.

Where these women at anyway?

said E on February 11, 2009 1:33 PM.

This sort of explains why all the housewives in the 50's were on drugs.

said E on February 11, 2009 1:34 PM.

LiDJ, you didn't have a housewife, you were married to a lazy, spoiled brat whose parents raised her wrong...

Cindy, raising 4 kids (no matter how cute) is not a cakewalk--I have your back on this one...
(note I didn't say 5 kids--I'm trying not to ruffle the Chief's feathers while defending you)

All I'm going to say is that it's 2009--Echo's post is to be laughed at, not followed to a T.

So, all you men who think you'd like to be stay at home dads, realize that the rules above apply to you as well...just replace the comfy chair with a hot bubble bath and you're good to go.

E, those women are in nursing homes, are widowed or are dead and buried...1955 was 54 years ago...those housewives were in their 20s and 30s back then....

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 1:35 PM.

Damn feminism.

said E on February 11, 2009 1:36 PM.

Great fiction. Check out snopes. Search "good wife"

said Dave on February 11, 2009 1:47 PM.

faux Dave strikes again!

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 1:57 PM.

Eh... I still say it's based in some sort of truth.

said Echowood on February 11, 2009 2:08 PM.

Ah, but Echo, you grew up in Connecticut...

(not a shot at your mom, because this was before her time)

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 2:12 PM.

Eh, this is why I put in the disclaimer... My history of bad experience has me leaning the other way on this issue, even though I am generally a feminist sympathizer.

I read down this list and gave wry chuckles... As if I could hear the 1950's announcer doing this as a voice over for scenes from my past life... And the scenes were exactly the opposite of what was being said.

Sorry ladies... But that list sounds so durn good I could get a stiffie just thinking about my robot/lobotomized wife-companion who would actually have a hot meal on the table and give me 15 minutes to get my laxation on when I get home. Hell, I can take off my own shoes, and who makes fires every night anyway?

said LostInDaJungle on February 11, 2009 2:34 PM.

Lost, if you time your call to Domino's or the Chinese restaurant just right, your food can be delivered as you walk in the door...

and somewhere in the archives is an article about robots who strip...so, hot dinner, robot wife, here you come!!!

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 3:08 PM.

Is this part of the Valentine's day material?

said E on February 11, 2009 3:23 PM.

It's part of the dream sequence....cause unless you figure out how to build a time machine, I don't see it happening for you boys...

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 3:28 PM.

While I take issue with all the 'his concerns/topics of conversation, etc' crap, I admit to being a old fashioned type of housewife, and I have myself one VERY happy hubby. Who likes to do nice things right back, so I can't really knock it, it works well for us. For all you guys who think those gals are now a myth? Not true, and I have several close single friends who would love to be housewives, to the right kind of guy. :) Get your butt out of the bar and you might meet these elusive creatures. :P

said coppertopgirl on February 11, 2009 3:47 PM.

My wife is Japanese. Japanese women make the best wives in the world.

said Mr. T on February 11, 2009 3:51 PM.

Somebody forward this to Bill Clinton.

said E on February 11, 2009 3:54 PM.

Gentlemen, you too can experience this behavior from your wife, for the low low price of giving her nightly rolling-multiple orgasms.

Probably not actually, but your life WILL be happier. All it costs you is a very sore tongue and/or carpal tunnel syndrome.

said Sheriff Pablo on February 11, 2009 4:43 PM.

SarcasticOne, that's what I do nowadays, and the Domino's/Chinese delivery guy doesn't make me spend crappy Sundays with their families.

here's to the bachelors
and the bowery bums
and those who feel that they're the ones
who are better off without a wife

said LostInDaJungle on February 11, 2009 4:53 PM.

SP---good advice--but have you thought about investing in a pitch hitter with batteries? You'll still get the credit but without the pain the next day....

Lost, take a cooking class--maybe you'll meet a honey who will cook all of your meals from now on....

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 5:00 PM.

#27: Practice "the hold"

said Baierman on February 11, 2009 5:14 PM.

Baier, note comment #8, where Cindy mentions this...and at the door, no less!

(I'm a girl and I think she's a keeper...)

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 5:33 PM.

I tried to be as gay as I could for Scara tonight when he got home, but I think the "jazz hands" move was probably a bit too much..

said CindylovesScara on February 11, 2009 7:33 PM.

Cindy, it said a "little gay"...so I'm translating that as entry level gay--"spring break kiss another girl for a free drink but don't start living in flannel and Birkenstocks"

and maybe the jazz hands was a little distracting from your original suggestion in comment #8?

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 7:47 PM.

SO, I was doing the jazz hands during #8..ya think too much?

said CindylovesScara on February 11, 2009 7:50 PM.

that's between you and the hubby...if it keeps your marriage happy and it doesn't harm anyone/break any laws, go for it....

but men are easily distracted....

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 8:04 PM.

SO - You cant use a pinch hitter. That just takes all the fun out of it. I am a man who takes pride in his work. Using a "Power Tool" just seems like cheating.

Besides I really love doing it, so it's a win/win for me AND the little woman.

said Sheriff Pablo on February 11, 2009 9:07 PM.

Cindy, Sarcky - My wife and I find that it's best if I do that jazz hands while she greets me with a #8 at the door.

(That should be a nice visual for 'ya.)

said Tim on February 11, 2009 9:26 PM.

Tim, why yes...I am off to sleep with an image of a monkey shaking his hands like a cast member from A Chorus Line while he is being blown by a very pretty (and patient) woman....

and I think the L77 has officially coined a new term for blow job...#8.

See if you can use that in the outside world tomorrow!!!

said sarcastic one on February 11, 2009 11:26 PM.

I've now got the image of a monkey getting a #8 while singing and dancing like the frog in those old Looney Tunes cartoons

"Hello Ma Baby Hello Ma Honey....."

said Sheriff Pablo on February 12, 2009 9:14 AM.

That's reality, Pablo. Full tux; tails and all. I use the cane to keep her focused, but sometimes have a hard time keeping the top hat on.

Just to mix things up, sometimes I receive #8 at the door after coming home in my Yul Brynner (King and I) getup. I just stand at the door with my fists on my hips, looking to the side saying, 'Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera'.

It's quite a scene, man.

I'd like to point out that Cindy is responsible for this thread hijack.

said Tim on February 12, 2009 10:43 AM.

These things are biblically sound. Proverbs 31 Woman falls in line with the Good Wife's Guide. If you're a Christian Wife/Woman you should strive to follow this just as closely as you do the bible. A woman is to know her place, not bring her husband grief or hardship. To quarrel incessantly over things that aren't going to matter in 10 years. A wife is to make sure that their home is warm, full of wonderful smells (like home cooked meals) and look fresh for her husband. I learned these things from my Grandmother's and both of them had jobs outside the home. There is no excuse why even working women can't be those things too. If my Grandmother who was an RN can come home, cook, bake, can, iron, clean, and raise kids then most assuredly you can too! My other Grandmother was a Teacher, she cooked, cleaned, maintained a house hold of four kids(2 boys and 2 girls) and never once said "oh it's just too hard, there's no way I can ever do that!" People are just lazy today and too busy. Too busy to notice what really matters! And that's taking care of things at home first, let the man be the man, made God the center of your family, and give up control where you don't need it! Honestly as a woman of 27 years of age I'm appalled at women my age. They don't know how to cook, clean, iron, sew on a button, garden, or how to manage a life at home. If they aren't working their tails off at some job and playing "super mom" then they aren't happy. That's not reality, that just really lame. To always be on the go, to feel rushed, to never have a moment to reflect on what you have instead of what you think you need. Listen I've spoken to many young women(ages 18-25) about the importance of being an attentive wife. Not a slave as many would think, but a woman who sees to the needs of her family first before rushing off to be at some 9-5 job. Getting your kids up at the crack of dawn just so you can be at the office for a meeting isn't showing your children that you care, it's just teaching them that Mommy or Daddy's workplace is more important than spending quality time over breakfast or making sure that they can get some cuddle time in those first wee hours of the morning.
The mindset that's being taught is, need to hurry, need to rush, need to get to this place, gotta run here, oh crap forgot dinner gotta go pick up some KFC before hubby gets home, oh crap again hubby is home! Where's the peace? Where's the harmony? Children need that just as much as we do and when we fail to provide that for them then they become harried like us and the cycle continues.

When you take vows you vow to be obedient, faithful, a help meet for your spouse. Well that is unless you write your own vows or use some form of modern day thing where it omits that part about obedient and faithful and a help meet. Because let's face it divorce is on the rise and people just don't care anymore. This is especially sad, too many people take marriage too lightly. We would have more successful marriages if people would stop point fingers and blaming others for things that as adults we should automatically do. More marriages would survive if in the first place God has blessed such a union. Families would still be together if spouses would learn how to work together in harmony rather than in discord. Shame on the Feminist movement, shame on those who have driven women to the thought of being a good house wife to be a bad thing. Thinking it's a form of slavery when really it's our duty, a privilege, an honor, and most importantly a blessing! Christian Mom's especially need to go back and read Provers 31, meditate on this chapter, and seek the Lord's guidance in how a Christian wife and mother is suppose to be. For the rest who have never read the bible no care to....the you're in my prayers. It's never easy to see someone going through a divorce or knowing that things could have been fixed had someone taken the time to think before acting.
My sincere best to all, and if I've stepped on any toes then I hope they aren't bruised for too long, summer's just around the corner and cute flip flops are all the rage!

said A you're Adorable on May 19, 2009 12:17 PM.

I read this in school a while back and alot of the girls thought it was really awful. I'm going to have to disagree. See, back in the fifties and sixties jobs really were alot harder. There were no computers to do everything for you. Plus, women usually stayed home and had alot of free time. Not nearly as many women worked back then as they do now. I think this guide worked back then, but in our society now I don't think it works.

said goddessdrop242 on October 2, 2009 4:06 PM.
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