At first glance, most women like me would throw up in their mouths a little bit after reading the article. It was featured in a 1955 edition of the Housekeeping Monthly and has since popped up in the blogosphere from time to time for current women to scoff at. I mean, seriously, “after all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.” “Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.” (Cough cough) Excuse me while I unroll my eyes from the back of my head.
Then I accidentally stumbled upon a blog that suggested the content of this article really isn’t something to be scoffed at. Shouldn’t we, as loving partners, strive to create a happy and comfortable environment for our families? Hmmm… this lady got me thinking. I hate it when that happens.
So I decided to look at this article again but with my Skeptical Glasses off. Though there are certainly parts of this “guide” that still make me cringe, the substance and intention behind the article isn’t entirely something at which to scoff. In reality, the article is about a loving partner putting their spouse first. It’s about selflessness. It’s about considering someone else’s feelings ahead of your own. All good things in a marriage. Then why is it so cringe-worthy?
Well, I believe it has something to do with the context of the article. It was the 1950s and the acts of “selflessness” and “putting others first” was mostly one-sided at the expense of wives. I think the appropriate modern spin on this would ask both husband and wife to put each other first. For most of us, the days of one-income households is over and wives just simple don’t have the bandwidth to do it all. Cooking, grocery shopping, and cleaning are usually shared tasks divided by abilities, not gender.
I also think us Millennials have been raised to be self-ISH. Not necessarily by our parents, no, we were all encouraged to share our toys. I mean from a life ambition, cultural, career-wise, relationship-perspective we have been bred to put ourselves first. “Be independent!” “Make your mark on the world!” Independence and ambition are one of North America’s most admired traits, and from there it’s a slippery slope to selfishness. Marriage, however, is the exact opposite of selfishness and as a newlywed it’s a little shocking to discover we are supposed to consider someone else in all future life decisions.
With my newfound appreciation for the 1955 article, I’ve made some revisions for the modern married wife:
- 1955: 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 be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed. 2011: Have your phonebook ready. Plan ahead, even the hour before, to have a delicious meal cooked via take-out on time for when you both return home from work. Sometimes, ask him to make the call, this is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his take-out preferences.
- 1955: 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. 2011: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to take off your work clothes and change into track pants. Wipe off your make up and put on your oldest hoodie. This lets him know it’s ok for him to walk around in his boxers.
- 1955: 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. 2011: Be a little happy and a little more interesting for him by treating yourself to a glass or two of wine. His boring day may need a lift and one of his duties is to refill your glass.
- 1955: Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables. 2011: Distract yourselves from the clutter with a few more glasses of wine.
- 1955: Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet. 2011: Minimize all noise. This should be easy as you probably have not turned a washer, dryer or vacuum on. Encourage the children to .. wait.. children? What children?
- 1955: Be happy to see him. 2011: Be happy to see each other
- 1955: Don’t greet him with complaints and problems. 2011: Greet each other with a hug
- 1955: Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work. 2011: Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Get even. Invite your girls over and go out, or, equally as satisfying, invite your girls over and watch girlie shows while you delete his PVR recordings
- 1955: Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him 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. 2011: I have no response to this. Can’t…stop…laughing….
- 1955: 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. 2011: Don’t ask him questions about the way he installed the cupboards or question his masculinity. Remember, he likes to pretend he is the master of the household even though you both know who runs the show. You have no right to burst his bubble.
- 1955: A good wife always knows her place. 2011: Yes indeed.