Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Dumb Old Housewife's Good Wife's Guide

This is apparently a fake, but if you've ever perused an etiquette or home economics book from the same era, you know it's not too highly exaggerated. Ladies, how do you measure up? 

The Good Wife's Guide
A good wife always knows her place...
Let him talk first and cater to your husband's comfort for immense personal satisfaction!

Extract from a May 13, 1955 Housekeeping Monthly article
  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, (STRIKE ONE!) even the night before, to have a delicious(STRIKE TWO!) meal ready, on time(STRIKE THREE! YERRR OUT!) 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)(Mr. B's is blue with squares on it. Tellingly, it's a cereal bowl.) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest(In what alternate universe is this compatible with point #1?) so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon  (satin, lace, or dried pancake batter?) in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.(Not like you, who has been immersed in an uplifting exchange with a poopy toddler who's 2 hours past his nap time.)
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting(than what?) for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter.(Sorry, did I miss the point where I rent a backhoe?) 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.(Oh, okay, I don't need a backhoe; I need that thing the Cat in the Hat uses.)
  • Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by.(Does it count if it's in the bottom of the oven?) Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order,(Whoa, exactly what kind of smoke is coming off this 'fire'?) 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.(You may actually need the assistance of the Cat in the Hat himself to accomplish this in time.) 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.(They will have a hard time with this as they giggle hysterically at the sight of you frantically running around the house turning off all the appliances you're supposed to be using to get the house ready for their dad's arrival.)
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.(Done and done. Mr. B. is a pretty nice guy.)
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him,(like, "I JUST STARTED A FIRE!!") 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.(...except when he'd rather go to 'other places of entertainment without you'.)
  • Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility(See baseball allusion above.) 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.(Yes, until you actually find his abandoned car with "HELP ME" written in blood on his gray flannel suit coat, you're just cramping his style, Toots!) 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.(And a cozy strait jacket ready for you.)
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.(Is dissatisfied muttering about leaky eavestroughs okay?)
  • 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.(Although he may have a couple of questions for you, like, 'What's that thing in your hair?' and 'Why are you pulling my footwear off while you growl at me?' and 'WHERE'S THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER!?")
  • A good wife always knows her place.(and that's how she avoids tripping on anything in the dark.)
Well, some things never do change. As it says in the Snopes article, linked above:
 "Certainly, the tribulations of running a home were never to be openly compared with a man's daily travails. He earned money, she didn't; thus his work was important."
In our enlightened modern times, we dumb old housewives are privileged to have men and women tell us our work is unimportant.

1 comment:

  1. Whether it's geunine or not, it sounds a lot like your vintage etiquette books, "Teenage Living" and the one by Amy Vanderbilt.

    And your comments were LOL funny.