A piece of paper circulated through the front office and into the newsroom at the Daily Globe yesterday which caused much laughter and discussion.
It was a copy of a 1955 Housekeeping Monthly article entitled “The good wife’s guide.”
I glanced through it briefly before shoving it in my pocket, because I was in a hurry to get to the grocery store and get home in time to greet some expected guests.
Later, in the kitchen, my husband Eric and my 16-year-old son Matt were standing around chatting with me. (I’m not sure why we congregate in the kitchen so often. Probably because they are usually hoping to nab munchies as I cook.) Anyway, I whipped out the article and started reading. The two male chauvinist pigs in my kitchen loved it.
Here are a few of the highlights:
* 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.
* Prepare yourself. 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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 without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
* Be happy to see him.
* 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.
* Don’t question him 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.
I know it was a different time. I know things have changed. But you can’t tell me that women in 1955 had no brains or self-respect. I’m trying to imagine my Grandma Parenteau reading this and having any other reaction than reaching out to cuff the nearest male on the head just on principle.
As I was reading these pearls of wisdom aloud, the men in my kitchen were nodding their heads with agreement. Matthew at least had the sense to look slightly nervous as he nodded, but Eric grinned unabashedly and punctuated the statements with comments like, “Darn right!” and “Ain’t that the truth.”
He’s lucky I didn’t bash him upside the head with a frying pan.
Instead, a thought struck and I asked the guys, “What did the Beaver’s dad do for a living?”
“He went to work,” Eric answered. “Anything other than that is none of your business.”
Oh my. I had better get back in my place.
He’s going to pay for that slowly over the next few weeks.