A lot has changed since 1955, namely that of women being model domestic goddesses and Susie homemakers. Fortunately, thanks to this gem from House Keeping Monthly, we can reflect on how our grandmothers became good wives.
And we modern-day heathens? Not so much.
Published in House Keeping Monthly magazine, in May of 1955, is this double-page spread of The Good Wife’s Guide. It’s a blurry peek into how things used to be behind closed doors ‘back in the day’ and it sounds EXHAUSTING.
So let’s take a minute to read and reflect
Here I go through the helpful tips from House Keeping Monthly in an epic case of then versus now.
Saddle up and buckle in folks, it’s a bumpy ride… and I’m not sugar-coating a thing. The Good Wife’s Guide is a big pot full of BOLLOCKS. Served cold.
The Good Wife's Guide - According to House Keeping Monthly, Circa 1955
1. Have dinner ready
THEN: “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.”
NOW: Um, what? We can have one of these things, but not all at the same time folks. A delicious meal, yes. Ready for when he walks through the door? Not likely.
Also, if you’re a terrible cook – if this rule is anything to go by, you might need something else to convince him to come home.
2. Prepare yourself
THEN: “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.”
NOW: Here’s the deal, It’s going to take more than 15 minutes for me to freshen up. 15 years more like. And it’s been so long since I last wore makeup, for sure one swipe of that mascara wand will cure all. Bippity. Boppity, Bullshit.
3. Be more interesting
THEN: “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.”
NOW: His boring day can bite me. But, hey, if he’s so bored, let the children put on one of their special theatrical shows to provide interest. SO MUCH FUN. #saidnoone
4. Clear away the clutter
THEN: “Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.”
NOW: If by clear the clutter, you mean “bin the children”, then, well okay. “Clearing the clutter”. Clearly, a phrase reserved for empty-nesters.
5. Last-minute dusting
THEN: “Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc and then run a dustcloth over the tables.”
NOW: Never going to happen. Especially in 2020 when homeschooling took over every space. Hear me roar: Let the dust settle!
6. Warm your home
THEN: “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 rest too.
After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.”
NOW: If a haven of rest and order is as easy as flicking the heater switch, I’m all for it. Sadly, I know this NOT TO BE TRUE.
Plus, the electricity bill people. It doesn’t pay itself! Unwind together by pouring a glass of vino when the kids are in bed – all while ignoring the mess around you. Wear socks if you’re cold.
7. Prepare the children
THEN: “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 and vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.”
NOW: Not a chance in Hell. The clothes, the faces, the quietness. Nope. Nada. Zilch.
8. Be happy to see him
THEN: “Be happy to see him.”
NOW: Sweet baby cheeses I’m ECSTATIC you’re home, honey. “Here, change this, I have to check dinner!” *thrusts baby with loaded nappy at him*.
9. Greet him nicely
THEN: “Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.”
NOW: Note to self: don’t clench the jaw and say Hiiiiiiii through gritted teeth. Also, don’t meet him in the driveway saying “ERMAGOSH I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE HOME!!”. He’ll immediately sense the doom waiting inside. Leave it a surprise.
10. Listen to him
THEN: “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.”
NOW: More important? I won’t accept that. Hearing about what amazing leftovers ol’ workmate Joe had for lunch doesn’t trump our daughter shoving a pea up her nose or the hot water system blowing up.
11. Make the evening his
THEN: “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.”
NOW: Puhlease. We’re watching MAFS while we BOTH fold the laundry pile. #wildnightin.
No arguments. NO ONE GETS TO LEAVE BY THEMSELVES OK?
THEN: “Your goal. Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”
NOW: Got it. Perhaps blindfold him at the front door and turn up the volume on those Spotify playlist whale noises. Your husband will be renewed in this dark, tranquil ambience in NO TIME.
13. No complaining
THEN: “Don’t greet him with your complaints and problems.”
NOW: I mean, I’d always say hello first, at least.
14. Make him comfortable
THEN: “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.”
NOW: Make him comfortable? I’ll do no such thing. Arrange his pillow over his face while speaking in my best Darth Vadar voice, maybe? ARE YOU COMFORTABLE YET, MATE?
15. Ask no questions
THEN: “Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement 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.”
NOW: Huz, I’m just saying that I don’t think $100 Uber fare to get that late-night kebab with the boys was the smartest choice you’ve made this week. Ladies, keeping your judgement silent is a thing of the past. If they screw up, be among the first to pull them up on it.
16. Know your place
THEN: “A good wife always knows her place.”
NOW: And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed…
There you have it, the good wife’s guide then and now. Has your mind blown? Clearly back in 1955, a woman’s role in the home was to make it like a five-star retreat for her husband. How things have changed for many of us. And if they haven’t changed so much in your home, well that’s perfectly ok too. You do you, Boo!