Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Not So Good Wife's Guide

It seems like every woman in the country has heard about this "article from Housekeeping Monthly" published in 1955, and is sufficiently outraged by its content.  And apparently A LOT of people would jump off a bridge if a chain letter circulating via email told them to.  A quick Google search was enough to tell me that the whole thing is fake.  There was no print up in Housekeeping Monthly, and there probably wasn't even a Housekeeping Monthly.  There was no write up in an economics text book, either.  It's mere an over exaggerated view of how the life of a woman was in the 1950s, so we can feel SUPER good about how far we've come in the way we (society) view and treat our woman.

On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure that the mock "Good Wife's Guide" is 100% off the mark, as many suggest.  It's a list of 10 things "a good wife" does for her husband.  While I don't think that these things need to be done in order to be a good wife, I don't think all of them are completely out in left field, either. Let's discuss.

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 come home and the prospect of a good meal  (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed. 

Personally, I don't see anything all that wrong with this, and honestly it's the most convenient way to do things many nights if you have children.  Dinner doesn't have to be some huge, orchestrated production, but having it ready when he comes home doesn't seem that unreasonable.

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. 

In theory, this one isn't horrible.  My husband tries very hard to not bring his work stress home with him, and it's a bit unfair for me to fling the children at him the second he walks in the door, and lock myself in the bedroom to scream into my pillow.  Of course I've done this, but to do it regularly seems crappy.  If he tries to not bring stress home, then I should probably try to not throw MY work stress in his face, either.  So taking fifteen minutes to decompress before he gets home, when it's possible to do so, seems like a fair trade.

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. 

I think this one is pretty fair.  Everyone I know is less stressed when the house is clean and decluttered.  Decreasing my husband's stress load doesn't seem unreasonable to me. 

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. 

Maybe I'm crazy, but the last part seems true.  I'm happier when my husband is happy, and I enjoy doing things for him, and doing things that make him happy.  Perhaps I'm just crazy.  Lighting a fire is mostly unnecessary these days, though.

Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet. 

Alright, we've finally reached a dumb one. I'm not gonna silence my children and stop my household chores when he comes home.  I do try to make sure the kids aren't screaming and throwing tantrums all at the same time, for the same reason i try to declutter before he gets home.

Be happy to see him. 

Oh yes.  This one is terrible, for sure.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. 

Don't get the issue with this one either, sorry.

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.

This seems overly exagerated, but I'll run with it.  Obviously this is false.  I do think it's a nice gesture to ask him "How was work?" when he walks in the door, and let him answer.  But his day is not inherently more important than mine.  In fact, he cares more about my day, because I always have stories about the kids, than I do about his, because I don't understand a single thing he does at work.

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. 

There are some days when I want my husband home RIGHT now.  These are the days talked about above, where I throw the children across the room and run away as fast as I can before they come back to me like boomerangs.  Other than these days, I don't mind if my husband wanted to go to dinner with co-workers, or works late.  It doesn't seem unreasonable to let your husband have fun once in a while?

Your goal: To try and make sure your home is a place of peace, order, and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

That's my goal anyways.  While I do thrive with a little bit of chaos (obviously, or I wouldn't have popped out three kids in rapid fire succession and be begging my husband for another), but having a stress free home isn't a horrific goal.

Don't greet him with complaints and problems. 

Lol.  WTFever.

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. 

This seems overkill.

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. 

This one I'm sort of torn on to be honest.  Of course I have the RIGHT to question his decisions, but that doesn't mean I should.  He is the head of the household after all.  And I think it's obvious that not every husband will act with fairness and truthfulness every time.  But if you are married to someone who DOESN'T, then there are some issues that need to be resolved there.  Since my husband IS fair and honest, this doesn't create a problem for me.  And if he really wants me to take off his shoes and fluff his pillow, then why the heck not?

A good wife always knows her place.

This is pretty ambiguous, since it doesn't bother to define what that place is.  I know were my place is with my husband, my children, my responsibilities, and my dogs.  That's not a bad thing.

So okay.. maybe I'm a throwback to the supposed 1950s.  But I don't think that doing small things for your husband means you're a "kept woman" or that you're treated like a slave.  The problem isn't what the wife DOES, but how the husband accepts it, and reciprocates.

Not a problem: Asking me to fluff his pillow for him
Problem: Getting mad when it's not fluffed

Not a problem: Going out to dinner with his friends
Problem: Telling me I can't

Not a problem: Having dinner ready when he gets gome
Not a problem: Constructive criticism on how not to burn the mac and cheese next time
Problem: Refusing to ear it because it's not the dish he wanted, or otherwise complaining unreasonably

Not a problem: Having the house straightened when he gets home
Problem: Expecting it to be straightened at all times and/or complaining when it's not

Not a problem: Doing things for my husband that seem mundane, over the top, like something he can do for himself, ridiculous, or demanding.
Problem: Never hearing a thank you or other forms of appreciation
Problem: Never doing anything for me

So, for me at least, the issue taken is not with "How to be a good Wife" - because honestly I don't think doing most of the things on the list will really hurt anything.  But I do expect my husband to verbally and physically appreciate the fact that he comes home to a cooked meal and a decluttered house.  He better be thankful that I fluffed his pillow, got him a drink, or let him hang with his friends instead of immediately coming home.  And he better extend the same courtesies to me.  I long as I feel respected, appreciated, and not taking advantage of, then I don't really mind being "A Good Wife" as per this erroneous article.

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