Admit it, there have been times when you’ve wondered what it would be like to have been born in another era. Perhaps it’s the early years of this country, or the Civil War years or the ooooo-la-la swingin’ 1920s.
Me? I choose 1955.
That’s only a year off of my actual birth date, but my choice comes with a twist: I’d like to be an adult in 1955. And married. With children. OK, that’s three twists. But why? Because I just saw an article from Housekeeping Monthly magazine dated May 13, 1955, and it sent my mind straight to Xanadu.
Let’s not focus on the reason I found myself with an old Housekeeping Monthly in my hands. It’s not important. What IS important was the story that had me absolutely mesmerized.
The article is titled The Good Wife’s Guide, and it basically gives tips to the wives of that time period on exactly how they can be a good wife. Yes, apparently there are — or were — guidelines for that.
Here are some examples …
— Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready and on time for his return home. 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 favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
— 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.
— 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 dust cloth over the tables.
— During 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.
Sounds nice, right guys?
It gets better.
According to Housekeeping Monthly, a good wife should …
— Prepare the children for their father’s arrival home. Wash their hands and faces, comb their hair and change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.
— At the time of his arrival, eliminate the noises of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to keep the children quiet.
— Be happy to see him. Greet him with a smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
— 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.
Ladies, this would be a really good time to remember that I’m just the messenger here.
And still, there is more.
The magazine says, in order to be a good wife, you must …
— Make the evening his. Try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
— Don’t complain if he’s late getting home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as a minor thing 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.
— 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 that 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.
And if that’s not enough to get the hackles up of women reading this, the article ends with this …
— A good wife always knows her place.
So it’s 1955 for me. An era when wives were … wait, I’d probably be dead now.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]