(Home Economics) "How To Be a Good Wife"

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I saw this exquisite piece posted by SARO 1 over at EZ. It's from a high school home economics textbook from the 1950s. Enjoy!

How To Be A Good Wife

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest so that 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. His boring day might need a lift.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too.

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 their part.

Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Greet him with a smile and be glad to see him.

Some don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Make him comfortable. Have him sit back in a comfortable chair or suggest he 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, soft, soothing, and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead try to understand his world of strain and pressures, his need to be home and relax.

The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000


Now the updated version for the 90's woman:

Have dinner ready. Make reservations ahead of time. If your day becomes too hectic, just leave him a voice mail message regarding where you'd like to eat and at what time. This lets him know that your day has been crappy and gives him an opportunity to change your mood.

Prepare yourself. A quick stop at the "LANCOME" counter on your way home will do wonders for your outlook and will keep you from becoming irritated every time he opens his mouth. (Don't forget to use his credit card !)

Clear away the clutter. Call the house- keeper and tell her that any miscellaneous items left on the floor by the children can be placed in the Goodwill box in the garage.

Prepare the children. Send the children to their rooms to watch television or play Nintendo. After all, both of them are from his previous marriages.

Minimize the noise: If you happen to be home when he arrives, be in the bathroom with the door locked.

Some DONT'S: Don't greet him with problems and complaints. Let him speak first, and then your complaints will get more attention and remain fresh in his mind throughout dinner. Don't complain if he's late for dinner, simply remind him that the leftovers are in the fridge and you left the dishes for him to do.

Make him comfortable: Tell him where he can find a blanket if he's cold. This will really show you care.

Listen to him: But don't ever let him get the last word.

Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or other places of entertainment; go with a friend or go shopping (use his credit card). Familiarize him with the phrase "Girls' Night Out!"

The Goal: Try to keep things amicable without reminding him that he only thinks the world revolves around him. Obviously he's wrong, it revolves around you.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), June 23, 2000.

I know this is a joke, Eve. Still, I wouldn't want either woman: the first is a doormat and the second is too self-centered. Hasn't one of these blurbs been written for male homemakers, yet? I'll post it if I find one.

-- (kb8um8@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.


If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We refuse to answer.

Learn to work the toilet seat. If it's up, put it down. I never remember you dropping to the floor in a movie theater where the seat is always up before you sit down!

If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

Don't cut your hair. Ever. Long hair is always more attractive than short hair. One of the big reasons guys fear getting married is that married women always cut their hair, and by then you're stuck with her.

Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not quests to see if we can find the perfect present yet again!

If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

Sometimes, we're not thinking about you. Live with it. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as navel lint, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.

Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be. Do you ever notice that we don't argue with you when you are PMSing? Why??? Because we know you are PMSing and we let it be!

Shopping is not a sport, and no, we're never going to think of it that way.

Realize there is girl shopping and boy shopping. What you like is girl shopping, Boy shopping is focused. We walk into a store and standing within 5 feet of the front door we can gaze out over the entire store and determine if there is something of interest to us.

We don't need to walk up and down every aisle (unless it is a sports or electronics store).

When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really!!

You have enough clothes.

You have too many shoes.

Crying is blackmail.

Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one: Subtle hints don' work. Strong hints don't work. Really obvious hints don't work.

Just say it!

No, we don't know what day it is. We never will. Mark anniversaries on the calendar.

Peeing standing up is more difficult. We're bound to miss sometimes.

Most guys own three pairs of shoes so what makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good with your dress?

Yes, and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

Foreign films are best left to foreigners.

Check your oil.

It is neither in your best interest nor ours to take the quiz together. No, it doesn't matter which quiz.

Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. All comments become null and void after 7 days.

If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

Let us ogle. We're going to look anyway; it's genetic.

You can either tell us to do something OR tell us how to do something, but not both.

Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

Stop complaining about not being able to use the remote. Yes, it is designed to give us control and we can't stand the female channel surfing technique. You are too slow!

ALL men see in only 16 colors. Peach is a fruit, not a color.

If it itches, it will be scratched.

Beer is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.

If we ask what's wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you're lying, but it's just not worth the hassle.

What the hell is a doily?

-- CD (costavike@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

Variations of this theme can be found in several etiquette and charm books from the 19th century onward. My favorite is "The Old Gray Wrapper Habit" found in the chapter "Every-day Manners at Home" by Emily Post (Etiquette, Funk & wagnalls Co., 1922). Because it paints an ideal picture, this eternal scenario is attractive (especially to men). Dramatic roles! The vivid imaginative beauty of them!

Here's a hint for you ladies reading this and thinking it's what men want: smart men want something very different. They want you to be just who you are, and to do just what you love. Don't live for a man. Don't let a man support you unless he is very, very rich. If he isn't rich and wants to support you, he probably wants to control you. Only insecure men want you to live for them. Reject them! Don't do anything for a man unless you are also doing it for yourself. Men love you only if you live for your own dreams.

The less you care a fig for a man, the more he will respect you. That's a truer lesson than the one presented here. Women, take care of yourself first, and have some pride.

This scenario, while lovely, is hopelessly outdated and toxic for any couple (needless to say, especially for the woman). For everyday life, CD's version of reality is much more accurate. Every woman ought to study it and accept it.

-- Celia Thaxter (celiathaxter@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

CD - LOL! In (for women everywhere) You forgot this one :

Just two rules if you want to throw a party for me: 1. bring beer, 2. show up naked.


The one that really puzzles me is male/female channel surfing techniques. My SO can't stand how I surf either - he says I'm too slow. What IS going on with this? [grin]

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), June 23, 2000.

CD great ones! Debbie, yeah I'm accused of being too slow with the channel surfing. Oh well, live with it.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), June 23, 2000.

Eve, good post even though I've seen them. I want to know where I can find a 50's wife.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), June 23, 2000.

Thanks, Maria. Great stuff, y'all. CD, an instant classic!

Celia, an interesting post, and one I agree with to a significant extent, but I think you might have gone a little too far in the other direction. For example, your statement, "...the less you care a fig for a man the more he will respect you..." wouldn't hold in a romantic love relationship. There really should be an element of mutual give-and-take, and a real friendship. And respect for a person should be independent of whether or how much that person happens to care for the other, or shows it.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.


In fact, it does hold in a romantic relationship. If the proof is in the pudding, I've received two proposals this spring, both from men I respect very much. Putting the needs of yourself first does not preclude respecting others or engaging in "mutual give and take." I am merely saying that once you put the needs of a man above your own, you're done for! Besides, you can love and respect another only to the extent that you love and respect yourself.

-- Celia Thaxter (celiathaxter@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

I am merely saying that once you put the needs of a man above your own, you're done for! -Celia

Reminds me of an old axiom ["truism"] I once heard, Celia...

"A man is not complete until he is married. Then he is finished".

-- CD (costavike@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.


Well, the way you cleared this up for me in your second post, I couldn't agree more. Well said!

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

Maria, no sooner said than done... here ya go,


BTW Cherri, I think it was you I got that line from, and now I think it was the reverse, 1. show up naked, 2. bring beer.

Much better. Being that in comedy, nuance is everything :-)

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), June 23, 2000.

Women just seem to channel surf too slowly because they pause too long at really boring (i.e. non-sports) channels.

By and large, men don't "shop". We know what we want, where it's sold, and what it costs. We go in, buy it, and leave. The goal is to minimize elapsed time.

And no, men aren't going to notice that you just spent $35 to have someone make an infinitesimal change to your hair. We hope you're happy with it.

Household clutter isn't a problem unless there's noplace to walk. If some clutter can be shoved aside, that's the answer. Straightening up the house wastes both the time to put everything away, and the time to find it and leave it lying around again. Women don't need to clean house, they only need to know where everything is lying around when we can't find it.

Dishes should be washed on an as-needed basis. Same with clothes.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 23, 2000.

Hi Flint,

Well, men channel surf so quickly there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how yall can make a decision to stay or go. Um...with some exceptions, though.

So here we go, remote in right hand, beer in the left, at approximately one-half second per channel, unless otherwise indicated...

Face (click) leg (click) building (click) peach (click) Carl Sagans index finger pointed up at the billions and billions of stars (click) some happy guy with a big grins just caught a large bass hes holding up (ok, ten seconds for this one) (click) Einstein scribbling on a blackboard (click) some guy just scooted a big black thing across some ice and two other guys are sweeping furiously in front of it (ok, ten seconds to figure out what this is, and another five to decide that the sweeping part makes the whole thing look too fruity anyway) (click) arm (click) car (click) dog (click) Captain Kirk (two to four seconds just to see if its an episode you havent seen yet) (click) Pamela Sue Anderson (twenty seconds or the length of the scene, whichever is longernaaahh, the length of the scene) (click) pizza (clno, waitpause to call Dominos) (click) something being blown up (click after last embers fade from view) BASEBALL GAME! Ahhhhhhhh.......(a half hour later, as beer can tumbles from loosened grip, to the floor, and chin meets chest).....zzzzzzzzzzzz

Kinda like that, Flint? :)

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

Thanks eve:

I printed it and gave a copy to my wife. She is on the couch memorizing it at this time. I must keep this short. It is hard to write with all of the loud laughing coming from the couch. It is worse with all of the sarcasm embedded in the laughter.

Best wishes,,,,

-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), June 23, 2000.

Evenin', Z,

You and your wife are very welcome.

And I think it was therapeutic for me. After posting it, it felt like a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders and a light, airy feeling began to envelop me. :)

See ya...

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.


I personally would stop at the Sagan or the Einstein, or anything that looks like nonfiction. And I'd store the channels to return when the baseball game was between innings.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 23, 2000.

"men aren't going to notice that you just spent $35 to have someone make an infinitesimal change to your hair."

We scarcely notice the $135 changes...

-- aqua (aqu@fin.a), June 23, 2000.

I know ya would, Flint.

I don't know...for some reason, you're just fun to tease -- there's a certain something about you -- a "je ne sais quoi" ...

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

Funny stuff there CD! A doily is something you set your beer on....

-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), June 23, 2000.


If it is from the 1700's, you might get your fingers broken. At least that is my experience. My guess is that they used them for that back then, but rational argument doesn't always work.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), June 23, 2000.

Oh, for those good old days, again!

-- Oldie (oldie@smilin.in.my.rockin.chair), June 24, 2000.

Let me just say that I think staying at home, cooking, cleaning, nurturing my husband, being the one who cares for my children (instead of paying someone I don't even know to do it!) sounds like a blast. I imagine it allows for much personal reflection and development. I wish I could quit my job and have a few kids. I mean, what is there in life without family? We get so wrapped up these days as women about having a CAREER. When all is said and done, I'd rather say proudly that I raised strong healthy children than that I am a corporate slave.

It's time we returned to values like this textbook talks about. I'm not talking about the hair and makeup and ribbon part of it. We all get ugly as we get old. (Or should I say, less appealing to teenagers. :) ) However, we've allowed the family to come second behind our jobs. We've made our SUV's more important than whether our kids have self-esteem. We give our kids Ritalin when they need a stay- at-home parent to teach them, to show them what love really is. In my opinion, being a good parent isn't about having money. It's about giving time to your kids.

I drove a woman recently (I'm a cabbie) who complained that she had to work 20 hours more a week since she put her kid in daycare. Doesn't that sound silly? She could spend the 20 hours a week WITH HER KID instead of working some stupid $10 an hour job to pay for daycare!

I'm not a parent yet. I'd be interested in hearing responses from other women who have children about this.

-- Modern Woman (oldschool@was.better.com), June 25, 2000.

A certain affluence and stability underlie this idyllic picture. What stands out is that this ideal women *has* a husband. He makes enough money for them to have a home and raise children on a single income. The house has a (working) washer, dryer, dishwasher and vacuum. He's probably a white collar worker, and doesn't do shiftwork. He's not out of work, and the household doesn't seem to be set up to accommodate him if he were. In-laws aren't mentioned. Ends meet.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 25, 2000.

Modern Woman,

You sound like you have good sense. Some lucky guy and kids will appreciate you!

-- Observer (lots@to.observe), June 25, 2000.

Thanks Debbie for the link. Sign me up!

Modern woman, "staying at home, cooking, cleaning, nurturing my husband" for the most part, puts family after that other work. Somehow that cooking, cleaning stuff should be put last. Just starting out in life, I couldn't stay home. I stayed home after the birth of my children and went absolutely nuts. I need adult interaction. I needed something more than just the family. My mother worked her entire life and maybe I needed that "independence" to help define me.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids but that life isn't for me. I found a day care close to work and walked over a couple times a day to feed my babies. After weening, I stopped going but I made moments count with the kids and the housework was last on my list of things to do. Now they're grown, I don't regret the choices I made. It enabled the family to have more while not depriving them of me. It may sound clichi but it's quality not quantity. There are many stay-at-home moms who can't seem to find "time" for their kids.

You make your choices for you and you'll find out what's best.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), June 26, 2000.

even better is the 1850s version

-- richard (richard.dale@onion.com), June 26, 2000.

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