Posted in Parenting and Random Shit

The Good Wife’s Guide

ALLEGEDLY, this is an excerpt from a 1950’s magazine, though its origin is undetermined, according to Snopes.

Regardless of its origins, I was led to another blogger’s post via Pinterest the other day, which was endorsing the same marital advice for any other Stepford wife in training. I’m using this list, rather than link the blog because:
1) It is pretty much the same list, just in different words.

2) I don’t like the idea of rewarding the aforementioned blog with traffic, given the values that the author espouses in regards to a woman’s role.

In the 50’s, this brand of advice would be expected. Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel knowing that there are women that still subscribe to and endorse this school of thought.

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 get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

Look, if you want me to cook dinner you can’t put all these conditions on it like, it needs to be ready on time and/or it has to be delicious. Do I look like a fucking magician? If I make plans to serve Fruit Loops for dinner the night before, do I still get my ‘good wife’ award?

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.

Hold the fucking phone. Did I get married or take a job in the hospitality industry? Touch up my make up? Put a ribbon in my hair? Are you kidding me? I would love to be “fresh-looking” but with 4 kids, including a toddler and an infant, anyone that crosses my path, including my husband, should take it as a compliment if I find the time to put on deodorant and a bra. Guess what, honey–the baby still isn’t sleeping through the night so you’re coming home to a work weary person too.
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.

Dance monkey, DANCE!

Bored? Suck it up, buttercup, or find something to do. I’ve been doing everything short of juggling knives to entertain these children all day, it isn’t my “duty” to entertain or amuse any adult unless I am being payrolled as a performer.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dust cloth over the tables.

Trying to clean up, even just clear the clutter, with four kids on the loose is like trying to shovel the driveway in the middle of a blizzard. If Husband wanted an orderly home every night when he got home, he shouldn’t have kept knocking me up.
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 to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

For starters, no one would ever describe this household as a “haven of rest and order”. I mean, for fuck’s sake, we have four kids. Furthermore, I cater to the comfort of the 8 month old because when he ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. As a matter of fact, EVERYBODY caters to Number Four’s comfort. That’s it. Everyone else in the house can kiss my ass. You’re on your own. If the love of my life wants a fire, he can march his ass over to the fireplace and turn the lever. BAM! Fire. Unwind away. While you’re at it, rub my feet. PLEEEEEEAAASE!!
Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
If Husband wants to walk into a quiet house, he better go somewhere else.
Be happy to see him.

I assume this requires me to be VISIBLY happy to see him. Our dogs go nuts when he gets home. They are wagging their tails, whimpering and licking his feet and face. Should I act like them or will a simple, “hi” suffice?
Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

So, knee pads?
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.

No, they’re not.

By the way, this was the premise of one of the tips from the offending blog that really got under my skin. It pains me to know that there are so many women out there that truly believe that they are incapable of having any relevant thought or opinion when conversing with men, much less a spouse. It truly makes me sick.
Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

If Number Three found a bottle of nail polish and used it to do a remodel of the kitchen cabinets, Husband is  going to hear about it the second he comes  home. If I’ve spent the day wading through a sea of vomit and shit, you can bet your ass that I will be bitching about it from the moment he steps through the door.
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

If he’s going to be late for work, all I need is a heads up via phone call or text. Wevs. If he stays out all night, he’s got a lot more than me complaining to worry about. I don’t care if he wants to go grab a drink or go watch football at a friend’s house. On more than one occasion, he has stayed at his friend’s house after a game or fight so as not to drive after drinking. HOWEVER, if I am not told of such plans and he were to just not come home all night, there will be hell to pay. I don’t give a flying fuck what happened at work. If he doesn’t call me or text me and just doesn’t come home, he better be in the muthafucking hospital because, if not, I will put him there.
Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

I’m going to hand him a kid and go take that piss I have been holding for four hours. If he wants a drink, he has arms and legs with which to get it his goddamn self. If he asks nicely, though, I’ll oblige. He’s a grown ass man. I don’t need to “lie him down in the bedroom”. What the absolute fuck? Do these women wipe their husband’s asses for them?
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Ladies: Give birth to children, don’t marry one. Unless he is disabled, he can take off his own damn shoes. I’m not saying it is degrading if you want to help your tired, sore or sick husband take off his shoes. I’ve helped Husband pull of his work boots. You just wont see me donning pearls, fluffing pillows and removing shoes, while speaking in a sweet, soothing voice, as part of any routine, especially not all at the same time.
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 was the gist of another bullet on that blog and was the other that really raised my hackles.  If I have cause to question Husband’s integrity or actions, you can bet that I will raise questions.

I absolutely CRINGE at the thought that there are women that truly believe that their worth is solely contingent upon someone’s opinion, subject to change on a whim if the wrong mood strikes. The fact that so many of these women have daughters that they are passing these “values” on to is beyond disturbing. The basic message for these girls is that if you want a man to recognize  value within her, she must demonstrate in all her thoughts and every action that she is utterly worthless.

A good wife always knows her place.

I’m going to smash my computer.

Here are a list of values I hope to instill in my daughter when she considers future relationships:

You, and you alone, determine your worth. Not your peers. Not some man.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to demonstrate free thought or intelligence. Worthwhile men appreciate a woman with whom they can hold an intelligent conversation.

A worthwhile man will treat you as his social and intellectual equal. He will value your opinion and will view marriage as an equal partnership, not an imbalanced hierarchy.

A worthwhile man wont derive happiness from the subjugation of your own. In a healthy relationship, achieving happiness should be treated as a common goal.

Having a penis does not make one’s contribution to society any more relevant than your own.

It is not your “duty” to subjugate yourself to or serve anyone. Anything you do for your spouse should be carried out willingly of your own volition, not out of fear of reprise from your “master”.

You should respect your husband but never become convinced that you are unworthy of the same.

It’s okay to be in a shitty mood from time to time.

If you have a complaint, complain. Don’t be one of those people who do nothing BUT complain but never be fearful of airing your grievances.

If your husband goes MIA for an entire night or engages in any other brand of douchebag asshattery and asserts that you have no right to question him or his behavior, tell him to go pack his shit and kick fucking rocks. He can then decide, somewhere else, whether to beg for your forgiveness or continue to act like a caveman.

A good husband knows when to bring home wine.

Author:

I am a stay at home mother with 4 children. I drink a lot of wine and curse like a sailor.

34 thoughts on “The Good Wife’s Guide

  1. This brought back some memories… I was born in 1957, so I remember asking my mom when I was little, why was it that men are just Mr. and women are either Miss or Mrs.? Thank you, Gloria Steinem for Ms. !!
    I also remember going to “Charm” school at Montgomery Ward at 12. I wish I still had the book! It had a section on dating. It said that on a movie date, even if you understood everything, ask him some questions about the movie to make him feel important in explaining it to you. Noooo way! GAG!!! Cough!

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      1. Could you link those to me? I’m an abstinence teacher, and I’d hate to see that crap like that is being connected to what I do.

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        1. From the “Just Say Yes” materials:
          Girls, taking into consideration that guys are more
          easily sexually turned on by sight, you need to
          think long and hard about the way you dress and
          the way you come on to guys…If a guy is breathing,
          then he’s probably turned on…How can you tell a
          girl is an easy target for a guy?…By the clothes she
          wears…A girl who shows a lot of skin and dresses
          seductively fits into one of three categories: 1)
          She’s pretty ignorant when it comes to guys, and
          she has no clue what she’s doing. 2) She’s teasing
          her boyfriend which is extremely cruel to the
          poor guy! 3) She’s giving her boyfriend an open
          invitation saying, “Here I am. Come take me.”

          Heritage Keepers Sex Ed was added to the DHHS’ list of approved sexual education school programs. Here is the report on that one:
          http://www.communityactionkit.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=984

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  2. Oh my fucking God…. I have tears in my eyes from reading that or rather from reading your retorts to that nonsense. I fricking love you girl. You make me laugh so hard with your posts.

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    1. Most of the replies were very positive. One of them, I forgot to mention, was that, basically, a good wife is always in the mood when her husband is in the mood. If you don’t feel well or aren’t in the mood, you risk damaging his self esteem. What man wouldn’t love a hole in the mattress that cooks and cleans?

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  3. “I’ve been doing everything short of juggling knives to entertain these children all day, it isn’t my “duty” to entertain or amuse any adult unless I am being payrolled as a performer.”

    See, here’s your problem. You need to be working smarter, not harder. In this case, the solution is clearly to train the kids to juggle knives. Yes, even the infant. If they don’t start these lessons early, they won’t be able to keep up later.

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    1. You’ve given me food for thought! I hadn’t considered this approach. Now I feel like I’ve been reinventing the wheel for so long. Starting immediately, the oldest will begin knife juggling lessons and then she can pass on the skill to her younger siblings. I’m going to have so much free time. THANK YOU!! 😉

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    2. Huh. When I was a child, we had to train ourselves to juggle knives, or we wouldn’t get any supper! 😉

      Seriously, though. Back in Mad Men days, we kids most certainly were in charge of our own entertainment. We knew damned good and well never to ask our mothers to entertain us. See, she had plenty of ideas of what we could be doing around the house if we were that bored. And for some reason, none of them were all that appealing.

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      1. Ha! That is my “I’m booooored” cure for the oldest ones. I start naming off a list of activities, like washing base boards, sorting laundry, organizing cabinets, and, miraculously, they’ve come up with some way to entertain themselves. Once I started making them complete a task before they could return to playing, they suddenly stopped reporting to me when they were bored.

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  4. This reminds me of these two little books we were given at our wedding. ‘Don’ts for wives’ and ‘Don’ts for husbands’, both originally from 1913. We read them both and laughed at many of the things in there, but took them no more seriously than that. For example it said in mine that I should not tell him ‘I told you so’ or that I should not tell off the staff in his presence. It said in his that he should endeavour to adopt a pleasant attitude if he were not naturally equipped with a pleasant appearance, or some such.

    The disturbing thing, reading this list you found, is that some of this advice from the 50s is a lot more repressing of women than some of the stuff from 1913. The 1913 book, for example, encourages the woman to keep learning, read books about the things that interest her and to cultivate an understanding of politics so that she can discuss it with her husband and he will be pleased to have married a smart woman. At no point does it say in the 1913 book that she should ‘know her place’. O.o

    It’s rather thought provoking that attitudes seemed to actually go backwards before we managed to go a little forwards. Here’s to hoping that we can now keep going forwards only.

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    1. Agreed. I can’t see the entertainment value unless it’s to review the horror of what it must have been like. I don’t need those images floating in my subconscious as there’s enough reminders in daily life of how easy it would be to turn backwards.

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  5. I own 2 copies of “The Good Wifes Guide”. I may not agree with everything in it but I am a fully submissive wife by choice. I let my husband control most aspects of our family while I am taking care of the family. We are equal in decision making, I give him my thoughts on subjects and he makes the final decision. Most of the time I agree with it, sometimes not. I can see where you are coming from with the out dated silly little things like putting on makeup or changing your clothes. I have a very open and trusting relationship with my husband, all by choice. My husband has never asked me to do any of the things that in the blog, book or in her following. It basically boils down to what works for your family and this does work for mine, so it’s not all bad. But I will add that not all men deserve a submissive wife. A man that will shit on his wife while she does her very best to run a smooth home doesn’t deserve her attempts to please him. I didn’t grow up in church and I don’t go to church so I’m not a religion freak either. I love my husband and I chose this path for me. And by no means is our life perfect, but it is perfect for us.

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    1. I don’t want my criticism in this post to be perceived as an absolute. My husband manages our finances because I proved myself to be really bad it (thanks ADHD!) and I’m not interested in it enough to try and remedy those shortcomings. If I want or need to buy something, I let him know and then he tells me if we can or can’t afford it. If he were to forbid me from accessing the money or consider it HIS money, we’d have a problem.
      The points I really took issue with, I identified, such as “you have no right to question him” or “you have nothing important to say”. I don’t want to be, nor want my daughter to be, a smiling, compliant doormat. I don’t actually care if she makes her husband a martini and rub his feet every night when he gets home. I do care if her spouse treats her as a second class citizen, not permitted to voice a dissenting opinion or considered incapable of any valuable insight.

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      1. I do agree with you on that. Like I said, I don’t agree with everything, I do think you should be equal in your actions. If he has done something questionable, then, he should be questioned. Same for the wife. I didn’t want to sound like I was defending all aspects of the book or that I was a crazy person (I get that a lot when I say I am a submissive wife) but some things do work out for us. My girls are being raised to respect people and their opinion but they better speak their mind too. Nobody will treat them like furniture, I’ve been there, I know what that feels like. And by god, I will not let anybody demand that my child do those type of things. If she wanted to make that decision herself, like I did, I’m good with that. But if her mate is being a complete jackass and abusing her submission, then I hate to think what would happen to his manhood afterwards 😉

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  6. ROFL…wow. As a man (husband and father of 3 girls), I also find this hilarious and loved your rebuttals. One of the points you didn’t rebut that I found especially humorous was this: “Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes…”

    Really? It should read something like this instead: “Consider it a success if the baby hasn’t peed on his pillow and the other children haven’t tied his shoelaces together.”

    I’m curious what their guide for a good husband was back then…because based on the guide for a good wife, it was probably something like this: “Don’t worry about anything, just go to work, and keep your zipper open at all times when you are at home. Your wife is anxious to please you and will silently tend to your every wish. Say whatever you want and do whatever you want; their will be no repercussions at home if you have a good wife.” Riiiiiiggghhhht. Good luck with that.

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    1. The men’s version=

      The rules are: THERE AIN’T NO RULES!!

      Don’t let a dumb girl tell you what to do.

      If you have an affair, your wife should probably have cleaned the kitchen better or added a little more salt to that roast.

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  7. I find it fascinating that while our generation, rightly, has refused to be slaves to the male member of the marriage unit, we have become, whether we like it or not, slaves to our kids.

    Expectations are such that a stay-at-home-parent, even a relatively detached one, has so much to do for the children that s/he physically could not be that Stepford wife that existed in the fifties.

    Part of this comes from our expectations of ourselves as parents; part of it comes from society’s expectations. We can’t just send them outside. We can’t make the seven year old change the baby’s diapers. “You can’t leave a seven and a nine year old at home when you go shopping! Are you kidding? I’ll call CPS! What? You were babysitting at nine? Well the crime and murder and crack cocaine rates were higher back then. Now we can’t accept any risk.” “You mean you don’t read two books to your children daily? Do you want them to flunk out of the seventh grade?”

    I don’t like the term “parenting” much less “parenting philosophy” but I kind of wish I had one so that I could more clearly respond to the whole idea that a mother is a bad person if her kids aren’t engaged all day.

    Now I have read your blog for months and I know you are not that type of parent who caters to her kids’ every whim, which is one reason I love it so much. I just think the transfer of responsibility, from the man as the center of the family unit, to the children (very small babies notwithstanding), is fascinating. Does that reflect a natural evolution of values? Is it because children have become more fragile, or mothers have less support, or our expectations are higher? Is there anything we can do, or should we do anything, to ensure that parents can have balanced lives as whole, productive people, at least as soon as their kids are beyond the larval stage?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  8. Isn’t it striking that we should “touch up our make-up” before he comes home. Wouldn’t that require us to have cleaned and cooked and wiped up the kids’ body fluids in full state? Hell, I am happy if I manage to brush my hair in the morning before tying it back into a pony tail!

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  9. genius post! I was really horrified of the things that list had, I think the two that boiled me were “his topics of conversation are more important than yours” and “he is the master of the house…you have no right to question him” WTF??? Thank the lord us smart women know better. [By the way I might steal your list of wisdom for your daughter someday and will teach it to my kids, boy or girl]

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    1. I know! It’s bad enough to know that this was blindly accepted in my grandmother’s generation but to know that, TODAY, women continue to accept these “rules” and pass it on to their daughters is just sad.

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  10. Oh for fucks sake, why don’t we just let some crazy person micro chip us into being happy all the motherfucking time. Seriously, I know that was the stuff of our grandparen’ts generation, but didn’t we do away with this shit back then? It’s like we woke up in the twilight zone and no one know’s how to get the fuck out of that nightmare. I agree that there has to be some sort of balance between the both of you. But even my mom wouldn’t agree with this kinda shit. She would just laugh at you if you told her someone should be like this.

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  11. That thing reads like one of those kinky marriage contracts that people into master-slave role-playing draw up. Just about everything is there, except for the requirement to be naked in the house at all times, after the children are put to bed.

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  12. By the way, that era is referred to in college women’s studies courses as “The Cult of Domesticity.” It really did happen, although I would imagine that “guide” served as an “ideal” model, and that no one actually lived it to the letter.

    The funny part is how, when upper middle class women began to enter the paid workforce (poorer class women always had to work outside the home; the “cult” was white, upper-class bullshit), they were still expected to perform all domestic and child-rearing duties, whereas the men got to keep their 8-hour workdays.

    It is only within the last couple decades that the prevailing attitude has been that married couples share household duties more or less equally.

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  13. LOVE IT! My paternal grandfather could have wrote these “rules” which is why I no longer speak to him. My grandmother is a victim of this type of thinking and has not had a single though of her own in the entire 50 plus years of marriage. It is extremely sad that to this day in 2012, that women still are subjected to this crap. I will raise my daughter in much the same way as you intend to. Thankfully, I married a man who is of the same mind as I am when it comes to a marriage being a partnership instead of dictatorship. I only hope that when my Grandma goes to heaven, she will be able to have her own voice and be her own person that she was never allowed to be here.

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