The Good Wife’s Guide

Many of you have seen "The Good Wife's Guide," which was published in Housekeeping Monthly in 1955. If you haven't, it is a must-read.

I remember the first time I read the guide. I was taking a Marriage and Family class at OSU-Tulsa, and the professor handed it out and everybody began to laugh. What crazy ideas!? I remember laughing myself, but at the same time thinking how wonderful it would be to live that kind of picture-perfect life. At the time, I was due to get married in about 6 weeks. I was 21 and ready to be the perfect bride and even more perfect wife! This would be my guide, with a few updates.

I thought I would follow these guidelines:

  • Have dinner ready. Easy enough. I am still pretty good at this one, even with three small children. I usually have dinner ready by 6:15- and I make his favorite meal regularly (probably because it is Jack's favorite meal too). Step one to being the perfect housewife- check!
  • Prepare Yourself. This sounds so wonderful, and I do put on makeup or a spritz of perfume occasionally. Although these days it is more like- "Get dressed so he doesn't know you stayed in pajamas all day." Maybe I will aspire to do this more often.
  • Clear away the clutter. This also sounds easy enough and ideal. Everyone likes to come home to a clean house, right? Well... between accomplishing step 1- having dinner ready- and having 2 toddlers running around (and an infant) this one is a definite failure these days. Maybe someday (like when the kids are in college).
  • Make him comfortable. While I never planned on fluffing a pillow and helping him take off his shoes, I did have the picture in my head of greeting him at the door with a drink and sitting down for a few minutes. This comes from tales of my mom's parents. My grandmother would greet my grandfather with a drink and they would have at least 15 minutes alone together (without kids) in the living room. If she could do it with 6 kids, why couldn't I? Well... my grandmother had full-time help. Maybe if I had a maid who cooked my family 3 meals a day and cleaned the house I would greet J.P. with his favorite drink everyday too. Another big, fat failure!

I knew, even then, that I would never follow these guidelines:

  • Make the evening his. Yes, my husband goes to work all day. I know work is stressful, and it is nice to come home and unwind. But, the fact-of-the-matter is, I have been home with 3 kids all day and the minute he walks in the door means I finally have some help.
  • Don't complain if he comes home late... even if he stays out all night. This one if just ridiculous, even in 1955. They still had phones, didn't they? Really!?
  • He is the master of the house. No, I don't think so. Enough said.
  • A good wife always knows her place. In my case, my place is the same as the women of 1955- barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen! J

I started out with the intentions of being the perfect wife, mother and housewife. I would love to be able to do all of the things I envisioned, but it just isn't going to happen. Maybe someday I will be able to have a few minutes of peace and quiet with my husband when he gets home from work. In the meantime I will do my best to merge these ideals with the realities of the 21st century.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post, Maggie. I've been married for 40 years this December to the same wonderful man. One rule we both follow is treat each other the same as we did when we were first dating. That means: look nice, be courteous, show interest in the other person's interests, and use deoderant and mouthwash! If we keep trying to "catch" our mate, the fire never goes out!