you're reading...
Relationship Ranting

The 1950s Housewife Cliche


The following is from a 1950’s home economics textbook intended for high school girls, teaching them how to prepare for married life:

1. Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal — on time.  (This is in no way subjugating women. I find it so much easier to plan dinners and the like in advance. This is not indicative of a submissive woman, but an ORGANIZED one.) 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 prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed. (Common sense. If you are in a loving relationship and are truly partners, you should WANT to do this. That’s called being a good spouse.)

2. Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will 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 may need a lift. (Of course his boring day needs a lift. Work is tedious and an aware spouse would have the desire to look beautiful or handsome for their mate. It is very easy to fall into a complacent schedule of wearing pajamas all day since you work from or in the home. But I think that for some it can become a festering sore and can quickly lead into depression without anyone being aware that that is happening. When you feel like you look your best, your best work can more easily follow. So do yourself a favor and shower, get dressed, and greet the day like you would if you were working outside of the home. You will benefit from it, as will your husband and family.)

3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just 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.(THIS IS CALLED AN ORGANIZED HOUSEHOLD AND IS MUCH MORE BENEFICIAL FOR THE SPOUSE THAT WORKS IN THE HOME. CHECK OUT flylady.net)

4. Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the childrens’ 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 the part.(Kids get dirty. That’s what they’re supposed to do. And its likely that neither you nor your spouse care. However in my life I have noticed that we get tired at the end of the day. So changing and preparing (more or less) young children before they become tired and cranky is common sense.)

5. Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. (I’m not so sure that this is of any importance. But you have to admit, being able to turn those things off and tune the needs out after a certain time every day, can be a major destresser.) Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. (Why would you not want to be happy to see your spouse. If you feel you are forced then you have much bigger problems. I am so thankful that my husband works outside of the homes enabling me to pursue other interests.) Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.

6. Some Don’ts: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.(Remember when your mom or dad came home from work and needed some unwind time? I know I was always told that it is common courtesy to let my parents sit down, put stuff away, and get into the “home” mindset.)

7. Make him comfortable: Have him lean 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. (DO YOU REALLY WANT YOUR SPOUSE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE?!?! Perhaps sadism works for some marriages. But I think that if you are constantly trying to put your spouse down so you can be “better” than him, you are single-handedly destroying your marriage. You should both be pushing each other to be better every day.)

8. 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.(I’M PRETTY CONFIDENT THAT THIS IS CALLED…..{DRUM ROLL PLEASE}…….  COMMUNICATION!!!

9. 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 pressure, his need to be home and relax.(Give and take. If you do nice, kind, thoughtful things for your spouse, more likely than not they will do the same for you.)

10. The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.(WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT YOUR HOME TO BE ORGANIZED AND AN OASIS OF RELAXATION?!?!?! THIS ONLY BENEFITS THE BOTH OF YOU.)

*steps off soap box*

  • Andrea White ‎:D I would like to see the 1950’s equivalent for the male aspect!

Sunday at 10:11pm ·

Kelli K Sako

Obviously there would be some differences for a household where both partners worked outside the home. But I do think that throwing all of these things out just because it was the ideal before women’s liberation is preposterous.

I think that… a feeling of entitlement and of being owed certain behaviors without just cause is a major problem with society today. Instead of wanting to make their partners and spouses happy, most people feel like their spouses should be making them happy. We, as a society, have become much too selfish.

I have a feeling that the “male” counterpart would include things like being appreciative of a smoothly working household, thanking your spouse for everything he/she does, asking what could be done to help, taking time out to be appreciative of all your spouse does for you.

I think that being appreciative of all the things done for each other is vitally important to a healthy, functioning relationship. Too many people get hung up on what they are owed and not what they can give.

Katie Manyoky

I only wish that I could accomplish this all in one day, but knowing Lionel, he doesn’t expect nor want this of me. He is grateful for the things that I do, but knows that “life” happens. I do preplan meals, I do tidy the house (multiple …times a day), among the other things in the list. But I also take time and enjoy my kids and get on the floor and play with them. Kids are only young for a short while. I would hate to think that I spent their entire child hood washing dishes and doing laundry. I do what needs to be done, but am not worried about a spotless house. Love and marriage is all about working together and coming to an agreement of what works for you.

I wouldn’t be able to keep a clean house if I tried. The point I would like to make is that many women have gone much too far in the opposite direction and seem to act like they are owed something for doing nothing. I don’t see how striving… for the ideals on this list, knowing full well that not all goals can possibly be reached, could be a bad thing.

I kind of feel like the next step in liberation needs to go in another direction. While MANY, MANY women are now much more liberated and enjoy many more freedoms than previous generations that we may be subjugating another class and/or type of woman who desires to do the housewife thing for her husband and family. It kind of goes with the whole liberation of the burqa. There are many women who have managed to make lives for themselves since they were given a voice and option not to. But I also think that we need to be careful not to trample on the rights of the women who *want* to wear it. By telling her that’s not really want she wants, we are denying her voice to be heard and perpetuating a different kind of subjugation.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the answers. I don’t want to be forced to do something I don’t want to but I certainly don’t want to be denied a right to do something that I want to do. But I also don’t think the attitude “do it your own damn self” gets us anywhere either. You’re definitely right, Katie, it does have to be figured out by both partners equally. Some households might benefit more from having a daily schedule and others might function better in a take it has it comes, laid back attitude.

The main reason that I started thinking about this is because my sister-in-law (no offense meant, Kourtnie) seems to consistently complain about and be at odds with my little brother. She expects him to work and bring home money (she’s now pregnant with their 2nd child and she stays home to raise the kiddos). Then she expects him to come home and take care of the trailer and kid(s) so that she can have a break. Raising kids is HARD WORK. So is marriage. I think that both are decisions made much too lightly nowadays. I think that if people are too immature to put in the required effort (I’m talking both parties here) to sustain happy, loving, stable relationships they have no business getting married in the first place.

As much as it pains me to say this because I idolize John Lennon, love is not ALL you need. Love must exist in the relationship for it to work, but its the regular, mundane day-to-day stuff that defines a marriage.

I think someone needs to take this damn soap box away from me. 🙂

This doesn’t apply just to traditional gender roles. You can easily have a man or a woman doing these exact same things. I think that’s where the hang-up is. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” By asserting that no one can make …you do something against your will doesn’t mean that we should throw out the basic relationship “rules”. To sustain a happy, healthy, loving environment you must put your partner’s needs above your own. BOTH OF YOU. When you stop doing that, failure is inevitable.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: