“The Good Wife”
What a fascinating funny article that first appeared in 1955 when I was a child! Was this really what was expected of women in those days? Here is what I remember as a little girl from that era.
“In May of 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published an article entitled, “The Good Wife’s Guide,” detailing all the ways that she should act and how best she can be a partner to her husband and a mother to her children. It may feel a little strange to accept these rules today, but it remains so interesting to see how society once behaved.”
This appeared on my Facebook feed and since I grew up in the 50’s it struck my funny bone.
Growing up in an apartment in a New York suburb, I remember most wives were SAHM (stay at home moms) and dressed pretty much like the one in the picture above. My parents were divorced so my family experience was not quite the norm in my neighborhood as my mom went to work and I was home with my loving grandmother, who did have dinner and a comfortable place ready for my mother when she arrived home from a hard day of work and a long commute.
My aunt, who lived upstairs, was more of a 50’s wife. She always had dinner ready at a certain time, her home was always perfectly put together as were her children. She herself sewed and many of her dresses matched her daughter’s. Pants were never worn by women in those days at least in my memory.
One of my clearest memories is doing laundry with my grandmother in the basement of our apartment building. The laundry area was large and filled with every good wife accompanied by their children, their laundry carts, cartons of Tide and purses filled with coins for the washing machines. Hours were spent talking, washing, drying and perfectly folding clothes. I remember in particular being fascinated by “Jockey” shorts as I had never seen these. My brother wore French boxers. Strange how certain memories never fade! Suffice to say laundry day was definitely a social event of a woman’s week!
I was a mom and wife of the 70’s. My grandmother had been my homemaker example so I followed her unwritten rules that she had for taking care of the “bread winner”. She made breakfast, cleaned the house, took care of the washing and ironing and of course she cared for me. In the afternoon she would relax and watch “Kate Smith” whereas I watched “All My Children“. Gradually over the years I returned to work and my husband and I shared more of the “chores” of daily living but now as partial “empty nesters” (we have taken care of our elderly family and now have our younger daughter and family living with us) I have returned to making breakfast and dinner. I don’t watch soaps but I do watch “The Chew” while I prepare dinner.
At least in spirit, I guess I am more like a 50’s wife than not . My husband faithfully goes to work for the better part of 10 hours each day while I take care of the home front. The huge difference is that my husband and I do not feel that my husband is “King of the Castle”. We respect each other’s roles in our marriage partnership and my world as a SAHM was always an important one as was his role as dad and a radiologist.
I do not wear dresses while I clean the house and cook dinner but I do try to look put together most of the time and I do try to greet my husband when he walks through the door in the evening after diagnosing cancers all day long. What ever that says about me, I don’t really care since it is about love and respect and in my marriage it always has been.