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`The Good Wife’s Guide’ updated 47 years later

Bernie Boettcher

On May 13, 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published “The Good Wife’s Guide.” It’s a fascinating nostalgic snapshot of a former time. Recently, a friend of mine received a fresh copy of the ’55 guide from her father-in-law. She was shocked. By today’s standards, it’s almost as funny as it is demeaning. I told her I’d modernize the list. Save this column. In 47 years from now, the “2002 Good Wife’s Guide” will probably be just as shocking and funny for your grandchildren.

1955 – “Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready and 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 come home, and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.”

2002 – Get a good job. Plan ahead. Take turns making dinner or buying dinner out. Eat a balanced diet of heart healthy meals. Everyone is hungry after a hard day’s work, and the prospect of a healthy meal (especially vegetarian) is part of a nutritionally balanced diet. He’ll welcome the effort after a week of eating TV dinners.

1955 – “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.”

2002 – Prepare yourself. Take 20 minutes to go for a run or a ride on your bike. The exercise will leave you feeling refreshed and looking good. He’ll appreciate your toned physique.

1955 – “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.”

2002 – Don’t worry, be happy. You’ve both had stressful work days. If you need a lift, donate some time to a local charity or practice one of your hobbies.

1955 – “Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc., and then run a dustcloth over the tables.”

2002 – Hire a maid if the house gets too dirty, there are excellent services available.

1955 – “Over 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 for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.”

2002 – Over the winter, turn up the thermostat as needed and turn on the TV to unwind. Check out alternative energy sources such as solar power in your spare time. Getting off the grid will give you immense personal satisfaction.

1955 – “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 the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.”

2002 – Try to find the children. Pick them up from their after-school activities. Encourage the kids to express themselves. Find out what they’ve been doing all day. After you pick up some take-out, run the washer, dryer and vacuum if you have to.

1955 – “Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.”

2002 – Be happy to see your spouse. Greet him with a warm smile and a hug. Make him aware of your needs and please each other as best you can.

1955 – “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.”

2002 – Share your emotions, tell him what’s on your mind. Don’t repress your feelings. Validate each other by listening to each other. Be sincere with him, and he’ll be sincere with you.

1955 – “Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.”

2002 – Make your evenings enjoyable. Relax or broaden your horizons Go out with your friends if you’d like. If you love each other, you can trust each other explicitly.

1955 – “Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace and order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”

2002 – Your goal: Try to make sure your material, emotional and physical needs are fulfilled. Be a combination of Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna all rolled into one.

1955 – “Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or a warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.”

2002 – Make yourself comfortable. Have a nice drink or take a hot whirlpool together. Arrange your pillow and ask for a foot massage. When he is done, return the favor and then some. If you’re happy, he’s happy.

1955 – “Don’t ask him questions about his actions. Remember, he is the master of the house. You have no right to question him.”

2002 – Ask him anything you please. You have every right to question his activities. You are partners and you must work together with honesty and integrity.

1955 – “A good wife always knows her place.”

2002 – A good wife always make her place known at work, at home and in the hearts of her friends and family.

You go girls.

Contemporaneously,

Bernie

Silt resident Bernie Boettcher’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.


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