The good housewife
by Jennifer Cohron
Aug 18, 2013 | 1484 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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A few years ago, I received a copy of instructions on how to be a good housewife as they appeared in a 1950s home economics textbook.

I refer to it frequently to make sure I’m on the right track.

Oh, who am I kidding? It has been tucked away in my work bag with a zillion other papers for a long, long time.

I keep the page because it amuses me.

While I share the stated goal of the good housewife, “to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax in body and spirit,” I disagree with the steps for getting there as outlined in this particular textbook.

What troubles me most is how much emphasis is placed on perfection, or at least the appearance of it.

As I read between the lines, I am reminded of a song by Michelle Branch when she dabbled in country music several years ago — “Stand still, look pretty.”

I’d be interested to see what the textbook had to say to men. If the topic came up at all, I imagine husbands would be advised to work hard to provide for their families and keep their problems to themselves.

Maybe some marriages still work this way, and I’m happy for those people if they’re happy.

However, I’m thankful that Zac and I aren’t a typical 1950s couple, if there ever was such a thing.

We’re not even a typical couple in the new millenium, if there has yet to be such a thing.

I almost wish we could invite that textbook author over to dinner (which would be prepared by Zac, by the way).

In all likelihood, I would break every one of those 60-year-old “rules” in the first 10 minutes.

But the most shocking thing of all would be that my husband loves me anyway.

Here is the home economics excerpt for those who are interested:

Have dinner ready — Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed.

Prepare yourself — Take 15 minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. 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. Greet him with a smile.

Clear away the clutter — Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up children’s books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you lift too.

Prepare the children — If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Minimize all noise — At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

Some “do not’s” — Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Make him comfortable — Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

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.

Make the evening his — Never complain if he doesn’t take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax.