How Far We Have Come

Lola Magazine Lola Shreveport

A look back into the life of a 1950s  Housewife

At times it feels as if society moves slow with progression, but in the modern world of the stay-at-home mom, once referred to as the “housewife”, we have certainly come along way. This humorous article rumored to have been published in the May 13, 1955, issue of Housekeeping Monthly, “The Good Wife’s Guide” details the duties and expected behavior of how to be a “good wife” in the 1950’s.

In 1950 the number of women working outside the home was a mere 25%. By the 1960s the general standard of the stay-at-home mom was beginning to diminish. During the 1970s single income families faced higher living costs and more moms went to work. By 1980’s more than 50% of women were working outside the home, doubling the 1950s figure. Today over 70% of women work outside of the home.

If you are a mother that works outside the home, or a stay-at-home mom, we all know that the job title of “mom” is the most challenging yet rewarding. As far as being “a good wife”, the roles have changed tremendously over the last 60 plus years. Men typically play a vital role in both housework and child rearing in modern society. Although there may be a few men who would not argue with this high standard of pampering, the majority of dads and husbands are happy to pull their weight at home, working as a family unit.

I cannot speak for all women, but I believe we can all get a good giggle from the 1955 “Good Wife’s Guide”.

My, how far we have come.

The Article States:

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, in 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 is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll 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 for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

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 dust cloth over the tables.

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.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces, 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 from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

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.

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.

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

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him 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, soothing, and pleasant voice.

Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.

Housekeeping Monthly 13 May 1955