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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Good 1955 Wife

A friend sent me a copy of a Housekeeping Monthly article dated 13 May 1955. The title of the piece was The Good Wife's Guide. It was sent for the laugh factor. No one could actually think this was a good idea.

The article had "helpful" ideas on how to be a good wife. Some were good like "Be happy to see him" or "Try to make your home a place of peace, order, and tranquility." Nice. Some were mundane if not dated like "Have dinner ready" or "Clear away the clutter." Others were offensive to the modern American wife. "Catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction." "Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours." "Don't ask questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity ... You have no right to question him." And the ultimate insult: "A good wife always knows her place."

Looking it over, there really isn't much of any value to today's wife. It's about a time gone by when women actually thought they were supposed to submit to their husbands. It presupposes that husbands were supposed to love their wives. It actually believes the ridiculous notion that love believes the best of the one loved. Well, the whole idea is preposterous.

But I enjoyed the fantasy. I wondered what it would be like to live in a world like that. I imagined a home where the husband is working at loving his wife as Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25) and the wife is submitting to her husband as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22). I dreamed about a marriage where two people consider each other as more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3). I thought about a husband who was deeply concerned with washing his bride in the Word (Eph. 5:26) instead of having a "show wife" and a wife whose goal was to adorn herself with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) rather than a good career, family, figure, and "stuff".

Ah, yes, nice fantasy ... but reality is back. Husbands (Okay, men in general) are the bane of society and wives have to be "all" to their families while still working to get what they want out of life. That fantasy world probably didn't even exist in 1955, even though there was someone who thought it should. No, we're much more enlightened now. The war of the sexes is much better than that fantasy world ...


Anonymous said...

I find it sad, because it was somebody's idea of what america became like after men went to work in the city instead of the farm. Somehow the notion came about that men had the harder job and that they should come home and be allowed to do nothing but be catered to and entertained, left alone if they wanted solitude, etc.

As the mother of more than a quiver, I found that ridiculous, that I should get way less sleep than my husband (often averaging 4 hours a night and I can be completely fatigued) and keep working all hours of the day and night just so he can sit around and play computer games and watch TV. Even on weekends, when a husband gets to stay home and considers it his "free time" to pursue whatever he wants, but a wife is still supposed to keep cooking and cleaning and meeting the family's needs with no real help from him, except his token "I sprayed the shower with Clorox when I got done."

My great grandmothers told me that it was not that way when they were growing up on the farms. The man's job was never done either. The only time he sat around and relaxed was at the same time his wife was afforded that luxury. They both kept busy with projects not of selfish pursuit, but to sustain their family. Then they sat and rocked together discussing family and life as they widdled wood and knitted, etc. My great grandmothers seemed to understand how women became discontented with the new man's attitude of his home is HIS castle and she is his servant. They said that view did not exist for the most part when they were growing up. While my great grandmothers did not agree with the extremism of the woman's lib movement, they absolutely were disgusted with what men had become and their view of women as simple sexual objects created to serve and please them.

Now not all men became like this, nor are they all this way today by any means, but it is far too common. I watched my grandmother work all day at the family business and then come home and cook and clean and serve my grandfather while he sat around and nutured his selfish flesh. She even mowed the lawns. She believed in what this article said and my grandfather cheated on her, treated her like his servant, etc. What a way to teach sons to love their wives.

When did men get this view that women are lesser than them? The Bible certainly NEVER taught that. A woman was created EQUAL. She was created a HELPMEET, which is the same word used of God when He is called our Helper. He is not lesser than us, nor should He serve us just because He is our helper. Nor should life become all about US because He is our Helper. Rather we should honor Him, because we obviously NEED Him if we require a Helper. Of course there are roles that make sense considering women are the only ones that can bear children and nurse them (which until a century ago, you nursed your babies for the first few years of life and there was no formula fed babies, a mother was their only source of life).

I think at some point people got messed up on what the Bible was talking about in regards to women and expected her to become something God never intended. Becuase of this misintepretation of the place and role of a woman, we had a battle that went to the extreme and destroyed more families in the process. Why is it so hard for people to be balanced in these views?

Stan said...

As I said, "Reality is ... husbands (Okay, men in general) are the bane of society and wives have to be 'all' to their families while still working to get what they want out of life."

Jim Jordan said...

Men and women in marriage rarely stop to evaluate their own performances. The Bible teaches the married couple to submit to each other, to serve each other in the best interests of the family - to work as a team etc. However in many families there is a spirit of disunity that results in the despondent Dads, the wealth-devouring harridan wives, and the incorrigible children. The Bible has the best advice, another sign that it's from the best Source.

Anonymous said...

I have to really agree with Jim on his comments. I do think as Christians, and in all of our roles, we need to EXAMINE ourselves. If the husband and wife would both lay down their SELF life and put God and the family as their priorities, it could be a beautiful thing. I don't think I will know in this life time, but that is okay. I know what it is like to know Jesus and that is enough.

You know on one of those school reunion sites they have Questions and Answers section on Life. One of the questions is about your dream vacation and what you would do if you won the lottery and had a huge amount of money. The answers from most of my classmates has sickened me. It really struck me how busy I am that I have missed out on how materialistic MOST people are today.

Here I am thinking that my children and I don't NEED that kind of money and that most of it would go to help my persecuted brethren in other countries. I would still want to work. I am a freak, I like working. I cannot imagine ever retiring. As for vacations, I could care the least about going on a vacation where I am pampered in an expensive land. Give me a tour of where Jesus and the disciples walked. Show me where persecuted brethren were imprisoned. Let me go serve helping in an orphanage. And let me go camping with my children. That is a dream vacation to me.

Stan, you may be a moron (LOL), but I am obviously a freak. I have so little in common with this country anymore. I did not realize how sad it was until seeing what the rest of my class is doing and thinking. They would all view my life as that of a loser. I am a loser, because I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!