Rocket's Gorgeous in the City

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Good Wife's Guide

Most of us think we know all about being a good wife and how horrible it is. We're not at all interested in submitting ourselves to our men in the way suggested by the (possibly not real) 1955 article.

If you haven't read the original, have a look at it - Snopes has an image of the article and the textbook quote at but if the URL ever goes dead, you will be able to dig it up by searching for "good wife's guide" on Google or whatever search engine you use.

Most people look at the Good Wife's Guide with horror. We think about how liberated we are and are disgusted and dismayed at the idea that our entire life is supposed to revolve around our husband's relaxation after his difficult day at his job thingy. Is this how Nanna lived? Collecting her husband's pipe and slippers, making sure the house was tidy, preparing a delicious meal a day ahead and generally thinking only of her duties and his desires? I'd rather work as a maid and return home as an equal than be indentured to a husband! And maybe I could be more - an engineer, a businesswoman, a doctor...

You know, re-reading this article, I think many women have missed the lessons to be learnt. My nanna never submitted to her husband for one second! And he was a VERY dominating man. She prepared the meals, sure, but Pa prepared the table and chairs they were eaten at, and never expected any of that pipe and slippers nonsense. So what made their relationship work? What can I learn from Nanna while keeping my self respect in the age of the married professional woman?

Here follows the Good Wife's Guide 50-year retrospective. It's been rephrased and reworked for a modern woman as a tool of good rather than evil, as a method of flattery rather than of submission... and I hope it's done again in another 50 years, reflecting new uses of language and developments in psychology

*The only way to change your relationships is by changing yourself. You can't possibly change the other person, although you can certainly give him the example that may inspire him to change. The Good Wife's 50-year retrospective focuses on things you can do that your husband will respond to... show him what a great wife you are, and encourage him to be an equally great husband.

*After a hard day's work, you and your husband will want a good dinner. Rather than each of you picking away uncertain of what you'll eat, you should encourage a routine of eating a healthy and delicious meal together. If you plan in advance, you or your husband can start cooking straight away, then you'll be able to look forward to enjoying the dinnertime as a couple. Taking responsiblity for the cooking when you are able, or for arranging a take-away meal when you're both busy is a great way to keep your husband on track with this routine. It's also good fun.

*Putting effort into your appearance encourages your husband to feel good about seeing you.

*Put on a happy face for each other. If you keep bringing joy into his life, he'll be happier when he's around you.

*Make an effort to keep your environment pretty. If are first to arrive home, then spend a few minutes clearing the clutter. If you're both professionals who work all day, you must get a cleaner to wipe and dust. Make the bed first thing in the morning, and generally make an effort to pick things up. A clean house isn't going to make your life better, but a messy house just makes you both feel bad - and it's certainly not worth fighting over!

*When it's winter, a cosy spot makes it all worthwhile. It makes home feel like a retreat. You can snuggle up with a hot water bottle or blanket, but nothing beats a fire and a beanbag. The most practical and enjoyable heaters are natural gas ones that look like they burn real wood. The best ones are so real your friends will ask how you get it open and where you keep your wood-pile.

*If you've got children, try to pretty them up for arrivals and departures. Have them wash before and after meals or have a no dirty clothes at the dinner table rule. Untidy children are a fact of life, but you shouldn't encourage it! Everyone likes cute, well presented children.

*Washing machines and all manner of noisy household items are a fact of life, but when you're having family relaxing time, they shouldn't be on. Put them on during the day when you're all at work or even at night after dinner when you've got a video on.

*However stressful the events in your own life, you'll always get a better response from your husband if he thinks of you as that wonderful woman who makes him happy. So don't make a habit of crying over your husband every time you see him - instead think about how glad you are to see him. Also try to remember that he's often more interested in his own problems than yours, just as you're more interested in your problems than his... so be patient with him, let him talk first, and be good company, then he'll be so much more relaxed and have more energy for you and those horrible people and how they treated you!

*Sometimes your husband doesn't want to be with you. He might be working or he might be out having a social evening with friends. If his family life and home are enjoyable and supportive, then you've nothing to worry about. Indeed, you should probably enjoy your own time at activities your husband isn't into, and get to know your friends as an individual.

*Your home is your castle, your cave, your temple. It should feel safe, happy, fulfilling. It should be a place of calm and joy.

*If your husband is acting strangely, don't attack him for it. He's probably already feeling really crappy and if he's not sharing, he probably wants to feel safe and secure.

*There's nothing like getting spoilt! To spoil your husband, give him a chair or a lie-down, a drink, take off his shoes... and he'll just melt!

*Questioning your husband on his actions is still a bad idea, even though he isn't considered master of the house any more. Instead, you should discuss the way you want your life to be and make sure you agree on your core values. If he is out of line with the agreed policy, you'll have much more success with sympathy and forgiveness than you will with criticism and condemnation.

*A good wife knows when to back off from a fight. Domestic arguments only produce losers, never winners. If you want something and he disagrees, don't argue about it, but rather respect him if he has a good reason to disagree or if he's just being argumentative, ask nicely later, outside the context of the argument.


  • At 10:52 PM, Blogger raw food diet dude said…

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  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger shrover said…

    Spam just gets better and better!

    From 18-~23 I was the perfect SNAG. After a while I realised it was getting me any sex, which was the main goal. But some of it stayed with me, and throughout my relationship I've been the cooker and the cleaner (my partner does other stuff). Yet I still hear about the husbands of my partner's friends who do fuck all round the house. I don't know which is worse, that there are men - not much older than me - who are like that or that their partners put up with it. It really mystifies me. If both partners are working, I mean WTF? You have to share tasks. I suspect it makes a relationship stronger anyway, more of a partnership. Maybe it really is a generational think, Gen X was the first lot of males to really emotionally develop in a post-feminist environment, maybe we've taken some of it on board; older males are still stuck with the old paradigm.

    (yay! got to use the word paradigm!).

  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Rocket said…

    Aw Shrover, I knew you'd be that sort of sweetiepie.

    There are plenty of guys around our age (well I'm younger than you, but anyway...) who are total rednecks. But its always nice to see people thinking about the ethical points in their relationships.

    Hell if I care - be a dominatrix (polish my shoes or I'll whip you, bitch) if it works for you and your partner! But it's so weird that nobody talks about this stuff, other than the usual reaction-talk.

  • At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahh..what about giving him a blowjob and cooking him a nice meal ?

    it's kinda like what 1000 battered women all have in common tonight..?

    They just didn't FUCKING LISTEN !!


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