Tim born too late to benefit from 'Good Wife's Guide'

June 20, 2002

Editor's Note: Tim Rowland is on vacation. While he's away, favorite columns from the past will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays in The Morning Herald. This column first ran on Sept. 10, 2001.

I came along 40 years too late.

I say this because, thanks to Al Gore, who invented the Internet, I am looking at a page out of the May 13, 1955, issue of Housekeeping Monthly which carries a list of pointers for married women entitled "The Good Wife's Guide."

It contains 18 "helpful hints" for a good home and begins thusly:

  • "Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, 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."

    That is an amazingly good tip. Speaking at least from my perspective, food is a good tip in general. Men tend to forget all else when food makes an appearance, something all women should know. As a matter of fact, I believe at least 45 percent of all failed marriages could have been saved with a well-timed pack of Twinkies.

  • "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."

    A ribbon? What is she, a poodle? It was nice of them to give her that 15-minute recovery time after all that cooking. The modern-day concept of a power nap had nothing on Housekeeping Monthly.

  • "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."

    I'm starting to wonder what this guy does for a living, with all this boredom and bone-weary co-workers. Probably he's a newspaper columnist.

    I have to break with H.M. here on the gay and entertaining part. When I get home I just want to read a book or something. A simple "hello" is fine, I don't kneed a bloody cabaret. She starts doing a one-woman chorus line across the den, I could not be held accountable for my actions.

  • "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."

    Wow. Pity that so many women out there are so close to personal bliss and don't know it because they never knew all that it took to reach nirvana was becoming a slave. As for the fire, I hope every woman reading that piece 40 years ago had a fireplace.

  • "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 that yours."

    Right. The kids have the croup, they foreclosed on the car, you're pregnant with twins, the oven broke in the middle of his delicious dinner and the den burned down because of no fireplace, but you've got to put it all on hold to hear about his boring and work-weary day? Now that I think about it, I can't say I disagree. I'd have trouble concentrating, being too dumbstruck and all with that ribbon in her hair.

  • "Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late, or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. Try to understand his world of strain and pressure."

  • I wish someone understood my world of strain and pressure. That's all it is - strain-pressure, strain-pressure. It never lets up.

    Even if someone was sympathetic to my severe distress, it would do me no good.

    That is the difference between 1955 and now. In 1955, if she cleans, cooks, entertains, caters, acquiesces, fusses over you and thinks nothing for herself, it made a man feel good.

    Today it would just make him feel guilty.

    Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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