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Just for entertainment purposes, thought I'd share a gem I found while surfing. From Housekeeping Monthly, May 13, 1955, I present...

The Good Wife's Guide

1. 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 you've been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in you hair and be fresh-looking.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and it's one of your duties to provide it.

4. Over the cooler months of the year you should 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.

5. 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 of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

6. Be happy to see him.

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

8. 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. Remember, his topics of converstion are more important than yours.

9. 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.

10. 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 soul.

11. Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

12. 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.

13. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie down. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

14. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

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

16. A good wife always knows her place.


Comments?
winkgrin
Original Post

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Remember the scene in "Fried Green Tomatoes" where the not-quite-svelte woman had read something like Mirabelle Morgan's "The Total Woman" and decided to greet her husband at the door dressed in Saran Wrap? She wore an entire opaque evening gown made out of about twenty boxes of Saran Wrap, complete with giant bow in front. He, of course, was horrified. The audience was laughing and grateful as well.

Ah, yes, the Fifties. Wouldn't we all like to go back there?

But here's a question: what would happen if both people in a marriage treated each other like this?
Melesi,
I agree that both people in a relationship should be kind and considerate of each other.
I disagree with this particular prescription for marital bliss b/c it seems to relegate the feminine role to "helper/assistant" rather than equal partner. Perhaps this set-up was ideal at one point in white america, but it does not work now and it never worked for african american families. Especially considering today's economy requires both partners to be "breadwinners". The rigid role requirement in this piece is, in a word, F'd up.

Did this EVER apply to African America?
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Did this EVER apply to African America?


I believe in some families it did. My Mom did not work and she was not a "stay at home Mom", she was a "homemaker". Dinner was on our table at 5pm every night and my dad had a hot breakfast every morning. His word was law and unquestioned and when he said jump we all asked "how high", including Mom. Of course, he was a sober, hard working deacon of the church who brought his paycheck home, didn't gamble, run the streets, hang out with the fellas, or chase other women.
quote:
Originally posted by Nykkii:
quote negrospiritual:
"...rather than equal partner."

is there such a thing as an "equal partner" in marriage? what happens when both parites EQUALLY see things differently, and a decision has to be made...

can there be total equality inside a marriage?

red
BLACK
green



This is when you have to comprimise and during times when this doesn't work you may need to bring in a neutral third party. This isn't a perfect solution but it's better than having one party feel as if h/she is a subordinate to the other. At time comprimising can be extremely difficult and when it can be reached that when a couple really feel like partners and when comprimise can not be reached it can be a big strain on a relationship.

Just my two pennies
original post of 1955 guidelines...my secretary showed me those, and we just laughed..she is also Black, as well as my boss. She enjoyed a laugh too.

Nykkii, in response to your question"

is there such a thing as an "equal partner" in marriage? what happens when both parites EQUALLY see things differently, and a decision has to be made...

can there be total equality inside a marriage?

I agree with Obvious_1, there has to be compromise. You can't always bring a third party, for me, I wouldn't do unless it was a very serious matter, i.e., finances. The way I look at it, how important is the issue? There will be plenty of times for me to "win", life is not a sprint, it's a marathon...
Hi Isistah, Nykki

let me try to clarify what I mean by equal partner. Not necessarily always making 50% of the decisions but acknowledging that what each partner brings to the relationship is equally valuable. recognizing that he needs her and she needs him to succeed...

I have a hard time believing this "june cleaver" prescription for marital bliss existed in the black family since black women have always worked outside the home since, err, cotton picking, cook, and wetnurse days...

Did black w omen really fit in that June cleaver role? If she was working as a domestic all day when did she get a chance to "freshen up, tie a ribbon in her hair, and quiet the kids"?

i'm just askin
I agree with negorspiritual. "Equality" is often misunderstood to be "identity." This I think was a big mistake in the early feminist movement of the 1970s, the kind of mistake that didn't lead to feminine freedom--which was largely needed in America--but rather to women deciding that they were better than men so they could act just like them, and as a result they weren't "better" at all. What was the expression, "women imitating men behaving badly"?

It just doesn't work to try to get men and women being identical. We simply are not, and I'm rather glad for that.

What we are is equal. That is, I have to think of women, and especially the woman in my life, as just as important as I am. In fact, I have to think of her first. I think of myself plenty, there's no avoiding that human characteristic. Thinking of her first and most means that I generally balance my concentration by putting her in my life as much as I am.

Which means that I have to let her use her strengths in our relating to balance my weaknesses (and the first trick is to recognize my weaknesses). That can be very inconvenient and sometimes frustrating because we do things so differently. I drive the main roads, she drives the back roads. I'm a saver, she's a spender. She's details, I'm...not. I like a story, and she likes to get to the punch line and get on with things. I plant roses, she weeds. I'm flexible, she's controlling. I'm happy, she's easily frustrated.

We are so different, but she's just as important as I am. I need her different perspective to keep me from making too many mistakes based on my blindnesses. I just don't see some things, and she does. She's so perceptive abotu people that when she states soemthing about someone, she's usually right. I may not have seen it, but she's normally on target.

My strengths tend to help her be more flexible and trusting. I'm optimistic and she's not, and I'm usually right about something working out. I'm the goat to her race horse, I guess, slowing her down so she doesn't go spinning off in worry. Sometimes that's frustrating because I don't see the need for her reaction, but there it is. Is she important enough for me not to blame or try to change her but to help her as I know she needs and will receive it even if it means my forsaking some want or desire in order for her to have what she needs?

It's this kind of equality that a relationship has to have in it. We'll never be identical, but we are equal and important enough that we find out how the other ticks and use what we know to do the other good.

And I think it works for anyone, working or not.

Would it be fun to be treated this way? Sure it would be, but frankly, I'm afraid of what I might become if I were. Selfishness is so easy to claim as a "right" that we will do so very easily, even though we've known for centuries that "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:


I have a hard time believing this "june cleaver" prescription for marital bliss existed in the black family since black women have always worked outside the home since, err, cotton picking, cook, and wetnurse days...



I think you're buying into a stereotype NS. My mother never worked after her marriage. Her married sisters didn't work, and many of my friends mothers didn't work. They didn't work part-time; they didn't do daycare (except maybe their own grandbabies). They were housewives and homemakers who were active in the church, the community, and the PTA. And we were not rich either.
I didn't know if any women followed the formula in the article, but I believe women like my mother and aunts made their contribution to the family and the marriage without punching a clock. They brought their share to the table and were not subordinate to their husbands. Dad might have been the master of the house, but Mom's word was law. She ruled. They were married 54 years.
Hi Isistah,

it's this part that makes me think that June cleaver bit was not for our foremothers...although many, like your mom, did not work outside the home...there was a different power dynamic between them, don't u think? Show me how I'm buying into a stereotype?


"They brought their share to the table and were not subordinate to their husbands. Dad might have been the master of the house, but Mom's word was law. She ruled. They were married 54 years."
From Isistah:

A question for the guys:

Do you still want that kind of treatment? At least, to an extent? Be honest.

First, I believe Melesi stated it very well, similar to a post I had on a different thread. Both partners are equal but bring different strengths to the "table." The strengths compliment each other to make a strong bond, relationship.

I grew up in a home where my parents worked, so June Cleaver was a tv show. None of my friends had mothers that stayed at home so that show was a fantasy for me. Since both worked, they shared in the home responsibilities. And since there were no girls in my family, I learned what it took to take of the home...cooking, cleaning etc. In fact, my father was the primary cook. There were no gender roles so to speak. I can't imagine being married to a "June Cleaver", it doesn't fit my life experience...therefore, I can't imagine having that as home life.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by negrospiritual:
Hi Isistah,

it's this part that makes me think that June cleaver bit was not for our foremothers...although many, like your mom, did not work outside the home...there was a different power dynamic between them, don't u think? Show me how I'm buying into a stereotype?
[QUOTE]


I think the housewives of the past always wielded more power than we know. They couldn't have all been as subservient and slavelife as depicted in the article because I don't many women could have survived that kind of life. My best friends' mother didn't work, but I know that she controlled all the money in their household. No doubt because she was better at it. I'm not trying to say that there was total equality and the woman's movement wasn't needed, by any means ( I don't even know how I got into the position of defending stay-at-home-moms!), but I do feel that women who make their families their priorties deserve some respect. And I don't think it fair to make a blanket statement that black women have always worked outside the home or that we currently all work outside the home.
The "good wife" was that one in "Bridges of Madison County", when she didn't get out of that truck.

Marriage is a legal agreement/contract between man and wife. It takes love and work. Sometimes it works/sometimes it doesn't. Depends on the two people involved and how much they both can give and take with allllll the B.S. that gets up in the mix throughout the duration of their relationship, no matter how long it lasts, from 1 month to death. IMHO.
Isistah

I did not mean to imply that black housewives never existed in america, nor did i intend to place you in the position of having to defend "stay at home" moms...

the article was from 1955's Housekeeping Monthly. Aside from it being an amusing bit of nostalgia, it is clearly written with white women in mind, don't u think? Furthermore, it is the role (subservient to hubby), not the specific tasks i'm taking issue with.

also, when i say "black women have always worked outside the home", i'm making a generalization about a historical phenomenon.

generally white women, en masse, did not work outside the home until the "rosie the riveter" phase during WWII. secretary, teacher, and nurse occupations may have existed for them, but weren't these even reserved for single white women or spinster types, not married women? Women's Rights/Equality got a major boost when GI's returned from Europe and wanted Betty Sue back in the kitchen, not clocking in at the factory anymore...and Betty Sue, accustomed to a weekly paycheck, said "Hell No, Biff, here's a TV dinner!"

generally, black women, en masse, have been expected to work and contribute financially since the first africans set foot on these shores. Even if she did not work "in white women's kitchens", she may have taken in laundry, or been a seamstress, midwife,etc to be a financial contributor in her home. Many times a black woman could get work as a domestic when jim crow prevented her husband from being able to gain any sustainable employment. Yes, many black women have been homemakers. I applaud those sisters. I was not attempting to denigrate the role of African-American housewife. I was merely trying to question where the different power dynamic in white marriages and black marriages may have come from since the early 1900's.

You do agree there is a different power dynamic, right?

You do agree that black women (historically) have not subscribed to the "place a ribbon in your hair and look dainty for him when he comes in and don't impose on him too much and he's the center of the universe so know your role" philosophy, don't u?

thanks for posting the article, Isistah. It's great fodder for analysis Smile
DANG Melesi! this is profound! I never thought about subservience's effect on men. I always viewed it from a female/loss of power perspective...

"Would it be fun to be treated this way? Sure it would be, but frankly, I'm afraid of what I might become if I were. Selfishness is so easy to claim as a "right" that we will do so very easily, even though we've known for centuries that "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:

the article was from 1955's Housekeeping Monthly. Aside from it being an amusing bit of nostalgia, it is clearly written with white women in mind, don't u think? Furthermore, it is the role (subservient to hubby), not the specific tasks i'm taking issue with.

On this point we are agreeing. As I said, I don't think women, black or white were as subservient as portrayed.

also, when i say "black women have always worked outside the home", i'm making a generalization about a historical phenomenon.

Even if she did not work "in white women's kitchens", she may have taken in laundry, or been a seamstress, midwife,etc to be a financial contributor in her home. Many times a black woman could get work as a domestic when jim crow prevented her husband from being able to gain any sustainable employment. Yes, many black women have been homemakers. I applaud those sisters. I was not attempting to denigrate the role of African-American housewife. I was merely trying to question where the different power dynamic in white marriages and black marriages may have come from since the early 1900's.

You do agree there is a different power dynamic, right?

I think that black families as a whole have always had to work harder, but then all poor people have to work harder. Living in an agrarian society before the Industrial Revolution required every family member to pitch in. I agree that women helped make ends meet and did whatever was necessary for the survival of the family. But whatever they were doing to help ends meet wasn't a "career". Their families still came first and the man was still the head of the household. If he died, or went to war, or was absent for some reason, then she took the reins. Or it might have been the oldest son. I'm not trying to discount any contributions made by black women, but I think we can't deny that men have been the head of the family going back to the cavemen and women as a group didn't leave the household until the women's movement. Even Rosie the Riveter went right back in the kitchen when the men came home.


You do agree that black women (historically) have not subscribed to the "place a ribbon in your hair and look dainty for him when he comes in and don't impose on him too much and he's the center of the universe so know your role" philosophy, don't u?

I don't think the average black woman had a ribbon to waste in her hair unless it was a special occasion. I know women today who think men are the center of the universe, but not quite in the same way. Wink

thanks for posting the article, Isistah. It's great fodder for analysis Smile
"...men have been the head of the family going back to the cavemen and women as a group didn't leave the household until the women's movement. Even Rosie the Riveter went right back in the kitchen when the men came home."

Black men were not allowed to be the heads of their families for 400 or so years...remember?

families were broken up and sold
black men were used as studs for breeding
black men were unable to protect wives from white men
black men were unable to stop their children from being sold...

black women in america have been used as work horses since stepping foot on american shores

the power dynamic in w hite relationships and black relationships cannot be lumped into one category under "poor people worked harder"
I thought we were talking about post slavery families as far as blacks were concerned. The article is from 1955, not 1855; and it didn't reference black or white wives. The cavemen statement was a reference to human beings, not blacks. I thought it was a womanist issue for all not women, not blacks alone.

I think at this point we will have to agree to disagree.

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