Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Feelin' Fifty

1950's, that is. I'm sure you've all seen this by now. It's been floating around cyberspace for quite a few years. It's the "How To Be A Good Wife" checklist from Good Housekeeping from the 1950's. And for some reason, as I was drying my hair just now and decided, oddly, to spritz a little perfume on because Mr. Chick likes it, it popped into my mind.

So I did a quick search and found it. Upon review, I realized that I'm sort of a throwback. While I don't do all the things on that list, I do some version of more than a few of them.

Suggestion 1: Have Dinner Ready. Umm, not every night, but more nights than not. It's usually nothing fancy (like never) but usually I take the lead on dinner around here and at least have something started when he comes home. Even if it's defrosting or even left-overs. Like I said, nothing fancy. And really, I'm a decent cook, but Mr. Chick is often times better at it than I am. Score: 1950's.

Suggestion 2: Prepare Yourself. This can be interpreted many ways, if you thing about it. But the whole "make yourself nice for him" is totally what I was doing just now that made me think about this whole 1950's list in the first place. But normally? I don't worry so much about this. I don't "fix myself up" just before he comes in 99% of the time. Score: 2006.

Suggestion 3: Clear Away The Clutter. Ok, I do this most days. I like the house to be tidied up before Mr. Chick comes home. It's just nicer and calmer that way. Right around 5pm I go through the "public" parts of the house and do a quick pick-up so it's cleaner when he gets home. Score: 1950's

Suggestion 4: Prepare the Children. Um, no. He's gets 'em as they come. Score: 2006

Suggestion 5: Minimize the Noise. I go 50/50 on this. Somedays yes, somedays no. Oftentimes the "noise" of the washing machine or the vacuum can be heard when he comes home, but how else will he know that I've worked that day?? (kidding!) But I DO greet him at the door with a smile and a "I'm happy to see you!" most days. Score: neither.

Suggestion 6: Some Don'ts: I usually don't do these things. Or at least I try not to. Score: 1950's

Suggestion 7: Make Him Comfortable. Yeah, no. He's pretty much capable of fluffing his own damn pillow and fetching his own drink (although I've been known to offer...), thankyouverymuch. Score: 2006

Suggestion 8: Listen To Him. I do this. I talk plenty, trust me, but I work hard at inquiring about his day and listening and paying attention to what he says. He needs to vent, too, and once I get started sometimes it's hard for me to stop. So better to let him get his words in edgewise first. Score: 1950's

Suggestion 9: Make the Evening His: Complain about not being taken out? The notion of spontaneously going out to dinner or someplace of "entertainment" is so far out of my sphere of reality that it doesn't occur to me to complain about this. If I want to go out, I make the plans. Score: 1950's

Suggestion 10: The Goal - try to make your home a place of peace and order and a place where your husband can relax. That's my goal, too, most days. But not just for his sake, for all of ours. Score: 1950's.

Final Score: 1950's: 6 2006: 3 Tie: 1. So what does that say? I guess I AM a throw-back traditionalist wife. A true SAHM, I suppose. I put my family first. I take pride in being Mr. Chick's wife and want to honor that by showing my respect. I take care of the kids, the house, and many of the details of life that come our way. I take care of myself, and by extension, him. (especially on mornings like this morning when I woke him up a little early in order to, um, tickle the pickle and get the morning off on the right foot. It worked. Duh!) Sure, we have our moments of contention and annoyance - I'm no Pollyanna - but for the most part we have a happy division of labor and our priorities in order. Do I feel oppressed and like a 2nd class citizen because of my role? Not in the slightest. I am college-educated and have made the CHOICE to have the lifestyle I do. I think my marriage and family are better for it. It was the right choice for me/us. Everyone has to make those choices for themselves and their family - I"m not trying to make sweeping statements that my way is the right way for all. But it's right for me. Do I have days when I LONG for a "real" job outside the home if for no other reason than to escape the relentlessness of staying home with 2 young kids? Are you high? Of COURSE I do. I'm normal. But in the grand scheme of things, this works for me.

I think in many ways the suggestions from the 1950's are sound. Sure, the language is outdated and even slightly offensive to today's more enlightened woman, but the root core of what is being said remains true. Men don't usually become unhappy in their marriages and tempted by other women if they're made to feel honored, loved and respected at home. If a man feels important and needed by his wife he's less likely to become unsatisfied. And it goes both ways. That's the lesson of more recent decades. A wife, too, needs to be honored and respected by her husband. It is NOT a one-way street. If two people go into a marriage with this kind of attitude and devotion I'm convinced there would be fewer divorces.

Do you suppose the housewives of the 1950s used the expression "tickle the pickle"??? Tee hee hee
I totally agree with you on this. I was raised in the South, where it is an accepted thing for women to teach their daughters "how to be married." But, at the same time, fathers teach their sons "to be men": no hitting girls, know how to work the grill, help with the dishes, and always tell your wife/mom how pretty she looks and how good supper is, etc. Relationships between men and women are based on respect and trust, and we should all realize that men need to be needed and women need to be wanted. And hey, retro is trendy.
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