Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Good Wife

I received an email from a good friend. It was supposedly an article from Good Housekeeping Magazine from 1955 entitled "The Good Wife's Guide." While of questionable origin, it is interesting to reflect on. It was comprised of 18 bullet points, the main gist of each one being how to treat your man to keep him happy. We've come a long way since 1955. Some of those changes have been good, but in my opinion, not all.

GOOD CHANGES I almost have to laugh reading bullet #18, "A good wife always knows her place." Are we pack animals? I come in right after Larry? I could make some semi-nasty comments on "position," but I'll refrain here. My grandma used to say that the man is the head of the household, but his wife is the neck, and the neck turns the head. It's by no means an original, but leads me to believe that even in 1955, women had different ideas about their place.

Bullet #17: "Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him." Hello? I guess I'd be raving mad at this one also were I not busting a seam from laughter. When Larry was going back and forth with the grad school question, he always wanted my opinion. I never felt it was my place to give one because I was not the one having to attend school and do the work, and it was determining his profession, not mine. From Larry's point of view, although he is the one working, he's doing it on behalf of us as a couple and a family, and therefore didn't feel right about making that major a decision with out my input and mutual agreement. We have indeed come a long way.

UNFORTUNATE CHANGES If this were slightly altered, the same article could be called "The Good Spouse," and the information would be invaluable. I suppose it could be argued that it is precisely because if the one-sidedness of the suggestions that the article is shameful. I could see that point. I think as a society however, many of us try to drop the expectation on wives rather than extend it to husbands.

The end of bullet #6 reads, "After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction." Someone (not, I believe, my friend) had incredulously underlined this statement. But it is true. And unless you have married a total jerk, catering to his needs with be rewarded by his catering to yours. That, my friends, is the basis of a good marriage. If I do all I can to take good care of Larry and he does all he can to take good care of me, both of our needs are then met in a very unselfish, giving way.

Bullet #3 reads, "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." Guess what, my day needs a lift, too. If I am fun and interesting, Larry will be, too. I've heard it said that people who are bored are people who are boring. There is a lot of truth to that. I married my best friend for, among other reasons, companionship. If I am a lousy companion, what was the point?

Bullet #12: "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 spirit." Wow. That should be the goal for the benefit of us all! Easy to manage? Uh--no. But a good goal none the less.

Bullet #8: "Be happy to see him." Do I even need to say "duh?"

I am sad that our world becomes increasingly unconcerned with manners and respect, with kindness and selflessness. I think of an extreme case of a miserable person I know who feels that he is never shown enough love. But it's because he doesn't know how to show love himself. He only looks at what he thinks he's not getting, never at what he's not giving. It's a pitiful situation. Many of us, I'm sure all of us at times, could do wonders to increase our happiness by looking outside of ourselves and giving more. The Savior said that those who lose themselves for his sake would find themselves. I think that general sentiment applies to Christians and non-Christians alike. There is great satisfaction to be had in being a good wife, husband, mother, father, friend, child, citizen of the world.

2 fishy comments:

Jenn said...

I've seen the aforementioned "article" (the first time was when a psych professor handed out copies in 2000, and we had a good giggle about it). While it's style is offensive (and I'm not fully convinced, not "invented" to be so), I can definitely see your point. I think we'd ALL be happier if we ALL took better care of one another and were less selfish. :0)

Annette Lyon said...

If it's the one I'm thinking of, I saw it too. The one the killed me was making sure you put a fresh ribbon in your hair before he came home.

But there are some good points we forget, like the ones you mentioned.