I finally had a chance to start learning about the things my husband shouldn’t be doing in regards to our home and relationship based on some 1913 wisdom. Don’ts for Husbands, Don’ts for Wives is broken down into many helpful categories, with the men’s section including such pertinent topics as Personal Relations, Hints on Finance and, the always important, Food.
I have been focusing on the initial General Habits section and some of my favorite nuggets of advice so far include:
- Don’t slouch. No one who cares for a man likes to see him acquire a slouching habit.
- Don’t delegate the carving to your wife on the plea that you “can’t” carve. You should be ashamed to own that you can’t do a little thing like that as well as a woman can. It is just laziness on your part. Besides, a man ought to take the head of his own table.
- Don’t refuse to get up and investigate in the night if your wife hears an unusual noise, or fancies she smells fire or escaping gas. She will be afraid of shaming you by getting up herself, and will lie awake working herself into a fever. This may be illogical, but it’s true.
Luckily, my husband seems to live up to these “ideals.” He stands up straight, carves our turkey at Thanksgiving and would get up at night to look around if I asked him to — hopefully not because he thinks I am illogical! While reading this first section I found myself doing a lot of laughing. Some of the tips are more appalling than others, but the majority are ridiculously outdated.
Although I certainly agree that a husband should not leave his cigarette ash all over the drawing room carpet. Blanche Ebbutt really had a tip that could apply for decades with that one. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t smoke, so it is not something I need to be concerned about.
Thanks to Ms. Ebbutt, 144 pages of amazing insights lie ahead.
9. The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
So here we are, at “The Goal.” It’s about time I wrapped up my 1954 “Good Housewife Challenge.” Let’s see how I measured up against the “tips” that inspired me to start this blog:
Tip #1: Have dinner ready. While I don’t make dinner often, I got a gold star out of sheer luck (and a little hard work).
Tip #2: Prepare yourself. I didn’t “measure up” to this one, but I’m betting Jazzercise is better for me and him than putting a ribbon in my hair.
Tip #3: Clear away the clutter. I’ve managed to tackle this one fairly well.
Tip #4: Prepare the children. The closest thing we’ve got to children are always well prepared and quiet (if sometimes irascible).
Tip #5: Minimize all noise. I’m a master at this one since I’m rarely home when he gets home!
Tip #6: Some don’ts. Yeah … this one ain’t happening. I’m not moving to Stepford!
Tip #7: Listen to him. This one I do to the extent he’s willing to talk — then he’s got to listen to me!
Tip #8: Make the evening his. Since his perfect evening is home with me, I’ve got no problem mastering this one.
Looking back over those eight posts, I can see that I may not stack up well against the 1954 standard of a good housewife. But I think that just shows how much we’ve evolved since then. Besides, I would wager two bits that my husband is just as happy that I don’t measure up to a 1954 housewife as I am. Instead of fretting about the ways in which I don’t make the 1950’s grade (e.g., Tip 6 with it’s soothing voices and shoe removal…), I thought I would start a list of what makes a good spouse (not wife) in this millennium:
• Be flexible — If someone usually makes dinner and someone else usually does dishes that’s great, but there will nights where one person does both or where the roles are reversed. Go with it. I’m learning to handle this one better.
• Be a “looker” — I don’t mean this in terms of physical appearance. I am frequently asked to look for my husband’s house keys, nail clippers, etc. But quickly getting back to “be flexible,” he’s been helping me find a bunch of misplaced things recently…
• Be supportive — Whether it is about work, home, family or thinking you look fat in a certain pair of pants, a good partner should be ready to listen and, when you are ready to hear them, offer suggestions about how to deal with the problem. Except when you think you look fat in your pants, then there is no helpful suggestion, only “no you don’t – you look great!” is necessary.
• Talk. All the time. About everything. Communicating is key and habitual. If you don’t talk about the mundane, you probably won’t talk about the important stuff either.
• Have fun together. Whether sharing time together while completing a tedious task (like cleaning the bathroom) or going on a traveling adventure (out of the country or just down the street), laughing together is going to create better memories than not.
With only three years of married life behind me, I am sure there is much more to learn and add to this list. But I can guarantee that my list will never include removing my husband’s shoes and making sure that the children stay quiet so he isn’t disturbed after his hard day at work. There’s so many better ways of being a good spouse.
6. Some things not to do: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.
I’ll be honest, I am lacking quite a lot when it comes to #6.
Work from home means that the amount of verbal interaction I have with people each day is lacking. So when my husband arrives home, I basically attack him with a verbal onslaught of the excitement or challenges I have faced that day. Like how I got a new lipstick for 12 cents thanks to a major sale combined with a super coupon. Or promising news about a new client. Or how difficult the woman at the post office was (not that this is news). Needless to say, I tend to ramble on — I am sure he wants to know what I had for lunch and that I took out the recycling, right?
It is not only on this first component that I fail miserably. I can say with certainty that I have never told my husband he should go lie down when he came home from work, although I do often suggest he take his shoes off. But, I expect him to take on that daunting task all by himself. Especially after accidentally smelling his slippers the other day…
I’ve never really paid much attention to the voice I use, but I think it is just my regular voice, which is not probably not low, soft, soothing and pleasant.
All in all, I am terrified by Tip 6. It’s like a Stepford wife, all wrapped up into one small paragraph. I am definitely not going to be “improving” myself to be better at this one.