The “Good” Wife’s Guide

Fifty years ago the relationship between men and women was vastly different, especially if "The Good Wife's Guide" from the 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly bares any truth. In the interest of fairness, we decided to come up with a few modern additions, though all we're really sure of is that men have no business writing for a women's magazine.

“The Good Wife's Guide” was originally circulated as a fax, and then became a widespread email which lists 18 bullet points that all “good wives” should keep in mind when preparing the house for the husband's return home from work.

The list was supposedly first published in the May 13th 1955 issue of “Housekeeping Monthly.” Although the validity of the article has been questioned, it does serve as a reference of how our view of women has changed, and a gauge for further improvement towards our significant others.

The original Good Wife\'s Guide

As originally printed:

  • 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. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.
  • Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables.
  • 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 to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), 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. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • 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 than yours.
  • Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home later 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him 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, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.

Thankfully for men (but especially women) we've moved past these archaic practices and into an era where women are appreciated for much more than what they can bring to the dinner table.

Though times have changed, we men still carry around some bad habits that, to some, come naturally with our behavior towards women.

In the spirit of “The Good Wife's Guide” here are Primer's very own modern amendments, “The Good Man's Guide.”

The Good Man's Guide

  • Her life is just as important as yours. I know that after a long day at work/school/the bar all you want to do is come home and complain about your coworker/hungover classmate/drunk, but you have to keep in mind that she's had a rough day too. Don't gloss over when she's trying to tell you about the things that are bothering her.
  • Cleaning is your job, too. One of the hardest habits to break for many is the idea of traditional gender roles, i.e. a woman's place is barefoot and pregnant cooking dinner whilst running the vacuum. Admittedly, that example is a little (or a lot) extreme, but many men find themselves on the couch watching TV after dinner instead of helping their significant other clean up after dinner or even just doing regular household chores like cleaning the bathroom.
  • She doesn't always want sex. Unless you're a very lucky guy, chances are your lady friend does not want sex as often as you. Her job in life is not to please you, so keep that in mind at night.
  • Don't greet her with complaints and problems. The first thing she wants to hear when you walk in the door is not how much you hate your life. Coming home with something positive to talk about, or even just listening for a while until you unwind, is a good way to set the tone for the evening.
  • Don't expect her to be responsible for dinner. If your girl is the one who always takes care of dinner, it will likely be a nice relief some nights if she comes home to a ready meal. Try to take care of dinner an equal amount in the week, even if it's nothing fancy. If cooking isn't your strong suit, let her know that you'll be taking care of dinner for the night by grabbing some takeout. Afterwards, clean up the dishes and tell her to relax. Doing this should also set the tone for a peaceful evening.
  • Don't question her judgment. Sometimes when a girl is complaining, she just wants to get something off her chest and move on. For the most part, it's better to take her side instead of questioning her reasons for being pissed. Even if you think she's completely wrong, there are certain times that you have to know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Be honest. If something is bothering you about her, your day, or anything in general, don't let it build up inside.  This is a good way to avoid having major fights when there doesn't need to be one. The longer you let something bother you, the more likely you are to let something little trigger a huge fight when there shouldn't have been one in the first place.
  • The golden rule. Do unto her, as you would have her do unto you. Simple enough, and always a good rule to keep in mind.

It may seem like the guidelines I've pointed out in “The Good Man's Guide” are simple and easy to follow, but it's just as easy to get out of practice and have a good relationship go bad. One final thought to keep in mind is this:

A good man always knows his place.

AC Burke

AC currently lives in New Jersey.