The Old Coot visits a foreign land

I discovered a foreign country with strange customs the other day.  It was introduced to me via a housewife’s guide that offered tips to new wives on how to treat their husbands. I’ll begin with the first two tips; it will get you started on an exploration of this foreign land. #1 Have dinner ready when he comes home from work. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready and on time. This lets him know you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. #2 – Take15 minutes to rest, so you’ll be refreshed looking; be a little gay. His workday has been long and boring, and he needs a lift; one of your duties is to provide it!

I bet I have your attention now. Where is this foreign land? It is mainstream America, circa 1955. That’s when this advice was written and included in many of the cookbooks that new wives received at a bridal shower, along with the tools of the trade: steam irons, rolling pins, aprons, brooms, dust pans, mixers, ironing boards and the like. But that just scratches the surface. How about this tip – Prepare the children (for his arrival). Wash their hands and faces, neaten up their clothes. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them play the part. Minimize all noise of the washer, dryer and vacuum, and keep the children quiet. (I guess not a treasure when they act up a little.)

Oh yes, this is a strange land, with strange customs. It’s no wonder the women’s movement struck such a chord in the early sixties. But still, it’s hard to fathom how it got off the ground, when you consider Tip #10. – When he arrives home, shut your yap! (I paraphrased that last part) Even if you have a dozen important things to tell him; let him talk first – Remember, his topics of conversation are more important that yours.  

But, that is nothing compared to Tip #11 – Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or 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 (when he gets there). (Strain? If he spent one day with the kids and the challenge of running a house his head would explode.) 

How about # 14? – Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. (I thought this one might have been a joke. But it wasn’t. It was dead serious.) Which is easy to understand when you consider the follow-up tip – Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment of 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 knows her place!

Women – if you are steaming at this point and want to wring my neck, remember, I didn’t create or endorse this advice. I’m just the messenger, making a connection between America today and America of 70 years ago. And you men – who are engaged to be married, no, I won’t provide the full list of housewife tips to you so you can slip them into your wedding vows. It wouldn’t do you any good. You’d never get an, “I do,” all you’d get is an, “I won’t!” And maybe a slap up side the head.  

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