How Not to Read 1950’s Marital Advice

Housekeeping Monthly supposedly printed the “Good House Wife Guidelines” in their 1955 issue.

The guidelines are certainly controversial for today’s standards and ideas about what a woman, and a wife, should be and how she should behave. Nevertheless, last May I began a 1950’s experiment, which involved changing daily habits, routines and even wardrobe. (I went all in)

A month of 1950’s life-hacking drained me of physical energy, while it filled me with spiritual satisfaction and love. I’m glad is over though.

The “Good Housewife Guidelines” certainly worked as an inspiration. And after it’s all said and done, I do want to keep some of those principles in mind, not because I’m nuts, but as a way to “think” about my role as a wife, and focus on being aware of what I’m thinking and doing.

Regardless of how easy some (myself included) make it look, marriage takes work.

It can be draining and make you go against your nature and habits, every single day…but the fact is, that marriage, and being a wife (or husband) is another path to self-improvement, an actually a great remainder of the work you must to, daily, to be a better self.

One of the most controversial guideline rules for me was #18:

“A good wife always knows her place”.

Among all of the 1950’s rules on the “Good Housewife Guidelines”, this one might seem arbitrary and obnoxious, particularly because of:

  • The Adjective “Good”
  • The emphasis on “Wife”

Modern, contemporary wives must take the “Good Housewife Guidelines” with a grain of salt.

The “good” wife is the “always improving partner and team player”. A wife is never “good” or “bad”. She is a partner; effective, supportive and smart. Assessing her behavior should come from herself, not form external forces or perspectives.

It is difficult for the contemporary woman that I am not to find rule #18 offensive at first glance. However, I know there is a lot of wisdom to be taken from it. After a closer inspection, and mustering all of my 21st century sensibility, these are the nuggets of wisdom I came up with for myself.


1. There is such a thing as a “place” for the wife, and that place is beside her husband, as partner.

Indeed, I must “know” the role I play as a wife, it is not something that just happens, even when it comes naturally to people, there is more to being a “wife-partner” than meets the eye.

2. As a team player and partner, the wife’s “place” is one of support, objective-positive criticism and proactive contribution and participation.

3. The biggest fight will be against my human instincts to judge, question, categorize and criticize negatively. Putting the other person down with little comments and non-verbal messages, only works to weaken the circle of trust that must exist between partners. This trust strengthens the relationship, and makes the team-home a place to recharge with positive energy = unconditional love.

4. Knowledge is key. I must deepen my self-knowledge and knowledge of my husband-partner. Action: catch myself before I think, say or do something that goes against what I know is important to me or my partner, before feelings get hurt.

The “Good” or “Bad” adjective has no room in this discussion. Why?

  • Because implementing this duality in a marriage conversation does not help either party, and only works to reinforce take away #4.
  • Because a better approach to heal and rebuild the circle of trust and the team is to focus on constant improvement of all members-partners. This is achieved through: conscious awareness of our thoughts, feelings and words, sincere and empathetic apologies and a commitment to open-clear communication.

Final note: keep working of self-conscious awareness.

Being a wife and a partner is a work in progress and part of our life’s journey! Send me a tweet if you agree!



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