Modern Good Wife’s Guide

the-good-wife-coverLet’s face it: being a “good wife” isn’t the easiest thing nowadays. Balancing work, motherhood, social obligations, and (gasp!) personal time is hard enough, without having to worry about living up to the expectations of what it takes to be the better half of a marriage.

So when the editors at GRAVITAS stumbled across an old issue of Good Housekeeping, we got a kick out of one of the article: “The Good Wife’s Guide,” a well-intentioned little list of tips and tricks any homemaker could employ to keep her husband content. Needless to say, since this article was published in 1955, a lot’s changed. Still, it means well, and even though some of these tips seem a little… bizarre by today’s standards, there are still a handful that have endured the test of time (kind of).

We decided to take a swing at updating the advise for a 2016 gal. For an appropriately modern twist, we gave it to one our male editors to get his take on these kernels of wisdom. Our big takeaway after pouring over this blast from the past? Kindness and respect is thankfully a two-way street, now.


 

Then

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 come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Now

While falling back on Chinese takeout works wonders, it doesn’t do a lot for intimacy during the workweek. Try to plan (at least) one night a week where the two of you team up in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be anything special—an easy go-to meal is just fine—but taking a little time out of your busy schedules to whip up an easy pot of pasta can provide a welcome sense of decompression. Throw in an extra touch, like candles or linen napkins, to make the whole affair a little more festive.

Then

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.

Now

Meetings, travel, carpools, conference calls, dry cleaning, groceries—it’s easy to get knocked out by the end of the day. But it’s so important to make some “you time,” and 15 minutes is a great place to start. Take a few deep breaths. Meditate. Take a stroll, even if it’s just around the block. Find a quiet place to get away while you gather your thoughts. A mini-vacation during the day can work wonders (absently scrolling Facebook doesn’t count).

Then

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.

Now 

If you’ve had a lousy day, lose the veneer and be yourself. The best couples make time to share in each other’s highs and lows, but they also know how to find strength in each other Pour a cocktail before dinner, and chat for a few minutes. Voice your stressors, and listen to his, too. It doesn’t take long to get back on the same page and exchange some levity.

Then

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

Now

Unless you have a professional maid service coming to your home every week, there is bound to be clutter (especially if you have kids). But that’s okay—team up to get some organizing done during the weekend, and you’ll be good to go. Just remember—you don’t do windows.

Then

Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables.

Now

Designate one space or room in your home that’s just for the kids to do homework, play with toys, and store those odds and ends. Keeping it all focused in one space can save a whole lot of cleanup time in the long run.

Then

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.

Now

With everyone moving on different schedules, having kids and parents together at the same time can be a rare joy. Try to plan one family night together: go out to a favorite restaurant, sit down with a board game, or just watch a movie.

Then

Be happy to see him.

Now

Be happy to see him. There’s no greater joy than coming home after a long day at work and being with the one you love the most.

Then

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Now

Small physical gestures go a long way toward reconnecting. Give him a hug, a peck on the cheek, a slap on the butt, whatever. Innocent physical contact is good stuff.

Then

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.

Now

You both have important things to say to each other, and sometimes, it’s easy to just let it all flood out the moment you both arrive home. But take a step back: there’s nothing worse (for either of you) than walking through the door and being bombarded by all the news of the day. Unless it’s pressing, save it until after you’ve taken a moment to reconnect and mellow for a moment.

Then

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Now

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems—and expect the same treatment from him.

Then

Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes homes late 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.

Now

Men have their pastimes—18 holes on the golf course, networking with the boss, hanging out with the guys—and that’s okay. Women should do the same, and carve out time in their schedules to invest in themselves, personally and professionally. It’s all about finding a balance and not letting it mess with your own life balances.

Then

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Now

Communication is the key to a happy relationship. If he’s going to come through the door at 3am, he’d better pick up the phone and let you know beforehand. Unless he wants to sleep in the car. That’s cool, too. Because, you know, more bed.

Then

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Now

Inside voices are cool. But sometimes, you don’t want to be quiet. This summer, arrange some playtime: meet at the park after work, and bring a Frisbee, some wine, and some pre-dinner picnic snacks. Keep it fun, and recharge a little.

Then

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.

Now

Your goal: Do your part to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where you both can renew yourselves in body and spirit.

Then

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Now

Make your couch amazing. Lots of pillows. A place where either of you can crash out for a second when you come home. Think to yourself: is this a couch where we could binge five episodes of House of Cards? Bonus points for a cold pitcher of something in the fridge.

Then

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.

Now

A great marriage is a two-way street, and is based on mutual trust, respect, and communication. If he’s the king of the house, then you are most certainly the queen, and have every right to put down your two cents (but yeah, fine—he can have his mancave).

Then

A good wife always knows her place.


Now-good-husband-headline

 

 

 

By Austin Holt

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