Today I started the second part of my 50s Housewife Experiment, this time with an emphasis on making the man of the house happy and primed for success. I'll tell you how the day went later tonight or tomorrow morning, but first I'll share with you the 1950s-era advice that is guiding my week.
Based on my readings (which includes Mrs. Dale Carnegie's How To Help Your Husband Get Ahead, Hannah Lee's Help Your Husband Stay Alive!, The Bride' Reference Book and multiple magazine from the era), the following are ways a woman can ensure her husband's happiness:
- Makes meals to his tastes and schedule (I've been told the jello molds may be limited to one, and its presence is merely for comedic effect on the blog, not for his personal consumption)
- Ensures the home is clean, comfortable, welcoming and reflective of both the man and his wife
- Keeps up her darling 1950s housewife appearance
- Greets him with enthusiasm when he returns home from a day of work
- Uses her "emotional antennae" to guide her actions - a good wife knows the instant she kisses her husband if he's tired and needs to be left alone, if he is angry and needs to vent or if he's happy and appreciates affection
- Always shows appreciation for his efforts and encourages him as much as needed
- Listens to him attentively, but doesn't offer advice ("he doesn't desire it!"). I'm the Grand Poobah of unsolicited advice, so this will be challenging, to say the least.
- Does not burden him with her thoughts, concerns, or stories when he first arrives home from work, while he's in the midst of an activity or when he's telling his own news or story
- Avoids nagging. After all, "nagging causes more unhappiness in families than extravagance, poor housekeeping and infidelity all put together." Got that, girls?
- Shares his interests and participates in them if he's amenable to that
- Leaves him alone (or to his own interests and time with friends) when he desires it
- Cultivates her own interests and intelligence so as to be a good conversational partner and a charming companion when in company ("Schucks! Y'all mean I kin leave that thar kitchen and gits me sum learnin'?" she asks as yet another baby falls from between her legs and onto the floor)
- Recognizes her own sexual hang-ups and works to overcome them (i.e.: just smile, lie on your back and think of pleasant things you'd like to buy until he's done having sex at you)
The same resources also relayed how to help your husband become more successful and get ahead at work and in social life. According to what I've read, a good 50s housewife who helps a man succeed:
- Asks him about his goals and helps him realize them
- Fosters within him the most important trait every successful person has: enthusiasm (upon telling Patrick this, he went on to - enthusiastically - quote the lines from The Untouchables, complete with his De Niro impression that he very well knows I hate)
- Listens to him effectively - not just with her ears but with her body language and eyes (I guess it's like Tyra's "smizing." I think I'll call this 'lizing' - pronounced LIE-zing. Actually, that's perfect on a couple levels.)
- Learns about his job and industry so that she can ask more intelligent questions about his day and listen with more genuine interest
- Supports his desire and / or need to get additional training, even if it comes at the expense of her own education ("if you only have the budget for one of you to go to college or night school, consider getting a library card. It is amazing what a woman can learn today simply by becoming a regular visitor of her local library." OMFG. Yes, because under 'Education' on one's resume, "I have a library card" is just as impressive as a Bachelor's degree).
- Understands if he needs to work late or take business trips - guilting him about such things is the fastest way to kill his potential - "and your marriage!"
- Lends a hand with his work whenever he needs it. She considers herself her husband's Girl Friday.
- Does not butt into business matters (except for the above) and recognizes that the office is his place.
- Is kind to and is not jealous of his secretary. She doesn't think anything of the fact that the secretary may be beautiful, after all "a pretty girl brightens up the office like a bowl of roses" and it is a "natural desire to work in an attractive workplace."
- Acts as his press secretary - espouses his good qualities, minimizes his unattractive traits and never, ever, ever says anything overly personal, discouraging, embarrassing or negative about him in
her blogpublic. Heh.
- Wouldn't dream of, let alone joke about, doing anything on this list.
- Does not press him to be more ambitious or hard-working than he already is. You see, the stress of that could kill! him! "That mink and diamond bracelet you desire will quickly lose their luster if he's driven to an early grave in his efforts to acquire them for you!" Instead, help your husband become the man he wishes to be by giving him praise and gentle encouragement
- Quits her job (if she has one) if it interferes with his career and happiness
Are you ready for this, world? Am I ready for this (*quickly checks to see how much hard liquor is in the house*)? I can tell you, emphatically, that Patrick is indeed ready for this. I'm pretty sure I had him at "avoids nagging." He read a few chapters of How To Help Your Husband Get Ahead and said, with a straight face, that it was the greatest thing ever published. Take that, Shakespeare.
Image Source: Woman's Day Magazine, November 1956. "Their First Thanksgiving Dinner."