Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Good Wife's Guide ???

OK, I'm opening this wild card up for discussion.  Everyone has their opinions and some quite strongly but I've found recently that your opinions change with the seasons throughout your life.  There were times when i would have read this article (in full below) and had steam coming out my ears and would have been fully prepared to go to battle over my rights as woman.  But now.....  I can see merit in some of it.

Even though i work full time to support my family i occasionally wish that i had other choices and that perhaps being a full time homemaker might have its attractions.  Maybe the balance I'm seeking is in part time work so i can enjoy both worlds or maybe I'm longing for those "golden years" of retirement when i see myself working in my garden, being a homemaker, actively contributing to my community and surrounding myself with loved ones.   Sounds a bit like Rhonda and Hanno, doesn't it?  Such good role models. 

Sorry Jessie - only joking. 

I'm going to keep saying this but this is how i feel NOW.  It may change tomorrow, i know it was certainly different ten years ago. Its a woman's prerogative to change her mind, isn't it?   My Hubby gave me the option many years ago when he was earning a large income to stay at home but i chose to work, not being able to see THEN an alternative.  I wasn't ready yet.  I'm now approaching 50 and perhaps its a menopausal symptom, this restlessness for a different kind of life or i could be just plain tired. 

I follow lots of blogs with women who are homemakers and they certainly don't seem to resent their choice.  On the contrary, many of them are basking in the glory of it and singing its praises to the world.  They are from mixed generations and at various stages of their lives.  Many are influence by their ecological choices and their desire for self sustainability.  I know as peak oil approaches very quickly that we will all have to make changes in how we live our lives daily, both inside and outside the home.
But what does Peak Oil have to do with a woman's role?

Is being a homemaker a choice that the women of today and the next will see as being (oooh  what's the word I'm searching for..)  valuable, fulfilling or even a choice?  Why have i automatically assumed that the homemaker of tomorrow has to be the woman and not a man?  Have we moved on from the traditional roles or are we still guided by them? Have we gone past the era where the one who earns the income has the power?  I'm not so sure.  I'd like to think that in a healthy relationship both men and women respect each others roles and garner equal measure to them?  I'm not so sure that there are too many healthy relationships out there.    

I want to discuss this intelligently (if that's possible).  I'm not a psychologist or a social commentator.  I have no training in the women's movement.  I haven't even read their so called bibles (The Female Eunuch, The Feminine Mystique etc).  I'm just an average woman who has probably been a little too influenced by the media over the years to believe what my role should be IE. totally manipulated and I've probably never taken the time to think too hard about it.  Maybe now I'm feeling restless because i am thinking about it. Should i stop thinking or should i start making my own choices instead of being a willing participant of the global push towards earning more and more to spend, spend, spend so that someone else can get rich while i keep on slogging away perpetuating the cycle. 

I don't think I'm the only one thinking out loud these days.  The following was taken from a post today from my friend, rabidlittlehippy.  She is the Earth Mother personified and as you'll see I'm not the only one confused.  I know she'll find the right balance and that Allegra will grow to be a amazing woman like her mum. 

Allegra is my little domestic queen already. Part of me loves it but part of me also rebels against it on her behalf. There’s a little bit of the feminist in us all these days I think and as much as I choose to manage our home I have also got many more opportunities and freedom than my foremothers (well, it’s not forefathers is it?) ever had. I want my daughter to have those same freedoms but I also want to raise her to appreciate housekeeping and homemaking for what it is, not just as it is sometimes thought of in modern times. It’s a fine line I guess and one I need to tread around carefully . I want my sons to learn these things too.

Lucky Allegra, Jas and Orik.  To have such free thinking parents that will give them all the information and positive examples they need to make informed choices in their lives.   If these children grow up to see the value and joy that their parent take in homemaking and creating their own piece of self-sufficient paradise then wont they see it as a pleasure and not a chore to work in and around the home.  They wont automatically think to hire someone to do small jobs or buy things.  They'll think "I'll do it, I'll make it" and by "they" i mean Allegra as well. 

OK, before you read the offending article (or perhaps you couldn't wait and have already done so) i think that some of the suggestions are not so bad.  The part that's wrong is that its all focused on the needs of the man and not the family as a whole.  Eg.  Having a meal prepared that is planned is good for everyone not just the returning wage earner.  You should be happy to see your husband and listen to him but so should he be happy to see you and listen to you.  I wouldn't go so far to arrange his pillow and take his shoes off.  Poooey - he can do that himself, preferably outside, and put the socks in the laundry basket (like that's going to happen).

A woman should know her place, not only in the home but also outside of it.  It should be standing right beside her partner on equal terms giving as much as she is receiving.  She should feel valued and fulfilled and so should he.  I think that it needs to be an on going conversation between them as what we value as individuals changes at different times in our lives.

One more thought, before i leave this with you.  During our wedding ceremony, my brother-in-law said something that really stuck with me and its something i keep coming back to.  It is the responsibility of both partners in a marriage or relationship to ask themselves this question, often. 

"Is their life better for you being a part of It?"

Here Goes!

The Good Wife's Guide - Housekeeping Monthly - May 13, 1955
* 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 be 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 favourite dish) 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. 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 for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

* Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. 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 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.

* Your goal: To try and make sure your home is a place of peace, order, and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

* Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

* 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.

* 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 judgement 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.

I know that i always ask for comments, but i genuinely want to know your opinion.  That means those of the younger generation as well.  I'd really love to hear from someone who lived through the 1950's  when this guide was published.  What was the response from women?

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land Of Oz


  1. Note to self: "Don't let Steve read this post until you have doctored it a bit!" ;) Seriously though, I am just about to hit 50 stumbling (running is a step too far to contemplate) and as a full time mother (in my first marriage) closely followed by a working single mother and then a full time penniless student hippy I figure I can weigh into this discussion (we won't call it an argument ;) ). I am willing to take the first tomato and say that staying at home, raising my children, putting food on the table and being a full time mum was the best thing that I could have done for my kids. I am NOT denegrating anyone who works, just saying it is a whole lot easier to focus on your childrens needs when you don't have a job competing with your precious time. I was forced to head out to work when my eldest daughter (now 25) was a month old. I have NEVER felt so guilty in my whole life! After splitting up with my first husband I spent a bit of time as a single mum and learned how dance on the head of a's bloody hard ladies! If you haven't ever tried to juggle work and kids and "life" then you really can't be smug about working mums who think that shoving a bit of bread and vegemite into their kids mouths for tea is real food. The problem with we women is that we spend WAY too much time judging each other and competing and not enough time wondering out loud at who got us to fighing amongst ourselves in the first place and why we are still doing it?! We are reasonably intelligent creatures aren't we? Surely we could agree to disagree and we could step back and take a look and see that working or not, we are all vital to the survival of the species and for that ALONE we deserve equal time when it comes to decision making etc. Society has been manipulated for many years and its only now that we are learning to question authority and see that what we have been faithfully believing might just be more profit based than good for us. Question things folks...stop judging your neighbour and start looking a bit further afield and suddenly you can start to put a bit of perspective back into this debate. We are all women. No matter how much we do or don't conform to the "norm" and we ALL deserve to make choices but the true challenge is are we making informed decisions for ourselves or are we rushing headlong into the accepted "norm". Remember...norm is Dame Edna's prostate enlarged we REALLY want to be "norm?" ;). Love this anything that gives us "steam" and Jess is going to lerve being in this esteemed piece. Kudos Lynda on a really good read :)

  2. As you say there is much to find merit in and much to find fault in that article. Having a tidy home and a meal waiting I like, not just for my husbands sake but for the whole family. I benefit from that too. Not greeting with complaints, greeting with a drink and allowing him quiet time, nice thinking buddy! With 3 under 5, the minute Daddy walks in the door he is bombarded with 3 small people wanting a piece of him (they miss him) and given that it's the witching hour, I often need some help too. It depends on if the kids have packed up toys and how close to being ready their dinner is. :)

    I believe that even when a man is the head of the home (we're relatively traditional here but that's just what suits our family) and even though Martin does make many of the financial decisions, I have plenty of power and right to opinion (which I exercise loudly if needed) and we both contribute to deciding how our family grows and changes. Moving here was my idea initially but a joint decision. If he had said no we would still be living in inner suburbia.

    I totally agree regarding taking off socks. I am NOT touching those things until they've had a chance to spend some time in the nuclear cooling tank! ;) He wants a drink, there's the kitchen (unless I'm making myself one) and dinner will generally be something that the kids have a chance of eating, something generally that I like and also Martin. Oh, and it needs to be easy to cook, cheap and something that doesn't take hours so sorry honey, I am NOT making you a slow cooked curry every night. ;)

  3. I so knew which way you two were going to swing. Your posts on your blogs have given me food for thought and fed some of my restlessness, which is a good thing. Who wants to go through life having no control or say over how you live. I dont want to be a robot or one of those bloody sheep (yes they are dumb). I grew up with Man being Head of the House until my dad died when i was 10 and then it was Mum who was everything on very little. So i learnt early that women can and do do manythings. I've struggled with probably being too independent and being a little too in-charge in my marriage but then i am ideally suited to living with two Aspie's. Good conversation as usual and im waiting for Shelby to buy in. Hope i get someone older, like your neighbour's opinion Fran. I love soaking up knowledge from the older set.

  4. I'm here, I'm here! LOL
    So here is what I feel...everyone has a different situation, when it comes to marriage and family. I was able to stay home with my little ones and that was the most amazing gift I was given by Mark - however, it certainly was not the freshen my make up and put a bow in my hair situation - he worked outside of the house and I worked inside of the house, but that didn't give him a free ride to not being an active participant in raising our children or helping with our house. On the flip side of that...sometimes, a woman working and putting the children in child care is the best for the family (especially single moms...which I couldn't imagine being).
    Now, our situation is very different. My husband and I went to school later in life (I just graduated in 2006) - since graduation, I've been the bread winner, for the most part - Mark has helped our family, by going to school, working as a sub or part time, summer help etc. - I don't remember coming home to a spotless house or Mark putting a bow in his hair LOL. I currently work from a home office, as a Program Manager for an energy efficiency company - Mark is a substitute teacher (and fingers crossed, he'll be getting a full time position teaching after his interview) - but even after he's working full time, I'll be making significantly more than he does. That's not a dig on's just that I have made a very fortunate career path for myself, and I am so thankful for my job, every day...and I know that jobs are so fragile these days and our situation could change again. We both bust our butts on our careers though and it doesn't matter who "wins" financially, since it all goes into the same pot...then we both bust our butts when it comes to raising our children...then we both bust our butts when it comes to building our farm.
    ...and some days, I never change our of my PJs to work all day around our farm (mucking stalls, shoveling poo etc.) and I take a shower when it is all done, just to change back into a different pair of PJs. Not very glamorous...but very me.
    A woman wears so many different hats, no matter what path their life is on...we should support each other and lift each other up, even if you path is different than mine.

  5. Sorry if my comment sounds random...I'm VERY tired. :-)

    1. As I said in email. You've a right to be. Slow down girl and go have a nap. Thanks for your comments.


Please leave a comment. I enjoy making connections with my readers. Hope you enjoyed your visit.