Has Your Wife Read This?

Aaron Gouveia gives the 1955 edition of ‘The Good Wife’s Guide’ some much needed updating.


Housekeeping Monthly. May 13, 1955. “The Good Wife’s Guide.”

I’m sure you’ve all read it at some point and had it e-mailed to you. If not, you can check it out here and laugh your ass off. It’s a guide for wives and mothers on how to please their man. As I read through the archaic, misogynistic suggestion list I was equal parts amused, bewildered and—most importantly—thankful for the much needed blog fodder.

But that’s how life was back then for a lot of people. And while I know a few people who still follow these traditional gender roles, I think this is pretty unrealistic for most of us. So while husbands in the 1950s could expect these things, I thought I’d make the 2011 version of the Good Wife’s Guide for men and women. First I’ll list the 1950s version, followed by my tongue-in-cheek version. And remember, these original suggestions were really published in a magazine.


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 been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2011 — Whoever gets home first makes dinner. Better yet, grab some KFC. This is a way of letting him know that you have no ambition to cook because he’d rather have take-out anyways. Most men are hungry when they get home and most women tell them if they want a delicious home-cooked meal they better do it themselves.

1955 — 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.

2011 — Guys, prepare yourselves. Take 15 minutes of alone time in your car after work before going home to the madhouse so you’ll be refreshed when you arrive. Forget about her touching up her make-up or putting a ribbon in her hair. The baby grabbed the make up and hid it months ago and the cats are playing with the ribbon. If she doesn’t have some sort of vomit on her consider yourself lucky.

1955 — 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.

2011 — Don’t expect her to entertain you or listen to how tough you had it at work. Either she’s a stay at home mom and dealt with screaming demons all day, or she was at work herself. Your boring day may need a lift but she’s going to do her duty and kick you in the ass and tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself and change a diaper.

1955 — 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.

2011 — Clear a path through the clutter so the two of you will at least be able to locate each other through the mess. And what the fuck is a dustcloth?!?

1955 — During 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 to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

2011 — You should definitely start a fire, just in case he pisses you off and you feel like shoving him into the flames. If husbands come home and expect to kick their feet up by a nice cozy fire while the kids are running around screaming and flinging their own poo at each other like escaped monkeys from the zoo, he’s going to need to escape to a safe haven before he is assassinated to your immense personal satisfaction.

1955 — Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

2011 — Minimize all noise so you can trick him into thinking no one’s home. At the time of his arrival, sprint out the door while tossing the kids his way along with a note about the clothes that need to be washed and dried, and the floors that need vacuuming. Be sure to feed the kids straight sugar before you ambush him and head out for that mani-pedi.

1955 — Be happy to see him.

2011 — Hahahahahaha!!!!!!

1955 — Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.


1955 — 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.

2011 — Listen to me fellow husbands. You may have a dozen things on your mind that you want to tell her, but the moment of your arrival is not the time. Take care of her and the kids first. Remember, your family is more important than bitching about your day at work.

1955 — Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

2011 — Actually, I like this one. Let’s keep it.

1955 — Don’t complain is he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

2011 — If you are late for dinner or stay out all night without calling, forget about not complaining. Start worrying about finding a new place to live. Count that as a minor punishment compared to her going all Hulk on you and using your testicles as a punching bag.

1955 — Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him 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.

2011 — If he tries to come home from work and not help out with the kids, it’s going to be the electric chair he gets laid down in. That cool drink might be his last. If you’re trying to talk to each other you’ll have to scream as loud as possible, because you’re each taking care of a kid, they’re both screaming and that bitch Dora is blaring on the TV, not to mention the two barking dogs.

1955 — 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. A good wife always knows her place.

2011 — Guys, don’t ask her any questions or question her judgment. Even if we’re right and she’s wrong, it’s still our fault. Remember, she may let us think we have a say but she is Queen of the house and if we get out of line she will use her power to unfairly punish us with a lack of sex and an abundance of attitude. You stand no chance against her because a good wife always knows her place. At the top.

Photo Mrs Logic/Flickr

About Aaron Gouveia

Aaron is husband to a woman far too beautiful to have married him, and father of two sons far too perfect to be his. After nearly a decade as a Boston-area journalist, he decided to actually get paid and became a content manager. When he's not griping about his beloved Boston sports teams, he's detailing life as a dad at The Daddy Files. You can follow him on Twitter (@DaddyFiles) and Facebook.


  1. Anonymous Male says:

    Here I go harping on this again, like broken record, but: why is this article in the “Dads” section of the site? You can be a married man and not have children, you can be a father without being married, and you can be married to a woman who is not the mother of your children.

    Ironically, it’s a touch of the 1950’s to suggest husband=father and wife=mother. Also a little 1950’s-like to assume she’s home when you get home from work….

    • Anonymous Male: There’s no irony and you’re over-thinking this way too much.

      All I did was go through the 1955 suggestions one by one and revise them accordingly depending on what was written. Some of those tips involved children, so I involved children. I’m not assuming a 1950s mentality, I’m just going by what was already in place. Not to mention people seem to be taking this far too seriously. It’s a tongue-in-cheek piece laced with sarcasm meant to entertain.

      • Anonymous Male says:

        My question is more for the editors than the author, I think.

        I thought the piece was funny. I had some good chuckles. I’m a husband and I can identify with the 2011 updates. However, I’m not a father, so I generally am not drawn to the “DadsGood” part of the site. I could have missed the article because, to my mind, it was somewhat misplaced in the wrong section. Now I’m thinking I may have missed other interesting articles because I was too quick to judge, thinking that articles about dads or in the dads section were not meant for me. That’s my fault, a good example of unintended irony, the most delicious kind.

        I want the GMP to be successful and reach as many men as possible, and as many different kinds of men as possible. I’m suggesting that the GMP could reach even more men if it bore in mind that articles about husbands are not necessarily articles about fathers, and vice versa. Putting this one in the Dads section would be a bit like putting the article about Thai child prostitutes in a Men’s Travel section.

        • As both the author and the managing editor of DadsGood, I think there is an easy solution:
          Just click on everything and read each article no matter what! 😉

          But seriously, I’m sure you’ve noticed the taxonomy on the front page broken up into categories such as relationships, sex, advice, etc. While something may fall through the cracks occasionally, I think they’re usually put in the right place. And speaking strictly for the DadsGood writers I can say our articles are absolutely not always about our kids. Sure that’s the majority of them, but we also dabble in relationships, pop culture, friendship, etc.

          Thanks for your advice though, I’m sure you’re not alone. I’ll check to see if there’s any way we can market the “non-kid” articles a little better so they get read more.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    The historian side of me wants to point out that just because a handbook from that era says that this is the way to do it does not mean that everyone actually did things that way. The handbook gives one kind of ideal, but it’s impossible to tell based on the book itself how many people actually followed its directions. In fact, there are so many guidebooks like this from the 1950’s, constantly telling women how to behave properly, that one wonders how many women actually followed these ideas. If everyone was already doing all these things, why would there be such a huge need to tell them what to do? Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that Leave It to Beaver was a documentary about life in the fifties.

    And, of course, these “domestic guides” were often making this shit up as they went along. Newly married women in the 50’s got much more of this crap thrown at them than their mothers did. Their mothers would have found a lot of this stuff completely laughable, too.

  3. Linguist says:

    A double irony own goal!

    I get the (lame) joke: the 1955 guide was oh so wrong – we’re so modern today.

    But of course any man would way sooner be married to the woman described in the 1955 guide than to live the dirty, depressing life described in your 2011 example.

    Given your examples, in 1955 people aspired to a clean house, a better standard of living, and to be nicer to each other. Is this supposed to be progress?

    Funny, before about 1970 about 2/3 of both men and women described they marriage as “very happy”. Today about 1/3 do – and that is given the very high rate of dissolution today. More progress.

    But there is a lesson in this: I married a women’s studies major who was my peer in college. My brother married conservative christian girl from the midwest who aspired to be a mother and homemaker. They are happily married – and I’m divorced. Their children still have a stable, clean home environment, are happier, dress better and do better in school.

    But don’t let that stop you from denigrating the work that stay at home parents do.

    • Linguist: First of all, I would NOT want to be married to the 1955 house wife. Not at all. I’ve dated women like that and it was awful.

      Second, I’m not denigrating the work stay-at-home parents do. That’s just ludicrous. Obviously there’s a heavy dose of sarcasm here, or did you not read the “tongue in cheek” part of the introduction. But most troubling is your view of the 1955 mentality. You think that represents people striving to be nicer to each other? No it doesn’t. It represents one person (the wife) doing everything because society believes it is her sole job to make her husband happy. Tell me how, in the 1955 example, the husband is making the wife happy. It’s a one-way street my friend.

      As for your own marriage, only you know what went wrong. But I doubt it was solely because she was a women’s studies major. Marriages usually break up for slightly more valid reasons than that.

      • Linguist says:

        I’m sorry you didn’t like dating a woman who loved you enough to cook for you, care about you, cleaned up after you and dressed nicely for you. I guess some people cannot be pleased.

        Then again maybe she just didn’t satisfy your need for put downs and ball-cutting irony. I can certainly see how that might be a problem for someone so submissive.

        As for me – I’ve been enjoying dating women who are happy to cook for me and please me.

        • Linguist: I’m married to a woman who loves to cook, cares about me, keeps the house clean and occasionally dresses up for me. The difference between her and the 1950s housewife is she does these things because she wants to, not because she’s expected to.

          Congratulations on finding women who want to cook for you and please you. I notice you listed those qualities first before things like “women who make me laugh, stimulate me intellectually, etc.” I’m sure you’re both happily co-existing in your cave. Since you seem like someone who very much enjoys hearing himself talk, it must be nice to be with someone who doesn’t possess that oh-so-nasty habit of expressing her own opinions. The less talking the better right? After all, a woman’s mouth is not meant for talking.

          Of all the things I’ve been called in my life, “submissive” has never been among them. But thanks for the laugh. Now go club yourself another winner!

          • Linguist says:

            You: “Guys, don’t ask her any questions or question her judgment. Even if we’re right and she’s wrong, it’s still our fault. Remember, she may let us think we have a say but she is Queen of the house and if we get out of line she will use her power to unfairly punish us with a lack of sex and an abundance of attitude. You stand no chance against her because a good wife always knows her place. At the top.”

            Sounds pretty submissive to me.

  4. “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.” This is my fav. Basically, fake it till you make and forget that you both have miserable lives. Classic 1950’s

  5. Hahahahahahaha!

  6. “Queen of the house”? If that’s still your image of women, looks like you’ve still got a ways to go. Anyway, the truth must be told: nobody knows where the original text you’re riffing on came from, and while it may be an all too accurate portrait of how wives were advised to behave in the 1950s, for all we know it was concocted quite recently precisely for mockable purposes: http://www.snopes.com/language/document/goodwife.asp

  7. I love to laugh out loud (but hate the acronym LOL) and I actually did over coffee this morning. I’ve Tweeted and Facebooked this; my friends should laugh too. Now…do I forward it to my husband? I think I’ll save it for times when he needs reminding. Thanks again.

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