Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The good old days?

When times are tough, it's natural to pine for the good old days. But nostalgia can be selective.

In the 1950s, the ideal American family -- and idealized family life -- was played out weekly on the TV sitcom "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." In this nuclear family, Ozzie worked and Harriet stayed home and took care of their two sons, David and Ricky. Talk about reality TV; this show featured a real-life family, with exterior shots of their own home, dealing with the minor problems of their daily living. And when the sons got married, their wives were written into the show.

But was this really such a wonderful time for women? Circulating on Internet is an excerpt from a 1950s home economics textbook, which includes the following tips on how to be a good wife:

  • Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready -- on time.
  • Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives.
  • Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him.
  • Make him comfortable: Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he 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, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.
  • Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment; instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.
  • The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.

Even if you make this gender-neutral to refer to the stay-at-home spouse or significant other or partner or person-who-prefers-housekeeping, it still doesn't fly.

So much for the good old days.

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