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The 50's housewife vs Today's housewife

Updated on April 19, 2015

1950's Housewife Expectations

I know this may sound a little odd, but recently our neighbor came over. He has been helping us construct our chicken coop, and as expected there are many different topics discussed while working. As I was helping them the other day, jokingly, my neighbor asked "Tell me again, why aren't you in the kitchen?" This is usually his response when I start to get bossy during a project (or when I'm making a valid point, and the guys are mad they didn't figure it out first. :)) I usually just laugh it off, but this certain day I asked why he thought I should be in the kitchen. He said actually I was reading something online, and saw they actually had a textbook that was used in Home Economics class in the 1950s that taught girls how to be the perfect housewife. He then proceeded to look this book up on his phone. It was true, and as he was reading some of the things expected of a housewife back then, I thought well that's not too far off from my life today. Except, I feel being a housewife today is a lot more demanding! So as they joked about these expectations, I sat and listened making a list in my head and compared it to what I already do. In the 1950s women were to clean the house before her husband arrived home, cook dinner, clean the kids and have them quiet for dinner, women weren't supposed to tell of their day or complain about it, they weren't supposed to ask their husband to do anything (nag), there was only 1 car and the husband drove it- the women were expected to walk to the grocery store while he was at work, and the things I found funny were no vacuuming after he arrived home from work, and they were expected to take his shoes off when he sat down. This is just my synopsis of what was read off to me by our neighbor. With our busy lives and schedules these days, it would be impossible to be "the perfect housewife" according to those standards.

Today's Housewife

Fast forward to today's housewife, I will admit I do quite a bit of the things on the list. I clean our house, I do laundry, I cook dinner (unless it's a special occasion and we go out to eat), I rarely vacuum when my husband is home (that's just included in my cleaning routine), I always ask him how his day was before I tell of mine. The things we do differently in our house is, I have my own car and I am free to come and go as I please, we try to go shopping as a family (it's almost like a date for my husband and I when the kids are at school), the man doesn't get much time to rest after work (we have soccer practice, projects, and things that break need to be fixed), I try to be the one to mow our grass, I also work as a substitute cook for our local school district. These days the whole family works hard and together, back then the man worked his job and the woman took care of the house. If I am working and my husband is off he will do dishes, cook dinner, and odd tasks he feels like doing to help me out. I by no means am dead tired after a few hours of work (usually 2-4/day), but he does these little things to help me out. I do things to help him as well, I will help him as much as possible when doing projects at home (I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty), I feel like I owe that much to him. I know there are a lot of TV shows such as Desperate Housewives and all of the "County" Housewives shows, but to me that's not real life and it's not very respectful to your spouse. I would never want to live like that, I would feel so guilty and undeserving.

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What if your husband stays home, and you are the main provider? Are the same standards held for men? Do we really expect the same from them? I just thought I'd give some things to ponder, and I want your input. I think my husband would help out around the house, but I feel like he'd face more distraction from the housework. He likes to be outside and building things, or doing home improvements. It would definitely be different for me to get used to letting him do the house chores if he wanted to do them!

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    • realtalk247 profile image


      3 years ago

      There are changes that have taken place in modern day where not all women can be housewives and it takes teamwork to make relationships work. While I don't agree with statements such as: his thoughts/life is more important than yours so be silent. However, I will say there is a value in not TAKING OVER/CHARGE of relationships or your household as a woman. You are to be the best co-pilot as a woman, that is my thought on how the best wives live and exist in a happy marriage.

      I think both parties are responsible for pleasing one another. From a man's perspective I would want my wife to be happy to see me, not look/dress like they could care less, and acted as a comfort to me AND Vice Versa. Men were concerned about the happiness of their wife and doing things that made them happy. While so many have thrown this mentality completely out the window, marriages of 50 years ago had a longer shelf life than today.


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