So, I know this is hard to believe because I'm such a lovable, agreeable, awesome person and all, but people like to poke fun at me when they see how precise I am about my job at home. I know, unbelievable, right?! Not that I necessarily accomplish my precise order of operations, because I come up short daily. Let me elaborate.
Last year, my little brother got married, so naturally, I searched Pinterest for cute wife-themed wedding gifts for my new sister-in-law. The search had somehow lead me to an actual textbook lesson from the 1950’s called, “The Good Wife’s Guide.” Heard of it? It was actually used as curriculum content in a home-ec class for near graduate school girls. I don’t know much about the 1950’s, but I always considered myself a 50’s girl because my views are most fitting for that time period. I just miss the days when having a large family was something to be proud of, when only having one parent working out of the home was still respected; when the neighbors looked after each other's kids and dinner was usually always homemade and served precisely at 5:00. Ah, the good old days... about 37 years before I was born. Anyway, back to my Pinterest find: Along with the discovery of the textbook lesson, I found a lot of negative commentary. I can't help but think that this negative criticism has a lot to do with the lack of respect for the love and servitude between a husband and wife, and even for the family unit in today's world. So, with the valentine season just passing us by, I thought it would be nice time to put out a second opinion and defend my less than popular support of the text. Brace yourselves. The following are excerpts from the lesson and my responses to them.
“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 more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.”
My husband and I were just talking about a trusted employee he had hired in the past who worked under him for several years. The employee was a female and we recently learned that she had been stealing from the company right under his nose for a long time! When he found out, he felt totally betrayed. For a second, as he told me the news, it almost seemed like he was going to break down. He told me that this employee was his closest and most trusted work-mate. To tell you the truth, I was a little jealous at how hard it hit him. Who was this lady to get him so riled up? Well, they shared 8 or 9 hours a day for several years. They knew each other’s lives, the names of each other’s spouses and kids, their day-to-day walk, having shared so many conversations on down time. Come to think of it, this woman was there every day, sharing my husband with me. Don’t get me wrong, it was no competition. He loves me and he maintained a professional relationship with his employees, many of whom were female, but my point is: If he would have come home every day to find my hair a mess, my grumpy mood, sour attitude or complaints, I wonder how much more he would be effected by his employees' pristine work attire, their required daily customer service smiles and attitudes and their nicely done-up faces. How much harder is it for our husbands to desire us when we care nothing about how we portray ourselves to them. Another question: What about our kids? Do you determine to have a good attitude with your kids? You hear all the time about parents verbally abusing their kids, talking them down or targeting them to relieve their stress. You see commercials on t.v. about encouraging your children, spending time with them, building them up. That’s all important, so why is it too much to encourage a good attitude toward our spouses? I’d say it’s just as important to carry ourselves in a way that is pleasing to them. I like it when my husband smells good. I love smelling his cologne. I love when he gets a fresh hair cut or wears the clothes I favor. My attraction increases. I can't change the way my flesh prefers his fresh look, and he can’t control the way his flesh responds to a fresh looking woman. It was made to do that. He can turn away, make a choice not to pay attention, change his thoughts, and it’s his commitment to do that, but he shouldn’t have to work to keep his attraction toward me. Why, if I can keep him there myself?
“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 are 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 favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.”
When my husband and I first got together, he came to my apartment to dig through the cupboards and found literally nothing except a box of Chicken Bisquits, Gerber baby juice and some sliced apples in the fridge. He spun around, looked at me and said, “This isn’t going to work.” Not because he thinks the woman should do the cooking, but because he had absolutely no idea how to cook himself! If he couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t do it… by golly, how would we ever eat? Fast forward 7 years and I still can’t duplicate his mom’s cooking, (Frankly, no one can. She’s that good.) but my husband doesn’t care that I’m not the best cook. He cares that I care that he eats. Dinner on the table for my husband is important because God forbid, he DOES come home hungry, and often ready for a 20 minute break on the couch. The last thing he wants to do is start cooking. If I’m home during that time, I love him enough to recognize that he is hungry and to take time to prepare something that he will enjoy. If roles were reversed, which often times they are in other homes, and even some evenings in our home, I would hate to come home hungry and tired and have to figure out what I want to eat. What if I come home and don’t have all the items in the cupboard I need? Well, then I have to go to the store, come back home, and make the meal all before I can enjoy it and then finally rest. (Yeah, right. Before bedtime?) If I ever had to work full time and come home to do that, I imagine I’d feel a little forgotten and maybe even unimportant by my husband also. It’s not about being his servant-him my master. It’s about showing my husband I love him and want him to be happy. Is that so terrible? Good. Moving on.
“Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.”
“Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc and then 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.”
“Be happy to him.”
“Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.”
“Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”
This one is especially important to me. I completely agree that it gives me a lift as well to sit down in a clean house. I hate walking through a messy house, especially dirty cups or food wrappers on the counter tops. Don't get me started on loose, random papers. Tomas hates it even more than I do. I can let it go if I have something more pressing, but I make sure that before I expect him home, I do a clean sweep through the house. My sister’s family came to stay with us for a few months recently and witnessed my daily, “Uh-Oh, guys, Dad’s on his way home from work, Let’s quick pick up”-routine. I make sure to include the kids in the process, too. One-because they produce most of the clutter, and two-because I want my kids to know that the environment we create for Dad is important to me, just like the environment I create for them. Whether Dad is around or not, I want my kids to know that I am thinking of him and loving him all day. Creating a place of peace, order and tranquility is important for our whole family. It renews the body and spirit of everyone within the four walls. I will add that rarely do I ever have every area of the house in order all at the same time. If the floors throughout the whole house are swept, mopped and vacuumed, you can bet money that the laundry room is full of dirty laundry. I wish I could say I have a good system in place, but I'm not so organized, YET! One thing that has helped me along the way was asking Tomas what he preferred done above all else; what makes him most irritated to find undone when he gets home, and I strive to have that accomplished, not because I HAVE to in order to be a good wife, but because I WANT to, because I love him and want him to be happy.
There is more to the lesson, and it's an interesting viewpoint. If you're looking for a good read, I encourage you to search it out and determine your own opinion of what it teaches. I would love to hear your voice in the comments. I would like to add that everything listed here really applies to both male and female. It’s not just instruction on how to be a good wife, but also how to be a good husband. When the roles are switched, I expect nothing less. We are a team. He buys the house, I take care of it. He buys the food, I prepare it. He pays for the mop, I use it to clean the floor. When I work nights, I can almost always find a plate of food in the fridge for me when I get home late at night. It doesn’t make him any less of a man to have prepared that for me. It makes him a loving husband and I honest-to-God find delight in the fact that he thought of me while he and the kids ate their dinner. I want him to feel the same way when he finds a plate for himself. We don’t always get it right. Half the time, I feel like I’m drowning, especially with 3 small kids and now a pup.
In closing, I’ll share this, several months ago, I waited on a couple who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! It was just the two of them but they didn’t seem to mind that one bit. They asked me about my husband and my kids, and as I shared about them, they both had a reminiscent look on their faces as they remembered when their kids were little. They talked about how it went by so fast, and how I need to be careful to enjoy the time I have with my family before they are grown. Our kids grow so fast! In a flash, they’re moved out and having their own kids, but when that happens, where will you be? Will you remember the love you have for the person you married and had the kids with? We share 18 years under one roof with our kids, but then they go. You share a lifetime in one bed with your spouse. Don’t forget to nurture that relationship!
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
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