WATCH: Some 1950s Marriage Advice Is Still Really Valuable Today
In May of 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published an article entitled, “The Good Wife’s Guide,” detailing all the ways that a wife should act and how best she can be a partner to her husband and a mother to her children. While some of the advice is cringe-worthy, there are a few tips and tricks that are applicable to modern marriages. For instance, the book recommends making your home “a place of peace, order, and tranquility.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, however, it should not be done just for the man of the house, but for the entire family. Similarly, it’s wonderful to listen to your husband, as the book suggests, but he should listen to you as well.
There are other books that offer more modern advice. For instance, Dr. Clifford R. Adams’s 1946 book, How to Pick a Mate: The Guide for a Happy Marriage is filled with good advice for people looking for mates, much of which is applicable to the modern world. He suggests thinking about traits like whether “he is an agreeable sort” or an “individualist”? and “Is he broadminded or idealistic?” and suggests finding a partner who mirrors your own beliefs and traits. The book, which can be found in bookstores and on Amazon, asks important questions about whether brides are ready to get married and whether the “one you want is the one you need”. All as applicable in 2018 as it was in 1946.
Similarly, Dorothy Carnegie’s 1957 book with the slightly regrettable title, How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead, has useful advice. For instance, when she suggests not fretting over things that can’t be changed. "Good-humored acceptance of things as they come and a refusal to be upset over trifles strengthen the fabric of love," she wrote.
She also shared an important reminder to not sweat the small stuff. "Let's not get so bogged down in the endless routine of housekeeping that we lose sight of its real purpose: to create a small island of love, security, and comfort for those dearest to our hearts." Those are wise words for any relationship!
Of course, women in the 1950s were also told a lot of malarkey, like when Edward Podolsky wrote in his 1943 book on wedded life, that women should basically avoid talking to their husbands, writing: “Discuss family problems after the inner man has been satisfied.” He also suggest that morale is a woman’s business and not to bother sharing problems because “yours will seem trivial in comparison” to your husband’s.
Then there’s Dr. William Josephus who claims that if a woman doesn’t know how to cook it will lead to unhappiness and quarrels. He wrote, “Bad cooking is responsible for dyspepsia, dyspepsia is responsible for grouchiness and irritability, grouchiness and irritability lead to quarrels and squabbles.”
In short, when it comes to getting marital advice, always keep the source in mind!