(Source: Housekeeping Monthly: May 13, 1955)

I was looking through my volunteer training binder, just trying to refresh on somethings I learned, when I came across an article a fellow volunteer brought to the training.  It’s called, “The good wife’s guide.”

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 come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

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 gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a life and one of your duties is to provide it.

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 dust cloth 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.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

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

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.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

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.

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in comfortable chair or have him 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, soothing, and pleasant voice.

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.

They should’ve added two more rules:

Whenever he wants sex, even if you don’t feel like it, you should give it to him. It is your job to satisfy every of his sexual urges and fantasies.

A good wife is her husband’s property. He can treat her however he likes and she shouldn’t complain about it. After all, she married him. He is the master and knows better than her.

I know this is from the 1950s, but you’d be surprise to know that there are many households out there that are still like this. The times may have changed, but some people haven’t.

I see this in the Hmong community a lot. The husband is revered and it is the wife’s duty to provide for him. Heck, there are men out there who don’t even know how to cook simple dishes like scrambled eggs or Ramen noodles because they have relied on women (their mothers, their sisters, their wives) their whole lives. I mean, what if one day, all the women just disappeared from the planet. What will these men do? I mean, it is our sole duties as women to provide for the needs of the male species. That is why we were created, am I right?

My mom is a little on the traditional side. She gets upset and starts to lecture me whenever she hears that I did not cook a meal for Dear Spouse or that Dear Spouse is watching our daughters while I go out with my girl friends. These are the exact words that she says, “You are a house wife. You need to know your role. You can’t be prancing around while your husband is taking care of the house.”

Gosh darn it! I did it again. I took a night off to spend with my friends and I am now considered a “bad” wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. Okay, so back home I should go and cater to Dear Spouse’s needs and disregard any of mine. Even if my body, heart, and soul is crying out for a break, I shouldn’t take it because Dear Spouse needs me. And if I can make him happy while I cry in a dark corner when everyone’s asleep, then so be it. Yeaaaah… Like that’s ever going to happen.  It’s a man’s world out there, isn’t it?

I believe I am a good wife. Not a perfect wife, but a good one. And I don’t have to follow any good wife’s guide, especially not the ones that deal with only a man’s needs. Let’s just say that for a wife to be “good,” she needs to have a good husband. Now where can I find the good husband’s guide? Someone, please point me the way.

3 thoughts on “The good wife’s guide

  1. Mai Bao! You articulate what many of us Hmong women feel with such precise and beautiful words! Kudos to you! Every Hmong woman should read your blogs. We need to unite together and share our trials, tribulations, and triumphs as Hmong women in this country. It feels wonderful to read your words because they mirror so many of our lives!!! Thanks so much 🙂


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