THE Good Wife’s Guide of 1955, published in Housekeeping Monthly, implored women, in 18 steps, to basically know their place, have dinner ready, clear away clutter, greet the man always with a smile, never complain, and make their men comfortable. And while many modern women would probably scoff at what women in the 1950s were expected to do for their husbands or husbands-to-be, the fact is that, for many, these traditions are still reality.
It’s still seen as respectable for a woman to treat her ‘king’ right, and no mater what her education status or economic circumstance, some duties are still seen as ‘wifely’ — those a woman should take on if she seriously wants to get her man. Because a single man looking for a mate must be in want of a woman who has the qualities of a good wife.
But what happens when you’ve performed these wifely duties and he’s still not bending? We asked women who acted like a wife before getting the ring, whether the tactics worked.
I’d use my paycheque every month and book couple’s mani-pedis at the spa because I wanted him to see that I was committed to helping him take care of himself. When we started talking, this man looked like he had been walking with Jesus and the disciples, the way his foot did stay bad. When I was with him I spent thousands fixing him because I believe in treating a man right. Anyway, I wasted my money and time because he ended up marrying a woman in Brooklyn for papers.
I would post him on my status and on my IG, and he wouldn’t reciprocate. Paid for trips to hotels and trips abroad, and still I was in the friend zone. Men want who they want, you don’t have to do anything extra.
My ex-boyfriend lived in the apartment next door to mine with his brothers, and because I liked him and was shooting my shot, I’d go over there and clean up after all these nasty men. Imagine three men sharing a bathroom and never cleaning it... that was gross, so was the kitchen. But I’d go over with my supplies and clean each week, and do his laundry. When we started dating seriously I started cooking for them, too, basically acting like maid and housekeeper to these three grown men. He cheated anyway and is now married to another woman who I hear doesn’t even cook for him everyday.
He had a daughter when I met him — it was just him and her, her mom had died. I just made myself available to talk, to do her hair, and to make meals for them, but I didn’t go out of my way to force myself on him or anything, I just really loved his daughter and respected him for keeping it together. I guess my hands-off approach worked, because our friendship slowly developed into a relationship, and we have been married eight years now.
I wouldn’t say that I acted like a wife, I just acted like myself, and was kind. I didn’t mind cooking for him because I love cooking and he worked hard and would get home and not eat, and I didn’t mind doing his laundry because we were together and I just didn’t mind. I don’t clean though — still don’t — so I’d just point out what in his house needed a deep clean, and he’d get a day’s worker. I think he respected that I was willing to go halfway with him, and take care of his needs without being pushy. I didn’t have to go into the subservient wife mode because that’s not who I am. Today we’re married and he’s the one who cleans the bathrooms and kitchen, and he cooks most times and irons, while I still don’t mind doing laundry and sanitising the rest of the space. If a man loves you it doesn’t matter whether you’re “wife material” or not, he will make it work.
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