Embracing the 1950’s Housewife Within

Embracing the 1950s Housewife Within

I don’t pretend to know everything about the life of a 1950’s housewife. I wasn’t born until 1980, so how could I? ;) I do know that the housewives of that era have somehow gotten a terribly bad name over the decades. It has become a joke. A HUGE joke. I think it is a shame and, unfortunately, makes being a wife and homemaker harder for many women to embrace now.

I saw a movie years ago called The Stepford Wives, made in 2004, which I’ve been told is a remake from 1975 but I  haven’t seen the original. The premise of the movie is that men have control of their wives by microchip and they even come with a  remote control! The main character (Nicole Kidman) was a bigtime executive, but is recovering from a nervous breakdown and she’s the one who finds out the truth about the women. The twist is, at the end of the movie, that the wife of the main “husband in charge” is NOT being controlled, but rather it is her husband who is a robot! She wanted to recreate the 1950’s housewives because she thinks it is the way women are meant to be as wives.

The perfect wives of Stepford.

Want to know the truth? I couldn’t agree more!! Not the actual remote control part, mind you, but that women be submissive to their husbands like they did back then.

That’s probably a dangerous thing to say now, because of the way most people (especially women) look at women’s “rights.” Feminists despise women being submissive. What’s so bad about submission?

Webster’s Dictionary defines to submit in this way:

To give over or yield to the power or authority of another.

Did you catch the word yield in there? A woman who is submissive to her husband is yielding to him, not being controlled by him! Submitting is not the same as being a subordinate, which is defined as:

Belonging to a lower order or rank; subject to or under the authority of a superior.

As a young, married woman I struggled a lot with this. I didn’t want to submit because I was confusing submissive with subordinate. They are NOT the same. After much prayer, years of being with a good man, and reading Dr Laura’s book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, I have been able to be a submissive wife (finally) and it is blessing upon blessing for me and him!!

See, the thing is, my husband doesn’t order me around. He doesn’t demand anything from me. He adores me. He cherishes me. He loves me “as Christ loved the Church and offered himself up for it.” He treats me really well and he always puts me first (which does not equal getting everything I want, by the way) So, when he gives his view or opinion on a decision he has made for our lives, I don’t have to struggle, because I know he has our family’s best interest in mind. We talk about things – sure – but he has the ultimate say-so. He goes to work day in and day out – What, for…fun?! NO, because he cares for us!! When he asks me to do something, whether it’s to wait on that purchase I was going to make, or it’s a request that I bake his favorite cookies, I want to do it. I want to please him!!

Do I sound like I’m being ordered around? Did housewives in the 1950’s? Maybe sometimes, but I think it was more so that women enjoyed being wives (which includes caring for their husband, children and home). Is it tiring work? Of course. But anything worth doing is a challenge.

I want to share a magazine article from the 1950’s geared toward being a better housewife (you can click it to see it larger):

1950's housewife Homemaker

There are only a few things on here that are just silly – most are dead on!! The last one, “A good wife always knows her place”, has been made to seem like that place is a place of subordination, but it’s not. Yeah, I know my place. It’s as a well-treated, well cared for, loved and cherished wife, who lets her husband be head of the house.

♦ ♦ ♦

Image Credit: anyjazz65 via photopin cc

The Stepford Wives 2004 Paramount Pictures

46 thoughts on “Embracing the 1950’s Housewife Within

  1. This has been on my brain SO much lately! A couple of years ago I had a lengthy conversation with my boss about how things used to be, and the effects of not having a nurturer at home was having on our society. He told me that he didn’t believe women getting into the workforce was necessarily a good thing, and at the time I was offended. I started college at 15, I chose my mate based on the idea that he would stay home with the babies, I am terrible at cleaning my house– I belong in the work force, right? But now that I have a baby I don’t want to be working outside of the house. I actually make double what my fiance makes financially, but if I could go back and talk to a younger me, I think I would recommend relaxing more and not working so hard on my education. That can be misinterpreted but I definitely gave up the teenage years for way to much studying. It is hard to be in a relationship where the man has to ask you for use of money, and while my fiance is a great man, he is not a mom and he does not handle my newborn like I handle her. I’m so thankful that you wrote this (and read this crazy long comment). I think this is exactly what I needed to read tonight.

    • I definitely think there needs to be *someone* at home. We have a few families we’re friends with where it’s the Dad who stays home with the kids, and the Mom goes to work (one is a pilot for Delta and the other is a school teacher), and those Dads are very maternal, while the Moms aren’t as much. They are happy – it works for them. BUT I would wager to say that most women would do better than men to stay home. To be the nurturing parent, the homemaker, the cook. It’s nice that nowadays men *can* stay home without it being frowned upon if that’s what works for their family, though. I see your point on it being hard having the man asking for permission with the money – that would be foreign to me and I know I wouldn’t like it! Wow, college at 15?! That’s amazing! I bet it put a lot of pressure on you to achieve great things though, right? Like, you now feel like you can’t “just be a SAHM” because that would be somehow “wasting” your education? That’s the drawback, I think. :( That you could be doing “well” or you could choose to stay home with your sweet little one. Well, hon, that’s a biggie and only you and your fiance’ can really decide. I still love the nanny idea! What does your man say about all this?

      • That is exactly why this is such a tough situation. But on the other hand, I don’t feel like the nanny that we would hire would be qualified enough to take care of my girl. He was very nervous about me nannying at first because he didn’t realize I could make $20 an hour. But the more that we talk about it, I think he is warming up to the idea. It also helps that he found out he is getting a promotion so there isn’t quite so much pressure on me. I love your blog =)

  2. Love this. I agree 100% about your submission comments. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s do important to choose your husband wisely. I am blessed to also be married to a man who takes very seriously the command for husbands to live their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. It makes submitting so much easier and more beautiful when the husband displays the self-sacrificial love that Christ has for the church.

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  5. Very interesting, and I agree with this viewpoint to a certain extent. I am not totally sure about that article, I totally agree with the bigger picture, but less so with the idea of him staying out all night entertaining himself because he’s had a hard day. Luckily, that is not a familiar scenario in our household. However,I love making a home and planning meals and generally being there for my family. I hope my back to work commitments don’t have a negative impact on it, else we will reassess.

    • Oh, yes, that article written in the 50’s had a few whoppers in it and that was one of them (staying out all night); my husband would never do that because he cares about me and has no reason to be out AND he *wants* to be home! :)

  6. I love this! I feel the same way about it all and LOVE being a submissive wife… it fills our home with so much joy and peace. And I am passionate about helping other young moms feel complete joy in their positions as mothers (just check out my blog)… we have one of the most important jobs in the universe! Embrace it and give it all you have!
    Thank you so much for this post, Valerie!

  7. I’m going to loooove reading your posts. Sahm since 2003 now I work part time for family and take our children to school in the a.m. and pick them up at 2:30! Seems to be working out for now…

  8. It’s so good to know that there are others who believe in submission as much as I do! Great post! Unfortunately, over the years “submission” has almost become a dirty word. My life would be so complicated if I wasn’t submissive to my husband – it is the way God intended things to be. By the way, have you ever heard of the book “Created to be His Helpmeet” by Debbie Pearl? It’s awesome and it puts things into perspective. Once again, great post! :)

    • Thank you! Yes, I have heard of that one but for some reason I wasn’t connecting with the author. But I know many women have been blessed by her book, so that’s awesome! :D

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  10. ♥♥♥♥Yes, yes, yes!!!!!!! I could totally be a 1950’s wife!
    I have had the conversation about being a submissive wife sooo many times with soo many people. Many just don’t understand!!

    I didn’t always consider myself a submissive wife. I actually said I would NEVER be THAT woman and my marriage suffered for it b/c I wasn’t playing the role that GOD meant for me to play!

    Since submitting to the LORD and therefor submitting to my husband, my marriage is 100% better, and *I* am happier as a wife. I don’t feel so weighed down anymore!

    I love love love this post!

    • Marriages where the husband is able to lead and the wife chooses to be submissive, are much happier marriages. :D There are two problems in present day, it seems: husbands aren’t loving their wives selflessly, as Christ loved the Church…and wives think submission is the most horrible thing ever, so they resist it in all forms. There must be examples for younger women to follow if we are to change this!

  11. Another amazing post must say. I m from Pakistan and am a doctor with a 6 month old baby. So u see the issue here is that most women are submissive in my part of the world but being professional and qualified it seems as if people and society will mock me if i become a submissive wife and honestly just this social display is affecting my marriage a lot. And then another reason i m scared to be submissive is because my husband usually is mkre concerned about his parents,his sisters,his family leaving me behind. I obviously hate it. I dont want to be the nagging wife but he ends up doong stuff that annoys me to the limits and unfortunately if i dont say up he doesnt even realize that he did something wr

  12. Wrong … He doesnt enjoy taking me out but loves to go out woth his friends or sisters ….. If i want something i keep on asking him to bring and he always forgets so eventually i go myself …. Basically he is just like his dad(we live with my in laws by the way). His dad sits in front of the tv all day just ordering around his mom to bring this,bring that,make this for me make that for me do this do that n i m assuming my hubby is totally planning to follow his footsteps since he also just keeps on ordering me around when hes home while his own input is very less ….. I dont know how to respond with submission if he doesnt do a single thing for me …. I m confused. (By the way sorry for spelling mistakes n the break in the 1st comment since typing from my cell phone) the way

  13. I like the distinction you have drawn between submission and subordination, but I think it may be a bit before I’m sold on the whole idea. I think we do best equally leading the family. We are both weak in certain areas and I don’t think that one or the other making all of the decisions would be wise.

    • I think I may have left out an important point in this post – the way husbands and wives share in the responsilibility of their lives. I plan on writing another post on this at some point. There are many areas that I make all the decisions…it’s just that I defer to my husband for the ultimate decision when he needs to be involved (which isn’t always). I’m sorry if this isn’t all that clear, but I will write more in-depth on it (when I return to blogging). :)

  14. Let me just say this about the original Stepford Wives movie. In the 1970s, there were no microchips; so, what they did was murder the wives and replace them with robots. It may be that way in the book also; yes, the book came first.

    It was based on the fact that men do not like or want intelligent, thinking women; they want stupid, dumb women. If you don’t believe that, look at some of the television commercials of the time that show women as too dumb to make a simple decision such as how to make coffee or what salad dressing to use.

    • That’s interesting about the original movie – and terribly creepy! A shame it was based on murder.

      Well, I’m choosing to embrace one simple aspect of the 1950’s – submission. :)

  15. This is an interesting post. I like how you make the distinction between submission and subordination. It is a thought provoking perspective on the dynamic of a marriage. I haven’t seen either of the Stepford Wives movies, but I might have to check them out.

  16. I loved this. I really agree with a lot of the sentiment here.

    I love talking to my grandma about what life was like as a wife and mother of five back during the 50’s. It’s fascinating and gives me a whole other perspective. She did SO much! She worked so hard! I don’t think that’s bad. I think that if more moms were like that now things would be a lot better. There, I said it.

  17. I think people misunderstand the term submit and submission a lot. You did a good job of explaining it.

  18. I agree with you and think the key that you pointed out is that your husband puts God and you first…. when you know your husband is serving God and has submitted himself first to God, then it’s easy to submit yourself to him because ultimately,you’re both being lead and therefore are submitted to God, above each other. When ungodly men get this twisted is when it goes astray! Great post, and I’m glad you’ve got a good man who makes this easy for you!

  19. I can see this viewpoint, appreciate it and agree with many aspects. I definitely think there’s a difference between the negative “subordination” view and simply doing the things for your husband and family that are supportive and make them happy. Often the response is positive and the supportiveness is returned from the other side in different ways. I will say though, I don’t agree with just one person yielding to the other in a relationship; I view it as more of a cohesive thing. When I yield to the things my husband appreciates, I find that he does the same with me (or vice versa), and it makes our relationship work positively and causes us to work with each other instead of bullheadedly expecting things from one another.

    Also, you sent me the wonderful book you mention in your post from a giveaway, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed reading it and taking in all these different aspects on how to keep relationships working well.

  20. Valerie,

    I love that you’ve embraced your inner 1950’s housewife (kind of!) I feel the same way. My husband is so good to me and so devoted to God, it’s no problem at all for me to follow his lead. I’m so glad you have a husband just as great (although I must admit I’m a bit biased toward mine =) )

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited here, I realized that I hadn’t subscribed but I’ll make sure to take care of that now!

    Good to be back!

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