Bring Back the 50s “Wife”!?

Balancing Towards a Healthy Marriage

A photo has recently circulated around social media describing how a wife in the 1950s should prepare for her husband’s return from work.  Now, before I say anything else, let the record show that if I expected any of these items from my wife, she wouldn’t be my wife for very long. But the picture did get me thinking – have we discarded some valuable marriage advice on account of the extreme conditions we found ourselves in?

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If you have yet to see the photo, here it is:

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We read these 1950s guidelines humorously in 2016.  Many today can’t even imagine living in a world with that mindset.

But here’s the issue: we have to realize we’re people of extremes. We tend to go from one extreme (nearly abuse of women) to the other (nearly abuse of men).  You could argue against those extremes if you want, but the pendulum definitely swings.

In Canada, the divorce rate has leveled off in recent years, but so has the commitment of marriage.1  In our push to treat women better, we haven’t solved marriage problems.  The problems are just different now.

So, here’s my question: have we discarded anything of value?  To use the common phrase: “Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater?”

Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Selflessness is the key to a healthy marriage.

A healthy #marriage should include two people who put the other before themselves. Click To TweetThe verse that says, “Wives submit to your husbands…and husbands love your wives, like Christ loved the Church…” (Ephesians 5:22f) is often misunderstood.  The key to that verse is selflessness.  A healthy marriage should include two people who put the other person before themselves. Why not spoil your spouse!?  The only potential problem – it can’t be one-sided.

2. Generalized gender roles shouldn’t exist.

Our culture demands gender roles – what men and women should and shouldn’t do. Biblically, this shouldn’t be the case.  Jacob and Esau are great examples.  Both were male and yet completely different.  Esau was a hunter, while Jacob was a home-maker.  At no point, does scripture say either of them were “outside” of their gender.2  A healthy marriage doesn’t include generalized roles, rather leverages the strengths of each other.  That means some of these guidelines could actually help stay-at-home dads as well.

3. Listening and communicating to your spouse is a good thing.

If you haven’t heard this before, you haven’t been listening.  Communication and genuinely listening to your spouse is a part of a healthy marriage.  A common issue among divorcees is a lack of attention for each other.  Again, it can’t be one-sided, but it’s something we should value and protect for sure.

4. It takes a community to raise a child.

This 1950 guide seems to put most of the active parenting role on the mother; however, both parents (and sometimes other family and friends) hold that responsibly.  It’s probably safe to say we all agree with that.  The problem is, when we discard this traditional mindset, we can’t forget that if someone does stay home with the children (either parent) their level of daily parenting is still greater.  The responsibility might be equal, while the activity may not be.  A healthy marriage recognizes this dynamic.

5. Stress goes both ways.

There’s no need for “making him comfortable.”  But let’s face it, everyone deals with a variety of issues every day.  A healthy marriage recognizes the daily stress of their spouse.  It’s probably not a good idea to compare the level of stress – the stress is just different.  I wish I was better at this, but creating a “winding-down time” before diving into the world of parenting a toddler would be helpful.

6. Make the evening “ours”.

A healthy #marriage is about being together. #unity #HealthyAttention Click To TweetAfter a long day make efforts to spend quality time together.  Watch your favorite TV show, play a game, or share a funny story.  Even if it’s work around the house, time spent together is valuable.  If there’s one thing this guide has right, is protecting the need for the home to be a safe and peaceful place. It just shouldn’t be one-sided.  A healthy marriage is about being together.

I can’t say I’m perfect on all these fronts [and my wife would say, “Amen!”], but they are things I value and try to work on.

At the end of day, we should probably take this 1950s list and apply it to both spouses.  We have the tendency to dismiss things.  If we lived more selflessly, however, marriage would become a sought after commitment instead of a traditional option.

Your turn…

What aspects would you want to protect or return?  How can we move towards balance and not another extreme?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Christina

    Excellent article! I agree with pretty much everything except #2 and #4 — I do think there are SOME gendered roles Bibically speaking (woman as a “helper”) and they are not an inherently bad thing- society has made them a bad thing. Titus 2:3-5, as well as some other verses also identify roles and responsibilities. It seems to me that a woman working outside the home as a means to an end (to help support her family and be a helper to her husband), is different than a woman who works out of the home because of her own personal preference and career needs despite having children at home that need her (but the same is true of the man). This relates to my disagreement with #4, that it takes a community (village) to raise a child…..it doesn’t take a community at all- just two loving and caring parents (a mom and dad) who have their childs best interest at heart and who can unselfishly put their childrens needs before their own who raise them up in the “admonition of the Lord”. While it is nice to have a community of people SUPPORTING the parent in raising the child – it does not take a community to RAISE the child- as the saying goes- I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my children! Especially not the “village” of today.

    • You’re right in that there are biblical gender responsibilities (ie. helper and partner), but the Bible doesn’t specify gender roles like culture has defined (ie. fashion versus hunting). Much more could be written on that topic.

      In terms of “community” – two parents (mother and father) are ideal, but not always available. Quite often single parents and sometimes grandparents end up raising children. My definition of “community” is a little different. My immediate community is my wife and two kids, then the community reaches to the extended family, and then friends, and church family, neighborhood, etc..etc.. The influence of community would be in that order. That dynamic can prove to be very helpful in the raising of kids – I’ve grown greatly with those extended influences in my life.

      Thanks for sharing Christina!