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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?
If you have yet to see the photo, here it is:
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. 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.
The 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. 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”.
After 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.
What aspects would you want to protect or return? How can we move towards balance and not another extreme?
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