Books · Musings of a Housewife · Retro Housewife: A Salute to the Suburban Superhero

Vintage Wife vs. The Modern World

I feel the need to break down the huge differences between the lifestyle of the 1950’s and the lifestyle of the 2010’s.

While most of us Stay At Home Spouses strive to be June Clever, it just isn’t possible in 2016. Lets take a look at why.

In 1950 a men made a pretty good wage, and they were paid according to their family status. Are they married? Do they have children? If so how many?

In 1950 there was a grocery shop, a butcher shop, and a milk man. Each item had its own shop, so things were not as high priced. There more, more money for other household expenses.

Most other wives were also at home. So, stopping by to say hello was a break in the day. Now, its not common for a wife to stay at home, so there really isn’t any other social doings during the day. And if there are, you wont find them in the middle class area.

The internet was not a thing in 1950s, at all! We spoke to each other, send cards, made phone calls, and paid bills at the office.

People didn’t have a cell phone going off every 5 minutes with a new notification to please our curiosity about what Bobby Jo made for lunch, or what Lisa is making for supper.

Spouses spoke to each other instead of venting to friends and family, and instead of posting angry memes on FaceBook, they sat down after dinner and talked about it.

They TALKED. They did not argue over who was right and who was wrong, they spoke to each other to try and see the other persons views. Men may have been the head of the home, but they cared deeply about their wife, and took her interest to heart.

There was a booklet published that said the wife should not bother her husband with her worries, they do not matter. They should worry about their husbands, because he is the most important thing.

Well, that’s wrong.

I’m sorry if you disagree, but I just don’t see how that can be right at all.

I strive every day to do something good for my husband, but some days it just isn’t seen, or noticed, and sometimes its a downright fight because I feel ignored. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get him to see that I need his attention or his affection on days when I feel like I am unworthy.

Also, most men worked 8 am – 4 pm, or 9 am – 5 pm. So there was plenty of time for the wife to get her chores done. Well, my husband starts work between 2 pm & 4 pm, and gets out between 8 pm & 11 pm. And guess what? He works weekends. And his first day off is usually spent with his parents. So, while I am trying to wake up early and clean before he gets up, I feel guilty for not laying in bed with him. And at night while I’m trying to pick up the house before he gets home from work, I feel guilty for not spending time with my daughter. And that little 1 hour bit of time I get to myself 3 days a week – well, I am sure that the housewives in the 1950’s got much more than that.

We don’t have a car, so I depend on a friend to offer me a lift to the grocery store, and I depend on my husband to pick things up from the store because most days spending $5 on one bus ticket is not in the budget.

While I try to make the best of what we have, I sometimes cannot stretch our money to meet our needs to the end of the month, and thats stressful.

So, let me clarify that, while this is what I wanted, it is not the way I wanted it. But I wouldn’t change it. I love cooking and cleaning for my family. But our family has A LOT more then my grandparents ever did. Our home is also much smaller.  My Papa had his basement and his garage. My grandma did her sewing and crosswords at either the kitchen table or the rocker in the living room.

Family got together there for the holidays, and everyone loved everyone else.

This is not the family or home we have. This is not the home that is within our budget. We live in a home that is much too small, but that we can afford. We may have half of what they had, but we have a house that is 1/3 the size. Am I ungrateful? Not in the least. I am so grateful for everything my husband does for us. But while one sock in my Grandmothers home may have gone unnoticed, it is an eye sore in our home, where you can see the living room floor from the kitchen table.

Laundry is in the basement and we live on the second floor, we have no front door to go out, so walking down the back steps can sometimes be a hassle.

While I love my daughter to death, her leaving one little thing in the living room can drive me nuts because I’ve just finished cleaning, and all I want is to sit down and take a break.

In the end, it truly feels like the things I do go unnoticed, because the clutter goes from 0-ungodly within the first 5 minutes of everyone walking in the door.

Maybe this isn’t a wife thing – maybe this is a modern day thing. Did wives feel this way in the 1950s? Or did they just brush it off?

I can’t imagine anyone being OK with not feeling like what they do is appreciated. And I cannot imagine putting my own feelings on the back burner because I do not earn the living wage. I mean, how is that possible?

Furthermore, I feel like trying to live in the 1950’s during 2016 is just…. well…. stupid. There, I said it. Does that mean I wont try my hardest to be the best wife possible? Nope! It means I will try even harder. Because I know that there are so many things different, that I have to make a harder effort.

The whole point of this is, the book Retro Housewife is great – it shows us all the facts about housewives and homes from the 1950’s. And I think its important to see that it is NOT how life is today. We try so hard to fit into this mold that no longer exist, and we are tearing ourselves down.

Instead, fit into the mold you create for yourself. Set your personal standards a little higher, and live up to them. Don’t make them unrealistic. Make them challenging.

With that being said…. I hope you find the next month of facts enlightening. Don’t strive to be like them, strive to realize the differences, and work to be a better wife despite the differences.


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