People sometimes ask me what’s the key to remaining happily married. Jeff and I have been married nearly 19 years. We’ve been through a lot together. Now I could tell them that marriage is more than a contract, it’s a covenant between you and God. Or I could tell them that marriage isn’t about your feelings or someone else making you happy; it’s about you making your spouse happy.
But the one thing I like to point to, is the plaque that hangs in my laundry room. It is rumored to be excerpted from a 1950’s high school home economics textbook. Maybe you’ve seen it before. For those of us who may have missed that class, here is marital advice to live by.
How to be a Good Wife
HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way to let him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and having a good meal ready is part of the warm welcome that is needed. (‘Planning ahead’ is key. I once served Jeff microwave popcorn for dinner. In my defense, I opened the bag and poured it into a bowl.)
PREPARE YOURSELF: Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you will be refreshed when he arrives. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift. Greet him with a smile. (If I were a little “gay,” I’m sure I ‘d also be a little more interesting.)
CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip though the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up children’s books and toys, papers, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you lift too. ( We have two teen-aged sons and a preteen. Enough said.)
PREPARE THE CHILDREN: If they are small, wash their hands and faces and comb their hair. They are his little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. (See prior comment.)
MINIMIZE ALL NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise from the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet. (So, you DON’T want me to clean the house?)
SOME “DO NOT’S”: Don’t greet him with problems and complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Count this as a minor problem compared to what he might have gone through that day. (Question: When do I get to complain? If you couldn’t tell – I’m complaining right now.)
MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down in the bedroom. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing voice. Allow him to relax and unwind. (Why don’t you just say – and get undressed.)
LISTEN TO HIM: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. (Or enjoy the sound of crickets chirping.)
MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he doesn’t take you to dinner or to other entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to unwind and relax. (Better to make the evening ‘his’ than the ‘Evening News’.)
THE GOAL: TO MAKE YOUR HOME A PLACE OF PEACE AND ORDER WHERE YOUR HUSBAND CAN RELAX IN BODY AND SPIRIT.
Okay, I actually agree with that last one. That is my goal. The other recommendations are more like fantasies.