Marriage Advice From The Forties and Fifties That We Would Never Follow Now

1950s-marriage-advice
1950s-marriage-advice
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Women's Hour The BBC comissioned a survey to highlight the difference in attitudes towards women and how this reflects our happiness. The results highlighted just how much things have changed for women since 1947 when the programme first aired on Radio4. Compared to 50% in 1947, today 86% of women would rather be a woman than a man.

Some of the stats revealed still sound incrdibly low, but compared to what they were originally it shows we have come a long way. 42% of women surveyed said they believe men and women give up equal amounts of freedom when they get married today but just a quarter of men and women said the same in a 1951 survey. We are also happier in our marriage than we have been previously, a surprising statistic when the amount of divorces are on the rise. 87% of people said they would marry the same partner if they had their time again compared to 77% in 1949.

We've certainly come a long way in 70 years- it's astonishing what wives in the 40s and 50s were told would keep their marriage happy, everything from not talking to maintaining clean table cloths. Read through some of the shocking advice given to housewives to keep their men happy...

1. Keep quiet

From How To Be A Good Wife by Edward Podolsky (1943)

"Don't bother your husband with petty troubles and complaints when he comes home from work. Be a good listener. Let him tell you his troubles; yours will seem trivial in comparison.

Remember your most important job is to build up and maintain his ego (which gets bruised plenty in business). Morale is a woman's business.

Let him relax before dinner. Discuss family problems after the inner man has been satisfied."

Or heaven forbid you ask your husband for anything, otherwise known as 'nagging':

From Sex Satisfaction and Happy Marriage by Reverend Alfred Henry Tyrer (1951)

"I verily believe that the happiness of homes is destroyed more frequently by the habit of nagging than by any other one. A man may stand that sort of thing (nagging) for a long time, but the chances are against his standing it permanently. If he needs peace to make life bearable, he will have to look for it elsewhere than in his own house. And it is quite likely that he will look."

2. Ensure your husband is fed to keep him out of saloons

More advice from Rev. Tyrer:

"A social service meeting, an afternoon tea, a matinee, a whatnot, is no excuse for there being no dinner ready when a husband comes home from a hard day's work.

Housekeeping accomplishments and cooking ability are, of course, positive essentials in any true home, and every wife should take a reasonable pride in her skill. Happiness does not flourish in an atmosphere of dyspepsia."

These sentiments are echoed by Dr. William Josephus Robinson:

"Bad cooking is responsible for dyspepsia, dyspepsia is responsible for grouchiness and irritability, grouchiness and irritability lead to quarrels and squabbles. And bad cooking, which is the usual thing in the average American home, has been responsible as much as any other factor for driving the husband to the saloon, and to other places. And when she does cook, she should cook, and not be, as somebody said, a mere can opener."

3. Don't expect your husband to come home to a dirty tablecloth

According to Tyrer, if the wife "is constantly setting him down to indigestible meals, cold and unappetizing, with nothing properly cooked, set out on a kitchen table with a dirty cloth, she need not be surprised if her husband frequently telephones from the office that business will prevent him from being home for dinner."

4. But make sure your house isn't too clean

From Married Life And Happiness by Dr. William Josephus Robinson:

"Men like a clean house, but fussing about all the time, upsetting the house in order to keep it clean, will drive a man from the house elsewhere."

5. Always wear pink underwear

"That the underwear should be spotlessly clean goes without saying, but every woman should wear the best quality underwear that she can afford. And the color should be preferably pink. And lace and ruffles, I am sorry to say, add to the attractiveness of underwear, and are liked by the average man."