Reverence Your Husband

“7 tips for keeping your Man (from 1950’s)” Another modern article tries hard to dismiss some good common sense and wisdom from the 1950’s. The tone of the article is sarcastic and demeaning, but there was some wonderful advice quoted from the 40’s-50’s:

The Number One Rule. Reverence Your Husband.—He sustains by God’s order a position of dignity as head of a family, head of the woman. Any breaking down of this order indicates a mistake in the union, or a digression from duty.

Amen!

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9 comments

  1. Every time they hold up one of these lists (some of which are bogus incidentally) for derision it just allows people to see the way it used to be. And could be again.

    1. Many of the lists are bogus in fact. But more than that, anyone who has spent any real amount of time around old couples (in the home, in relaxed settings) knows that despite our longing for the good old days, the percentage of wives who made any earnest effort to wife as outlined in the lists has always been very low.

      The major difference between then and now is that back then wives would at least make an earnest effort to be respectful, not shame their husbands in public, not undermine his reputation. If they had a henpecked husband, they at least had the good sense to know it wasn’t a desirable thing to have everyone else know it. I am reminded of C.S.Lewis words that women instinctively despised a henpecked man.

      On a visceral level this is as true now as it was when he wrote it, but these days few women would verbalize it.

      1. Yes. Literally one of the oldest jokes in the world is the henpecked wife. I think you are correct that a few decades ago couples maintained the polite fiction at least that the man was in control. The advantages were that he was probably inspired to work to be worthy of it.

        I suspect Australian customs are still a bit more supportive of the polite fiction but there have been resentful wives and desperate husbands all along. One of my grandfathers was notorious for being henpecked.

        I just remember the early 1960s. I remember a lot of stressed men. The reality is that life has never been easy.

        I am not sure entirely about women and the service ethic. One of my grandmothers certainly had it and even my wife who was born in 1960 has a good bit of it bred in.

      2. I am not sure entirely about women and the service ethic. One of my grandmothers certainly had it and even my wife who was born in 1960 has a good bit of it bred in.

        I’m not arguing that there was never a service ethic.

        I agree that there was and where I come from, it is still a somewhat shocking thing for a woman to leave his man to fix his own plate. That’s “wifehood 101”, and despite all the bravado and rebellion many black women are known for, there is a telling look at family gatherings if a young man brings a girl to a potluck and she doesn’t serve him his food. Said young woman will have a harder time winning over the women in the family and not even know why.

        That said, it’s not a tradition rooted in reverence for husbands as much as a sign of how good of a wife you want to appear to be, which is why it doesn’t permeate the rest of the relationship.

  2. Yes. Social pressure makes a difference and I have seen women pressured into serving and into not serving.

    I think this public display may or may not be combined with private respectful behaviour. From a masculine perspective, public respect is at least a good start.

  3. “despite our longing for the good old days, the percentage of wives who made any earnest effort to wife as outlined in the lists has always been very low.” Yes, but at least it was still considered the ideal.

  4. There was this great quote about nostalgia (that I can’t find.) But it said that nostalgia isn’t a longing for the past but for the future and ultimately for the eternal. We can’t go back we have to go forward, Cultivating virtue in our own lives and in our own time.

  5. I totally agree. One of the things I have come to note about the way Americans live is that we (for so much of our history valued propriety over piety, not realizing that if the proper ideals were not a matter of the heart, then the natural order of things only demanded that at some point the lack of piety driving our desire to appear to believe in the ideals would rise to the surface.

    When our older daughters started middle school, they began to hear me tell them a truth that they now, as 20-year-olds, have acknowledged was one they are glad I tried to impart. I read them Proverbs 14:1, and I told them, “A woman of 30 doesn’t just wakes up and suddenly decides to live foolishly. These years, right here, are the ones that lay the ground work for what kind of woman you’ll be at 25, 30, 40.” And when I would see or hear signs of something that might be a lifelong issue, I’d say to them, “A woman doesn’t just wake up one day foolish.”

    I think this same principle applies to how we cultivate wifely virtues and pass on the same to our daughters. It is very, very hard for we human beings to internalize the greater principle of the why behind the what. So when our culture decided that the why’s of the past were no longer valid, then the what’s changed, along with any pretenses that held them in place.

    Long story short, you’re right about the ideals, mrsktc. I was simply lamenting that they hadn’t been built on the rock of Truth more than on the sand of appearances.

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