Fiction

Every Man needs a Perfect Wife

Written by Jenn Gosselin. Satirizing a 1956 article from Good Housekeeping, this piece of historical fiction speculates on how R.E. Dumas Milner may have expected women to behave.

Context: A little historical fiction piece, satirizing R.E. Dumas Milner’s piece from Good Housekeeping “Before I Hire Your Husband, I Want to Meet You!” from January 1956. Good Housekeeping is an American magazine that is delivered monthly. The bold words are from the original article.

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Why can’t you be more like Judith?

Susan brushed away a few errant tears, the harsh words still echoing.

Her husband had been none too pleased with her. He had returned home from work one afternoon to find that Susan had not cleaned the house, nor had she set food on the table, nor really completed any of her wifely duties. He had fussed at her the entire evening, comparing her to their next-door neighbor, Judith.

Judith and her husband often invited Susan and her husband over for drinks. Their children played together, and for the most part, the families got along famously. Susan might even consider Judith a good friend, but comparison was the thief of joy, and she didn’t much like being compared to anyone else.

Susan sniffed, and looked down at the magazine clutched in her hand. Judith had dropped it off, after the husbands had gone off to work.

“Read this. Trust me. It’s a life saver,” Judith had reassured Susan, pressing the glossy pages into her hand.

Whatever it took to make her husband happy, Susan was willing to try anything. She devoured the brief but poignant article Judith had referenced, and decided to enact the things she had learned.

A good wife is friendly.

Susan practiced her smile for several mornings in front of her vanity mirror. After all, men loved to see a good smile. The more one smiles, the happier one will become. Susan baked and baked and made friends with other wives in the neighborhood with delicious pastries. According to the magazine, the more friends one has, the more one can practice their entertaining skills. Susan did not want to be caught unawares if her husband ever brought his boss home for dinner.  

A good wife is part of her community.

Susan immediately began to volunteer her services for church activities every Sunday. She even became involved in her children’s school functions and participated in local town hall meetings. All of this to become the best good-will ambassador for her husband she could be. Susan had to keep in mind that representing herself in a positive light reflected well on her husband!

A good wife’s primary interest is her husband, her home, and her children.

Susan had to remember that perhaps the most important thing about being a wife was putting her husband, home, and children above all else. She worked tirelessly to keep the house so clean that one could eat off the floor. She stayed up until all hours of the night, completing the homework science projects she helped to build. Her husband was so impressed with how much Susan had changed, he could not stop singing her praises for always looking out for his health and his happiness.

Because of Susan’s hard work, she has become the perfect wife. She cooks like a gourmet chef, she cleans regularly, she maintains a positive disposition, and rears her children like the most perfect of mothers. Susan is precisely the type of wife any man would be lucky to have.

And because of the profound impact of that magazine article, Susan is no longer the complaining woman. Susan always approaches her day with a sunny and positive attitude. Her husband finds that his day is brighter and runs smoother when his wife doesn’t complain about bad weather or misbehaving children. After all, no one likes a nag.

Thanks to that article, Susan will not now nor ever be the dominating woman. A husband does not appreciate for his wife to dictate what he can and cannot eat, nor how he should run his business: at home or at work. Susan knows that her husband will make the decisions for her and the rest of the household. If he wants her opinion, he will ask for it.

And finally, because of that life-altering magazine, Susan is no longer the wife-in-a-rut. No husband likes a self-conscious, nervous, or awkward wife, nor an unfashionable one. Susan constantly makes sure to look over the latest magazines for trends in hair and in clothing. She also loves to consult her mother-in-law for different dishes to cook her husband.

Life is good. And when the woman down the street expresses her despair in displeasing her husband, Susan passes on the magazine, citing it as a lifesaver.

Source: Milner, R.E. Dumas. “Before I Hire Your Husband, I Want to Meet You!” Good Housekeeping. January 1956, p. 52.

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