Congratulations! You are a blushing bride, perhaps recently returned from a honeymoon at Niagara, and you and your new husband are settling into your first few months of domestic bliss. (If you are not newly married, please accept my sincere condolences. I suggest availing yourself of advice on how to be a more desirable and marriageable female, to be found in future articles of this column.) The thank-you notes have been posted, on stationery stamped with your new monogram, of course, and you’ve unpacked and arranged your new home just so. Now is the optimal moment to begin a household regimen.
Arrange your home with logic and efficiency in mind. Ask your husband to help you make these plans if logic is not your strong suit. Maintain a convenient cleaning station near the kitchen sink, complete with dishwashing supplies; have spices and utensils easily at hand near the stove and oven; eliminate wasted space on countertops and in closets by installing extra shelving; keep cleaning supplies in a basket to carry from room to room. “Do you make it easy and pleasant for [your husband] to get to work on time? Do you see that his breakfast is prepared (and if possible shared with you) on time? Do you keep his work clothes in order and available?” (“Making Marriage Work,” Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1950). Remember, your organizational skills will reflect well on your husband and with those with whom he interacts in his daily affairs.
Organization and forethought will also serve you well in the kitchen. Plan meals in advance, days or weeks, as is convenient. Draft your marketing around these meal patterns and maintain a shopping list; buy staples in bulk where applicable. When you are meal planning, keep dietary and nutritional needs in mind but account too for taste and visual appeal. Try to include seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables when choosing recipes. While cooking today’s meals, have tomorrow’s in mind; prepare ahead refrigerated items, such as gelatin moulds or cream sauces. If you inexplicably find yourself with free time prepare last-minute baking dishes, such as refrigerated dough for cookies or dinner rolls or a frozen meat loaf or casserole dish, in anticipation of surprise dinner guests (Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950, pg. 429).
Preparation applies to the longevity of your marriage too. No matter the length of your courtship, you have much still to learn about your new husband. Part of keeping your home is to learn all you can about him. “The bride who wants to do her full job will plan from the start to create the kind of home her husband wants, and to do it with no more assistance than he willingly offers” (“Making Marriage Work,” Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1950). A housecoat is all that is necessary for your morning tasks but when you rise, before preparing your husband’s breakfast, prepare yourself. Run a comb through your hair, wash your face, and apply a coat of lipstick. Your normal washing and make-up routine may follow later in the morning but you owe it to your husband to greet him with a fresh look. It is of utmost importance that you know how your husband takes his morning coffee and remember to fetch the morning paper from the stoop, have it opened to the front page beside his place at the table. As part of your studies, quiz your mother-in-law about your husband’s favorite dishes and politely request copies of some of her signature recipes. She has known her son and his habits much longer than you have known your husband — rely on her as a resource in understanding his tastes and preferences. Ask about his favorite cookies and cakes too! You will want to please his sweet tooth.
As a housewife, you will find pleasure and gratification in the proficient keeping of your home but you will do well to “harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make every task lighter and pleasanter” (Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950, pg. 431). This care of self will do wonders for your health and morale and, more importantly, will be a benefit to your husband. If you have had a tiring day, make a point of resting in a chair for 3 to 5 minutes. Refresh your make-up and change your apron before your husband returns home. Be pleasant and companionable; “notice humorous and interesting incidents to relate at dinner-time, etc.” (Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950, pg. 431). Remember, “the clever wife has a simple appetizing cocktail (cold in summer, hot in winter) ready for her weary husband when he comes home at night!” (Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950, pg. 47).
You are just beginning a lifelong journey. No matter what training you may or may not have had in the running of a home, you will continue to have many opportunities to learn. Practice each task until it goes smoothly and easily. Thus develop your techniques in:
(Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950, pg. 429).
Seek always to improve, beautify, and make more pleasant and gracious your home and person. Rely upon the preferences and desires of your husband to guide you in the decorating of your home, the recipes of your meal planning, and the attractions of your character. With prudence and planning, no task will be too daunting and your home will be a safe haven of gracious living for your husband to return to. Many happy returns!