Saturday, June 14, 2014

Retro Etiquette for 1960's Housewives

Or... How to add to your husband's prestige.

Do you build respect for their father in your children?


Do You Know What Not to Talk About?

In some way nearly everything a wife does adds or detracts from her husband's stature.  When she drives him to the station in the morning looking happy and casually well-groomed, a contribution is being made to what he accomplishes that day. The grace and dignity with which she goes about her daily errands add to the dignity of his reputation. The ease and charm with which she entertains their guests makes their home seem a very special place. When she takes part in community activities, it adds to his prestige, and business organizations have long been aware that a man's wife is an important factor in his work. The image she presents of him to her friends and neighbors in conversation often has much to do with the opinion they form of him.

A wife who refrains from discussing certain subjects often contributes to her husbands prestige in subtle ways. Even when other women in your group are indiscrete in revealing intimate facts about their married life, remain tactfully silent. Information that should not be revealed even to close friends include any lacks in your husband's background or education, any business ambition or disappointments, and, of course, any personal limitations or idiosyncrasies. To mention these is poor taste as well as disloyal. You should not, on the other hand, boast about your husband to outsiders. To do so embarrasses the listener.

Personal financial matters are never a good subject for conversation. A wife should not reveal her husband's salary or other sources of income. To suggest that a husband's salary is inadequate makes him seem unsuccessful. Confidences about debt, loans, or mortgages are also taboo. The working wife should never say that she has to work because they need the money (even if this is true) or reveal the amount of her salary or mention what she buys or contributes to household expenses.
A wife who refrains from discussing certain subjects often contributes to her husbands prestige in subtle ways.

It is unwise to mention that your husband expects a promotion in his work or that he has failed to get a promotion he sought. It would also be unwise to confide that your husband has a chronic illness or to give detailed information about any acute illness. Anything that suggests emotional stress should not be mentioned. And his age or your own or any great difference between them is better not discussed.

The tactful wife, even if she shares her husband's beliefs on religious, philosophical, or political matters, should not become his spokesman in conversation. She should preface her remarks with "I believe ..." or "I think..." Not, "We believe..." and so forth.

The subtle way to let others know that a life goal has been reached, is to invite intimates to share an informal celebration.
A man's personal ambitions also should be revealed only by the man himself. Women too often reveal their husband's confidences in these matters with the thought of indicating that he is ambitious. The time for others to know about such hopes is after they are realized. The subtle way to let others know that a life goal has been reached, is to invite intimates to share an informal celebration. A loyal wife will also be on guard to protect her husband when prying questions are asked. Usually the light touch is helpful in warding these off.
  

Do You Know How to Talk with Business Associates?  

When she drives him to the station in the morning looking happy and casually well-groomed, a contribution is being made to what he accomplishes that day.
In talking with her husband's business associates, a wife should not quote her husband too often -- and then never about business matters. She shows intelligence and individuality by sticking to impersonal topics of conversation that nearly everyone finds interesting. When asked what her husband thinks about a certain subject, she would smile and say: "Perhaps you should let Rod answer that question himself." This suggests her husband has a mind of his own.

In meeting her husband's employees or subordinates, she should be cordial, impeccably courteous, and interested in what they have to say, without seeming curious or familiar. She should avoid talking about her husband or other personal matters and she should give the impression that she knows nothing personal about those with whom she talks. By seeming innocent of even small matters, she conveys that important matters -- illness, family problems -- are also unknown.

Before social encounters with business associates, clients, customers, and so forth, a wife should check with her husband about certain topics and find out whether they should be mentioned or not. The wife who uses personal diplomacy to protect her husband in even the smallest matters makes him seem discreet.

Do You Build Respect for Their Father in Your Children?

When a wife shows respect and consideration for her husband, she sets an example that their children will usually follow. She should be careful with what she teases her husband about in the presence of their children, because often the children do not understand such levity. The children should often hear their father lauded in terms of attractive personality traits and accomplishments that are not related to money.

A wife should never derogate or criticize her husband in front of their children.  Building their father up to your children is one of the best ways of instilling pride in their family name. It also gives the child a feeling that he is someone special to have such a father. The mother who confides her husband's limitations to her children is filling their minds with uncertainty about their family status.
The children should often hear their father lauded in terms of attractive personality traits and accomplishments that are not related to money.
The wife who fully accepts her responsibilities as a homemaker will want to do her job as well as her husband does his.  If you know that it is disruptive to call him often at work about household problems, refrain from doing so.  A wife who jeopardizes her husband's credit by running up bills or by spending money unwisely reflects upon him as well as herself. On the other hand, paying bills promptly and exercising good judgment in spending money will make her admired by those with whom she does business and will improve her husband's community standing.


From 1963's "Social Awareness -- Your Guide to Today's Manners," by Luella Cumming