In Other Words;

by Stephanie Fellenstein, Hudson Monthly Editor;

My husband arrived home a couple months ago with a copy of, "The Good Wife's Guide," which was printed in Housekeeping Monthly magazine in May 1955.

I promptly tossed it aside and just found it again the other day.

It is fascinating reading.

According to the guide, I am supposed to have dinner ready when my husband returns home to let him know that I have been thinking about him and am concerned about his needs.

I am also supposed to prepare myself by taking 15 minutes to rest so I'll be refreshed when he arrives. The good wife should touch up her make-up and put a ribbon in her hair.

As for the children, "they are little treasures, and he would like to see them playing the part," the guide says.

That means more "suggestions" for me -- wash their hands, faces, comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes before he walks through the door.

I'm supposed to let him talk first because "his topics of conversation are more important than mine."

While I don't agree with most of the suggestions in "The good wife's guide," I must admit that the husbands in 2007 have it a lot harder than their 1950s counterparts.

With women projected to make up approximately 46.8 percent of the labor force by 2014, men have had to take on more roles at home.

According to information from the Department for Professional Employees, chartered by the AFL-CIO, the number of working women has risen from 5.1 million in 1900, to 18.4 million in 1950 to 65.7 million in 2005. The number of working women is projected to reach almost 76 million by 2014.

Between working and chauffeuring the kids to activities, wives no longer have time to "arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes."

But the husbands have stepped up. They are at soccer practice, preschool and birthday parties. They cook dinner, do laundry and read stories at bedtime.

This is what my husband in 2007 returns home to.

Five minutes before he arrives home, he receives a call on his cell phone. As soon as he answers, screaming erupts in the background, topped by the barking dog, as I shout, "Where are you?"

I'm lucky if I can get the kids to brush their teeth and comb their hair in the morning, so there is no chance that they have been re-groomed for his homecoming.

As he side steps his way past bikes, balls and kittens, the kids jump on him as soon as he walks through the door, already begging him to play soccer, go for a walk or fix a toy.

"How was your day," I ask, but never hear the answer because I continue on with his list of after-work activities -- drive one kid to a birthday party, the lawn needs to be mowed before the play group arrives, my car's acting weird, and, oh yeah, I think the cats killed something in the basement.

For Father's Day, I plan to give him the day off. I'll try to keep the kids under control, arrange his pillow, bring him the newspaper and make dinner because come Monday, he's going to be very busy.


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