Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Old Time Housewife

Library of Congress: Family in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1942

Before American Feminism took root in the 1970's, women looked forward to marriage, family and a home of their own. A Girl would spend years learning to cook and clean and take care of a home. She might gather special things for her future life. She hoped for a future as a wife and a mother. When that day finally came, it was like her graduation. The moment she stepped into her first place, whether an apartment or house, she got right to work.

She dressed nicely, did laundry, baked, cooked, grocery shopped and kept a nice home. She catered to her husband and followed his wishes, just like a secretary would assist her boss. There was a mutual respect and admiration - each contributing much needed skills to the marriage. Each had their place.

These old time housewives took great pride in their work. And they were grateful.  The husbands wanted their wives at home. One common saying was heard by these good men, "I don't want my wife working." A husband wanted the home kept. He didn't want his wife running around, getting into trouble, gossiping, or working to earn the living.  He wanted his wife dependent on him, which in return helped make her sweet and gentle and thankful.  If she became discontent with the income he earned, or tried to run out and earn the living, she was usurping his authority - she was criticizing his role.  A good wife learned to adjust her housekeeping to the lifestyle her husband provided her - whether in a small, humble cabin or a grand mansion.

A wife who was sheltered and protected in the home, the kind who loved being there, this wife was the joy of the family. Her sweet spirit was surrounded by her loved ones. She was there for all their troubles and turmoils. She was there to nurse them from the pain of the world. And they dearly loved her!  She was not distracted by schemes of getting rich, or finding herself. She was not lured away by the local mall or the endless luncheons put on  by women's clubs. She was home and happy and cherished. Why was she cherished? Because she was grateful and humble and willing to serve her family.

When a housewife acts like they did in the old days, eventually it brings out the chivalry in a man. It makes him want to protect and care for her. But her actions must be genuine, and they come from years of trial and error.  The good wife is motivated by her desire to do her part, without any reward. But, the reward does come.

Something went wrong, over the years, when these old time housewives stopped setting the example to the younger generation. The young people of today prefer sloth, messy homes, and co-habitation over an old fashioned home life. They find no pride in keeping a nice home. I wonder if this is because some feminist came along and whispered in their ear, that the floor does not have to be scrubbed or that it was okay for dust to accumulate. Her whispers told the wife that she deserved better and she wasn't being treated right. Feminist trickery was designed to make the wife unproductive and take away her work at home.  So she would be free to run around, or get into her husband's business and try to usurp his role. I wonder if these little, subtle steps, slowly eroded the yearning for a godly family. I wonder if this breakdown started with being tricked into running off and neglecting the home.

Mrs. White

[Edited update - (several hours after this was posted, and after several negative comments.)
 - This post was written as the "ideal," many Christian Mothers strive for.  Obviously not all women want this kind of life.  Read what helps. Ignore the rest.]

From the Archives -

The Joy of Home Duties - Gracious Homemaking

Rules to help - Keeping House with Small Children.

Take Special Care of  Him - Cooking for Mister.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Helen said...

Excellent writing as always, and all of it - TRUTH. Thankyou for reminding us of this. I am surely living the highlife! I am grateful! xxx

Anonymous said...

Love this post! There is so much beauty in living in a traditional marriage!

Linda said...

Mrs. White, I enjoyed reading this so much! I was married in the seventies and so many friends told me I "needed more" than to just be a house-wife. It's all I have ever wanted and I do not regret that for one minute, neither do my husband and children.

Cathy said...

Mrs. White, Another lovely description of the blessed life of the Proverbs 31 woman. I am so thankful that I was long ago delivered from the lie of feminism, into this wonderful life I live--described especially well in paragraph four of your post--about Being Cherished. But this is a mystery to some. Paul said what has the fragrance of life to some, has the smell of death to others. It seems you must have touched a nerve, with some readers, according to some of the comments. May I be so bold as to graciously remind any readers who do not enjoy your blog that they are not obligated to keep coming back? I for one, enjoy your writing very much, for it encourages me in my wonderful vocation of being wife and mother and homemaker. Thank you again.

My Husbands' Helpmeet said...

First time here and may I say that this is GREAT! I do believe in what you wrote about a stay at home wife. We are our husbands' helpmeet! We are given a great responsibility to keep a home and ALL that it entails.

I will be married for 20 years this April. I started out as someone who worked in the world - but due to health reasons I had to quit. Thank the Lord for bringing me home where I belong! It was an adjustment I will admit, and one that I didn't like in the beginning. But now, I wouldn't trade it for the world! I see the importance of it.

Mary P said...

Mrs White,

I am always very encouraged by your posts. My children and husband reap the benefits when I am at peace and content in the vocation of homemaker that God has given me. It is so true that these days there is a lot of pressure to get out and "do something worthwhile" but I am blessed to have a husband and friends who encourage me that there is nothing more important than caring for the very people right next to me, in my own home. I am thankful that some women are nurses, teachers, etc - but I feel for them if they are also trying to take care of their husband and children. I used to work part time after I had my first child and even that was a stretch for me. I felt like I wasn't truly able to give enough energy to either vocation. I know that not every woman is able to stay home these days, for various reasons, but I'm thankful that I can. Thank you again for your encouraging words!

Jodi Jepson said...

Mrs White,
Thank you so much for posting this, I could not agree more. My mother told me over and over again as a child I could not "just" be a was not a job. It is a job, and it is the single most important physical "job" a woman has here on this earth. I feel very blessed to have a husband that has never wanted his wife working. I have been a homemaker since I was 18and I have absolutely no regrets and only praises to my King. Ladies this truly is what we are to be not fear.
In Christ, Jodi

Marcia Wilwerding said...

I know exactly what your critical comments were like. I've gotten them, too.

Usually, these complaints come from women who have been hurt by men who have acted in an ungodly manner toward them. But, wicked men -- even those who profess to be believers -- should not be the cog in the wheel of teachings on godly womanhood.

While it is true there are many hurting marriages and torn homes in the Church today, that does not change the biblical ideal which we pray and strive for. In fact, it is because there are so many examples of godlessness in Christian homes today that it is ALL THE MORE URGENT to proclaim the ideal Christian home, the ideal which is ONLY possible by faith.

Please DO NOT let the naysayers stop you from giving hope to others who believe God is able to make all grace abound in their lives and homes.

Praying for you, Sister.

Michelle said...

This was a wonderful post! I am sorry you got negative comments...I always enjoy what you have to say. I am the daughter of a feminist who is surprised at how happy I am to be home with my children- homeschooling, housekeeping, cooking. But I have worked in the past, even been a single mom for a time, and I wouldn't trade this for anything. The interesting thing is how much my mom has 'come around' and supports my decision and goes on quite a bit about how happy my children are. I have my bad days, but I hope to give my daughter the same desire to be at home with her family and to see the worth in the work I do. I hope, too, that my boys will grow to be those men that don't expect their wives to work and find wives that want to stay home!
Please keep writing such wonderful, inspiring posts!

Serena said...

Please don't be discouraged by the negative comments, Mrs. White. I haven't commented here before but just felt the need to encourage you to keep writing your beautiful, inspiring posts. Don't let yourself be intimidated or the rest of us, who agree with you, will lose out on your special voice.

Mrs. Paul said...

So enjoyed this post Mrs. White. Don't be intimidated by those writing negative comments. Your writing is so encouraging and biblical. All I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother and I praise God He gave me the desires of my heart.

Blessings and hugs from Arizona,

Dawn said...

I'm new to your blog. I have enjoyed reading a few of your posts so far. I will continue to come back and read more. Keep up the good work. You are helping those of us who seek to live a godly life.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am sorry that you got so many negative comments. I do believe the "whisper" you refer to is what has made so many women discontent. They aren't happy at home and oddly enough aren't happy when they are out working either.

Michele said...

I never comment, but felt the need to tell you how much I appreciate your courageous, truthful writing. I deeply agree with what you wrote here. How I wish more young women could know the joy of loving and caring for a family and home. I am grateful to have a husband who enjoys having a "kept" home.

Tracy said...

I, for one, thought this was a lovely post. I completely agree with everything you said. I am 42 and, while I didn't start off as a stay at home wife and mother, I am one now and know that I could never go back to the way things were before. I am more than happy to be "old fashioned"!!!!

Jessica Dimas said...

I don't understand why there would've been negative comments, this was a very inspiring post for me. One thing that brings me to your blog are your posts that describe the old days and the attitude and ways of housewives from the past. I didn't grow up with a homemaker for an example to look up to and learn from, so I greatly appreciate when you post on subjects like this. Please don't stop! Thank you again for posting such an encouraging and thought-provoking post.

The Momma Chronicles said...

The truth hurts, doesn't it. Well, it hurts if you're rebelling against it. I used to consider God's perfect ways to be antiquated notions from days gone by. Then? Truth got a hold of me.

God's ways are generational. They're intended to be followed by *everyone* in *every* era. He set things up in the way they work best. It may not be popular, or politically correct, but I choose to look antiquated in society's eyes, rather than rebellious in God's eyes. Every. Time.

Thank you, Mrs. White!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, Mrs. White!

I am currently a working mother of two, and in the past I have been a single mother of one. But my heart has always been at home, nonetheless. Your post really resonates with my core being, and it is what I feel I was meant to do- even though I can't right now. I feel so much peace when I am at home and am managing the ways of my household.

I really hope I get to be a full time homemaker someday, but until then I still like to learn all I can, and be inspired to love and work at homemaking anyway. My family still benefits from my attention to my home and family in my off work hours.

Brittany said...

This was a wonderful post! I really enjoyed it and agree whole heartedly. Feminism is where the family and I might even say real christianity (biblical womanhood)began to degrade.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to write these posts even after you receive the negative comments. With one sick child and one potty training today, I have let the house run wild. Sitting at my computer reading blogs and watching youtube videos because I "deserved" a break. Your post has convicted me to turn my music on and GET TO WORK! thank you!

Anonymous said...

I had found your blog some time ago then lost the address. I am so glad I found it again recently!! Yes I was raised when what you said about how the husband treated his wife and such was the norm. It was so calm and peaceful a time. No we did not have a lot of one did then, but our home was calm as was the neighborhood. I wanted nothing else but to also be a sty at home wife. The women I saw every day all around me were such a good example. I married a man who worked so I could stay at home. I was very blessed. That was 42 years ago that I married this wonderful man. I am still at home. :) Thank you for taking so much time to put together this information and encouragement for us. Sarah

Leah said...

If anyone has a problem with what you have described in this post, which seems to me to be in accordance with scripture (which defines us, rather than we defining ourselves) then she has a problem with God.

Ephesians 5:24, 25
"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it..."

Psalm 113:9
"He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD."

So I pray you will not take any attacks personally. None of this was your idea. And besides, all those who live virtuously will suffer persecution in this world, for it is at enmity with God.

Onward and upward Mrs. White!

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with your writing. I am a 40 year old, stay at home wife and mother of 2. One child is in school, the other will be this fall. I will not go into the workforce when this time comes. My place is on the home, and that's where my husband and children want me as well. I LOVE it here! I may not have a perfect house EVERYDAY, a gourmet meal EVERYDAY, or look like a fashion model. But I do try to be the best I can be EVERYDAY, put the LORD first, and my husband and children. WE do not worry about the neighbor, what he may be doing, what he can afford. I feel that if MORE folks followed this practice, they would likely be more content. Less divorce, fewer problems with our children, etc. With that said, I will pick one child up from sachool today, visit with him about his day and REALLY listen. My husband will come home, anhd we will eating promptly at 5:30, and again discuss our day. We will see and hear any thing that is not actually spoken, because we have time for each other.

Melissa said...

Beautifully written post!
Sadly, my marriage did not start out the way it was intended, but by the grace of God my husband and I now know the roles God set up for us!
I felt, by the pressure of my parents, I needed to go to college and support myself. Then along came marriage and children. We struggled so in those days. When we don't do the will of God we do struggle more don't we? Finally, after a near divorce, I walked out of my job one day and never looked back. It was hard, because even then I didn't know what God's plans for a wife was. It was another grace in the grand scheme of things. God was leading me ever so slowly to my place. We found a church that taught the truths of God finally! We all started going and started really growing and loving each other!
Frankly, when I was shown all the scripture for the wives, I was startled and shocked. I had never even heard anything like that before. No one had even uttered those verses in any way all my years growing up. I started to love those verses and understand God's will. Today, 9 years later, I still love to live by them. Shortly after learning the truth, we started homeschooling and what a blessing it is!
It hurts my heart to see women out shopping after picking the kids up at daycare. The kids are screaming because they are tired and hungry and the women looks tired and haggard after a long day in the office. I was there once. Something inside me wants to reach out to them and tell them the truth that it doesn't have to be this way. Let their husband take his God given role as leader and provider of the house! Let him soak in chivalry! It's the way God desires it to be. It makes Him happy. The happiness that abounds when we seek our calling is endless and I'm so grateful I found it in time!
Thank you again for a wonderful writing! It blessed me so!

Amy said...

I want to thank you for this post. I found it very convicting. I am blessed to be able to be home with my 3 school-aged children but I'm not using that blessing to bless my family. As I read your post, the kids were eating lunch and I was at the computer in my pajamas. I want my daughter to want the life you described. I want my sons to look for that kind of wife. I am not providing the example they need. I am not blessing my husband who works hard to provide for us. Thanks you for the kick in the pants I needed!
(By the way, I got up and got dressed, did my hair and made my bed before I came back to tell you these things!)

Blue Jean Blogger said...

Today's society has convinced women that raising children and keeping a home is a lowly and undesirable occupation. I've worked outside the home and now I'm a SAHM to two children and this is the hardest job I've EVER had. The workplace was a cakewalk compared to the responsibility I have now.

I am convinced the reason there are so many troubled children and children in trouble these days is there are no mothers at home to raise them...they're all at work. Infants go right into daycare, then to child care, then to public school with minimal daily interaction with their parents. I'm not here to knock those that must work due to economic reasons; however, my husband and I sacrificed my considerable income and went down to one income so I could stay at home with the children because of this conviction. It took a lot of changes, hard work and sacrifice but it was worth it. It can be done.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. White,

Thank you for having the courage to post (and continue posting) Biblical truths, even when they are not popular by the world's standards. I am a working mom, but my heart & mind are never far from home. By God's grace, me working will only last a few more years until my husband finishes his degree, then WE plan on me being the housewife I have always dreamed of! I just love your writing. You are a daily encouragement and inspiration to me. My family has you to thank for much of their clean laundry & dishes, as on several occasions it was only after being convicted with one of your essays that I got up & did the work that truly matters to me the most- loving, caring for, & blessing my family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lydia said...

One thing I wish I could describe about the homemakers of yesteryear is the look on their faces: one of delighted contentment, accompanied by gentle humming as they washed dishes, hung laundry or ironed. This was back before conveniences like dryers and dishwashers and yet they complained less than women do now. They created a world of peace in their homes and they relished it and absorbed it in their beings. Today women at home are under stress.

Liz said...

This is so beautiful & encouraging to read. As a homeschooled little girl who stayed at home dreaming about being married & having my own family i was eventually sent to school & those dreams subsided & were replaced with wants of another kind (now completely foreign to me). I am now trying to get back to the simplicity i once yearned for. I am now 24 with 2 young boys & a stay at home mum with a darling hisband who blesses me with his willingness for me to stay home. Thankyou for writting this, it flies in the face of the dissatisfaction i am bombarded with daily through media, gossip & my own silly head. Thankyou for reminding me of my roots. You are an inspiration.

Blessed Homemaking said...

A wonderful post, Mrs. White. Thank you for describing what so many of us have not witnessed firsthand. This must be kept alive somehow!

Unknown said...

I Love you blog, it does feel like God is using you to minister to me...when I feel disocuraged because I live in a small apartment I just come and read your blog and it makes my day happier...if you dont want to buy the book there is a website called you can read books there or download them, I dont download them because it might be a virus but you can read it online whithout downloading it...heres the link

Ann said...

My Dearest Mrs. White,

Thank you for your writing. Reading your words has brought me peace and contentment in my role as mother and homemaker. I am working my way through all of your posts and am finding so much inspiration along the way. Again, thank you.

Mrs. Leach

Keowdie said...

Mrs. White,
Thank you so much for your blog and for this post. My mother raised me to want a busy career, "me time," and opportunities to "find myself."

Imagine my surprise when, in my mid-thirties, after having worked at a successful career for 12 years, I discovered that all I really want is to be at home, caring for my children, our home, and my husband's needs.

My mother would be disappointed if she knew, but I don't mind. My husband & I are working to pay off our debt & downsize our two-income-lifestyle so that I can stay home.

Deanna said...

Dear Mrs. White,
This is a lovely post.
Sweet Blessings,

Anonymous said...

The truth hurts those who believe the lie of a woman having it all. Not possible since the family always suffers. Women belong at home raising their children, homeschooling, taking care of the home, & taking care if their husbands. Feminists are a nasty bunch. They have accomplished nothing for women as they claim. Women's lib is hogwash! Women continue to believe all sorts of lies. The devil is real. He is using feminists to derail the family unit. Much of the world's issues can be put on these women. It's sad & the devil is laughing! He is winning when another woman gives up her true calling which is to serve her family. Women aren't equal to men. Men are the leaders. Let them lead. I'm not afraid to speak the truth. I am very encouraged by this post because what you posted is true!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding us of the Lord's ways and not bowing to criticism.
Shirley in Viirginia

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding us of the Lord's ways and not bowing to pressure from the world.
Shirley in Virginia

Patty B said...

I came across your blog by accident while searching for old time homemaking blogs. I know this is an old article, but I found it to be the loveliest description I ever read on Christian homemaking! This type of homemaker is what the world needs more of right now! Thank you for a great article. I, too, strive to be an old fashioned housewife. It is rewarding and I feel very much loved and appreciated and cherished. How wonderful it is when we all follow God's plan. I am an older woman with grown children, but making a warm and loving home is still a priority with me.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! If only more wives could truly see the joy that comes from serving their family according to God's plan! What a beautiful world we could provide for our children. Thank you for speaking the Truth and your inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of the Scripture in Hebrews that says the word of God is living and active, sharper than a 2 edge sword. Do something Biblical and it's going to end up 'hurting' someone because the truth hurts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario. A husband loving and caring for his wife and a wife caring for the family. I'm sure there are plenty that aren't in a situation where this scenario can happen, however, if more would look at what can be done without, etc. perhaps more homes could be more stable and cared for.

Anonymous said...

I red the article and I loved it. I do not understand how and why the world got where it is now(or maybe I do). I was an "equal" bread earner and now I'm in a different marriage, a housewife and mother. I'm absolutely happy and content. My husband respects me and I admire him. We are happy. It is sad that it became a shame to know how to cook or bake. I am proof that the role I have now is way more pleasing and natural for a woman. Thank you for the article. Before it, I really felt alone.

Anonymous said...

Negative comments? I'm sorry. You are speaking truth though and there are many who sneer at what God calls good. Please keep writing what is true and good and encouraging to so many women with thirsty souls who have been lied to.

I praise God for His working in your life!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking the truth, God will bless you for that!

Cheryl said...

I am very sorry you had to suffer negative comments, because this post is SO true and just blessed me so much! I LOVE being a wife and mother and keeping our home, as the Bible instructs. If fulfills me in so many ways, and there is no where on earth I would rather be than in our little home with my precious family. Cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and hanging it on the line, listening, homeschooling, family worship times....all of these are beyond precious to me. This is how God designed that we should live, and to go beyond these "boundaries" is to put ourselves in a place of discontent. Thank you for speaking the may sting some who are not willing to come in line with it, but it is the truth just the same...and the truth is what Jesus said will make us free!

Unknown said...

I completely agree. Happy to know there are still some women out there who value this.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

I want to be that kind of housewife and homemaker.
I've been married nearly 30 years. Still learning.
Please drop by and say hello!
Harvest Lane Cottage
...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
on a short shoestring budget!

Anonymous said...

God bless you and what a wonderful,much needed message.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs .White
Hope you are keeping well.
I'm a young wife and a mother of a one year old baby .Although I'm an engineer by profession and had worked for a while , I feel great contentment and happiness in being a homemaker which I'm now.Both my parents are still working and they had great expectations of me to be a career oriented women . But my heart rejoices in spending my time for my family with prayers and times spend with my Lord .And now they too are happy for me seeing how contented I'm.

I'm greatly encouraged by your articles..everyone of them .Keep writing !!
God bless you abundantly.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Homeschooling world!! Kudos to you and keep it up. We need many more of your writings to keep uplifted and convicted, as well. It's a lonesome task at times being home all day, so the encouragement and such just brightens my day. My family is benefiting from your writings, as well because I am now realizing there is no better place to be, ever, in my older years, as well, then here at home serving. Thank you and please don't stop writing!!

Mrs. S said...

This was a beautiful post and I agree with you. I am enjoying everything you’ve written. Thank you so much for the encouragement. A family member of mine had a magnet on her fridge when I was growing up which read, “Dull women have immaculate houses.” No. This is deception. Bravo, Mrs. White!

Marilyn said...

I read this article over and over. It is so encouraging. I remember well when it was an honor to bear the title of Mrs. followed by my husbands name.. Husbands have lost respect, it seems, as the women do not want to live within their means. It was a blessing to have a husband say I want you to stay at home, I can care for you. My father said similar to my mother but in his own style "No wife of mine is going to work" I was blessed as a child, as a wife and even today as a widow with fondest memories

Jen said...

This is an old post but relevant all the same. I am a stay at home wife, kids all grown, and I get a lot of criticism for not working. It seems as soon as the littles are gone you get looked at as lazy if you do not work. I take great joy in making home homey and pleasing my husband. I am striving to be an example of Christ to him and praying for his salvation daily. It is not always easy. I keep house for my inlaws an a few others as well. It is tiring and Satan attacks daily. Indeed, going out to work would be easier in my case, but this is where the Lord has me right now. I feel everyone should do the Lord's will wherever He puts them. You are serving as a light in the darkness! I am sorry so many were hurt by this, it is indeed a beautiful word of encouragement to me. God Bless you Mrs White and family. So sorry about your recent loss of your beloved Aunt. Jen

Val Lee said...

Yes, it is a blessed thing to be a worker in the home! Satan always teaches the exact opposite of God's commands. It has been wisely stated, if more women chose to be workers in the home, there would be less temptation for the men. There was a female co-worker where my husband worked and she was all about chasing him. The workplace can be a den of iniquity. God knows best and His holy Word never changes. The narrow path is the only path to life eternal.