A Glimpse Into Marriage Advice From The 1950's

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marriage advice
Read this fascinating look at marriage advice from the days of your parents or grandparents...

This guest article from Psych Central was written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

As divorce rates in the U.S. were rising by the end of World War II, so were fears over the state of marriage and family life. Skyrocketing rates sent many couples to seek expert advice to bolster their marriages. During this time, the idea that marriage could be saved—and a divorce prevented—with enough work gained ground, according to Kristin Celello, assistant professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York, in her fascinating book Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States. A slew of experts stepped in to help American couples strengthen their unions...and with some interesting suggestions. 3 Steps To Strengthen Your Love Connection

These experts, however, weren't necessarily trained therapists or even anyone who had anything to do with psychology. Take marriage expert Paul Popenoe, for example. He was incredibly well-known and established one of America's first marriage counseling centers in the 1930s, made regular media appearances and contributed to Ladies Home Journal—and he was a horticulturalist.

The marriage prescriptions of the 1950s could be summed up in one sentence: It was mainly a woman's job to foster a happy marriage and steer it away from divorce. The Happiness Two-Step

Marriage as a Career

For starters, marriage counselors encouraged women to think of marriage as a fulfilling career. As Celello writes:

Emily Mudd, for instance, outlined the many roles that women had to assume when they became wives. She approvingly quoted a, "modern and prominent wife" who explained, "To be a successful wife is a career in itself, requiring among other things, the qualities of a diplomat, a businesswoman, a good cook, a trained nurse, a schoolteacher, a politician and a glamour girl."

Experts also believed that wives were responsible for their husbands' professional success. Dorothy Carnegie, whose husband was self-help guru Dale Carnegie, published How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead in 1953. She laid out a variety of suggestions and cited personal examples. For instance, because her husband had a tough time remembering names, she'd learn the names of party guests before events and incorporate their names into the conversation. Use Your Social Life To Get The Love Life You Crave

Next: Making or breaking a husband's career...

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This article was originally published at Psych Central. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

John M. Grohol

Psychologist

Dr. John Grohol is a mental health expert and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

Location: Newburyport, MA
Credentials: PsyD
Website: PsychCentral
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