August 03, 2011

The roles of men and women

By Anthony Buono *

I have to laugh a bit as I write this article responding to the feedback of last week’s article, responding to a previous article, responding to the feedback from a previous article.

I received many requests for a dating job description for women. I believe this was addressed in the “Finding a good woman: from God’s point of view” article, which focuses on what the Bible states makes up a good wife as mentioned in Sirach 26. The list I made for men who are dating is actually very attainable if they decide these are truths as to what a man should be and do as they are dating a woman and want love and marriage. The list in Sirach is also very attainable for women of truth.

You've seen what the Bible outlines about how a wife should be. Let’s give you a good laugh and show you what Housekeeping Monthly magazine says you should be. Here is a list called “The Good Wife’s Guide” as published in 1955:

   1. Have dinner ready. Have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.
   2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.
   3. Be a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
   4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dust cloth over the tables.
   5. Help him unwind. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
   6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum.
   7. Encourage the children to be quiet.
   8. Be happy to see him.
   9. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  10. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  11. Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  12. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work. Make him comfortable.
  13. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  14. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  15. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.

This list for women is hilarious and certainly dated. Some would say that this is a recipe for being a doormat and has only encouraged women to be taken advantage of by abusive men.

But before you roll your eyes and dismiss this list completely, consider that this is how women lived for generations. There are some fundamental principles that do apply to a God inspired, truth seeking woman who wants marriage in this day and age. If you think closely about this list, it is role-driven. All fifteen items are tasks, with the conclusion that a wife knows her place. The husband is the master of the home, the wife is the subordinate.

Marriage does require a man and woman having and fulfilling roles and duties. These roles and duties serve each other and the family. If the motive is service to and happiness of the other, these roles and duties are effortless.

Perhaps what needs to be acknowledged by dating Christians is their need to know the qualities of a good spouse ahead of time and the ability to recognize them in yourself and the other.

For example, a man focused on marrying a woman who gives him visual and physical pleasure, or a woman who wants to get married before it’s too late to have children, is going to distort the ability to know and recognize the more important things that makes for marital love and unity.

This is not to discount a man’s desire for physical attraction in a woman or a woman’s desire to have children. These are perfectly natural things. However, it is risky to prioritize them and discount the more important things.

While you are dating, you need to see the person interact with you and see proof that they are striving to become who they are called to be. It is the desire to be a good person that makes up much of the belief that they will be a good spouse.

Men who work all day come home tired. A woman who is a homemaker works hard all day, tends to the kids, prepares dinner, and is also tired. Who is the one who is the priority to be taken care of? Should the wife make sure the house is quiet so her husband has time to unwind? Or should a man take over when he gets home and give his wife a much needed break?

It’s all in the attitude. Men should take a minute to prepare before getting home by getting calm, putting work matters aside, and reconfigure to his family. If he has kids, he has to know they are going to want to jump all over him when he arrives. So prepare for the noise. Women, don’t say you are off the clock as soon as he walks in. That stresses him out and makes matters worse.

If two people are in love, they desire to serve each other. This is a very important thing to recognize in order to decide if you should get married. Do they allow pressures, stresses, concerns, desires, wants, needs, etc., to take the priority and make you feel guilty for anything you are going through? Or does he or she rise above those things in order to help you and show interest in knowing how they can make you happier?

There is no need to become a doormat for the other and allow the relationship to be one-sided in the efforts to serve. That is no good. But considering what the roles and duties are of a man and woman, of husband and wife, of mother and father, should absolutely be a part of the dating process. Do not marry someone who has not proved their quality during the dating process as it pertains to their roles as men and women, as husbands and wives.

Anthony Buono is the founder of For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice.  Visit his blog at

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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