I’m probably romanticizing things a bit, but the ’50s were great because they were a time of growth and optimism. Marriage also seemed more valued back then, and I wish that some characteristics of partnerships from that decade had stuck around.
Don’t get me wrong—I get that the ’50s were terrible for married women for many reasons. For example, it was the wife’s fault if her husband cheated, wives were expected to deal with emotional and physical abuse, gender roles were rigid, and women were expected to raise their children without the father’s help. I wouldn’t want to go back to all that, but I would love to reclaim some of the positive things.
Marriages didn’t end as quickly or easily. The divorce rate wasn’t as high as it is today because couples didn’t give up so quickly if they experienced hard times. People were expected to work through their issues. I’m not saying couples should stay together no matter what, but I do wish they’d try harder. My grandparents, for example, were young and married in the ’50s, and it wasn’t always easy for them but they were together for almost 60 years before my grandmother passed away recently. That’s rare nowadays.
There was no internet to interfere with your relationship. Couples didn’t eat dinner while on their phones, ignoring each other. There was more face-to-face interaction and I think people today have forgotten how important that is. Also, it wasn’t easy to find someone online to have an affair with if you were unhappy; Ashley Madison didn’t exist, nor did Tinder or any of the other dating apps. People still had affairs, but infidelity wasn’t facilitated by the internet.
Your marriage was more private because social media didn’t exist. It was easier to keep things to yourselves because there was no Facebook or Instagram. If you were having problems, not everyone had to know about it. Strangers on the internet couldn’t judge your marriage from the outside; you only had to worry about people that actually knew you. And if you divorced, it wasn’t broadcasted to everyone you’ve ever known your entire life.
Being a stay-at-home mom was the norm and not frowned upon. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been looked down upon because I stay home to raise my kids. I’ve had people tell me I’m wasting my life and that they’re disappointed in me. Comments like this are very offensive, and I wish people didn’t think of me that way. In the ’50s, marriage and family could be considered a woman’s career. She was actually respected for taking care of her husband and children.
Families always ate meals together. Family members usually ate together, whereas these days, it’s not as common. It was easier to have family dinners back then because women often stayed home and people didn’t work as much overtime. We also have longer commutes today, and kids spend more time doing extracurricular activities. Mealtime in the ’50s was a time for marriage and family bonding, and I wish it was still more of a tradition.
It wasn’t as hard to raise kids. You weren’t judged for every little parenting decision you made. Back then, kids were left alone to play and figured some things out on their own. Today, you’re expected to entertain your kids and prepare them for their futures every waking moment of the day and it’s exhausting. I love parenting, but there’s way too much pressure to be perfect. Kids also respected their parents more and backtalk wasn’t really a thing. There was less crime back then too, so you didn’t have to worry about your children’s safety as much.
It wasn’t a big deal to have lots of kids. If you had more than two kids, you weren’t judged for contributing to the overpopulation of the planet (yes, this is seriously a thing people say). You also weren’t judged for your ability to take care of a big family, probably because it was much easier to support your children in the ’50s.
Money didn’t put a strain on marriages like it does today. The economy was doing better and unemployment was much lower. Everything was cheaper and you could spend money without feeling guilty. Today, it’s really hard to make a decent living, and marriages suffer from the stress of it. Marriage is hard enough without adding money problems.
It was feasible to live on one income, which made married life better. A husband could make enough money to support his family much more easily back then. Even a factory job would earn you enough for your whole family to live on. The wife could easily stay at home with the children without stressing about it. Couples also didn’t have to spend half of their income on childcare because the woman didn’t have to work, or she had help from her family. Life just seemed easier in the ’50s because overall, marriage and family life were simpler.
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