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How Would Your Marriage Score On This Test From The 1930s?


Marriage is not easy. Ask any person who is or ever has been married. There are a few important factors to make a marriage work. Couples need trust, communication, compromise, honesty, love, intimacy, and friendship. Many couples don’t have all of these things, and some marriages end up in divorce because of it. Some couples go to therapy to try to reaches these goals in their marriage so that they can stay together. These are the things that make a person a good husband or wife today. Back in the ’30s, what made a person a good husband or wife were quite different.

The Marriage Rating Scale

Back in 1939, a professor at Northwestern University named George W. Crane, Ph.D. and M.D. created something called the Marital Rating Scale. It was designed to show strong a marriage was and how high it rated. There was one test for each spouse to take. The husband would rate his wife and the wife would rate her husband. There were merits and demerits for various actions and characteristics, and each one earned each spouse points and took them away. It was supposed to show both spouses how well they rated in the marriage. After seeing the sales for both the husband and wife, how would your marriage score on this test from the 1930s?

The Husband’s Chart-Demerits

When a woman would judge her husband in the 30’s test, she had to consider a variety of things and score them accordingly. If her husband looked at or flirted with other women while they were out together. He got a demerit. This is still true today. If he reads his newspaper at the table, if he doesn’t come to the table promptly when dinner is ready, or if he brings guests home without telling his wife, he would get a demerit. If he compared his wife to his mother or another guy’s wife, if he talks about his bachelor days or regretting his marriage, or if he criticizes his wife in public, it is a demerit. If he leaves the draws open, leaves his shoes in the living room, burps without apologizing, or snores, he would be given a demerit. Many of these things would drive women as crazy today as they did in the ’30s.

The Husband’s Chart-Merits

After the demerit side, the woman would move to the merits. Her husband would get a merit if he gave his wife an ample allowance. If he was courteous to her friends and he complimented her often, he got a merit. Remembering special occasions, helping with the kids, helping with the housework, and always being polite and mannerly would earn him merits. If a man asks his wife’s opinion in business or social affairs, he would get a merit. If he takes his wife out on a date once a week or if he reads to his wife aloud, he would get a merit. He would also get a merit for being a good conservationist, being a good provider, and letting his wife us the car when she needed it.

The Wife’s Chart-Demerits

When the wife was done scoring her husband, it was his time to evaluate her. If his wife slow getting to bed, she would get a demerit. If she didn’t like children or didn’t sew buttons on his clothes correctly, he would get a demerit. If she wore ragged dresses or dirty aprons, it was a demerit. Red nail polish was a no-no as was being late for appointments. If the wife’s seam on her pantyhose were often crooked or if she wore curlers or cold cream to bed, she got a demerit. Putting her cold feet on her husband caused her to lose points as did being a back seat driver. Finally, if she was a flirt or if she was jealous or suspicious, she would lose points.

The Wife’s Chart-Merits

Husbands in the ’30s had some pretty high expectations for their wives. The merit side of the chart proves that. A woman had to be a good hostess even to unexpected guests. She had to have meals on the table on time and was expected to always carry on interesting conversations. A good wife was expected to play a musical instrument and dress nicely for breakfast. She had to be a good housekeeper and put the kids to bed by herself. She could not go to bed angry and would always ask her husband’s opinion regarding important decisions and purchases. If she wasn’t always happy, she would get a demerit. She had to be religious and send the kids to Sunday school and go to church herself. Finally, she was expected to let her husband sleep late on Sundays and on holidays.

How Would The Husband’s Demerits Hold Up Today?

Many of the merits back then still hold true today. Women don’t want their husbands flirting, bringing company home without any notice or publicly regret being marriage. Women also don’t want to be criticized in public, and they don’t want to wait around for dinner with no phone call. Most of the demerits for a man back then are just things that are respectful today. Leaving drawers open, leaving the shoes in the living room, and snoring are a bit much.

How Would The Husband’s Merits Hold Up Today?

Today, no wife would accept an allowance. The finances are shared. Women are still happy when a man is nice to her friends and compliments her. Remembering special occasions is expected as is getting his wife’s opinion. Women love date night today, and this still makes for a good husband. Women today also want a man who works, is polite, is a good conversationalist. Most women today have their own car, and they don’t need to ask their husband to use his. The craziest one is a merit for reading aloud to the wife. What woman wants her husband to read to her aloud?

How Would the Wife’s Demerits Hold Up Today?

Women got demerits for being slow to going to bed which is crazy. Not being able to sew or not being dressed up around the house are also crazy. Most women wouldn’t let their husband tell them what color nail polish is off limits and the seams in her pantyhose shouldn’t be an issue. The ones that make sense even today are not liking children, being a backseat driver, flirting with other men, and always being suspicious and jealous. Since women no longer wear rollers and cold cream to bed, this would be a non-issue.

How Would the Wife’s Merits Hold Up Today?

Many of the expectations of a wife in the ’30s wouldn’t fly in a marriage today. Playing a musical instrument, dressing up for breakfast, never going to bed angry, always being happy, and having meals ready on time every day is outrageous today. The only ones that make sense today are being a good hostess and since compromise is essential, getting the husband’s input on major decisions and purchases makes sense.

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