Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: An empty house is bliss for getting things done

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Recapturing 50s housewifery is tough with an at-home husband.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

I'm feeling much better about my supportive wife challenge since my husband got a real job.

Ten months ago I decided to try to live my life more like a housewife of the 50s - looking after my husband and children and supporting them in their activities as well as doing most of the housework, cooking and cleaning.

It was a crazy idea which hasn't really worked. I've kept working so the 50s model of one woman, one job as housekeeper didn't really pan out. I had quite clearly taken on too much.

Then came the problem that my husband was around all the time. We share an office at home, he joins me at the clothesline to bat about a few ideas and insists on helping me hang out the sheets.

"Those are very big, here let me give you a hand."

He sometimes makes me breakfast in bed and does all the dishes before walking the dog.

"Oh you looked so peacefully asleep when I got up at 5:30."

And he would pop into the supermarket to get stuff for dinner without me asking him too.

"You were so busy with that column."

I'm sure you can understand how frustrating that was for me, as I tried my hardest to turn back the clock and housewife it up. He was getting in the way, being far too proactive and not at all distant and demanding.

But in the last few weeks my husband has been doing a real job, working in an office, away from the house, five days a week.

He leaves at 8.30am with a packed lunch to catch the bus and doesn't return until 5.30pm. Out from under my feet.

I realised on day one that there is something quite magical about being left in a house alone all day. I felt like I had travelled to another dimension where there was only me, the dog and a silent three-bedroom house.

I start each day making the beds, putting the laundry on, tidying up the kitchen from breakfast, giving the place a quick vacuum, hanging out the washing and walking the dog.

No interruptions, no offers of help, just me doing the housework and loving every moment of it.

Then it was back with a coffee and at my desk to work.

The next wonderful thing is coming into the kitchen and seeing that no one has made any dishes, or moved anything in the lounge while I've been writing. The house, by some weird force, has remained exactly as I left it.

What bliss those supportive wives of old must have had in their empty houses all day.

After writing I'd bring in the washing and fold it, pop down to the shops for ingredients and by the time my husband returned home I was happily cooking dinner, in my nice clean house, listening to the radio to see if they've found the plane yet.

"Cocktail?" I'd trill before we settled down to watch some television and I finished knitting a singlet for a new baby in the family.

Just when I thought my supportive wife challenge was doomed to failure I've found new life, new inspiration and can declare myself blissfully happy. I'm beginning to wonder if this might be the secret to a long-lasting and happy marriage. Time apart, eight hours a day, five days a week. I even began thinking about writing a book called Eight Hours to a Happy Marriage.

"I think you should keep doing that 9 to 5 job," I told my husband over dinner. "It really suits me."

"It's only for another week," he said a little disappointed. "I really thought you'd miss me."

"God no! Could it be permanent? Have you inquired?"

"I'm just helping out, and besides, I have a job, here at home, writing and producing books, remember."

"Could you do that in there as well? Surely there's a little corner desk they could give you."

"I like writing at home. End of."

And so blissful supportive wife has but a few weeks left to enjoy her newfound freedom ... and to write that book.

- NZ Herald

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