“Why Men Leave Home”

Why Men Leave HomeLast night I watched the 1951 B-film “Why Men Leave Home.” I found it on the Blockbuster site and was interested to see what messages women were given a half-century ago about beauty and relationships, and how these messages have changed — or not.

The plot in a nutshell: A “dowdy” woman puts housework ahead of putting out. Her handsome doctor-husband won’t stand for her not performing her wifely duties, so despite a 10-year-old daughter, he leaves her. The wife makes the acquaintance of a Hollywood make-up artist who helps her see that if she doesn’t pretty herself up, hubby’s going to take up with his sexy nurse and divorce her. She sees the error of her ways, the make-up man gives her a make over, and her husband comes back to his now-stunning wife.

This film is described as “an instructional primer for women regarding how to keep their husbands faithful.”

Several lessons emerged:

  • If you don’t keep yourself beautiful and sexy, he’ll leave you
  • In addition to household duties, you must regularly perform wifely duties
  • There are always other beautiful women to tempt him
  • Only through the use of heavy make up and stylish hair can you be attractive
  • Having happy children, a clean home, home-cooked meals and a devoted wife is not enough to satisfy a man

While we have evolved as a society, as I read this list, I’m afraid many of these lessons are still true for many marriages. There are exceptions, of course, but these messages are still engrained in many of our psyches, especially for those over 40.

What do you think? Have we moved past these 50-year-old clichés? Or are they still embedded in our brains?

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10 responses to ““Why Men Leave Home””

  1. nysharon Avatar

    We may have moved past it but I don’t think men have. The most recent expression of this is the “trophy wife”. Although I do think woman need to stay fresh, so do men. My 2000’s flip version of this for women is:
    If he doesn’t stay fit, stylish, floss his teeth, shave, shower etc, she will leave him.
    In addition to taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn, he must contribute to other household chores in and out of the bedroom, especially if she works too.
    There are always a lot of younger hot men, that love a MILF, to tempt her.
    Only through the use of good hygene, very attentive conversation/sharing, compliments, and random flower delivery does he remain attractive.
    Just because he brings home the paycheck and is a devoted husband doesn’t mean its enough to satify a woman. She also now earns enough or has smartly saved resources to leave if she wants.

  2. Rhea Avatar

    Oh, I think the attitudes are still there, for sure. By the way, that film sounds amazing (in a twisted sort of way).

  3. walt Avatar

    Some things have changed – heavy makeup is not a turn on!

  4. bookyone Avatar

    I agree with NYSharon, women have evolved in our collective thinking since the 1950s, but, sadly enough, I don’t believe most men have kept up with us.

    BTW: I wear heavy makeup due to 4 hereditary skin conditions.

  5. Mary Avatar

    Permutations of this list are true, but it works both ways:

    – If you don’t care for yourself mentally, physically and emotionally, you make it harder for your partner, or anyone else, to.
    – Most people expect that a mutually satisfying sex life is part of a good marriage.
    – There will always be people outside the marriage to tempt the fidelity of an unhappy spouse whose communication with their partner is lacking.
    – If you change your behavior after the wedding – stop wearing make-up, stop going to the gym, stop doing things that your partner perceives as expressing your love – your mate may feel cheated, like they were trapped by false advertising. They married the person you presented during the dating process.
    – Happy children, a clean home, a home cooked meal, and hero worship can be achieved with a nanny, a housekeeper, a chef/good restaurant and a dog. Being a spouse is much more than those things; it’s about a personal connection, sharing dreams, hopes, fears, triumphs, tragedies, the whole range of human experience. If those first four things are all your spouse wants you for, why that’s just sad.

  6. Scott Avatar

    Mary, I agree with everything you said. Even though it may have been meant in jest, I also think nysharon’s flip list is incredibly valid today.

    While I haven’t seen the movie, I would imagine that there were unrealistic portrayals of men as well. Men aren’t all one thing, just as women aren’t all one thing. Some of us are good men, thoughtful men, men who are looking for an equal partner. Saying that we’re the same as we were in the early 50’s is saying that we’re racist, misogynistic, and all use grease in our hair. It’s simply not true, and it’s not helpful to the discourse around dating.

    I don’t think anything about all women. I think about the woman – the person – in front of me. Whether it’s my boss sitting across the boardroom table or a first date sitting across a dinner table, people are people and if we think something different, then we keep ourselves from getting to know the person who’s actually sitting there.

  7. Bev Avatar

    A little paint never hurt any “old barn” Men are always going to look…My opinion…It doesnt matter where he gets his appetite as long as he comes home to eat!! to be sexy one must feel sexy…so whatever it takes. Open communication is the key to any good relationship. Appreciation, Respect and Trust are imperative…..The rest will follow.

  8. bookyone Avatar

    Thanks, Bev, it’s nice to know that not everyone out there is anti-makeup. This old barn without paint is just that, an old barn, and, thanks to hereditary factors and lack of money to spend on umpteen plastic surgeries and personal care products, not a very well preserved one either.

    But that’s OK, as IMHO like attracts like. I’m not looking for Mr. Universe, just a good and decent man who sees with his mind and thinks with his heart, not some himbo who is just out to score some eye candy (cause he sure ain’t getting that here)… 🙂

  9. greendaze44 Avatar

    I love nySharon’s comment. I’m about to leave my husband, (funny, cause a lot of times I accidently type HASband) of 10 years and one of the reasons is because he is no longer attractive to me. But one thing to think about is it’s not only looks that makes one attractive. Have you ever met someone and they weren’t exactly handsome, but when you got to know them they became better looking because they were such an awesome person? Or met a very attractive person and then they were such a jerk they became unattractive?
    Well, my husband has both things going against him. He use to be an attractive man, but as time’s gone by, he has gained a lot of weight, his teeth have chipped off in the front and he hasn’t done anything about it, he came down with vitiligo (sp?) and has lost a lot of hair. But the most important thing is he’s a JERK! He’s awful to my older daughter from my previous marriage, he’a awful to me, so yeah, it’s time to move on for me. He is a christian man that is active in our church, and would do anything for someone at church, but not at home. My older daughter said, “Mom, how can a man who is so active in the church, who reads and is very knowledgable about the Bible, treat us to bad?”
    I have gained weight too over the years, but believe me I can still attract many men. I am hit on constantly and by good looking men who are youger than me. I’m 44, but my 17 year old daughter says I don’t look it at all. (I know if I lost some weight I would look younger.) But I would say the reason men hit on me is because I’m outgoing, smile a lot, have a lot of positive energy, try to help people feel good about themselves, I listen, am smart and happen to be sexy.
    So yes, relationships have changed and we still have a lot to learn.

  10. Lady Salacity Avatar

    I am a woman in her 40’s who is dating a married man 8 years her junior. Marry in your 20’s you are thinking in terms of potential, in your 40’s it is all about the person you are. Your ‘market value’ and the ‘market value’ of your partner can drift appart. I pursued a career, gained financial independence kept in shape and spend my money on clothes, make-up and expensive lingerie. Lots of women in my office are the same.

    My first serious boyfriend worked as a baggage handler for a major airline and he was the high earner and good looking. He cheated on me lots of times always saying he would never do it again. One day he left me for a stripper. Now I am an executive and I consider myself lucky we never stayed together. Last time I ran into him pot bellied, wrinkled and gruff. His wife was also over weight and shabbily dressed. She gave up stripping after the first kid. Now they have 3 and live paycheck to paycheck on his salary. It seemed like a fortune at 20 but raising a family on it is whole different ball game.

    They boasted about being married with their kids but neither of them looked happy. I know I am happy and I also know I wouldn’t be happy with the man he is now. My married lover is in a similar state. They don’t have kids and he still cares for his wife but they have sadly drifted appart.