Here’s How a Wife Can Get Rid of Her Husband

One of the great things about hanging out in mom’s kitchen are the things that just pop up.

For instance, while searching for a recipe she pulled out this vintage cookbook, which is such a staple of my lifetime, I almost didn’t appreciate it for the 1950 first edition treasure that it is.


To mom, it’s just her cookbook. But to me, it’s a treasure trove of its contemporary culture. For instance, where else could you learn the relative age of appetisers in American cuisine, along with priceless illustrations of idealized American life.


In addition, I know of no other place to learn the differences between English and Russian service.


But in terms of insight into the cultural norms of the era, nothing could surpass the newspaper clipping we found tucked in the pages; a clipping my mother denied ever seeing before.

The clipping is from the Thursday, October 24, 1963 edition of the Des Moines Tribune, the evening paper. We lived in Grinnell, Iowa, at the time of its printing. Although I delivered the Tribune later in my life, I was still a month away from my seventh birthday when this clipping found its way into mom’s cookbook, so it didn’t come from me.  

The mystery of its origin will have to remain to be solved at a later date. For now, we’re left to ponder its content; and the reflection of the era’s mores, standards, assumptions and expectations that it provides.

For Steph and I it was both amusing and a reminder of some of the societies we’ve traveled in, where this article would be viewed as relevent, worthy advice.

For mom, it was a reminder of another time, another place and another way of life.

The text of the article follows. All emphasis is reproduced from the original.


Des Moines Tribune
Thursday, October 24, 1963
Section B, page 3

The Miserable Things That Many A Woman Does

Here’s How a Wife Can Get Rid of Her Husband

By Dr. Walter C. Alvarez

In his delightful book “I Learned About Women From Them” (Pyramid Books) Dr. Virgil G. Damon, writing with Isabella Taves, has a chapter on the miserable things many a woman does to her husband.

The doctor says that when someone asks him for a list of hints to wives on how to get rid of their husband, he says:

  1. Humiliate him in front of other people, especially business associates and strangers.
  2. Whenever he is polite and friendly with a woman, accuse him of having an affair with her.
  3. Keep checking up on him—phoning to see if he is where he said he would be.
  4. Punish him by the Lysistrata method.
  5. Keep the home expenses so high he can’t afford to play around outside.
  6. Don’t make up quickly after a quarrel; sulk for days and make him suffer.
  7. Never be ready on time; always be late and make him fume and wait.
  8. Keep the children from showing much affection for him; keep warning them they mustn’t bother Daddy, because he is tired and cross.
  9. Down grade him to friends.
  10. If you see indications he “wants out,” trap him by becoming pregnant.

 Dr. Damon says he could go on with many other helpful suggestions for women, but these are enough. As he says, after a life-time of listening to the troubles of women, he is still bewildered often by the way in which they act. Even when, as often happens, they really seem to want very much to keep their husband, they go about doing everything they can to make him miserable.

 Dr. Damon says:

 “Whether a marriage succeeds or fails depends on the wife in 99 per cent of cases. She can keep a household together under difficult circumstances or she can smash it up.

 “She can persuade a weak man that he is quite a guy and she can undermine a strong man’s confidence in himself. She can bully a man at home to the point where he takes his aggravations out on office underlings and waiters. She can flatter his ego or she can destroy is potency. She can love him dearly, but can be so unsure of her hold on him that she will make his life a hell with her jealousy.

 “Curiously, she will push him around and then despise him because he lets her do it. If he refuses to be bullied she is equally angry.

 “If she should really want to keep him forever and forever ‘until death do us part,’ there is one ridiculously easy formula to do it: Make him comfortable at home, be always a nice happy person to come home to.



In early Greece, AristophanesLysistrata gives the fictional example of women withholding sexual favors from their husbands until war was abandoned. Source: Wikipedia.

Walter Clement Alvarez
(1884–June 18, 1978) was an American doctor of Spanish descent. He authored 27 books on medicine, and wrote Introductions and Forewords for many others. Alvarez was known for his dry wit.  Source: Wikipedia: 

Virgil G. Damon

Columbia University is the home of the chair of Virgil G. Damon Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Source: Columbia University.

To learn more about Dr. Damon’s philosophies you can buy a copy of “I Learned About Women From Them” on EBay for $1.00.,-VIRGIL-G.-DAMON,-Very-_W0QQitemZ170344549971QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20090616?IMSfp=TL090616033014r29195 

Isabella Taves

Born September 20, 1905, Lincoln, Nebraska; died June 25, 2005, New York, NY.  B.S. 1926, Northwestern University, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. She became a journalist and then wrote for Colliers, Cosmopolitan, McCall’s, Today’s Woman and Look magazines. She authored articles, short stories, several non-fiction books and novels. Devoted wife of the late Daniel D. Mich, former executive editor of Look Magazine. They traveled the world, meeting the great men and women of the mid-20th century. Dog lover extraordinaire, she bred and showed Dalmatians. A cherished and devoted friend, she is deeply missed. Source: New York Times