Marriage and Motherhood

  • Nancy A. Walker
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


While marriage was consistently viewed as the normal condition of the American adult, the magazines offer abundant evidence that marriage was at the same time a Problem—a relationship fraught with difficulties that it was primarily the task of the woman to negotiate and overcome. Long before the divorce rate skyrocketed in the 1970s, marriages were perceived as being in constant danger of dissolving, and it is a rare issue of a magazine that does not offer advice on how to patch up, rejuvenate, or rescue the marital relationship. Two of the most popular series in the Ladies’ Home Journal were “Making Marriage Work” (1947–63) and “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” (which began in the early 1940s and is still running). In 1937, fiction writer Mary Roberts Rinehart defended women in the pages of the Journal from the charge that marital failure was their fault, but hers was a minority view in the decades that followed. By 1940, Good Housekeeping was conducting a School for Brides, and a report of it in the February issue included advice on grooming and behavior so that the young wife could “play [her] role beautifully.” The magazines offered quizzes women could take to predict their success as wives, and a 1948 Woman’s Home Companion article even offered a checklist for parents to determine whether their children would be well suited for marriage.


Nursery School Young Wife Fiction Writer Saturday Evening Good Housekeeping 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy A. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityUSA

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