1939 marital rating scale for wives


George W. Crane, MD, was a marriage counselor and wrote a syndicated national newspaper column called "The Worry Clinic." He developed a test in the late 1930s called the Marital Rating Scale -- Wife's Chart. Here's the fist page of the test.
The test was designed to give couples feedback on their marriages. Either husbands or wives could take the test, which rated wives in a variety of areas. For instance, if your wife "uses slang or profanity," she would get a score of five demerits. On the other hand, if she "reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress," she would receive 10 merits. The test taker would add up the total number of merits and demerits to receive a raw score, which would categorize the wife on a scale from "very poor" to "very superior."
Link (via Mind Hacks)

UPDATE: A kindly Boing Boing reader, Tiabla, has now scanned the entire booklet and posted it on Flickr.


  1. Oh, snap… it appears that I’m the worst wife EVAR. I knew I shouldn’t have gone for the red nail polish.

  2. This is unsurprisingly timeless. I think this chart should be used today. It’s a shame there is no similar rating chart for husbands. Or is there?

  3. I sent this to my wife. We had a hard time getting her score much past ‘2’.

    Of course, the chart is all wrong. The #9 demerit should totally be a fiver.

  4. #1: You get major points that wouldn’t get in the ’30’s for sayig “Snap” and “EVAR”.

  5. This must be a partial chart as no one can score over 25… I followed the link but couldn’t find the whole test. Anyone find it?

  6. Merit #4 needs an offsetting demerit for banjo and bagpipe players. Never mind how I know this.

    Merit #5: I think the willingness to breakfast undressed should be worth +5!

  7. I’m with #5…would love to see the entire test. What was the hangup in the 1930s over red nail polish? Personally, I usually have to talk my wife into wearing red as *she* doesn’t particularly like the aesthetics of it.

    @6 re: #5…I’d bump that up to +10

  8. 10 merits for religious, followed by “lets husband sleep in late on Sundays.”

    I’m also interested in seeing the husband test, if it even exists.

  9. It’s a shame there is no similar rating chart for husbands. Or is there?

    There is, it’s not as funny to post that one. It’s only humorous to look at the antiquated way women were treated. Men back then had grand lives of leisure, nothing funny about that.

    Except for handlebar mustaches, those are funny.

  10. Where can I find a higher-resolution version of this that’s suitable for printing?

  11. Isn’t this simply saying (in writing!) what most men are actually thinking…? ;-)

  12. How can the wife back-seat drive when going to church if the husband is sleeping late on Sunday and missing it?

    Maybe she’s only late for appointments when they fall on holidays and Sundays while waiting for the slug-a-bout… or when she has to take too long straitening her stockings so she can be properly attired for breakfast.

  13. no wonder all my relationships failed miserably! although not a one of them ever did anything from the merit side ( most enjoyed red nails) one of them did turn out like merit #10. and by that i mean she ‘turned’ gay! she was rarely happy. fail!

  14. This seems perfectly acceptable. I’m certain my wife would think so. This is just further proof that will all be married to robots one hundred years from now. They’ll be able to play our entire DRM-free MP3 collection as well as sew our buttons on. (add 25 points)

  15. Just from the evidence seen here, I’d expect that there IS a “Husband’s Chart.” Otherwise why would this one be labeled “Wife’s Chart”?

    A 9: I noticed that too. Apparently women and children but not men are supposed to be religious.

  16. I like how the perfect wife is religious enough to take the kids to church on Sunday, but irreligious enough to let hubby sleep in.

  17. I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed out on something. Getting married in the thirties must have been like going to Epcot when it first opened.

  18. @Brian Carnell:
    What was the hangup in the 1930s over red nail polish?

    In the argot of the ’30’s, she would have been thought of as a loose woman. Garish shades like red were for women of shaky repute.

    In the argot of the present, she a ho.

  19. “…Getting married in the thirties must have been like going to Epcot when it first opened…”

    There’s a joke about the people mover breaking down once a month in there somewhere.

  20. #9, of course there aren’t charts for rating husbands. Women are property. You wouldn’t let your refrigerator rate you, would you?

    Does not dispose of leftovers in timely manner: -1

  21. to be honest, except for merit #11 (which would fall in my demerits column) this chart seems perfectly reasonable to me. I’d wager that despite all that’s changed since the 1930’s, the male brain/behavioral patterns haven’t changed very much, if at all.

  22. “Slow in coming to bed- delays till husband is nearly asleep” sounds suspiciously like 1930s-speak for “doesn’t put out when husband expects it.”


  23. Wow, I’d get about a -75 from MY refrigerator.

    I deeply and lovingly penetrate mine every couple of hours. That should put it in a good mood.

  24. Can we get the rest of the survey?

    There should be a couple more pages, this one only offers 25 points.

  25. I think we need to have some sort of contest to see who can make the best updated version of this. After all, as ROSSINDETROIT noted, coming to breakfast undressed should be a bonus, not a knock.

    Looks like I have a way to learn some of the new tricks in the Photoshop CS I got the other week …

  26. @ZehnKatzen ,
    @Brian Carnell:
    What was the hangup in the 1930s over red nail polish?

    In the argot of the ’30’s, she would have been thought of as a loose woman. Garish shades like red were for women of shaky repute.


    On the other hand, the garish red nail polish might hint at a greater likelihood that she “reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress,” so you’d still be 9 points to the merit side of the equation.

  27. Garish shades like red were for women of shaky repute.

    Come now. Even Mrs. Stephen Haines wore Jungle Red in 1939, and she was the most respectable woman in The Women. There was nothing shaky about Norma Shearer’s repute.

  28. I hella want the next portion. So far I’m at -7, and I need to know how to augment my marriageability! Of course, I had to substitute sweat-stained T-shirts for ragged aprons, and slutty fishnets for crooked hose, but I feel I am a bad wife in spirit if not in practice.

  29. This test–both husbands’ and wives’–ran during the first two weeks of 1940 in the Chicago Tribune. (God bless the Proquest Historic Newspapers database.) Husbands’ questions include:

    Accepts defeat too easily. Lacks persistency and spunk (30 demerits)

    Too possessive. Doesn’t want wife to take interest in outside activities. (6 demerits.)

    Writes on tablecloth with his pencil. (6 demerits.)

    Calls “Where is…” without first hunting for the object (6 demerits.)

    Tries to keep wife equipped with modern labor saving devices (6 merits.)

    Has a date with wife at least once a week (30 merits.)

    Helps wife with the dishes, caring for the children, scrubbing, etc. (30 merits.)

    Thrills wife with his affection (30 merits.)

    Overall, the husbandly ones are pretty good. (I think that last one means, “good in the sack.”)

  30. The husbands’ test is pretty up to date. Even now, the number one thing that men can do to get more amorous interludes in their relationships? Housework.

  31. My atheism, tardiness, and penchant for flirtation have made me a failure.

    I couldn’t be more proud.

    Negative eight, bitches! Beat that!

  32. Is there no one that can provide a link to complete versions of the husband and wife tests?

  33. @Jeff – Care to specificy which specific issues on the Trib? I want to buy archive copies, and have it narrowed down, but don’t want to hunt wildly.

    It appears to be part of the good doctor’s “Test Your Horse Sense” series:


  34. The modern list:
    Demerits for men:

    Leaves toilet seat up: -5
    Hogs remote control: -2
    Infrequent bathing: -3
    Sports on TV more than 5 hours/week: -3
    Hangs with dissolute college buddies more than 5 years after graduation: -5
    Gambles: -10
    Excessive descriptions of other attractive women: -5
    Vanity: -1
    Lack of ambition: -3
    Waist size greater than 1/2 height: -5

  35. What if a wife “uses slang or profanity” as a way to “react with pleasure and delight to marital congress”?

  36. @JHMirage It’s 1/1/1940 to 1/12/1940, found through Proquest using Jeff’s directions.

  37. There’s an argument to be made that men are better than women at housework, or at least more thorough. I mean I couldn’t care less, normally, but when I do tidy up, I do it right, and it takes forever. And come to think of it, I’ve lived in women majority houses and always got stuck doing the washing up.

    See I don’t think you can help with the housework too much, because then you’ll be stuck in a vicious war of attrition. I would be fine letting the mess build up until my partner breaks.

    …maybe there’s a reason I’m single.

  38. OMG, I have this booklet. My mom gave it to me (jokingly) when I was a teenager. I should post scans of the whole thing to Flickr.

  39. I also want to mention that the full booklet has a rating scale for wives AND a scale for husbands.

  40. @DQK:

    On the other hand, the garish red nail polish might hint at a greater likelihood that she “reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress,” so you’d still be 9 points to the merit side of the equation.

    Well, she’ll keep him happy at home, and no mistake, but it’s hardly the sort of thing you want getting out in public.

    Enjoy sex? This is the 1930s!

  41. @Antinous:

    Come now. Even Mrs. Stephen Haines wore Jungle Red in 1939, and she was the most respectable woman in The Women. There was nothing shaky about Norma Shearer’s repute

    Not saying there necessarily is. Your point is well-taken. Some women can carry off red. It’s like either you can or you can’t, and it’s this innate thing, and when you see it you know it.

    It’s like fashion in a way. You either can handle it or you can’t. If you have the moxie, it’s sublime; but if you’re trying to hard, everyone can tell in a flash.

  42. My arithmetic might be wrong, but if you add up ALL the “Merits”, you only get 25. So NOBODY could be better than “Poor”???

  43. Aren’t crooked Ho’s looked on with favor by many guys these days?
    I saw some in a rap video the other day.

  44. Ha ha! Lookit how backwards those folks were back then! I can’t believe they beat Hitler! Come on you guys.. it’s like making fun of Civil War doctors – we get it – civilization advances over time. O the mirth.

  45. Lookit how backwards those folks were back then! I can’t believe they beat Hitler!

    Well obviously, Hitler had the bad luck of being from that time period as well and just as backwards.

  46. Good lord. “Wifey has to be religious and bring kids to church on Sundays.” immediately followed by “Wifey has to let husband sleep in on Sunday”. Talk about hypocritical.

    Nevermind the demerit for not liking kids. Damn militant breeders.

    How big a demerit do I get for ripping up the booklet and slapping the “counselor” in the face?

  47. The “Husband Chart, 2008” is soooo easy:

    1. Enables wife to eat the way she really wants to (voraciously) without ever calling her fat. (+n merits)
    2. Makes enough money so wife is surrounded by luxury and will never have to work again (or read a book). (+n merits)
    3. Donates his sperm to wife’s prime directive. (+n+1 merits)


  48. Most of these are so much pffft.

    BUT – demerit #9 is a terrible thing, particularly when combined with demerit #1.

    Maybe it is just me – but there always seems to be an (unearned) self-congratulatory look-how-far-we’ve-comeness when things like this are posted/published (not just BB mind – in general).

  49. I’m mostly just amused by how the psychologist weights “Ardent lover – ensures his wife has orgasm in marital congress. (+20)” over “Is true to his wife. (+10)”

    Thanks for posting the whole thing, Tiabla.

  50. My wife and I have had many discussions about my need for her to be a little more gay. This chart may be just what I need to finally bring her around.
    Thanks Boing Boing!

  51. Thanks, Tiabla and Deliboy! My dad (born 1932) got a kick out of the original sample, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy seeing the whole thing.

  52. I got -11. With attitudes like that, I think #10 is good for +75 merits and not having to put up with the kind of husband who would put any stock in this test.

  53. Actually, I liked 6. Compares wife unfavorably with his mother or other wives.

    If he’s comparing his wife unfavorably to his other wives, I’d say they have problems beyond mere rudeness!

  54. I’m posting a couple of RapidShare links –

    PDF made from the Flickr scans (2612 KB) : http://rapidshare.com/files/115193003/Tests_for_Husbands_and_Wives_-_Orig.pdf
    PDF retyped (214 KB) : http://rapidshare.com/files/115193176/Tests_for_Husbands_and_Wives_-_Cleaned_v1.pdf

    The retyped version was made in Quark XPress using the fonts HelveticaNeue and ITCCentury Book. I currently have no idea if the fonts will default or shift on viewing or printing. I also was unable to make out the small text on the cover. If anyone can tell me what it says I’ll add it in and put it in version 2. Also, if anyone spots any typos in the retyped version, let me know.

  55. The small type:

    Under DOCTOR OF MEDICINE it says


    Under PSYCHOLOGIST it says




    Note that those are all caps, not L&S caps; the last line is in smaller type than those that precede it; the line following “PSYCHOLOGIST” appears to be centered on the word “PSYCHOLOGIST” rather than the potential line width; and there’s an extra hairspace between the parentheses and the text they enclose.

  56. Apologies for not having said this earlier:

    Our profuse thanks to Tiabla, Deliboy, and Pensketch for all their help.

  57. This is so hilarious… I’m printing it out right now and will calculate how bad a wife I am…

  58. Alright I did the whole test for women for myself and I’m a 43… which is Average… now when my husband gets home on the 16th I’ll have him rate me …

  59. You probably got a low score because this is just the first page. this is the rest maybe your score wont be so bad :)

    1. Slow in coming to bed — delays till husband is almost asleep.
    2. Doesn’t like children. (5)
    3. Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly.
    4. Wears soiled or ragged dresses and aprons around the house.
    5. Wears red nail polish.
    6. Often late for appointments. (5)
    7. Seams in hose often crooked.
    8. Goes to bed with curlers on her hair or much face cream.
    9. Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them.
    10. Is a backseat driver.
    11. Flirts with other men at parties or restaurants. (5)
    12. Is suspicious and jealous. (5)
    13. Uses slang or profanity. (5)
    14. Smokes, drinks, gambles, or uses dope. (5)
    15. Talks about former boy friends or first husband.
    16. Squeezes tooth paste at the top.
    17. Reminds husband it is her money they are living on. (5)
    18. Tells family affairs to casual acquaintances, too talkative.
    19. A chronic borrower–doesn’t keep stocked up.
    20. Slows up card game with chatter and gossip.
    21. Opens husband’s personal mail.
    22. Frequently exceeds her allowance or family budget. (5)
    23. Eats onions, radishes, or garlic before a date or going to bed.
    24. Tells risque or vulgar stories. (5)
    25. Wears pajamas while cooking.
    26. Talks during movie, play or concert.
    27. Is more than 15 pounds overweight.
    28. Often whining or complaining.
    29. Discourteous to sales clerks and hired help.
    30. Shoulder straps hang over arms or slip is uneven and shows.
    31. Fails to wash top of milk bottle before opening it.
    32. Corrects husband’s speech or actions before others. (5)
    33. Saves punishment of children for father at night. (5)
    34. Serves dinner but fails to sit down till meal is half over–then wants husband to wait for her.
    35. Wears pajamas instead of nightgown.
    36. Fails to bathe or brush teeth often enough. (5)
    37. Puts stockings to soak in wash basin.
    38. Serves too much from tin cans or the delicatessen store.
    39. Visits mother too often–a spoiled child.
    40. Is snobbish or too much concerned in “keeping up with the Jones.”
    41. Dislikes husband’s hobbies as fishing, baseball, etc.
    42. Tells lies–not dependable. (5)
    43. Doesn’t want to get up to prepare breakfast.
    44. Insists on driving the car when husband is along.
    45. Smokes in bed or has cigarette stained fingers.
    46. Cries, sulks or pouts too much.
    47. Makes evening engagements without consulting her husband.
    48. Talks too long on the phone.
    49. Is a gossip.
    50. Walks around house in stocking feet.

    1. A good hostess–even to unexpected guests.
    2. Has meals on time.
    3. Can carry on an interesting conversation.
    4. Can play a musical instrument, as piano, violin, etc.
    5. Dresses for breakfast.
    6. Neat housekeeper–tidy and clean.
    7. Personally puts children to bed.
    8. Never goes to bed angry, always makes up first. (5)
    9. Asks husband’s opinions regarding important decisions and purchases.
    10. Good sense of humor–jolly and gay.
    11. Religious–sends children to church or Sunday school and goes herself.
    12. Lets husband sleep late on Sunday and holidays.
    13. Encourages thrifty–economical. (5)
    14. Laughs at husband’s jokes and his clowning.
    15. Ambitious for her family–urges higher attainment.
    16. Belongs to parent-teacher club, or child study group.
    17. A good cook–serves balanced meals. (5)
    18. Tries to become acquainted with husband’s business or trade.
    19. Greets husband at night with a smile.
    20. Has a pleasant disposition in the morning–not crabby.
    21. Keeps snacks in refrigerator for late eating.
    22. Likes educational and cultural things.
    23. Reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress. (10)
    24. Faithful and true to husband. (10)
    25. Has pleasant voice–not strident.
    26. Has spunk–will defend her ideals and religion.
    27. Praises husband in public.
    28. Writes often and lovingly when away from husband.
    29. Writes to husband’s parents regularly.
    30. Willing to assist husband at office or shop.
    31. Sympathetic–likes children and unfortunates. (5)
    32. Keeps hair neatly combed or shampooed and waved.
    33. Often comments on husband’s strength and masculinity.
    34. Good seamstress–can make her own clothes or the children’s clothes.
    35. Gives husband shampoo or manicure.
    36. Keeps husband’s clothes clean and presses.
    37. Bravely carries on during financial depression.
    38. Healthy or courageous and uncomplaining.
    39. Keeps self dainty, perfumed and feminine.
    40. Is of same religion as her husband. (5)
    41. Has minor children to care for. (5 points per child)
    42. On friendly terms with neighbors.
    43. Fair and just in settling the children’s quarrels with others.
    44. Likes to vacation with husband.
    45. An active member of some women’s organization.
    46. Often tells husband she loves him. (5)
    47. Polite and mannerly even when alone with husband.
    48. Willing to get a job to help support the home.
    49. Praises marriage before young women contemplating it.
    50. Is unselfish and kind-hearted.

Comments are closed.