News & Politics

’70s wives ask themselves, “When was the last time I expressed pleasure in our sex life?” and so much more


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Especially for Wives: When Was the Last Time

Author: Michael A. Campion, PhD., with photos by Wilmer Zehr

Date: 1978

Publisher: Bethany Fellowship, Minneapolis

Representative Quotes :

“When was the last time . . .

. . .
 I took time for prayer and Bible study with my husband?”
. . . I was passionate and playful at lovemaking?”
. . . I cleaned off the top of the refrigerator?”

We hear all about how traditional marriage today is as precious and imperiled as an icecube made of the last tears of the last unicorn bobbing along in Satan’s rum mug. But did you know that this great institution has been hard for some people, even in the past, which is the perfect time America must flux-capicitate back to or else?

In fact, marriage is so hard that books have been written about it, both real and useful ones and also hilarious cock-ups like Especially for Wives, a self-help relationship quiz designed to get American families through yet another day of life’s most blissful relationship.

The book works like this: each two-page spread poses a tough-minded “When was the last time . . . ” question, illustrated by a photo of 70’s married folks.

So, “When was the last time . . .

As you can see, most of these are tremendously depressing, especially since your partner’s income is inadequate.

Another! When was the last time . . .

Wait, those are the clothes he likes? The rest of the time, she must be rocking burlap culottes and a chastity pancho.

No wonder she wonders, “When was the last time . . .

Back off, lady! That Stereo Review ain’t going to read itself!

His disinterest inspires her to ask “When was the last time . . .

Maybe the day she said “I do”?

Perhaps that spurs this petty outburst. “When was the last time . . .

Wait, when was the last time she didn’t do this? This one act, continuously repeated, has been the whole of this relationship for so long that she struggles to recall a time before it?

Like Walker Evans and James Agee, author Zehr and photographer Campion honor in images and words American resilience in face of unyielding hardship — in this case, Christian marriage. Like Evans’ gaunt-faced sharecroppers, these couples have been scraped raw by experience.

“When was the last time . . .

But interests are a luxury for those whose lives are not of endless toil!

The floors might get finished, but the wife’s work never does. She asks, “When was the last time . . .

Something tells me Especially for Wives was not a popular anniversary gift.

Anyway, here’s a load more. “When was the last time . . .

Wait, if sex is a weapon, how do I qualify for a concealed carry?

“When was the last time . . .

Her tart tongue ruined yet another meeting of the Turtleneck Club!

“When was the last time . . .

What a question! And here I thought the authors were trying to keep people married!

[The Crap Archivist originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]

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