by MAUREEN VINCENT
WE certainly seem to hear enough about the "captive housewife" in today's suburbia. She is becoming, perhaps, an all too familiar figure: tied to the house by young children, lonely for adult companionship during the long hours of her husband's employment. frustrated by the lack of intellectual stimulation in the daily round of cleaning. cooking and child minding.
Any doctor, any housewife for that matter, can confirm that the problem is a real and socially menacing one. Unhappy frustrated wives inevitably take it out on their husbands; worse yet, the children of unhappy frustrated mothers start life with rather less than their fair chance of an emotionally stable environment during their formative years.
Little attempt seems to have been made to alleviate the situation so far; one reason, no doubt, is that it is of such recent origin.
Raised siatiCfarr!s of 1. and the cicvelopr iv of zch anical aids which remove the drudgery from housework give today's housewife much more leisure and spare energy.
Moreover, she has had the benefit of a broader education than was available to previous generations of women and has, almost certainly, enjoyed the independence and satisfaction of holding down a job of her own before marriage.
In 1960 The Guardian published an article and letters on this subject. mentioning particularly the difficulty of finding friends when tied to a family and moving to live in a strange place.
One letter, from Mrs. Maureen Nicol, put forward the idea of a housewives' Register. Mrs. Nicol was overwhelmed by the response to her suggestion, as a result of which she had to appoint organisers all over the country. There are now over four hundred local groups.
The only qualification for admission to the Housewives'
Register is a lively and inquiring mind; the majority of the members are between 25 and 40 and have had some kind of training or career before marriage.
The emphasis is on informality; members meet in one another's homes, sometimes to listen to a talk, sometimes just to have a discussion among themselves. Reciprocal help with small children is negotiated, baby-sitting rotas and play groups are sidelines.
But finding friends, not just acquaintances, is the object of the exercise. "It is a source of like-minded company which is sorely needed."
The National Organiser of the Housewives' Register is Mrs. Jane Watt, Rowanbank, Grantham Road, Bottesford, Nottingham.