Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Marriage Before the Romance Novel

Jan Steen, "The Merry Family"

The romantic comedy or "chick flick" is a wildly popular genre of film. Women love the conflict and tension leading up to the happy ending of wedding bells.  But the romantic, emotional exuberance of the modern ideal belies much of the history of traditional marriage. Indeed, the two conceptions of marriage are so different as to make you stop and think about whether they are the same institution at all.

In modern societies the purpose of marriage is romantic love, intimacy, and individual fulfillment. In fact, 70 percent of divorcing couples in this study give lack of commitment (mostly due to an absence of romantic love or a feeling of having drifted away emotionally) as the reason for their divorce.  

But the purpose of marriage in ancient societies was radically different.  Up until the last hundred years or so, people married for these reasons:
  • to provide legitimate children to perpetuate family property. 
  • to maintain influence in the community.
  • to create alliances.
  • to consolidate property .
  • to care for aging relatives.  
Marriage in pre-modern times was about surviving and thriving in a hostile world of scarcity.
Husbands and wives for much of history have had low expectations for emotional fulfillment in marriage.  The idea was that mutual respect and affection were achieved as each spouse fulfilled his or her part of the union and built a family together. Individuals in traditional societies believed that a happy marriage could be learned after securing the foundation and means of family life:  property, family connections, religion, children.

Before modern, big government and bureaucracies, families and households were a form of subsistence. There could be no survival or even existence without the family and the extended clan of relatives. And everyone had a contribution to make according to their sex.  The husband and/or his family provided a house, property, and name, and the wife and her family would bring the dowry, provide children and housekeeping.

Frederick George Cotman,"One of the Family"

Finally, and not least importantly, families before modernity were a form of immortality as descendants were expected to bear children to carry on the family line.  Then those children were obligated to bury, remember and honor their parents and ancestors, perpetuate their memories and care for their burial sites.  The family was identity and so these memorials were significant to an individual’s purpose and meaning.  Without knowing who and where they came from, the traditional folk hadn't a clue what life was about.
Family burial plots in an Austrian church yard
A body is first buried in a temporary family grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Next time we'll look at the biblical roots of marriage.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

~Amy Laurie

Friday, July 19, 2019

Three Things to Look for in a Potential Husband, Part 1

A few weeks ago, June 30, 2019, my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. If you ask my husband how we have managed to stay married that long, he will give me all the credit...he's that kind of man.  But I think he's wrong.  I think he has been the kind of husband that has made it easy for me to be a good wife.  I want to share with you three things about my husband that have made our marriage a success.

Now my list could have been much longer.  But I'm narrowing it down to three things.  Why not list all of his good qualities, you may be thinking?

I have seen and heard of women (and men) who create lists of things they must have in a spouse. But I'm not sure a list of more than two or three things at the most is really helpful in the long term.  It isn't easy to find someone who satisfies all your needs and also it begins the habit of thinking that your husband should do that...that he should completely make you happy according to all your expectations.

Realistically, marriage doesn't work that way.  It's best to keep things simple.

And without further ado, here are the top three things I love about my husband:

1- My husband is a true Christian.

Having common goals and values, and a common vision have held us together through the thick and the thin, the better and the worse.  I know that I can trust my husband because he is committed to Christ and must answer to Christ.  No, he isn't perfect, but I know that he at least works toward being a better person every day and living out the moral and ethical teachings of Christ.  This is hugely comforting.  We also believe that marriage is a lifetime commitment and have vowed to stay together "till death do us part.".  This is a foundation of marriage that has taken us through difficult times when one or the other of us may not have really wanted to stay together.

2- My husband keeps himself physically fit and attractive.

A big part of marriage is keeping each other happy in the bedroom and for me, at least, physical attractiveness makes that a lot easier.  Now I am not suggesting that a man has to have movie star looks and a body-builder physique to be physically attractive to a woman.  Simply taking care of his body, eating reasonably and staying away from drugs and too much booze, exercising regularly is going to be good enough, so don't be perfectionistic about this.  Being attractive is something that is accessible to every man and woman with a little work.  I'm so glad my husband has made good health a priority since a regular and active sexual life with each other is enhanced by being in good shape. If you are married and this isn't a priority for you, I ask you to just try working out and eating a little better and see if it doesn't make you friskier. :-)

3- My husband is a good provider and protector.

He takes responsibility for our marriage and our home.  He is a hard worker and has consistently provided for us financially and made it possible for me to focus on children and homemaking.  There have been times in my life when I have worked, but for the most part, it has been a huge relief not to have the pressure of working an outside job as well as running my home and raising my children.  My husband  is also a good planner who thinks about all the things that could go wrong and tries to avoid them.  He doesn't spend frivolously and keeps a careful account of income and expenses. On the other hand, he doesn't micromanage my finances.  He has saved consistently, so that we don't have to worry about financial problems and we have peace of mind.


Now there are many other things I could have listed, but I don't think that you should have too many "must haves" because you are bound to be disappointed.  Besides, it is entirely possible to change and adapt to a man in almost every aspect of a marriage.  For example, for many women, it's important for a man to be warm, fuzzy and affectionate.  I will say that earlier in my marriage that was important to me and I used to complain about it a lot (gentle smiles).  But I have learned to be thankful for my husband's many good qualities and to adapt to his way of doing things.  I actually think it has been good for me to find other ways to fill some of my needs.  For example, it's good to have girlfriends and female family members who can provide companionship and a dimension of my life that I think my husband isn't satisfying.   I can see now that this is in some respects healthier, since if, God forbid, I am left alone, and my husband has been my whole world, I am going to have a very hard time.  Over time, I've learned to develop my friendships and my own interests. There are plenty of ways to serve in my community and church and help others and I simply don't have time to  constantly worry about whether my husband is fulfilling all of my wants and needs.

And so we find happiness.

Thanks for stopping by...BE BLESSED!

Amy Laurie, the Mountain Housewife

Loving your husband: Fulfill his sexual desires.

That they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. - Titus 2: 4 (KJV) The closer a woman ge...

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