Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Love in Days Gone By

I love writing historical romance, and one of the most fascinating and enjoyable aspects of that career is the research involved to bring characters to life. It's quite an understatement, of course, to say that life in the past was much different from today, yet in many ways, human nature hasn't changed all that much. Women then, as now, have wanted love and happiness, and have appreciated the values of home and family.

In The Wrong Woman, I wrote the following. In this little snippet from the story, Abigail and a friend begin by discussing a man...and end up contemplating what it means to be a woman:

~ ~ ~

“Let’s put our heads together, shall we? Maybe we can figure out why Will is acting so peculiar.”

Abigail pulled up a chair. “He’s a man, that’s why.”

“Men are always joking about their inability to understand women, but it works both ways, don’t you think?” asked Julia. “I mean, men are probably much more of a puzzlement than any woman could ever be. Our wants are so simple, really. We want to be loved and respected. We want to make a good marriage, raise a family of well-mannered children, and grow comfortably old with the man we love. What’s so difficult to understand in that?” The question was rhetorical. It required no response.

What an accurate observation, thought Abigail as she sipped her tea. In a few simple, straight-forward sentences, Julia had neatly summed up the precise nature of being a woman.

Love and marriage.

Home and family.

~ ~ ~
Fortunately, women had many helpful resources to which they could turn for practical advice and down-to-earth instructions on how to achieve those cherished goals.  One popular reference was Married Love, also known as Love in Marriage, written by Dr. Maria Carmichael Stopes. 

I've browsed around a bit and have come up with some very interesting bits of advice from Dr. Stopes.

Marriage and Toiletry

Now, it may enchant a man once -- perhaps even twice -- or at long intervals -- to watch his goddess screw her hair up into a tight and unbecoming knot and soap her ears. But it is inherently too unlovely a proceeding to retain indefinite enchantment.

To see a beautiful woman floating in the deep, clear water of her bath -- that may enchant for ever, for it is so lovely, but the unbeautiful trivialities essential to the daily toilet tend only to blur the picture and to dull the interest and attention that should be bestowed on the body of the loved one.

Pet Him

Men are, at heart, eternally children, and such tender petting as comforts children warms and sweetens a grown man's life. The "good night" should be a time of delightful forgetting of the outward scars of the years, and a warm, tender, perhaps playful exchange of confidence.

Be Always Escaping

Man is still essentially the hunter, the one who experiences the desires and thrills of the chase, and dreams ever of coming unawares upon Diana in the woodlands. I think that, in the interests of husbands, an important piece of advice to wives is: Be always escaping.

Ensure that you allow your husband to come upon you only when there is delight in the meeting. 

Whenever the finances allow, the husband and wife should have separate bedrooms, failing that, they should have a curtain which can at will be drawn so as to divide the room they share.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes, life was different indeed in days gone by. Love, too, was different in some respects, yet very much the same in others. I believe we can learn from the past, and I hope to create a home for my family that reflects many of the traditional, "old-fashioned" values which were once taught as part of what it meant to be a woman.

Finding little gems of wisdom through my research always brings a smile to my heart, and I'll leave you now with this sage advice for  loving wives and their husbands:

Never speak loudly to one another, unless the house is on fire.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Until next month...may your lives be blessed with love!



Unknown said...

How hilarios about the curtain and separate rooms. Thank you for such an interesting post.

Christina Cole said...

I loved the "house on fire" rule. It's quaint, but it's actually good advice, don't you think?

Shanna Hatfield said...

The house on rule fire is awesome! Such a fun post, Christina!

Caroline Clemmons said...

A fun post, Christina.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Caroline. Finding little gems like this is what makes research so much fun.