Marriage 1920’s Style – Part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Being married is not always easy, but it can be extremely rewarding for those who have the courage and tenacity to keep working to improve that marriage and to build a strong and lasting relationship with their spouse. Still, I see and have occasionally felt how tempting it can be to take the easy way out and quit trying to build a good/great marriage. I see how many people just surrender altogether and file for divorce. Most of all, I see how our core attitude toward marriage makes it more difficult for us to keep our wedding vow “’til death do us part.”

One of my favorite secular authors is Emilie Loring. She wrote romance novels (stories about love overcoming adversity, not filthy, se*ualized stories) from 1914 until her death in 1951. Her books are clean; kissing is the extent of the romantic involvement depicted, and many of the books do not contain any swear words. (It wasn’t until the 1960s that her male heroes were allowed to say d–n.) Reading her books is like taking a trip into another era, one in which character traits like honor, loyalty, bravery, and courage were valued highly.

I recently re-read The Trail of Conflict, which was originally published in 1922. The story is about a couple whose marriage is arranged and depicts the rocky path they follow on their way to a real, loving marriage. Because this book addresses problems rampant in today’s society, I’m going to share relevant passages with you.

“…One doesn’t take the vow ‘and forsaking all others’ to break it, does one?” gravely.

“I deduce from that that you do not believe in divorce?”

“Divorce! While I acknowledge that there may be situations where it is unavoidable, I hate the word. Always to me it takes on the semblance of Medusa’s head in my school mythology, its snaky, hissing locks striking, stabbing, stinging, scarring indelibly. I believe in keeping covenants.”

“It’s hard sometimes.”

“It is, but life isn’t intended to be all joy-ride.”

“Do you know, I fancy,” with an exact imitation of his earlier voice and manner, “that the future first families of America’s ‘Who’s Who’ will be those who can count back at least four generations of ancestors who have, in spite of disappointment and disillusion, poverty or riches, sickness or health, kept their marriage covenants.”
p. 35

This next passage follows the reading of a will which required the heroine to give up her family fortune and follow her husband to live on an isolated ranch for one year. Her father is speaking in the first sentence.

“Come, Jerry, give this thing up. Settle down here at the Manor and be happy.”

For the first time since she had come into the lives of the Courtlands Jerry looked like her father. There was the same determination about her eyes, about her lips.

“Be happy! Does smooth going necessarily mean happiness? Does jogging along on the path beaten by our social set mean happiness? Do you know how I feel, Dad? It is as though Steve and I had come up against an enormous sign-post bearing the startling information, ROAD CLOSED: DETOUR. The detour may be hard going, detours usually are, but they also offer more thrills and adventures than the broad highway. I’m willing to take a sporting chance if – if Steve wants me–“
-pg. 45

More to come in Part 2.

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