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What's With This Marriage Business Anyway?

(29 Posts)
daftoldduffer Sun 02-Mar-14 07:19:13

Back in the day when I was beginning to wonder why girls wore different clothes to me, courtship followed a well defined path.
Starting at around age fourteen boys progressed through an average of three girl friends,one after the other.
The first hook- up was a dare I sneak an arm round her affair, confined to a little light smooching with no feely- feely sort of arrangement.
The second was a furtive is she really going to allow me to do this? grope in the back row of the cinema episode, with worrying references to that terrifying marriage thing, a bit too much meeting the parents, followed swiftly by a broken hearted parting of the ways.
The third was serious. A Life changing can't get enough of each other, much late night fumblings on the sofa business.
Ending with an engagement ring, much discussion of babies – principally by her, with a don't quite believe this is happening acquiescence from him, a church wedding with prawn cocktails and a drunken uncle mangling obscene jokes ,then a full lifetime of marriage.
Divorce was a matter for those immoral film star people, desertion an unforgivable scandal, living together without a wedding simply unimaginable Men went to work, women stayed at home, cleaned the house, raised babies, made sure his dinner was on the table when he got home.
And that was it.
I have a strong impression things are rather different nowadays.Though I've not much more than hearsay evidence to rely on.
So far as I can judge the modern miss is just as happy – perhaps more happy – to be asked to move in with a feller as she once would have been by a formal marriage proposal
And that a wedding day is something to anticipate for its Big Day atmosphere than as the forerunner to a shared lifetime.
In fact a shared lifetime of mutual love, future building and babies, once in the forefront of most girl's dreams (not necessarily of the mans) is now something scarcely considered. With both parties entering into the arrangement we used to term 'shacking up'in the clear anticipation that it would only have a limited life.
And the girl, far from plunging eagerly into a lifetime of washing hubby;'s pants expecting to keep her job – increasingly a career equal to that of the man – keep her own residence if at all fiancially possible,indeed keep her own fully independant lifestyle altogether.
As for babies- well, someday maybe. But certainly not soon..
So what of the future? Is longtime co-habitation, with or without the marriage formality , on the verge of disappearing altogether? Except for the handful of exceptions to prove the rule of course.
And those babies, when they do finally appear - what of them? Presumably mother will in the main be the carer.As well as the provider.
But not necessarily. Mother love is not automatic, as I know to my personal cost.
So will we see an expansion of orphanages to cater for the unwanted – those dumped by mum herself because coping with a full time career, housework and motherhood is proving too much, or because the next partner to happen along wants to make a fresh start?
Such tragedies are happening already of course. But maybe we will see a vast expansion Maybe the state will have to provide everything that father once did.
While the dismal present day attempts to winkle out paternity pay is dropped in favour of us all paying more taxes.

Aka Sun 02-Mar-14 07:28:11

Oh dear DoD what brought that up so early on a Sunday morning? Was it a general observation or something that impacts on your own life or family?

daftoldduffer Sun 02-Mar-14 07:57:45

Just a general observation of the way life seems to be panning out, Aka

whenim64 Sun 02-Mar-14 08:08:36

'An expansion of orphanages' daftoldduffer? Am I missing something? Unwanted children being dumped by career-minded mothers - presumably the mothers whose body clocks were ticking away until they realised they had better get a shift on if they wanted to have children before it was too late. Or, mothers who got their careers off the ground whilst the children were small in order to improve their living standards. Either way, the idea of orphanages being filled with such children doesn't ring true.

No, mother love may not always be automatic, but how does it tie in with whether mother is career-minded? Some women find they can't cope with bringing up children and need more support, but if something has to give between children, new relationship, job and housework, why would it be resolved by dumping the children in an orphanage? Puzzled hmm

mollie Sun 02-Mar-14 08:33:22

Far too many generalisations here, I think. In my experience the past picture that you painted didn't happen either although it was the ideal that was trotted out by those who wanted to have some control over the way we behaved. And nowadays the only difference is that women have options (and by the way, it's probably more likely the girls invite the men to move in ... and out again!) which isn't entirely liberating as they still seem to have full responsibility for the children generally so they've taken on more and have to juggle job, home and career as well as something for themselves.

Don't believe everything you see on the TV or in the media. Lots of people are doing it the 'traditional' way and lots of others are creating a version that does work for them. Of course there are some who live the way you've described too. It's complicated.

Iam64 Sun 02-Mar-14 08:38:16

What's prompted this dod?
I don't recognise the either the past or current worlds you describe.
I do hope you're just having a Victor Meldrew moment, rather than being as fed up as your sound grin

sunseeker Sun 02-Mar-14 09:10:52

There are as many different ways of living as there are people! Like Iam64 I don't recognise the scenarios you paint. I am in my mid 60s and whilst I got married I had friends who decided to just move in together. I don't know of anyone who "dumped" children in orphanages

annodomini Sun 02-Mar-14 09:59:33

DoD, judging by your description of the mores of your youth, you must be a good twenty years older than I am - and I'm 73. Or did you sleep through the '60s? grin

daftoldduffer Sun 02-Mar-14 10:17:46

I am in fact 81 and the difference in moral and social outlook and action is as I describe.
I find it difficult to find that looking at affairs as they were and now are, and using them to suggest a possible future makes me a grump.
In fact I'm rather a cheery old farty. I don't however, possess any rose tinted specs.

FlicketyB Sun 02-Mar-14 10:19:40

Sorry I just do not recognise this scenario. I am now in my 70s. My mother worked for most of her married life, including when my youngest sister was still a toddler. She worked because she wanted to, not because she had to. My grandmother and great grandmother were widowed before they were 40 and worked to support their families, there wasn't an option. My mother-in-law was a teacher and again worked most of her married life. All these women were born between 1850 and 1915.

I was brought up to believe that marrying and having children in a happy marriage was good but having the ability to own your own living came first. I worked for most of my working years, married or not and my DS & DDiL are currently walking the tight rope of balancing work and young children.

It is not the careers that stop people having children. the proportion of women or men who have high-powered careers is very small. Most people, male or female, have careers as teachers, doctors, nurses, painters, car mechanics or jobs in retail or hospitality and they juggle children and work.

What is lacking is the ability of employers to see that today's children are the customers of 20 years time. One of the reasons we have a problem with funding pensions is because the number of children being born means fewer and fewer adults to work and contribute to the pensions of the elderly above them. This is why we have a need for so many immigrants in this country.

ps Sun 02-Mar-14 10:43:03

I can see exactly what DoD is trying to say but perhaps the 'dumping in orphanages' might be replaced with 'left to fend for themselves and estranged from their parent' (as against parents). I'm sure any social workers, young people advisors, probation officers etc. in certain parts of the country could possibly agree with that. Not perhaps something one would witness in the Surrey stockbroker belt or rural idylls of quintessential english village life in the shire counties but very common in the deprived wards of many of our inner cities and towns.
I personally cannot comment on the girlfriend / boyfriend at age 14 bit however. I guess I was a very late developer as at that age I was far too interested and involved with sport, playing, studying and otherwise enjoying life to be at all interested in anything to do with the opposite sex. Fortunately I attended an all boys school and at times remember feeling sorry for friends who attended mixed schools and whose hormones were seemingly all over the place with the distraction. Most of my peer group from my school seemed to be focused. Whether that is a good or bad thing I dont know but I guess I started showing an interest at around 16 / 17 - is that 3 years, or more, after the average I wonder?
I am in favour of women enjoying a career if that is the path they wish to take as in my humble opinion they bring far more to the world of commerce than men do and achieve against all the stereotypical odds. Perhaps they achieve by encouragement whereas males possibly achieve by aggression as a generalisation - obviously there are the exceptions. Overall however I am happy that females can forge the life they wish for themselves and that the typical stay at home mum and homemaker of the 40's and 50's is long gone. Why should they not have the same opportunities as men - assuming they are prepared to accept the same responsibilities which most do.

wondergran Sun 02-Mar-14 11:32:53

I think mothers, and indeed fathers, generally dearly love their children and will do anything possible to make them happy. It's too simplistic to look back at the so called good old days and think that everything was rosy then. Of course it wasn't. I bet there were thousands of married women who were desperate to go out to work but couldn't due to social stigma and zero child care arrangements and many of them who stayed in love-less marriages but could not face the stigma of divorce or would find it impossible to support themselves and children if they were to divorce. Times have changed and women, finally, can make real choices about their lives. I think that women work and try even harder nowadays to do the utmost best for their children whilst working, studying etc too. Yes, it's different but it's time to give three cheers for mums everywhere who do their best to cope with today's difficult but exciting opportunities and changes. The future will be fine as we are programmed to love and nurture our offspring and that, for the vast majority, is exactly what is going to happen. Enjoy your day

glammanana Sun 02-Mar-14 14:24:51

Nothing at all rosy about the good old days and as for children being dumped in orphanages well I seem to remember Dr Banardo's being a very well known orphanage years ago ? I think the scenes you paint have always been evident just the fact that they where swept under the carpet years ago and very little reported in the media as it is to-day,women having to be at the beck and call of their husbands and having children every year !! Luckily my parents worked hand in hand raising a family and my mum worked full time with the help of my dad who made sure his daughters had the same level of education as his son,something his father did not believe in my fathers aunts went into service and his uncles into professions so where is the fairness in that ?
Yes we have a very nice lifestyle now but if all the working mums stopped working to-morrow the Country would come to a standstill I'm affraid.

FlicketyB Sun 02-Mar-14 15:42:02

PS. "Not perhaps something one would witness in the Surrey stockbroker belt or rural idylls of quintessential english village life in the shire counties" I think this statement is outrageous and patronising, why should only poor and disadvantaged children be victims of bad parenting? Why does being well off and well-educated automatically make you a good parent?

Sadly there is no class division when it comes to poor and neglectful parenting and the Surrey Stockbroker belt and rural idylls of quintessential English village life, which actually haven't existed for at least 50 years, if not more so, are, sadly, just as likely to house families where children are 'left to fend for themselves and estranged from their parent' as any urban and suburban area. These 'idyllic rural areas' are also home to many poor families who struggle to bring children up on lower than average incomes and higher than average transport costs.

It was reported that the wealthiest local authority in the country, Hart, in Hertfordshire is also home to three food banks, so great is the poverty in a superficially wealthy area.

Nonnie Sun 02-Mar-14 16:34:58

More references to mums than dads here. Dads should be just as responsible for their children as mums whether the parents are together or not. I think most dads want to be involved with their children these days but not all are allowed to. Some independent women, once they have their children feel that the other parent is disposable and our legal system seems to encourage that.

Experigran Sun 02-Mar-14 19:45:18

I recognise Bold"daftoldduffer's" description of marriage as mine was just the same in the fifties. I had been brought up to make my husband's life as easy as possible so that he could go out to work to provide for the family. In the seventies I emigrated and went out to work. I earned more than he did and it caused a lot of dissatisfaction as he then felt inadequate. In the eighties and back here we opened out own business, working together, but we were never as happy as we were when I was his idea of a good wife.

granjura Sun 02-Mar-14 20:12:02

Great post Anno- I for one did not sleep much during the 60s- at all ;)

absent Sun 02-Mar-14 21:17:19

"Terrifying marriage thing"? In my experience it was always the chap – and there were quite a few of them when I was in my heyday – who wanted to get married. I was rarely particularly enthusiastic about the suggestion.

Ana Sun 02-Mar-14 21:23:00

Shades of Barbara Cartland! grin You must have been truly irrestistable absent.

Ana Sun 02-Mar-14 21:23:49

irresistible sorry!

Penstemmon Sun 02-Mar-14 21:55:16

I agree that it is far easier nowadays to avoid a legal commitment and for couples to live together. However I do not think it was better/worse in the past! My aunt , who would have been 101 in May, had my cousin as an unmarried woman and chose not to marry. She left her son in the care of her mother and sister and went to work overseas.

absent Mon 03-Mar-14 02:15:56

Ana Or the chaps were all blind, deaf and in their dotage. grin

granjura Mon 03-Mar-14 10:21:01

Marriage does not mean committment anyhow. I've been married to the same man for 43 years- but the divorce rate is about 50% in some areas.

My best friend in the UK has 2 children, aged 19 and 14- and she and her partner have been together for 21 years. They have onlw recently got married (no ceremony, just on paper) for inheritance reasons has he has had some health problems. They could not be more dedicated to each other and the children.

PRINTMISS Tue 04-Mar-14 08:51:55

I think it is a sign of the times that people decide to live together rather than sign the piece of paper, there is so much incertaintly in the world today but as granjura says it does work and the children are loved. What is worrying, I think, is the trend for 'one night stands' and going out to 'pull' (I believe that is right word), sometimes resulting in the number of children who will possibly grow up without knowing their birth father, I think we all have a right to that.

FlicketyB Thu 06-Mar-14 18:50:40

The statistics show that married relationships are more likely to last than unmarried relationships. Like everything one can see unmarried relationships that last a lifetime and marriages that end during the honeymoon, but this does not disprove the statistics based on the total population of married and unmarried couples