Gransnet forums


What were you told about marriage?

(47 Posts)
ExDancer Mon 13-Feb-23 15:50:08

I started secondary school in 1950, and here is the kind of life we were taught to accept.,the%20next%20day%20at%20work.

Funnygran Mon 13-Feb-23 16:00:48

What an interesting article ExDancer. I was a child in the 50’s and remember my mother shopping every day and also washday with her single tub and mangle on the top. I don’t think the twin tubs had mangles, I think the washing was lifted from the washer and straight into the spin dryer. She was delighted to get a twin tub and even more delighted years later to get an automatic. In cold weather the sheets came in from the garden frozen solid which she thought made them whiter.

Witzend Mon 13-Feb-23 16:01:24

That was a little bit before my time, but I remember reading in a women’s mag advice for new wives. This was probably in the early 60s.
‘Line all your drawers with fresh paper every week’ is the one that even then (apart from raising a laugh) made me wonder who on earth did that?

My mother did have an electric washing machine in the 50s, but nothing as flash as a twin tub. You had to haul it out, fill it with water, let it wash, and then put everything through the built-in mangle. No spin!
Automatic washing machines were surely one of the best inventions ever.

Littleannie Mon 13-Feb-23 16:07:51

My mother gave me a book called Married Life. It recommended that on your wedding night you put a towel under you to soak up the blood!

jenpax Mon 13-Feb-23 16:12:56

It was not like this in our house. My parents married in 1963 and growing up we had central heating, a car (my mother drove), she had her own separate bank account, and worked (part time) including running her own cafe with my grandmother and a business partner for a few years. She made joint financial decisions with my father.
We also used a laundry service until we got a washing machine, and I can’t recall not ever having a fridge. We bought a colour TV when I was still small to replace the black and white set that my fathers parents gave them as a wedding present.
My parents both believed in equality especially in education and my great, great grandmother had been a blue stocking and a suffragist. So maybe my childhood was unusual but it didnt feel like it

Juliet27 Mon 13-Feb-23 16:28:11

Crisps weren’t ready salted - there were little blue packets of salt to add.

Smileless2012 Mon 13-Feb-23 16:33:59

I don't remember being told anything about marriage. Got married in 1980 when I was 19 and when we got engaged the year before my mum asked me not to rush into anything, as times had changed and the 'world was my oyster'.

I didn't listen and this year it will be our 43rd anniversary.

That's horrible Littleannieshock.

Davida1968 Mon 13-Feb-23 16:35:49

OMG littleannie! This sounds like something from the Victorian era!
Julie27, I'm intrigued to know how crisps relate to this thread....

Judy54 Mon 13-Feb-23 16:38:53

Very little, Mr J and I just found our own way and our own path. We met as teenagers and neither of us had any preconceptions of what married life should be like. We discussed many things before we got married and agreed that as I was still working full time to enable us to pay the mortgage, we had to take joint responsibility for the running our our household. No of course it did not work like a dream all the time but we learnt as we went along and found a happy way to deal with things.

Norah Mon 13-Feb-23 16:47:28


My mother gave me a book called Married Life. It recommended that on your wedding night you put a towel under you to soak up the blood!

Mum talked to me about what would happen, not blood. I did assume something would happen. I was glad she told.

I knew, from home, how washing, cooking, baby care, were worked.

Galaxy Mon 13-Feb-23 16:51:08

In the car on my way to my wedding, my dad said you can change your mind at any time you know grin. All these years later I still cant work out whether that was a good thing for a parent to say or not.

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 13-Feb-23 17:00:17

The article mentioned ready salted crisps, Davida.

paddyann54 Mon 13-Feb-23 17:02:48

We just modelled ourselves on our parents ,not everything though as my mum was obsessive about houswork and my MIL was nearly as bad.I soon learned that any dirty dishes sat in the oven if we saw their car coming up the street and a quick spray of pledge in the air fooled at least my MIL.
We would give each other a look when she sniffed and said "someones been busy"
I only told her about the trickery just before she died and she laughed her head off.
Galaxy my Dad said the same thing ,"if you have any doubts we'll get the driver to turn around and never speak about it again".We had known each other exactly one year to the day of the wedding ,we were sure it was what we wanted within days and we've been very happy for 49 years

M0nica Mon 13-Feb-23 17:03:25

I clearly lived in a completely different 1950s. I had a working mother, parents whose marriage was a relationship of equals.

They had a joint bank account and my mother had the one cheque book in her handbag. There was no handing out of housekeeping. As I said my mother had the cheque book and took out what she needed when she needed it.

I cannot remember my father ever sitting at his ease if my mother was doing anything tound the house when he was there. He would get up and help her, even though as she once privately admitted to me, that she would prefer it if he sat down and let her get on with things on her own.

I do not remember her shopping every day. Cold pantries would keep food fresh for several days.

As for Dinner would be on the table ready and waiting for the man of the house on his return from work. Housework and the care of children was considered woman’s work so the man would expect the house to be clean and tidy, meal ready, children fed and washed and his clothes all ready for the next day at work. Not in our home. My father willingly changed nappies, pushed the pram and bottle fed the baby.

The problem with all these broad brush articles about what went on in the 1930s,1950s, etc. They describe what applied in a lot of households but completely exclude the immense variation in the way families operated and I doubt any family did everything as described in this article.

I wasn't told anything about marriage, what was there to say? We just got married, moved in together aand started the partnership life that suited us. My DH came from a home where his mother was the main earner and decision maker, so had no unrealistic expectations (and an absolute horror) of having a sweet little obedient wife.

Grandma70s Mon 13-Feb-23 17:10:27

The only thing I remember my mother saying was that she had been told never to refuse sex with her husband, or he might stray. She didn’t tell me whether she had kept to this, or advise me to be the same.

My parents’ marriage (married 1935) was one of equals in most ways. Both my parents were university educated teachers. My mother didn’t go out to work once she had children. She didn’t want to, and my father didn’t mind one way or the other.

We always had a car, and I can’t remember not having a washing machine. We were privately educated, but there was never any spare money. My grandfather lived with us in his old age, and my mother told me later that he had helped with expenses.

Juliet27 Mon 13-Feb-23 17:12:56


OMG littleannie! This sounds like something from the Victorian era!
Julie27, I'm intrigued to know how crisps relate to this thread....

Ah..the crisps. I read all of the interesting link that was given and there was a sentence that said Sweets and crisps (the only flavour available was ready salted) were treats rather than everyday foods.

Grandma70s Mon 13-Feb-23 17:22:20

M0nica - my father always changed nappies and pushed prams, too. The only thing he didn’t do was cook. He learnt to cook in his 80s, when my mother became disabled.

Wyllow3 Mon 13-Feb-23 17:22:25

Nothing. But I was brought up by a strong teacher mum as role model for expecting at least equal decision making...but I believe inside she felt Dad was "head of household" despite her doing everything but family finances.

Fortunately I went to uni in 1969 and the Women's Movement was starting up and then I lived for a number of years in quite alternative communities before settling at 29.

All I can say is - it gave me choices, that others might not have had.

biglouis Mon 13-Feb-23 17:32:45

When I was 11 my mother gave me a booklet explaining the "facts of life" but I had already worked it out from watching wild life programs on TV. Having children definitely did not appeal to me and my feelings on that have never altered.

My mother told me that the man is "head of the houseshold" and is always the boss. The man goes out to work and earns money. Women keep the house clean and have his supper on the table when he comes in. When I asked her why she could offer me no logical explanation beyond tradition and "thats how it was".

Yeah, right.

I told her that no man would ever be my master and she would never get a grandchild from me.

Marthjolly1 Mon 13-Feb-23 17:33:41

My father was head of the household and did just whatever he wanted. When I told him I would be divorcing my husband he responded by telling me, without looking up, and in a forceful way, "marriage has got nothing to do with being happy". I walked away thinking "well you've made sure my mother has been unhappy " but I wouldn't dare say that to him.

Happygirl79 Mon 13-Feb-23 17:44:09


In the car on my way to my wedding, my dad said you can change your mind at any time you know grin. All these years later I still cant work out whether that was a good thing for a parent to say or not.

My father said exactly the same to me! I do wish I had listened.

dustyangel Mon 13-Feb-23 17:47:02

Galaxy, DH said that to our DD in the lobby of the church! It took her years to get over her annoyance that he’d said it. He’s been explaining ever since that he didn’t want her to feel pressured by the build up to the big day and money spent etc. That was thirty three years ago and they are still very happy together.

hollysteers Mon 13-Feb-23 18:34:08

Even though my mother was unhappily married to my (violent) father, she got anxious if you were single after 22 or 23! The feeling was that there was no time to waste. I married at 26 which I think she considered rather late and when I mentioned breaking off my engagement, she was horrified (I didn’t).
My youngest sister married at 35 which must have put her through the mill…

kittylester Mon 13-Feb-23 18:39:03

I was told nothing at all. But, we are still here almost 53 years later.

BlueBelle Mon 13-Feb-23 18:49:15

I don’t remember being told anything about marriage I just know that my mum and dad seemed fine, usual ups and downs but my dad was a good man mum worked so I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents grandad worked a an ran a small boarding house
By the time I got married at 20 I was expecting a faithful husband ( like my Dad) well that was a shock !!!