Posted by: bitsydungaree | May 23, 2008

The Privacy that Encourages Love-Making

Should a girl date a married man?

She won’t if she’s really smart!

This is the kind of advice I have been learning from The Marriage Guide, a practical guide to questions about courting and marriage published in 1950 by husband and wife Samuel G. and Esther B. Kling (Prentice Hall, Inc.) The Marriage Guide fell into my hot little hands today at the Salvation Army, along with some other archaic gems sure to make it into the blog soon.

While I am pretty sure my sister’s horror at my purchase of the book had to do with the assumption that I am so old fashioned, I am reading a 58-year old how-to book on dating and marriage, I simply couldn’t resist this glimpse into a period that, despite not being very far removed chronologically from us today in 2008, was worlds away in thinking…at least according to these authors!

I’m only two chapters in, but the Klings have not only given me the jaw-dropping and laughter I had hoped for, they have also provided a lot of little tidbits that made me think twice.

Even more than I was struck by Sam and Esther’s surprising advice for a girl whose tendency to indulge in “petting” had become the talk of the town to “move to another city where she was not known, and start life anew,” I can’t stop thinking about their answer to the question:

Is it wise for a girl to visit a man’s apartment alone?

No! To accept a man’s invitation to visit his apartment, when no one else is present, is always risky — this despite the fact the girl may think she’s sophisticated enough to take care of herself.

Man being what he is, there’s a natural tendency to make passes at girls accepting such invitations. For one thing, there is the privacy that encourages love-making. For another, the man knows that any girl who freely comes to his apartment unescorted understands perfectly well what she’s letting herself in for, and is obviously prepared to take whatever risks are involved.

As for the girl, she must be pretty naive, indeed, if she thinks she’s being invited to air her views on the international situation.

And if she succumbs to temptation she will probably have cause to regret her action the rest of her life. More dangerous than the possibility of pregnancy involved is the fact that she may be burdened down with feelings of guilt which she will be unable to shake off as long as she lives. Even if she later does marry someone else, she may be filled with a remorse that may well affect her marital happiness. And what if her husband someday learns of her clandestine behavior? Or what if she herself confesses to her husband that she did have an affair?

The blunt truth is that few husbands are noble enough to forgive, romantic novels notwithstanding.

My first reaction to this was laughter. Hysterical laughter. I could imagine a young girl wearing saddle shoes and a cashmere cardigan being asked by her boyfriend to come up to his apartment. As if in a movie, she would look up over her shoulder and, in a hazy little thought bubble, see the words of this book, followed by a montage of snapshots of what the rest of her shameful life would hold if she gave in to his sinful suit. Obviously, this responsible young lady would heed these wise words and decline the offer.

But once I stopped laughing, I started to ask myself, would it kill us to have a little bit of that same caution? What have we gained by “advancing” to a point where we don’t have to think about the consequences of our actions before we plough ahead?

Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve been known to spend time alone with a man in his apartment and, though I have never fully succumbed to the “privacy that encourages love-making,” I definitely have a few indiscretions that I hope the man I marry will be noble enough to forgive. So I’m not saying that I’m blameless either, but I certainly try to guard my sexuality knowing that it is something I want to give in its entirety to the man I choose to spend the rest of my life with. (For more on this, refer to my blogs The 25-Year Old Virgin and A Different World?)

And really, though the authors chose the tactic of striking fear into the hearts of readers as opposed to putting logic into their brains, the fundamental message is the same: don’t put yourself in a position where the temptation to compromise your beliefs will be tremendous. I am a big believer in what Dr. Laura calls “guarding the relationship.” If I love my boyfriend, is it a good idea for me to stay late at the theatre alone with my handsome leading man, rehearsing the climactic scene from the play? Probably not. I try to make these kinds of decisions when it comes to guarding my relationship, but I suppose I have not been very wise about making them simply to guard myself.

I guess I am the girl the Klings refer to who foolishly thought she was sophisticated enough to take care of herself!


  1. Laughing out loud. But I had the same reaction you did after reading this. I wonder what it was like to grow up in a world where women were expected to uphold purity and morality instead of flashing people on Girls Gone Wild.

    One the negative side, I imagine pretty difficult to have all that pressure, especially when it seems that men were allowed to be sexual but women had to be chaste. It seems like it would have been unforgiving in the face of that inevitable mistake.

    On the positive side, it must be nice to have the world at large just expect you to be a virgin instead of treating you like some kind of leper for it. I want to read more of this book! Once I found a book about exercises for the Royal Canadian Guard at a thrift store from the 1950s. The pictures of smiling people in leotards was too much for me.

    I keep it under my mattress.

  2. Can I borrow this book after you are done? I am sure it would also provide much fodder for See Kate Date 🙂

  3. I think Ann has first dibs, but I’m sure you two can work something out 😉

    Maybe we’ll have to turn our ladies brunch into a book club!

  4. Isn’t strange how we think that firm boundaries are foolish and no boundaries at all are wisdom?

    I think your thoughts on this are pretty balanced. Courage, girl! Stick with your mores and don’t let anyone convince you different. You alone have to live with your conscience so why should you subject it to someone else’s? They don’t have to live with your inner life or God consciousness.

    Though the man you seek might only be one in a thousand, I think you’re wise to wait it out.

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