How the engaged couple should act (1911)

Original publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) Date: September 18, 1911
Categories: 1910s, Culture & lifestyle, Love & marriage
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“Engaged couple” and how they should act

by Ruth Cameron

Engaged means “pledged in marriage.” That is what my dictionary says.

I have looked up the word, because I have been asked by so many young people from time to time to define the privileges and claims and liabilities of the engaged state that I wanted to have my friend Noah’s help.

“Engaged” means “pledged in marriage” — that is, it means that two young people who are engaged have decided that they love each other enough to leave father and mother and all home ties and cleave to each other all through life.

Now how much liberty of intercourse with some particular member of the opposite sex, other than the betrothed, should these two people who feel that way have? This is the question which, in one concrete form or another, is continually being asked me.

And my Yankee answer is, “How on earth can they want any at all?” The only question, I suppose, is whether either may provide himself or herself with an occasional substitute when he or she can not possibly have his betrothed.

Of course, there can be no question but that neither would ever want any one else, when he or she could have his life partner. That would be to deny the meaning of the betrothal, that each vastly prefers the other to any one else in the world.

Now, perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems to me that in this matter engaged ought to be considered the same as married.

And, when a man is married, be presumably doesn’t expect to take some other woman to the theater or a dance, even if his wife is away from home or he is in another city. And. as engaged people have made up their minds that they care enough for each other to be married, I don’t really see why he should want to, when he is engaged.

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And, when a woman is married, she presumably doesn’t want to entertain or be entertained by other men, even if her husband is away. Why then, should she want to when she is engaged?

I believe that if two people care enough to be engaged, they should care so much that all other men become sexless to the woman and all other women sexless to the man.

If any engaged man or woman finds that this is not so, he or she finds a danger signal.

Now all this doesn’t mean that I am advocating that an engaged man shall become monk-like in his attitude toward other women, or that women shall shun the society of all men and the two confine themselves solely to each other’s society.

Married people don’t do that.

I It just means that I think that the same standards on this subject should be observed by engaged as by married people. These are my notions on this subject.

You my correspondents have asked for them and you have them. But please don’t lay too much stress on them, or judge any one’s conduct I believe that the very best way to avoid trouble on this subject is for. each engaged couple to talk the matter over frankly with each other, and abide by the feelings of the more scrupulous, since one party can not possibly suffer as much from giving up a little freedom as the other party would suffer from that arch torment, jealousy.


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Source publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California)

Publication date: September 18, 1911


1 Comment

  1. Shelby Claire

    What if the man you’re engaged to only takes care of his family with money and doesn’t take care of himself or the woman he’s engaged to? We don’t live together and we have never been out on his dime. Every time we go out its because of me even though he is working. Is this stupid of me?

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