Friday, October 15, 2010

Romance or an Economic Transaction

When I was a very young woman, a family member once said to me,"Oh, you're just in love with love." And this, "You have a head full of romance. Come down from the clouds."

I didn't listen because some of these women in our family were not happily married. And I knew I didn't want to be forever quarelling with the man I'd someday marry. The whole idea of being courted and treated as someone extra special appealed so much. I wanted to be loved and cherished for myself. And if that's what romance really meant, then I believed in it and yearned for it to be true in my own experience. Why shouldn't a young woman have these hopes? I didn't want to be taken for granted, nor would I treat my true love that way.

In an upcoming book set in the late 19th century, I've given my young femle lead the same ideals. Ah, but the Victorian idea of marriage for the well-to-do young woman was an entirely different matter. Here's a snippet of an argument between Kate and her ambitious grandmother...

"Oh, Grandmama, you don't know him at all. He's a man of patience and integrity."

"Of course he's patient Wouldn't you be if a great amount of wealth was to be your reward?  I'm sorry child, but he will never do. And the only way to prove his avarice is for you to inform him I've struck your name from that of sole beneficiary of my will. Then we'll see how much he loves you."

She bristled. "Neither of us care about your money, Grandmama. Some people do marry for love."

"Love!" The word spat out. "How little you understand, child. Marriage is an economic transaction. A means of gaining power. A safeguard for one's heirs. A clever woman can only gain contentment if she is willing to set aside such foolish, romantic notions. Believe me, with money, love is of no real import." Her elder's face twisted. "However, love without money is a disastrous state of affairs!"

This scathing speech sliced apart any regard for her blood kin. And it hurt. How sad this reliance on money could so cruelly separate.

Now I can speak about this subject with some authority. Only because my husband and I have lived out these ideals during many years of happy marriage. Of course we've had our differences, but forgiveness always follows arguments and romance has been nourished. And in all this we thank the Lord for guiding us daily as we read His precious Word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My son (early 30's and a Christian) remarked to me just yesterday that marriage has once again become an economic transaction. Many of his non-Christian contemporaries only get married for economic (e.g. tax break) reasons, otherwise they wouldn't. Living together is considered the norm these days. Interesting...