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In return, the woman would keep the vermin out of the gruel she whipped up and would provide an outlet for sinful Puritan urges.

Urges which would, in turn, provide the young couple with more laborers, so that this circle of mosquito-infested, frost-bitten drudgery could continue until they were released to God by sweet death. HAVE YOUR DADS ARRANGE IT After things were more settled in the (not-at-all-new) "New World," the living got a little easier, and marriage became more businesslike. America had gotten crowded; there were more ways to sustain life than farming and acreage.

Young people often didn’t meet their future spouses until after the marriage had already been arranged, and they were sometimes betrothed and married at very young ages.

The concept of chivalry, or romantic ideals, arrived later in the Middle Ages with knights (some possibly on white horses) and troubadours (traveling poets/musicians) who tried to win their women’s hearts through brave deeds, poetry, and singing beneath balconies (the story of Romeo and Juliet is set in 15-century Italy).

Chastity and honor were the virtues of the day for women in the Middle Ages.

Courtship as we now know it was not common during the time of Queen Elizabeth I in England.

Back then, a woman literally belonged to her father or husband. Marriage was a business arrangement that two men would make, their bargaining chips being their sons' inheritance and their daughters' dowries. Also, bigger towns and more spacious settlements meant it was harder to keep track of people's private affairs with their privates. Society wasn't really upset that the girls were pregnant, as long as they got married to the father.

So one important point to understand right up front (and about which many inside and outside the church are confused) is that we have not moved a dating system into our courtship system. FIND A LIVE ONE The earliest colonists — the Puritans who struggled for every mouthful of food and whose yearly death count exceeded that of any George Romero movie — did not have time for the frippery of love and courtship. Courtship involved finding a woman of childbearing-ish age who had survived the previous winter.The man plowed things and kept threats of attack at bay. In the eighteenth century some 10 percent of American brides arrived at the altar already pregnant with their first child, a level unequaled until the late twentieth century.In rural New England during the 1780s and 1790s as many as one-third of all young women were pregnant at the time they were married.A man courted a woman by putting her wants and desires first.The emphasis was on passion and romance; we still talk about a man being chivalrous when he holds open a door for a woman or helps her into a car (or onto a horse).Although this rule applied to both men and women, criticism of the female flirt was sharper. Long engagements were common; it was not considered proper for a young couple to marry until the man could support his wife in a decent home and until the bride had collected her bridal clothes and established her trousseau, which included such important items as bedding, linens, curtains, and kitchen-ware.Engagements could be broken off for several reasons, usually misunderstandings, jealousies, or the discovery that ones family often sent engraved invitations to a wide range of relatives and acquaintances.If you are familiar with computer programming terminology, you can liken dating to a sub-routine that has been added to the system of courtship.Over the course of this two-part article, I would like to trace how this change occurred, especially concentrating on the origin of this dating "subroutine." Let me begin by briefly suggesting four cultural forces that assisted in moving from, as Alan Carlson puts it, the more predictable cultural script that existed for several centuries, to the multi-layered system and (I think most would agree) the more ambiguous courtship system that includes "the date." The first, and probably most important change we find in courtship practices in the West occurred in the early 20th century when courtship moved from public acts conducted in private spaces (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to private or individual acts conducted in public spaces, located primarily in the entertainment world, as Beth Bailey argues in her book, .By 1840 there were fewer than one in five premarital pregnancies in most New England towns, and by 1860 the rate had dropped to one in twenty.With the rise of the sentimental domestic ideal, which held American womanhood as an example of purity, Americans now set much stricter moral and sexual codes. The typical courtship began in church or at a family celebration.Since most young adults will marry, the process employed in finding a husband and wife is still considered courtship.However, an extra layer, what we call "dating," has been added to the process of courting.

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