By Barb Hauge
It seems quite by accident that couples find each other and become soul-mates in a lifetime of happiness. And it never is quite that perfect. The Prince and the Princess dont automatically live happily ever after. We all struggle to make marriage work.
In the old days women sought help in the Matrimonial Market from brothers, uncles and fathers who searched among friends and acquaintances for likely prospects; carefully weighing general appearance, habits and willingness to work. In those days, spinsterhood was unthinkable and all women felt obliged to marry or become a nun.
Among our fiends is a proper Catholic family with seven daughters. After enduring the full gamut of emotional outbursts from the girls the beleaguered father was surprised when a young man formally asked d for his daughters hand in marriage. The suitor was a bit shocked when the girls dad answered, The way I feel today, son, Ill give you a good deal on about three of them.
Possession of a dowry always helped women in the Matrimonial Market. To improve their prospects, young girls from about age 12 on, spent endless hours sewing, embroidering, crocheting and knitting until their hope chest (which cruel brothers dubbed The Hopeless Barrel) was filled with all the afghans, quilts and linens needed in homemaking.
I found that your chances in the Matrimonial Market improve considerably if you are a war widow because then your dowry expands to include (what in those days was thought to be) big bucks. Our foster daughter also discovered that was true when a settlement was announced for the loss of her right arm. Somewhere in on the the Godfather books they tell how the Mafia Dons daughter gave up her virginity on her wedding night more easily than the bag of money that was her wedding gift. We learn early what the world values most.
One treasured wedding anniversary gift from my husband, Art, is a Don Greytak picture of a bride posing in her wedding gown beside their tiny homestead shack. Artss caption for the picture is What a challenge! Dons pictures always inspire me and I put together a book of short stories call Those were the days and another of poems I call Montana Moments, illustrated by Dons pictures. His prairie bride inspired the following:
Mayme had drifted through her wedding day in a kind of dream filled with people and food and laugher. She had awakened this morning hugging the joy inside her because nothing could be better than spending her whole life with Hal. Hal could make anything and fix everything and he always made her laugh. To Hal, their wedding was a rip-roaring shindig that brought lots of loot and her to boot, using Hals words.
Now they had driven the long miles to Hals homestead and the shack, which looked kind of like an abandoned boxcar. Maymes Ma had shook her head and said, That place will be a real challenge. But all Mayme felt was a sense of fulfillment that she was entering into a life of her own with a man she dearly loved who made her feel as safe as if she were in Gods pocket. Hal came up behind Mayme, put his arms around her and said, There it is, honey, our blue heaven. As he lifted her up in his arms to cross the threshold, Mayme glimpsed a piece of very blue Montana sky and a golden sunset more beautiful than any she had known before.