Courting someone was a controlled process full of rules, but I liked it like that. There was no alcohol, no drugs, no going out drinking at pubs. I think it’s a good way to get to know someone, with a straight head and clear mind. It was so controlled that, for example, in order for a man to dance with you, he had to request a dance off your ‘dance card’ at the beginning of the evening.
People didn’t date for long, you would meet someone to get married, and marriage usually happened pretty quickly. If you weren’t married by your late 20’s you were seen as an unwanted woman. I married at 22 years old, and I had friends who, before that, used to say “Marie, are you married yet!!?”.
The main things that attracted me to a man were first of all his manners, if he didn’t have good manners, forget it. The other important thing was age; you didn’t want anyone younger than you. My husband was eight years older than me, and that is one of the first things that attracted me to him.
I belonged to the St Kevin’s social group, which was a Catholic group. We used to go on weekend trips and outings, it was a thrill. Once we went away to Queenscliff for the weekend, it was a warm summer weekend, and we spent our evenings playing cards, walking along the beach and occasionally even saying the rosary. Of course we had separate sleeping quarters!
Dating happened in groups. You never went out with a boy on your own! Your reputation would have been ruined. And reputation was everything back then, you had to have a good reputation to get a good boy. Only after meeting the family, would you ‘go steady’, which meant we were allowed to see each other socially one on one. There was no way you would kiss someone without first meeting their family.
My advice to you is take your time to get to know someone, don’t kiss him until you’re sure he’s worth it, meet his family and know where he comes from. Don’t be afraid to show you are strong and capable, and be confident with who you are, but not cocky, and most of all, respect yourself. Treat yourself with respect, and don’t settle for any less than that from others.
After all my social outings, I eventually met my husband through a client. At the time I was working as a hairdresser. She invited me out to her farm for the weekend to meet her two sons. John, the eldest,
was a wild horse riding farmer. When he asked if I rode horses, I promptly responded ‘of course I can’. The next day he took me on a horse ride, and I fell head first off the horse, I had never ridden in my life, but I also fell for him in the process, so it was worth the white lie.
After a few weekends at the farm with his family, I finally introduced him to my family and thankfully my mother loved him! My mum had a knack for weighing up people, her opinion was always so important to me. Mum said “Marie, what does your heart tell you? Listen to it, follow it, be true to it, and life may not always be easy, but it will always be right. I think he’s a good sort” and not long after, we were married.
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
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