Sometimes men from one clan would raid the village of another clan and take the women they wanted as wives.
No chance for dad's approval.
No chance for a proposal.
No chance to "Say Yes to the Dress."
Just, "You. Come. Now. We go."
But the men from the village that had some its women stolen didn't think too highly of that. So they went out looking for the new husbands and wives.
The guys weren't dumb enough to go back to their own village with their newly captured women. Instead, they hid in caves for about a month - the time it takes for the moon to go through all its phases. And, according to an old French custom, while they hid in the cave they drank a special drink called metheglin, which was produced from honey.
So the couple went away from home for awhile, drank a honey drink, and watched the moon.
And do you know what we call that today? The honeymoon!
If the girl wasn't captured and taken off by someone, then it was likely that she would have an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages were used to sweeten business deals or make political alliances.
So if you wanted to buy 100 cattle from a guy down the road, but you didn't have quite enough money and other stuff to trade for it, then you might toss in your daughter to make the deal more appealing to him.
Or if you had political power and you wanted to keep another group from attacking you or joining forces with someone else, then you might offer your daughter to be married to that other group's king...or maybe the king's son. Today we have peace treaties. They didn't have those. That's what marriages were for!
That explains why there is so much polygamy in the Old Testament. For instance, 1 Kings 11:3 says, "He [Solomon] had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines." He wasn't playing "Happy Home" with all these women. He had had made political allies to keep from being attacked.
These men bought flowers and wrote poetry for the women who had captured their hearts. They sought women who were known for the virtues of chastity and honor.
More time passed, and in the Victorian Era (1837 - 1901) people began viewing romantic love as the primary reason for people to get married.
But how can you know if you feel that kind of romantic love for someone? You've got to spend some time together.
But this was still a very formal time, so if you liked a girl you couldn't just walk up and start a conversation. You had to be formally introduced to her by someone close to her.
Almost almost dating/courting was done in the girl's home with her parents in the room. After a while, you might get to second base: the chance to sit with her on the front porch at her house.
Before you think this kind of thing is all weird and outdated, think about the difference between how guys and girls treat each other on Jersey Shore (or Buckwild) and that more than half of marriages today end in divorce. And then check out this line from a love letter that Mark Twain wrote his future wife: "Out of the depths of my heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confided to my life-long keeping."
Ladies, which one would you rather have? Perhaps we need to recapture something of the chivalry from earlier times: guys opening doors for ladies, letting them go first, leaving a rose on her windshield (or mailbox), being respectful of her parents, of her words, of her feelings, of her decisions.
That could go a long way, guys.
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