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"Middle-Aged" Men

Tuesday, August 4, 2009



There's something about ads like this one - and there are plenty - that strike me as so poignant. Read here:

Matrimonial. - Any young lady, or widow unencumbered intelligent, affluent and refined, desirous of obtaining a kind and tender husband would not be disappointed in the advertiser; since he is in the prime of manhood, (forty-six) still unmarried, called good looking, with refined manners and Christian principles, (Episcopalian) has a self maintenance, and possesses in brief, every qualification to render an amiable, true-hearted, lovely woman happy in wedded life. Address, with all particulars, in good faith, C.E.M., New York Post office.


Bertram and Christopher are far more romantic, but my heart goes out to this one. There are a lot of "middle-aged" men never married who used matrimonials, all with kind hearts, Christian principles, and refined manners. I think with Bertram, for example, you get the feeling that sure he wants romance, but he still can be a bit light-hearted. This man just seem so very, very lonely to me. I think that may have something to do with the part where he mentions that he's never been married, which I read as very wistful, but it may just be that he is clarifying that he's not a widower. People often mentioned if they had been married before, or that they were willing or desired (or not) to marry a widow/er, and since this man is old enough that he felt it worth mentioning, he must have thought that women would want to know. People were a lot more likely to be widowed in the 19th century as mortality rates were higher in general (I'm too lazy to look up the average lifespan right now, but it was certainly lower than it is today), and it did seem to make a difference. "No objection to a widow/er" is a surprisingly common addendum in these ads.

In any event, men were expected to have enough money to support a wife before he married, which meant there was a good chance that they were going to be slightly older when it came time to find a wife. But by that time, a lot of them had been working so hard they didn't know that many single women anymore, if any. So you see these a lot. I hope he found someone.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

4 comments:

Idiot wind August 4, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

Pam, I love your thesis topic. I'm going to use some of your old personal advertisements in class this year. I'll let you know how it goes...good luck : - )

Pam August 4, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Thank you! What is your class?

Karen's Monsters August 4, 2009 at 9:48 PM  

A single friend of mine reaching up towards 50 now says that he has trouble finding women interested in dating him because he hasn't been married. It reflects badly on him not having committed himself before. I wonder if a widowed middle-aged man had an easier time than an unmarried man of the same age.

Pam August 5, 2009 at 9:13 AM  

@Karen's Monsters - That's an interesting point - I wonder! Because on the other hand you could always have the fear that maybe he loved his first wife more than you. I guess it depends on the woman's status. Hmm.

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