Requirements for a 1940s marriage

How much does what we look for in a partner change from one generation to the next? The requirements laid out by clients of one of Britain's most successful match-making businesses between 1939 and 1949 offer a fascinating glimpse of life and love during and after the war.

30/03/2017
9 minutes to read

How much does what we look for in a partner change from one generation to the next?

The requirements laid out by clients of The Marriage Bureau, one of Britain's most successful match-making businesses, between 1939 and 1949 offer a fascinating glimpse of life and love during and after the Second World War


Money


Women seeking men


- 'He must have enough income to make a settlement of about £400, and be able to keep me in comfort and perhaps travel after the war.'

- 'The income does not mean as much to me as hapiness and real companionship.'

- 'If £1,000 would limit the scope, then someone with a smaller income.'

- 'My mother left me £2,000. I would be prepared to let any prospective husband have £1,000.'


Men seeking women


- 'A girl who has not been used to much money.'

- 'Who would like me and marry me for myself, not my income.'

- 'Her income not important, the larger the better.'


Sex


Women seeking men


- 'Not amorous.'

- 'Physical attraction in some small degree.'


Men seeking women


- 'Attractive and chaste.'

- 'Must have sex appeal.'

- 'Passionate and loving nature.'

- 'Attitude twoards physical relationship in marriage natural as well as idealistic.'


Children


Women seeking men


- 'Man who desires children and can hope to employ domestic help.'

- 'If a widower, definitely no children, though I do not dislike children.'

- 'Must not want children because I cannot have any.'

- 'Must be fond of children. Possibly a Government official.'


Men seeking women


- 'Must like boys owing to my profession (schoolmaster), and must be prepared to have children.'

- 'A child not necessarily barred provided it is provided for.'

- 'I require primarily a mother for my children & therefore a genuine fondness and sympathy with the young is essential.'

- 'No children but if really very nice, a child overlooked.'


Looks


Women seeking men


- 'I don't mind how ugly.'

- 'No-one with false teeth.'

- 'Personal cleanliness important.'

- 'Preferably good looks, golden hair and blue eyes. If not available, any decent type will do.'


Men seeking women


- 'No false dentures' (he is 35, wants girl 20-26).

- 'Not too handsome but with supple well-proportioned figure, say a lady with theatrical or modelling experience.'

- 'Very wealthy or devastatingly beautiful: Miss Mayfair, Miss Beautiful, Miss Rich or Miss Heaven.'

- 'Not thick ankles or short podgy fingers.'


Character


Women seeking men


- 'Only tender-hearted.'

- 'Man of character. I do not mind if he is a war wreck.'

- 'Tolerant outlook towards other people and their affairs.'

- 'Patient. Not more selfish than most men.'


Men seeking women


- 'Domesticated and full of exuberance.'

- 'Bright, good sport, will take the bad with the good.'

- 'Not lazy or bored.'

- 'Warmly affectionate and desiring full reciprocation and understanding to the extent of idolisation.'


Education


Women seeking men


- 'Educated. Good looking. Self-asssured. Mechanically minded. Handy round the house. Must have wavy hair.'

- 'Engineers preferred but any really well-educated man except actors and theologists.'

- 'Educated, of high principles, sensible but not dull, not frantically religious.'


Men seeking women


- 'Must be smart and intelligent rather than empty-headed and pretty.'

- 'Intelligent but uninformed in national affairs.'

- 'Sufficiently educated to make a fair success of a Times crossword puzzle.'


Abilities


Women seeking men


- 'With knowledge of building repair, fruit growing and poultry.'

- 'Able to manage income tax papers etc. but not too clever.'

- 'Pref. one who can darn his own socks.'


Men seeking women


- 'One who can swim and of lively disposition.'

- 'Secretarial experience an advantage.'

- 'Able to play a portable instrument (string or woodwind).'

- 'Must be good cook, able to make jam, dress poultry and rabbits. Must reside Yorkshire.'


Location


Women seeking men


- 'Not living in or near Southport.'

- 'Someone in Sussex who is not too keen on dancing as I am not very keen.'

- 'Not resident in Kensington as I know so many people there.'


Men seeking women


- 'Prefer a lady from London or East Kent area.'

- 'I should like introductions while I am in Ceylon.'

- 'No sulking. Living near Wembley or Pinner.'


Values


Women seeking men


- 'Who looks on marriage as a serious partnership.'

- 'Someone interested in doing good in the world. Connected with church, schools, children etc.'

- 'An idealist. Someone with vision.'

- 'No racial hatred.'


Men seeking women ​


- 'The lady should have some interest in other people's welfare, but may be quite unorthodox in religion or politics.'

- 'Someone who has helped old age pensioners or the sick.'

- 'Having Christian ideals & good character, anxious to help others.'


Nationality


Women seeking men


- 'Not a Welshman or anyone with a Northern Accent except Scottish.'

- 'Dutch or Dutch interests or partly Dutch.

- 'Australian, New Zealander or Canadian with job abroad or in country (not Australia). Not too serious as I am shallow emotionally.'

- 'I like men of other nationalities than my own.'


Men seeking women ​


- 'Not Irish, Scotch or a civil servant.'

- 'Pref. Italian. I spent the greater part of the war in Italy and have become very fond of the country and its people.'

- 'Providing she has a good heart and is sincere I don't care if she comes from the slums of London, New York or Bombay.'


Politics


Women seeking men


- 'Not a Communist or Socialist.'

- 'Not an ardent member of any political party.'

- 'Progressive, socialistic in outlook.'


Men seeking women ​


- 'No Communist connections (I work on official secrets).'


Class


Women seeking men


- 'Someone with a title who has travelled and likes sport.'

- 'I am secretary to a Duke. Any man must be of my own standing.'

- 'Gently bred.'

- 'Would like to meet just an ordinary man.'


Men seeking women


- 'I get on best with girls out of the top drawer.'

- 'No one of higher social standing.'

- 'Someone who, like myself, comes from the East End of London, who is ‘down to earth' and has no ‘airs or graces'.'


Interests


Women seeking men


- 'Interested in ballet or opera or both but not the Bloomsbury type that haunts both.'

- 'Not hearty, perhaps absent-minded, fond of fishing or quiet pastimes.'

- 'No bridge, pub crawling, golf, passion for The Club, or Americans.'

- 'Someone liking a “good time” and the artificial things of life.'

- 'I am an ex-WAAF. If possible, a man interested in cars and car mechanism.'


Men seeking women


- 'No dancing or jazz or racing or cards.'

- 'Keen on golf would be a great asset.'

- 'Likely to become interested in farming.'

- 'Fond of curry and other rich or savoury food.'


Family


Women seeking men


- 'I would prefer his Mother and Grandmother to be dead.'

- 'No encumbrances (ie dependent children, parents etc).'


Men seeking women


- 'Not an only child and preferably has been brought up with a brother or two.'

- 'Prefer a widow without relations.'

- 'Her parents must be happily married.'

Marriages Are Made in Bond Street

by Penrose Halson

Book cover for 9781509822423

Marriages Are Made in Bond Street: True Stories from a 1940s Marriage Bureau, by Penrose Halson is out now in paperback, ebook and audio.


A riveting glimpse of life and love during and after the war, Marriages Are Made in Bond Street is a warm and touching account of the early days of one of Britain's most successful marriage bureaux.