Requirements for a 1940s marriage

31 March 2017

By The Window Seat

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: 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.

Find out more
 




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