When I was first married in 1968, about seven or eight couples were wed around the same time and lived in the same newbuild Mirfield Crescent of modern houses. Naturally, we all became close friends over the years. As with all groups, one can usually find a few eccentric characters within them or characters who have a more unusual pattern of a lifestyle than the norm. One of the group was called Ian and his wife was Christine. Ian was a man of simple and serious nature; someone who never joked. never smoked, never broke the law, hardly drank more than two pints of alcohol, and was a good steady worker who never broke sweat.
Christine was very reserved and hardly spoke in the group unless she was directly asked a specific question. Even when spoken to, she was highly secretive about all personal details and whilst politely listening to the women’s gossip, she never joined in. Overall, she came across as being a woman of plain appearance and bland character; someone who had found a marriage partner in a man who had attended the same school and lived in the same street as her; someone most suitable to her needs and requirements as a husband and lifelong companion.
Both Ian and Christine never courted anyone else and found it to be the most natural thing to marry each other at their respective ages of 22 years after a four-year engagement period. Both being virgins in almost all aspects of life, no physical intimacy was ever engaged in that would necessitate the removal of any garments or fumbled rummaging, and a peck on the cheek would usually represent the highlight of a ‘good night’ farewell during their period of restrained courtship.
They married in church and Christine naturally wore a white wedding gown, headdress and veil. Her wedding dress had been a bride’s dress of a wealthy aunt which had been altered to suit her thin body stature.
Their honeymoon was two weeks in a Filey boarding house. The period was reported by Ian to have been a fortnight of negotiation between each other instead of two weeks of hot romance and sexual exploration at every opportunity. They were of the view that if they established ‘what was’ and ‘what wasn’t’ acceptable to either in their marital relationship at the start, then their routine of life could be more easily established and any offence caused by one towards the other would be minimised.
As far as sexual relationships were concerned, times, duration and frequency varied little from their routine eating arrangements. Ian had his set meal on the dot at 5:30pm every night and the table would be cleared by Christine and the dishes washed and put away by the 6:00 pm television news which she never missed. If Ian arrived home later than usual (say 5:45 pm), he would find that Christine had started her meal. He would start eating this, but finished or not, by 6:00 pm Christine would begin clearing the table!
Each Thursday or Friday evening, the eight husbands would go to the local pub for a few pints while our wives would have a women’s night in at one of the houses and share a few bottles of wine, spread a bit of womanly gossip and prepare supper which we’d all eat together when the men returned from the pub. If our night out was on a Thursday, then Ian would join the men at the pub and Christine would join our wives for a social night in at whoever’s house turn it was. But if it was Friday night when the men went out to the pub together, while Ian joined the chaps, he always made his excuses around 9:00pm and left an hour before the rest of the chaps, while his wife never joined the other wives on a Friday night, presumably being otherwise engaged.
Ian only ever drank two pints and as the others usually had around four drinks each, being very careful with his money, he decided at the start of the group’s relationship to always pay for his own. Consequently, he never accepted being bought a drink in case he felt obliged to have to pay for a full round himself.
During one Friday night, a few of chaps spiked Ian’s drink with a double short when he went to the loo and once the alcohol had taken effect, Ian’s tongue loosened. He forgot about absenting himself as usual around 9:00 pm and even offered to buy a round of drinks. As Ian talked about his life with his wife, we all listened intently, knowing full well that the subject would never be mentioned again after he’d sobered up the next day.
Ian started complaining about life in general and specifically the routines in his life that being married to Christine involved.
Ian had always wanted to become a father, but early on in their union, Christine had refused the prospect of ever becoming a mother. To be precise, that detail of future marital relationships had seemingly been a part of the honeymoon negotiations. Ian had always felt cheated by this unilateral decision of Christine's, especially as it was only spoken of during the couple’s honeymoon period for the first time. Then, Ian revealed why he absented himself every Friday night around 9:00 pm.
During their honeymoon negotiations in Filey, Christine told Ian that she viewed sexual relationships between husband and wife as being much overrated. She saw sex between man and wife as being essentially a Christian duty to prevent the husband straying from his sacred marital vows, and never a pleasure to be taken for granted or abused. Therefore, their practice of having sex ( Ian refused to glorify it with the term ‘making love’) was limited to once weekly; on a Friday night between 9:00 pm and 9:30 pm. If Ian wanted sex with Christine, he could indulge himself then, but on no account would he be given any leeway as to prolonging the occasion or delay vacating her bedroom after he'd had his conjugal rights and return to his own bedroom, where he would spend the rest of the night frustratedly engaged in one activity or another. He also told us that there were no exceptions to their marital contract negotiated on their honeymoon; not even on birthdays, holiday periods or Christmas; unless these festive occasions happened to fall on a Friday!
About three months after learning of Ian and Christine’s marital routine that was adhered to come hell or high water, I told an older workmate called Albert at the mill where I worked in Brighouse. Albert was too worldly wise to be shocked and did not seem surprised in the slightest. He informed me that such practices were commonplace, especially in the homes of Methodists!
Albert admitted to having been a foul-mouthed hard-drinking gambler, atheist, sportsman and womaniser when he met his wife to be. He married her for her stunning looks and the prospect of a good life to come both inside and outside their bedroom. He told me that within one month of their marriage, his wife started her programme of reformation. One year later, Albert had packed up playing cricket for Yorkshire, become a lifelong abstainer from the hard stuff, never gambled again, and had even turned Methodist. He said, “What your friend Ian experiences today, I experienced something similar thirty years ago, Bill. The only difference seems to be that my good lady was called Emily, not Christine, and Monday was the night I looked forward to all week!”
It would seem that Albert's wife avoided any risk of having sex on a Saturday night, which could spill over into the sanctity of Sunday if commenced late. Emily also favoured a Monday (the start of the week) when she would get the washing, house cleaning, ironing and other 'chore' out of the way!
Love and peace Bill xxx