Men like frivolity—before marriage; but they demand all
the sterner virtues afterwards.
While the occupations available to single women gave them
greater freedom and independence, public perception could
not seem to move beyond the idea that women were children
themselves or mothers. If a woman was to work outside of the
home, it was expected that upon marriage she would give up
her job to become a housewife. Those who chose to remain
single did so against the popular belief that women should
marry and raise children. Single women were stigmatized and
often identified as spinsters or "old maids." In an effort
to avoid such social consequences, many women did their best
to attract potential husbands.
Social conditions dictated that marriage came as a relief
to many women. It represented security and respectability,
especially if into the right family. For many whose parents
had arranged marriages, the union came all too quickly. In
an arranged marriage situation, the bride-to-be had often
not yet left home; in some cases, she did not meet her
future husband before the wedding was agreed upon. While
some women resisted getting married, most consented to their
parents’ wishes and became dutiful wives.
Although social conditions perpetuated the institution of
marriage as based on economics, for many women—including the Famous 5—marriage came as a result of genuine
love. Whether love remained the basis
of each couple's union was uncertain (it appears that each
of the Famous 5 never ceased to love their husbands), but
for many, marriage brought new expectations and for some, a
loss of freedom. As Nellie McClung wrote in In Times Like
These, "The light and airy silly fairy may get along beautifully
in the days of courtship, but she palls a bit in the steady
wear and tear of married life."