The year 1955 was a great one for love in the movies. Cary Grant romanced Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Guys and Dolls followed, well, guys and dolls falling in love with each other (amongst show tunes and careers in professional gambling). Tom Ewell imagined that Marilyn Monroe was swooning over his charms in The Seven Year Itch. Even the top film of the year, Walt Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, was about puppies in love!
But how about the love lives of real people? If 1955’s True Story issues are any indication, the focus was on one thing: hanky panky. Two issues in my personal magazine collection are the March and June 1955 issues of this publication. March offers a “Guide to Ideal Married Love” for wedded couples, while June lists a set of rules for young, soon-to-be married couples in the article “Love Before Marriage.” Both of these articles offer some pretty interesting insight into the attitudes of the mid-1950s and how they were changing. (This post will cover the March story only, because I am a long-winded rambler; Stay tuned for a separate post on the “Love Before Marriage” article.)
The “Guide to Ideal Married Love,” written by apparent love guru Marian Randall, M. S. Sc., cautions readers against downplaying the differences between the sexes:
“The differences between men and women – physical, mental, emotional – can be an unbridged chasm that dooms a marriage. But if understood and used to wise advantage, those differences can form a lifelong bond of love and happiness.”
The article goes on to state that any marriage – even one that is “completely tragic” – is better than no marriage at all. Obviously, this idea no longer holds up, but it does explain why Grace Kelly was so quick to get with that jewel thief in To Catch a Thief. It’s better to marry a criminal than die an old maid! …Or so True Story would like you to believe.
If that wasn’t enough to draw you in, the article gets even juicier by bringing up the infamous Kinsey reports. (Cue dramatic horror tune.) Al Kinsey and his buddies published on male sexuality in 1948, but with a female report released in 1953, the reports were still a hot topic by 1955:
“Recently much attention has been focused on these differences, particularly by the monumental Kinsey reports. […] But for the husband and wife, mere recognition and understanding of these differences is not enough. Indeed, it can cause further conflict by providing each with ‘reasons’ for insisting on his own ‘rights.’ What is necessary – and this is too seldom stressed – is that these differences must be completely, warmly and lovingly accepted.”
The article goes on to give the following facts and advice to keep in mind if you want your marriage to be strong:
- Boys meet the peak of their maturity as adolescents, while girls meet it in their late 20s or early 30s.
- The “Great Adventure in Understanding” that occurs at the beginning of a marriage is certain to shock you.
- Your wedding night will be disappointing.
- Unlikeness =/= unhappiness. Don’t let your differences ruin everything!
- Don’t ever start thinking that you know everything.
- Compromise is key:
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly that all lovers must make adjustments, not only in the beginning of their relationship but throughout their lives together.”
- Your husband loves dirty pictures. Don’t question it. He can’t help himself.
1955’s “Guide to Ideal Married Love” is all at once surprisingly foward-thinking (compared to the stereotypes of the 1950s) and antiquated (compared to today’s ideas about marriage).