Q Dear Miss Abigail:
My boyfriend and I are considering eloping. What advice can you find for us?
A Dear Desperately Wanting:
While I’m all for running off to the Tunnel of Love in Las Vegas, my advice is not really what we’re here for. In case you have forgotten, this is the place to look at the advice from the past and to see if we can learn from it. Jeanne Sakol has some serious words on this topic, so let’s read this excerpt from What About Teen-age Marriage, which was written in 1961 “as a fifteenth-birthday present to her own sister.” Oh, golly, I wish Jeanne were my sister, too!
1961: Dangers of Elopement
You’ve run away. Some friends came along to stand up for you and afterward you went to a roadside cafe and laughed and clowned around and drank a little too much to cover up that growing worry, ‘What have we done?’
The main point about runaway marriage is that the elopement itself is sleazy. Your choice of a husband may be the right one. It’s your haphazard way of getting married that can spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E from the start. Not between the two of you, not right away. Because you’re sure of your love and intoxicated with the adventure of an elopement. But being married means being a part of the community, living in the warmth of their respect and affection.
Being objective, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear about an elopement? The girl must be in trouble! It’s an inevitable reaction, and when you return you find yourself the uneasy victim of eyes glued to your waistline, discreet finger-counting and persistent questioning about how soon you’re going to have a baby.
Reputation is a precious thing. By running away you have in effect abandoned your friends and family, and when people’s feelings are hurt they look for some sinister reason. Gossip may plague the first few months of your marriage until the know-it-alls are satisfied and you are in the position of having to put up with it in teeth-gritting silence. This is one situation where protesting too much sounds like guilt.
In addition, eloping sounds as if you haven’t a deep enough respect for marriage. If you did you would go about it the conventional way. By not conducting yourselves as responsible adults, you can’t be too surprised when neighbors dismiss you as a couple of silly kids.
Source: Sakol, Jeanne. What About Teen-age Marriage? New York: Avon Books, 1961.
~ pp. 4-5 ~