Sunday, October 23, 2016
Marrying a Stranger
Mary Balogh has written several marriage of convenience stories over the years, and she writes them very well. Her characters always have depth and redeeming qualities, even those who seem abrasive.
There is something both compelling and repellant in the notion of being intimate with a near stranger. The imagination can have full reign in the absence of known facts. An optimist may experience a night with his or her ideal lover. Time and further acquaintance may bring disappointment, but that first time holds a wealth of possibilities. That excitement can be sought in a one night stand, but our society judges women harshly for engaging in casual sex, and that was even more true in centuries past. In the world of historical romances, an arranged marriage is a socially acceptable way to experience sex with a stranger.
Getting to know someone after physical intimacy rather than before has its ups and downs. For women, sexual activity usually stimulates the production of oxytocin, which may increase emotional bonding. A new bride may develop feelings of affection for her husband based entirely on that physical intimacy, even if they spend their days apart. That can make her emotionally vulnerable, however. A perceived rejection or sense that her husband finds her less than attractive will truly sting.