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Separation was often only granted on grounds of bigamy, impotence, or adultery.Women especially were impeded by the law, which still did not acknowledge them as capable of claiming possession of property or monetary assets.Marriage also experienced a revival and was subsequently reabsorbed into youth culture: Marriage rates rose and average ages of married couples declined.The committed, monogamous label of “going steady” emerged as the ideal relationship, and dating returned to its traditional role as a marital trial.
Women became less concerned with a man's status and more interested in his likelihood of survival.
This ritual may seem overly cautious, but in a society in which the Catholic Church was an incredibly powerful institution that prescribed marriage as an integral part of God’s plan, this was not a decision that could be made lightly.
Additionally, the many legal and social barriers surrounding divorce increased the pressure to ensure that a match was suitable.
Reputation was also an essential form of social currency that required intimate guarding.
A woman suspected of dabbling with too many suitors was in danger of becoming publicly regarded as a “coquette,” which essentially socially branded her as a flirt, a disparaging designation in a society that so highly esteemed chastity.