Once a wife had given birth to the heir and the spare for her husband, she was free to take a lover, perhaps falling in love for the first time.Although taking a lover was accepted, discretion was required.
A spinster had to fall on the mercy of her family, living the life of a child forever, asking her sister’s husband or her brother for permission to do anything. No wonder the suffrage movement was built largely of spinsters. Sharon Biggs Waller is the author of A Mad, Wicked Folly, an Edwardian-era novel about a young artist finding her own way during the time of militant suffragettes (Viking/Penguin, Winter 2014).
Provided they chose within their own classes, a love match could happen.
These girls usually met their sweethearts through friends, family, or at work.
For those “upstairs,” marriage was more about keeping blood within the aristocracy pure; for the newly wealthy industrialist, a good match gave social climbing parvenus standing within Society.
In America, wealthy industrialists had amassed great fortunes, and with no Law of Primogeniture, fathers endowed their daughters with fortunes of their own.