Primitive marriages were always planned by the parents of the boy and girl. The transition stage between this custom and the times of free choosing was occupied by the marriage broker or professional matchmaker. These matchmakers were at first the barbers; later, the priests. Marriage was originally a group affair; then a family matter; only recently has it become an individual adventure.
Coercion, not attraction, was the approach to primitive marriage. In early times woman had no sex aloofness, only sex inferiority as inculcated by the mores. As raiding preceded trading, so marriage by capture preceded marriage by contract. Some women would connive at capture in order to escape the domination of the older men of their tribe; they preferred to fall into the hands of men of their own age from another tribe. This pseudo elopement was the transition stage between capture by force and subsequent courtship by charming.
An early type of wedding ceremony was the mimic flight, a sort of elopement rehearsal which was once a common practice. Later, mock capture became a part of the regular wedding ceremony. A modern girl’s pretensions to resist “capture,” to be reticent toward marriage, are all relics of olden customs. The carrying of the bride over the threshold is reminiscent of a number of ancient practices, among others, of the days of wife stealing.
Woman was long denied full freedom of self-disposal in marriage, but the more intelligent women have always been able to circumvent this restriction by the clever exercise of their wits. Man has usually taken the lead in courtship, but not always. Woman sometimes formally, as well as covertly, initiates marriage. And as civilization has progressed, women have had an increasing part in all phases of courtship and marriage.
Increasing love, romance, and personal selection in premarital courtship are an Andite contribution to the world races. The relations between the sexes are evolving favorably; many advancing peoples are gradually substituting somewhat idealized concepts of sex attraction for those older motives of utility and ownership. Sex impulse and feelings of affection are beginning to displace cold calculation in the choosing of life partners.
The betrothal was originally equivalent to marriage; and among early peoples sex relations were conventional during the engagement. In recent times, religion has established a sex taboo on the period between betrothal and marriage.