Thursday, March 16th, 2017
I kept Lesley M.M. Blume’s article, “The Woman Who Said No,” which was part of the Commitment series—165 Years of Love (and War)–in The New York Times’s wedding announcement section in Sunday Styles, because the woman, Mary Landon Baker, 1900-1961, was a pioneer. She didn’t cave to convention even though she had plenty of opportunities: Sixty five marriage proposals, supposedly, wrote Blume, yet the Chicagoan never married.
In the day, some postulated that she was shy.
She couldn’t have been lonely with all that company. It didn’t hurt that she was an “international catch.” Her father, Alfred Baker who left her a fortune when she was 27, “suggested to a reporter that she was simply having too delectable a time playing the field to settle down.” Baker later “confessed ‘I have never been in love.’”
Blume listed some of her fiancés as “an English Lord, an Irish prince, a Spaniard of means,” and a Yugoslav diplomat. She left Alistair McCormick at the alter three times. [He ended up marrying someone else in London.]
Blume wrote: “We will probably never know Miss Baker’s motives in marionetting her suitors, but we do know this: She was never in need of spousal support.” Blume was referring to her fortune. “She had security; she had status. Mary Landon Baker wasn’t ‘shy.’ Rather, she was free.”
In “Love and Marriage,” D’Vera Cohn wrote in 2013 on pewsocialtrends.org: “Among married people, 93% say love is a very important reason to get married; 84% of unmarried people say so. Men and women are equally likely to say love is a very important reason to get married.” Other reasons married people say they got married included making a lifelong commitment, 87%; companionship 81% and having children 59%.
Do you think seeking financial security has a lot to do with why people marry in this country today? What priorities do you give love, lifelong commitment, companionship, having children–or something else?