The founders did not model a good marriage. They lived together first in their homes, and then up in the Study, a lavish apartment they had built for themselves on the top story of the retreat house, next to the old Chapel. Their husbands also lived at CJ, but separately from their wives. They were background people, and it was obvious to me that the marriages were not happy ones. They were never a part of the ministry. One husband ran a carpentry business, and so he was somewhat of a role model for the men, hardworking, but not where marriage was concerned. The other husband was always in the background, worked off-Cape a lot, and seemed very suppressed.
The model for marriage was that the women led and were the more spiritual ones, the men were bossed around, and sex was non-existent.
Young people were kept separate from each other. As far as I know, there was never any sexual/marriage teachings, other than that chastity and purity were requisite, flirting or other outward expression of desire was forbidden, and that the world was going to make whores out of all of us. As parents we objected to sex education classes in the public schools. We kept our children home on the days they talked about reproduction. My children learned of sex from their friends, although I did sit down and give the birds and bees talk. Everything was so suppressed I was never able to open up a safe atmosphere with my children so they would ask questions. My husband was a little better with our son than I was with our daughters as he was generally more laid back than I was. That got him into a lot of trouble, but it helped with the kids.
Teenagers especially were kept busy from waking until sleep so there was not time to sneak off and flirt. They were taught that virginity was the only way, and marriage was a call not everyone should answer. The monastic sister- and brother-hoods were held up as the superior call, and all the young people were strongly encouraged to consider joining. Some were even told that the leaders had received words of knowledge from God that they were supposed to be monastics, and that they were fighting God if they didn’t take their vows. My own daughter had this done to her and was coerced into taking her vows.
If a boy and girl were attracted to each other and wanted to date, they had to go meet with the leaders, separately at first, and state that they thought they were being called into a relationship with the other person, and get permission to start seeing each other. If the leaders agreed, they could start talking to each other, and sitting together at public functions; church, dinners, picnics. This was a big deal, and was a public statement. There was no touching, kissing, or sex talk. They were watched, by everyone, to make sure they stayed proper. If they were caught sneaking off or stealing a kiss, the relationship was terminated. Maybe in 6 months they could try again – maybe.
Some of the marriages were arranged. I have seen some budding couples split apart never to get together again. Some break-ups were initiated by the couple themselves, but some were split apart by the leaders with many tears shed on the part of the young people. I know of at least one marriage where they were told to marry. The man wanted to, but the woman did not, and to this day she is unhappy. They have children, and make the best of it that they can, partly by staying very busy to suppress the reality.
It is an extremely stressful style of life. There are many cases of people drinking too much, taking anti-depressants, migraines and other symptoms of suppressed stress.