What Made a Good Marriage in 1939?

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Photo: Vintage Images/Getty Images

Northwestern University’s George W. Crane (1901–1995) was an M.D. and Ph.D. who ran a counseling practice and matchmaking service, wrote an advice column called “The Worry Clinic,” and devised a handy rating scale for husbands and wives. The lists were drawn from interviews Crane conducted with 600 husbands and 600 wives. While the items thus represented an early attempt at a scientific method for assessing marriages, Crane conceded that the points he assigned to various items were based on his personal judgment.

Some of Crane’s criteria are decidedly antique — for example, a husband might earn a demerit for regaling his wife with tales of “the efficiency of his stenographer” — but others have held up surprisingly well: like the 20-point bonus for a husband who is an “ardent lover” and “sees that wife has orgasm in marital congress.” Crane’s scoring system appears in The Marriage Book, a collection of “centuries of advice, inspiration, and cautionary tales” edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen Adler (out this week from Simon & Schuster).

Take the quiz below to see how you or your partner fare by the relationship standards of 1939.

1939 Marriage Rating Scale (Choose one of the below to begin)
Husband’s ChartClick the statements that apply.
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Wife’s ChartClick the statements that apply.
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