All literature, including newspapers, available to the family group was evaluated by her father for possibly suggestive or controversial material. There was a restricted list of radio programs to which the children could listen.
Mrs. A had no concept of her mother except as a woman living a life of rigid emotional control, essentially without a described personality, fully dedicated to the concept that woman's role was one of service.
She considered it her duty and her privilege to clean, cook, and care for children, and to wait upon her husband. There is no recall of pleasant moments of quiet exchange between mother and daughter, or, for that matter, of any freedom to discuss matters of moment with either her brother or her sister.
As a young girl she was totally unprepared for the onset of menstruation. The first menstrual period occurred while she was in school she was terrified, ran home, and was received by a thoroughly embarrassed mother who coldly explained to the young girl that this was woman's lot.
She was told that as a woman she must expect to suffer this "curse" every month.
Her mother warned her that once a month she would be quite ill with "bad pains" in her stomach and closed the discussion with the admonition that she was never to discuss the subject with anyone, particularly not with her younger sister. The admonition was obeyed to the letter. The mother provided the protective materials necessary and left the girl to her own devices. There was no discussion of when or how to use the menstrual protection provided.
Menstrual cramping had its onset with the second menstrual period and continued to be a serious psychosocial handicap until Mrs. A was seen in therapy. She also described the fact that her younger sister was confined to bed with monthly frequency while maturing.
During the teenage years, dating in groups was permitted by her father for church-social activities and occasionally, well-chaperoned school events.
College, selected by her father, was a coeducational institution which was described by her as living by the "18-inch rule," i.e., handholding was forbidden and 18 inches were required between male and female students at all times. Her dating was rare and well chaperoned. After graduation she worked as a secretary in a publishing house specializing in religious tracts. Here she met and married a man of almost identical religious background.
The courtship was completely circumspect from a physical point of view. The couple arrived at their wedding night with a history of having exchanged three chaste kisses, which not only was the total of their physical courtship but also represented the only times she remembered ever being kissed by a man. Her father had felt such a display of emotion unseemly.
The only time her mother ever discussed a sexual matter was the day of her wedding. Mrs. A was carefully instructed to remember that she now was committed to serve her husband. It would be her duty as a wife to allow her husband "privileges." The privileges were never spelled out.
She also was assured that she would be hurt by her husband, but that "it" would go away in time. Finally and most important, she was told that "good women" never expressed interest in the "thing." Her reward for serving her husband would be, hopefully, in having children.
She remembers her wedding night as a long struggle devoted to divergent purposes. Her husband frantically sought to find the proper place to insert his penis, while she fought an equally determined battle with nightclothes and bedclothes to provide as completely a modest covering as possible for the awful experience. The pain her mother had forecast developed as her husband valiantly strove for intromission.