Today Karen shares her observations and thoughts on Amish Love and Marriage and how she incorporated it in her Temptation Series and Lamb to the Slaughter.
I loved all of the books in the Temptation series and you, dear readers, will have a chance to win signed copies of THE ENTIRE SERIES. I'm so jealous, I wish I could win this giveaway! You can check out my reviews by selecting the book cover images. I have to warn you though, they are a bit spoiler-y.
Amish Love & Marriage
Living in an Amish community in northern Kentucky for five years has given me the opportunity to observe many interesting things about their culture. Sometimes I’m shocked at their strict beliefs and behavior, but usually I’m humbled and impressed with the Plain People.
The Amish are always willing to come to the aid of their neighbors, whether Amish or not, and they hold their personal relationships in the highest esteem. These are admirable traits for anyone, but I’ve witnessed firsthand that the basis for their success in life is their strong religious faith and their solid and loving relationships with their spouses.
Granted, the Amish culture is a man’s society and you’d think that would cause all kinds of problems with the women, but it doesn’t seem to. Most of the Amish women I know are quite satisfied of their role within the marriage. They run the household and oftentimes are full and respected partners in the family business. They care for the children and participate in church activities. They get together regularly with other women within the community to quilt or clean house together. Amish women seem busy and content within their lives.
I think the contentment begins with the giving nature I’ve witnessed from most of the men toward their wives. Even though they may be the ‘boss,’ Amish men tend to continue to display acts of romance long after the wedding ceremony. Flowers, extravagant gifts and vacations are commonplace from the men of the community to their wives. They recognize and respect the hard work that their wives do and are ever thankful for their partner in life.
When troubles do arise within an Amish marriage, the community will jump in and help through counseling to repair the damage. Very rarely do the Amish divorce, which shows their ultimate dedication in the vows they spoke to each other.
Because the Amish live a life without the entertainment of television, radio, movies and internet, they seem to place more emphasis on romance and that’s one of the reasons they may have up to twelve children or more within a family. Their religion prevents them from using birth control, which obviously contributes to the large number of pregnancies, but since there are few other things to do in the evenings, the Amish are focused on the pleasures between a man and a wife. So much intimacy keeps Amish couples close. Having so many children would be a nightmare to most outsiders, but the Amish women appear to enjoy having large families and have grown accustomed to it.
The Amish don’t hold hands and would never be caught showing public displays of affection, but the simplicity of their lives lends to a quiet and hidden romance that lasts forever.
But how does romance even begin within such a strict society? By courting of course! Yes, there still is a place in the world where the process of a boy and a girl getting to know each other is called ‘courting.’ In Amish communities throughout the Midwest and stretching into other regions of the United States, dating is called courting and breaking up is referred to as ‘quitting’ each other.
Because of my years of contact with Amish teens coming to my farm to participate in horse-back riding activities, babysitting my children or hanging out with my own teenagers, I’ve come to understand their secretive world of courtship very well.
First of all, Amish teens do get to pick their partners, contrary to popular belief. But they must choose another Amish member or they’ll get into heaps of trouble as seen in TEMPTATION where Noah, an Amish teen, falls for Rose, an outsider. The boys and girls of a community spend their entire lives together; meeting as toddlers, going through school together until the eighth grade and participating in church and weekly youth activities, such as singings and volleyball or softball games.
By age fifteen or sixteen, many of the Amish have already decided on their future spouse. Courting is serious business for the Amish. ‘Dating around’ is not acceptable behavior within the Amish society. A person chooses carefully who they will commit to courting, because they know that they will be expected to stay in the relationship due to problems that can arise within the community when couples ‘quit’ each other. Also, as I said earlier, divorce is almost unheard in the Amish world, so teens tread lightly with the opposite sex until they decide on the right person.
The Amish youth are encouraged by their parents and Church members to begin romantic relationships to insure that they will remain Amish. Since the teens aren’t allowed to court until they’ve officially gone through the ceremony to join their church, many young ones who might have reservations about living their lives the Amish way, will commit to it in order to be with the person they’re fond of. With courting, comes the prospect of marriage and a jump into adulthood, which satisfies the hope of more freedom.
Each community has its own set of courting rules. The community I live in for instance, has a-hands-off courting policy. This basically means that a couple will get in HUGE trouble if they get caught holding hands, kissing or going any further physically within the relationship. Punishment includes reciting their sins before their entire community on Sunday and possibly being ‘shunned’ for a length of time, usually lasting one to six weeks, depending on the conduct. Shunning is especially painful to the couple, because it means they won’t be able to see each other until the time is up. Some communities are a bit more relaxed on the matter, but Amish teens are always held to a high standard when courting. This doesn’t mean that couples aren’t getting a kiss in here and there behind the woodshed or even going much further into a physical relationship, but they are watched carefully and learn early on to either abstain or be extremely stealthy in their liaisons.
Although, the courtship rituals of the Amish society might sound harsh to those of us on the outside, there are many positives to their strict structure. Most couples will begin courting at the age of sixteen and marry by the time they’re nineteen or twenty. Because the teens have a deep sense of responsibility and meaning about entering a relationship, they don’t play games, and there is much less drama and heartbreak involved. They enjoy support from their families and community and begin their lives together on solid ground.
I’ve witnessed many teens go through the process of courting and each couple eventually married. In the end, they were in love and happy…and isn’t that what we all strive to achieve?
You can read firsthand about Rose and Noah’s courting experience in TEMPTATION, where they meet secretly and struggle to find a way to be together. Their story continues in BELONGING, when they finally have the opportunity to court in the Amish way, but are torn apart again when Rose’s family puts a stop to it. In FOREVER, you find out once and for all if Rose and Noah find their happily-ever-after.
LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER also deals with Amish teen romance, but in a much darker and grittier way, showing the devastating results when one rebellious Amish girl becomes involved with both an Amish boy and an outsider.
You can learn about a fascinating culture while taking an emotional roller coaster ride in the TEMPTATION series and SERENITY’S PLAIN SECRETS! I love to hear from readers! You can contact me at my website: www.karenannhopkins.com or on Facebook or Goodreads.
Karen Ann Hopkins
For a limited time Lamb to the Slaughter is currently only $2.99
The Temptation Series
Purchase from Amazon
About Karen Ann Hopkins:
A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
Must be 16 years or Older to enter
Open to U.S. AND International
To enter, fill out Rafflecopter below
Giveaway ends June 9, 2014
3 winners will be selected randomly. The first name selected will win the signed Temptation series.
The second and third names selected will win a Kindle e-book of Lamb to the Slaughter.