But there were at least hopes of happy marriage.
Again, can you cite a particular time when this was true?
Not meaning this snidely Olivier, but I think you have a pretty bad case of "the good old days" A belief in a time when things were relatively hunky dory as far a relationships as compared to today, or any other particular time.
It is annoying how people, in this case you, can simply say what they wish would be, and state it as fact, and others accept it unexamined. Maybe partly for the same reason people are suprised by someone unexpected, it's just too much work to think about being aware of your surrounds or consider if what is being said can be supported.
The divorce rate in modern times is up not just because some people got married before they really understood what happens after "I do" It's also up because as we are living longer, we've realized the right person at one age is not the right one at another, and that each person is growing in a different way. Many other reasons of course, but another big reason divorce is up is because people just simply Can get divorced.
My opinion of what defines a happy marriage overall is not what appears to the two lead characters in a novel. It's generally more like 2 background characters we know have been together a long time, but that's all the info we've been given. There's no magic formula to it Olivier. It's 2 people that get along well enough, and if they are each individually happy, it's because of their life in general, and how well they function in the pleasures and challenges of it, if the person you're married to is congenial enough to be around.
What you speak of Olivier, is limerence, and that can't last forever. It can reflame occassional, or arise "out of nowhere" years after knowing someone, but it's not going to last forever anymore than a fireworks display can feed on itself. A "happy" marriage comes from a slow mild warmth that feeds yourself first, then the other. It ebbs and flows, and that's just how life in general is. Again, opinion.
My belief is people are happier when they have an adequate amount of control over their lives, regardless of what that looks like. Women, for instance, may have "looked" happier in old photos or other artistic renderings, or in the writings that were generally done by people other than women.
They are certainly smiling or looking pleasant while wearing corsets or with their feet bound. Maybe if they were allowed to write down how they really felt, for us to read today, we'd have a different perception of their live. In baby steps, women are still wearing 6 inch heels that in reality suck to wear, but we are at least able to say "these things are killing my feet, and making me overall bitchy"
I don't think that indicates a change in happiness, at the least it's giving the woman control to speak with her own voice. Unfortunately, some see that increasing unhappiness, because we just won't keep our mouth shut.
Procreation? I've never felt a nanosecond of the need for it personally, but I can understand the desire. Babies aren't a holy symbol of 2 peoples romance making with each other. They are the result of sexual intercourse.
Tenderness toward another is a private thing, regardless of whether it's shown in front of other people or not.