In the 17th century the professions (lawyer, doctor) were closed to women. Very often in the countryside the housewife also made the families candles and their soap. A farmer's wife also milked cows, fed animals and grew herbs and vegetables. The 17th century housewife was also supposed to have some knowledge of medicine and be able to treat her family's illnesses. In a big house they had to organize and supervise the servants. She was also responsible for curing bacon, salting meat and making pickles, jellies and preserves (all of which were essential in an age before fridges and freezers). On top of that she had to cook, wash the families clothes and clean the house. In the 17th century poor and middle class wives were kept very busy but rich women were not idle either.
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The men were expected to support the family from a whole variety of occupations.
And they were expected to improve the positions of all members of the family through influence and patronage from wealthier people and families than their own.
Many couples would meet for the very first time on their wedding day.
This particular Elizabethan custom usually applied to the nobility but the married or religious life were the only real options for the Elizabethans ( a career for a woman was absolutely unheard of.) Regardless of their social standing women and men were expected to marry.