Daily life in an Amish household is governed by some interesting rules, including the bedroom, but what is the purpose of these Amish bedroom rules, and how do they affect Amish relationships?
Like most rules in the Amish community, they have stood the test of time since the first Amish settlers arrived in the US. Some of these rules are meant to support the Amish way of life. Others trace their origin to old European customs of the Amish community’s forebears.
Learn more about the dynamics of Amish courtships and marriage in our guide to Amish bedroom rules.
What this article covers:
General Bedroom Rule
Life is simple in Amish communities by design. They avoid all forms of vanity, worldliness, and ostentation. This is apparent in all their community buildings, homes, and even in their style of dress.
The bedroom is also subject to these rules of simplicity and humility. There are no excess frills and decorative elements. It’s a quiet and tranquil space.
The Amish like to keep their homes very neat and orderly, and the same applies to the bedroom, but that doesn’t mean that a bedroom is a sparse and uninviting space.
Simple and Neat But Not Completely Spartan
Pretty homemade bed linens stand out against well-crafted wooden furniture. There’ll be wooden closets and probably some of their traditional hand-woven baskets as storage.
Amish women are very adept at weaving rustic wicker decorative baskets for shelves and wicker sewing baskets. And no Amish kitchen is without a rustic bread box. And you can buy these very same products when you support Amish Baskets. They will lend a touch of old-world charm to your kitchen, living room, or home office.
Storage isn’t all this traditional craft is good for. Treat your pet pooch to a charming rattan dog basket, or boost your bicycle style with a bicycle front basket, ideal for those weekend rides to the farmers’ market.
Courtship Bedroom Rituals
One of the most intriguing Amish rituals has to do with dating couples and the bedroom. It’s the practice of ‘bundling’, which takes place during courtship. Ironically, it’s only the most conservative Old Order Amish communities that still do this.
Bundling entails spending the night together, in bed but fully clothed. A wooden board is sometimes in place to physically separate the young couple. Pre-marital sex is strictly forbidden by the rules in Amish Ordnung, the book of Amish laws.
History Of Bundling
Don’t get the wrong idea, the Amish didn’t invent this as a means to frustrate young sweethearts. In fact, it’s an old European custom that their ancestors practiced long before the Amish were established as a people. Several Amish rituals and traditions were brought over by the first Amish settlers that came to the US.
Even kissing isn’t allowed during this practice, but while this courtship bedroom ritual may seem counterintuitive, bundling encourages bonding and teaches restraint.
Bundling helps young couples to get to know each other by lying close to each other and talking all night. It encourages a special level of intimacy that has nothing to do with sex. That said, bundling with someone would usually only occur if the young couple saw each other as potential life partners.
Wedding Night Rules
In most modern societies, the wedding night is the start of the newlyweds' life together as a couple. In some cultures, it may be their very first night of sexual union. In most cultures, it’s followed by a trip to an exotic destination, the so-called ‘honeymoon’.
Although those first two apply in Amish communities, the latter doesn’t. There’s no ‘honeymoon’ for the Amish. In fact, the wedding night is spent in the home of either set of parents, and potentially several nights afterwards too.
There’ll be no sleeping in and lazing about the next morning, either. The newly married couple is expected to rise early and help with the clean-up after the wedding festivities.
Why Do Amish Newlyweds Live with the Bride’s Parents?
The bride and groom will have gone from living in their respective parents’ houses straight to getting married. This means that neither of them will have acquired a home of their own yet.
Amish people, unlike many non-Amish, don’t move out and go to college and get an apartment. They live at home until they get baptized and decide to marry.
While the newly married couple lives in the bride’s family home, the community has the time to build a home for them. When it’s ready, they move in together and truly start their new life together.
Amish people also tend to get married when they are still very young. Marriage and family life entails a whole host of new responsibilities. This time spent in the home of their parents will teach them much about the running of a household, in preparation for starting a family of their own.
Husband and Wife Dynamics
Most of the rules Amish women must follow revolve around a need for modesty and discipline. Amish women are the caregivers of the community. They’re expected to be subservient to their husbands and to look after the children.
Amish men are seen as the providers or breadwinners, and always the head of the household. An Amish man must take care of his wife and children.
This may seem very antiquated to the non-Amish community, but the Amish are simply following in the footsteps of the patriarchal culture of their ancestors. This was also the norm in biblical times, and the Amish take a lot of inspiration for their Ordnung from the Bible.
Amish Bedroom Ritual Rules
So, what do the Amish do at night? The old saying, “Early to bed and early to rise” would certainly apply here. A day in an Amish community starts early, so they tend to go to sleep very early, too. However, other than that, Amish married couples have bedroom lives that mirror most non-Amish couples.
Large Families Are Encouraged
Contraception isn’t allowed in Amish life. This, coupled with the fact that the Amish get married young, leads to fairly large families. Large families are seen as a blessing, so no steps are taken to keep families small.
Because the Amish live separately from non-Amish society, inevitably many people within each Amish settlement are related to each other. However, steps are taken to limit the genetic effects of this, and first cousins don’t marry each other.
No Marrying of Non-Amish Outsiders
Outsiders do sometimes join the Amish community, but this is extremely rare.
Firstly, Amish people may not marry non-Amish people. This is forbidden by the Amish Ordnung rules. Secondly, not too many outsiders opt to join the Amish.
In the rare event that this occurs, and they get baptized into the Amish faith, they’d be permitted to marry in the Amish community.
Rules About Sex
Sex is seen as a sacrament of marriage, and there’s nothing unnatural about it in general. However, as a very religious community, adultery, the Amish don’t tolerate or condone premarital sex, and homosexual acts.
These are forbidden in the Bible, and therefore they’re forbidden for the Amish. Anyone who engages in such practices would have to repent or possibly face shunning if they refuse to change their ways.
Adultery is viewed as a serious offense. Although not expressly forbidden by Amish Ordnung rules, this doesn’t mean that it’s encouraged. It’s simply expected that Amish people would know not to do so.
Amish shunning rules are usually reserved for these types of serious offenses, but they’re not employed lightly either. An Elder in the church may speak to the couple first, in an attempt to help them solve the issue.
While the concept of ‘bedroom rules’ may sound foreign to more liberal societies, it’s just a normal part of everyday Amish life.
These rules aren’t designed to punish or restrict. On the contrary, they’re meant to guide their path and support their values. Amish rules have kept their community alive and prosperous, and they will for years to come.
No matter your cultural affiliation, rules serve a vital purpose. They teach us about what is acceptable, or not, in our cultural group. They’re essential guidelines that help us to lead purpose-led lives.
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