I once stayed with a Trad Catholic family in Montana, they had a 3000 acre ranch (lumber) near to Kalispell and a while I was there I read their family history which they had laboriously compiled from memories and old documents. The great great grandfather had planted a flag in the ground and done a series of other things to get his first plot of land.
His first wife had dropped dead from disease and a month later he "sent east" to a brother in law to find him and send him a new wife. As I recall they sent some 14 year old girl from a workhouse or orphanage type situation. She hung around for a few years, then disappeared into the night and then he lived with a squaw. It was very sordid stuff and I was surprised they showed me it.
I'm not so sure that the "good old days" were all that good. I think people simply put up with their lot in life as women do in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia today. They are often married to piggish lazy men and there ain't a whole lot they can do about it. So they live "married" and die "married" for better or worse.
I had a work colleague in London, clever woman same age as me, who got to 29 and married an Egyptian man who was a waiter on a Nile Cruise. Moved to Egypt and married him. Had two children, really liked his mother and father who are very kind to her and the kids but he is a typical Islamic pig. Lazy, sits around with friend all day smoking and playing cards. She works as an English Teacher and owns a couple of homes in London which she rents out so they are wealthy by Cairo standards.
10 or so years ago she called me up for chat and admitted her marriage was miserable and asked me my advice. Everyone else said had said "leave him", I said "stay put". She asked why and I told her, "look you are no oil painting any longer", so, realistically, it is being a single mother back in Britain, (assuming you can escape with the kids which she probably could because she is clever) or stay in Egypt and have a reasonable life with your sister in law (who is like a best friend to her), mother and father in law, who are lovely people and very involved grandparents, I met them. And your children don't get messed up as a result. All things considered there is more upside than downside in staying and more downside than upside in returning back to Britain.
She's still in Egypt and occasionally when we speak over Skype she thanks me for my "cold blooded logic".