Perhaps the most unusual interaction between humans and Faeries is the Faerie bride phenomenon. This is when a human man takes a Faerie woman to be his wife. Though a paternalistic concept — virtually the only time a human woman takes a Faerie husband is when he kidnaps her — the marriages seldom end happily: at some point, the Faerie wife leaves and returns to her people, abandoning not only her husband, but any children as well. Even so, the children seldom suffer, unless at the hands of their fathers, because many inherit some of their mothers’ power, and often the mothers grant them gifts as well.
Some Faerie brides are taken by force, while others are wooed. The classic example of a bride taken by force is the seal maiden. She lives in a secret land under the sea, but occasionally she comes to the surface to dance in the moonlight with her sisters. However, to cross the water, she must wear a seal skin, and if she loses it she cannot return. A man who can steal and hide it away can force her to become his wife. They may live happily for many years, and she may give him children, but if she ever finds the skin, she will abandon her family and return home without hesitation. Similar legends and folktales are told about mermaids, swan maidens, river and forest women, and even female Trooping Faeries, the common denominator being that the man somehow discovers her vulnerability and exploits it.
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