shut (one's) eyes and think of England

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shut (one's) eyes and think of England

1. Typically of a woman (specifically a wife), to endure unwanted or unpleasant sexual intercourse—as out of a sense of duty or obligation—by distracting oneself with more pleasant thoughts. Refers to alleged advice for wives in the 19th and early 20th centuries that placed unwanted sexual activity as the price of the security of marriage. Primarily heard in UK. It's horrible to think that women who were not attracted to their husbands, but who depended on the security of their marriage, were once told to simply shut their eyes and think of England to satisfy their husband's desires.
2. By extension, to endure any unpleasant or unwanted task or experience by thinking of one's duty, the benefits of the experience, or by distracting oneself with more pleasant thoughts. Primarily heard in UK. Whenever I have to have a tooth filled at the dentist, I just shut my eyes and think of England.
See also: and, England, eye, of, shut, think