The main design of MARRIAGE is to constitute the family, for the preservation of moral and social purity, the continuation of the race, the training of the young for the duties of life,” etc.
This book is a real treasure in matters related to MARRIAGE. A book for all wives and husbands. The author digs into the diverse situations which explain the why of all the problems that married people face today. Divided into five parts, this book is made of chapters like :
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DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES
The first edition of this book was published in 1901 by F.H.Revell Company.
This new edition is published by Tsel editions in 2020. All rights reserved.
The Standard Dictionary says: “The main design of marriage is to constitute the family, for the preservation of moral and social purity, the continuation of the race, the training of the young for the duties of life,” etc.
It would be interesting if we could know in how many minds this idea of founding the family exists as the fundamental idea of marriage. Probably most young people would say: “We marry because we love each other and desire to spend our lives in each other’s society. All the rest incidental. This fundamental.”
In a sense this is true. Love should be the foundation—but not the love aroused by the gleam of bright eyes, the fl utter of a curl, the twirl of a mustache; not the mere impulse born of the magnetism of the physical senses. It may perhaps originate as an impulse, which should at once be controlled by reason until a foundation of sterling qualities has been found upon which can solidly rest. These two who purpose to marry should remember that they are becoming guarantees for the nation’s future; are becoming integral parts of society and responsible for its conditions. You think that young people are already parts of society. They do, indeed, form very important part of social life; but when they become heads of families they can be more assuredly counted upon as belonging to the community. Their influence is more felt as citizens; they have, as it were, given bonds for good citizenship; the nation has a right to look to them for a continuance and growth in all good qualities of body and soul. With this in view, the two young people should be educated as to their own personal value in preservation of health of mind and body and their especial duties and responsibilities in the marriage relation.
Young women who are promised wives are apt to look forward to marriage through rose colored glasses, which also have the peculiar faculty of magnifying all coming happiness and of effectually hiding from sight any possible unhappiness. They are quite apt also to forget that marriage is a profession and needs a preparatory education as much as law or medicine. Therefore it is not surprising that many of them are disappointed when they find wedded life not free from trials and anxieties. As one bride said: “When a girl marries she enters into an entirely new world. A world as utterly different from her imagination as is possible”; then she added with a serious, interrogatory air: “Why don’t the older women teach girls what they may expect and what they ought to do when they get married?”
It is not hard to understand why many mothers shrink from the instruction of daughters in this respect. There are various reasons. The very personality of the subject may make them hesitate. They may feel that as they married ignorantly and, learning by experience, have made fair success in the carrying out of their home duties that their daughters must do the same. —Or they dread to open the eyes of the girl to the possible sorrows in store, which the mother, with fond longing, hopes the daughter may escape. Or it may be that they feel incompetent to present the matter in that fair and beautiful light in which they would fain have the girl see it, and so leave her to enjoy in imagination the happiness she may not find a reality.
While admitting the difficulties in the way of rightly instructing the young woman, seems self-evident that marriage would be more assuredly happy such instruction were given in advance, so that the girl might realize the great responsibility upon her in making wise choice, as well as understand to some degree what marriage means in its highest sense.
It is taken for granted that the young man understands the relation of marriage; that in some way or other he has obtained the necessary knowledge and therefore stands in no need of special instruction. But the questions which thoughtful young men are asking concerning the duties of the husband prove that they are not satisfied with the unauthoritative information which they have received but are honestly asking for counsel from those in whose knowledge they have confidence.
There is much in the question of marriage beyond that of the physical relation, and young husbands, as well as young wives, need wise guidance. That they are willing, even anxious to receive proven to the writer by the appealing letters she constantly receiving, from both young men and young women, and her reason for offering this book to the public.
During the year 1873 I was an inmate of a Continental German home. The family was of the middle-class and may therefore be considered typical in its manner of life. It consisted of the parents, one son and one daughter. This young woman was not less than twenty-four years old and her life seemed, to American eyes, to be very restricted. She had never gone anywhere unless accompanied by someone older than herself. She had never been out with any man but her father or brother. Young men never called upon her; and her whole social interests were within those of the family circle and its association with other family circles.
Having been a witness of this for some months, I was surprised when, one evening, a young man called and spent an hour with the family. Three weeks later he called again and, three weeks after this, there was a gathering of the families of both and the ceremony of betrothal, or engagement, between the young people took place and they became “bride” and “bridegroom” until the later ceremony made them husband and wife.
I wondered how much this would free the Fraulein from the restrictions of her unengaged girlhood. She seemed to feel that the world widened greatly, for now the young man called frequently, but they seldom had many minutes for tête-à-tête conversations. Sometimes he took her to theater or concert, but never for lonely drives or walks. Etiquette would not allow so much of freedom. But the Fraulein was happy. With great pride and without embarrassment she introduced me to her “bridegroom”; and also allowed me to share in her joy of preparation for wifehood. It was charming to watch the sweet, grave earnestness with which she began to fi t herself for her new duties. Her own wardrobe occupied but a small share of her thought; but there were the piles of household linen she had been collecting for years which were to be laundered and marked; and there were many mysteries of housekeeping to which she must be introduced.
The Fraulein’s ideas of the wife were limited to the care of the household. She had no thought of special study of herself. The question of heredity would have been as Greek to her. But as far as her thought had been made intelligent she prepared carefully and conscientiously as a bride for the new cares and honors of the wife. I have sometimes wished that the German use of the words “bride” and “bridegroom” could be introduced among us, and that the two engaged young people could be made to feel that this is an especial time of preparation for their approaching union; a preparation not only as house holders, but as homemakers, as potential parents.
We all know what is involved in the idea of marriage. If there is no indelicacy in a girl’s receiving and accepting an offer of marriage, there is no indelicacy in her studying the duties and responsibilities of this new position. No girl of intelligence would expect to take a position as teacher, physicians, typewriters, stenographers or even dressmaker without some preparatory training. The position of wife involves interests as serious, needs judgment as skilled, a courage and persistence as unfaltering as any of these. It should therefore receive as much preparatory thought.
Many young women, if questioned as to their idea of marriage, would doubtless reply—if they answered truthfully—that it is a state of independence, where the girl, becoming the matron, is emancipated and henceforth is her own mistress, with a home of her own wherein an abiding lover will pay her continual court and from which the trials and anxieties of life will have been eliminated. Too few young women realize that marriage means greater responsibilities, bigger burdens, more anxious cares, all of which are rendered sweet by the love that sanctifies them.
The man’s idea of marriage quite generally is that it is a state which shall contribute chiefly to his comfort and pleasure. Incidentally he expects to make his wife happy, but his dreams are of his own satisfaction. The wife will make his home, cater to his tastes, contribute to his comfort, respond to his desires, mould herself to his wishes, and, in so doing, find her happiness.
He does not imagine that this is selfishness. He means to be a good husband, but he has accepted the too prevalent idea of marriage and of man’s “marital rights.” It has not occurred to him that his marriage is a matter of national, of racial importance, nor that future generations have a right to demand that he shall be a strong, brave, generous, upright ancestor.
Mrs. Duffey says, “Marriage lays the foundation of the home, the children build the wall, and the structure is strengthened and stayed by conjugal, parental, and filial love and roofed over by mutual forbearance and self-sacrifice.”
The founding of the home then, the basis of marriage. This must include the bearing and rearing of children.
The true woman, who looks at life seriously and who recognizes her own value to the nation, will desire to contribute to its glory by giving to citizens who shall be strong, true and noble. These ideas will give sufficient room for true sentiment, but they will also suggest much that is practical. They will indicate the necessity of the young woman informing herself concerning all these new duties that will be hers. The young man also needs to consider the new responsibilities thoughtfully before him and the period between the time of plighting troth and the solemnization of the marriage ceremony may very properly be employed by the prospective husband and wife in studying reverently and scientifically the subject of their coming duties.
Some years ago a young woman called at my office and said: “Doctor, I am soon to be married and I desire to inform myself concerning all the things that, as a wife, I ought to know. I wish to pay you by the hour, as I would for music lessons or German; to come regularly and canvass the whole subject.”
The idea was a novel one, but it struck me as being exceedingly practical. The arrangement was made and during several weeks the young woman came regularly at the appointed hour and took her lesson in what a prospective wife ought to know. The subjects discussed were not limited to physiology, but covered the whole domain of wifehood. These interviews were of a Socratic sort, with questions and answers on both sides.
At the first lesson I asked: “How much do you know concerning the subjects you desire to study?”
“I have some ideas,” she replied, “and have been told some things; but I do not know that this knowledge is in any particular correct. Therefore I desire you to begin, just as if you were sure that I knew nothing, and cover the whole subject minutely.”
“Why are you going to be married?”
She looked as if she thought the question a strange one, but replied, “Because I love the man to whom I am engaged.”
“Is that a sufficient reason?”
“Is it not?” she asked in a wondering tone.
“If that is not sufficient, what is?”
“If the man to whom you are engaged were a drunkard, ought you to marry him, even though you loved him?”
“Oh,” she replied, “I would not love a drunkard!”
“Well, if he were a consumptive and you knew, at best, he could live but a few years, would you marry him?”
“Why, I that would seem to me an added reason why “And should marry him—to take care of him.”
“And bring children into the world to suffer and die of the same disease?” I suggested.
“She blushed slightly, but made no reply.
It is recorded of a certain family in Hamburg,” continued, “that the men in many generations were all brilliant military men, but each in turn became insane at about forty years of age. The government of that country seemed to think this a sufficient reason that these men should not marry; and, at last, when only one man was left, a brilliant military officer, the Senate decreed he should not form a matrimonial alliance; and so, in him, the family became extinct.”
“You think, then,” said the young woman, “that a promised wife inform herself concerning her husband’s health, habits and ancestry, for the sake of his posterity?”
“Do you not think so?” I queried.
“Well,” she questioned again, “does that not put the subject of marriage on a very matter-of fact basis, destroying all romance and sentiment?”
“It certainly does destroy sentimentality, but it brings into force a higher sentiment than that of mere personal pleasure—a regard for the welfare of future generations. It seems to me that the subject of heredity is one that should be thoroughly studied by both young men and young women before making the choice of husband or wife. Malden says: “A man should study the ancestry of himself and wife, their habits and diseases, as he would study his house, its drain age and water-supply, as matters of importance to himself and family.”
‘The young man often says: “I marry the girl; I don’t marry her family.” In this he is mistaken. He may put thousands of miles between himself and his wife’s relations, but they are with him; they increase as his children gather about his table. He may abhor his mother-in-law and may see her reproduced in his own beloved daughter. He may despise the traits of his wife’s father and find them repeated in his sons. If a young man were wise he would study with great care the family of the young woman before he went so far as to ask her to be his wife, remembering that what the mother now is the daughter may become; that his children may repeat the most undesirable traits of their ancestors.
“And why should not the young woman be equally wise? Neither can change one-half the ancestry of their children. If the girl is to be a mother, the ancestry of her children, through her, is fixed. All she can do to attempt to modify herself the qualities she has inherited, thus tending to produce a modified transmission. But she has power to choose the other half of the ancestry of her children, and she responsible for the choice she makes. If every young woman would remember that, when young man pro poses to be her husband, he also proposes to be the father of her children; that the traits of his family and the influence of his acquired habits may become inherent qualities of her descend ants, she will require something more than mere personal attractions in the one whom she selects as a husband.”
The subjects, ‘discussed with this young, thoughtful woman, are worthy of the consideration of other thoughtful prospective wives.
“How early should people marry?”
If continence were to be the absolute rule of married life, the time of marriage would not be so important. It is in view of parenthood that we must say that marriage should not be contracted until the organism is fully developed; that between twenty-five and thirty in men and twenty-two and twenty-eight in women. During the process of development all the vital energies are needed in building up the individual, and there is no strengthto be used up in the reproductive and process. The age of parenthood has an effect on the vigor of the child. It is stated that the greatest of imbeciles results in cases either extreme youth or age of the parents. As woman matures more rapidly than man, it seems reasonable he should be a few years the older; yet a slight difference the other way cannot be objected to, other things being equal. A great disparity of ages in either way is undesirable.
“Should cousins marry?”
This question often of deep personal interest to the inquirer and one the might prompt to answer affirmatively. This answer, would require some modification. If the family were in all respects free from taint, were perfect in mind and body, there could be objection than were tainted with marked defects. If the cousins are alike in they take after the same of ancestry, their marriage would double the chances of children inheriting the characteristics of that line. This is also true cases where two people have the same temperament and inherit the same tendencies, but are not related by blood.
Cousins are sometimes apparently not as nearly related in tendencies as people who are not kin. Whether related or not, the question of heredity should be considered. Too often it is not thought of at all. I was once told, at one of my lectures, that a young engaged couple were present; that the girl had been in an insane asylum three times, and yet the young man insisted on marrying her.
The question of the young man’s habits or ancestral diseases is one not generally taken into account. The subject of alcoholic heredity has received some public attention and deserves more.
Not only is the home of the inebriate a sad place in which to bring up children, but the direct inheritance of the children of drunken parents is most undesirable. Science has demonstrated beyond a doubt that alcohol actually destroys nerve and brain substances and that the parent whose own bodily organism has been so injured cannot transmit a perfectly sound body to his children.
Statistics tell us that 82.5 percent of the children born of inebriate parents either die before two years old or are epileptic or feeble-minded. They are also easily developed into drunkards, manifest insanity or show a moral taint, becoming prostitutes or criminals. Epilepsy is a marked characteristic of the children of drunkards, as is also a tendency to commit suicide.
The moderate drinker may claim that the small amount he uses cannot possibly injure his children, yet an enfeebled posterity may prove the contrary. One man boasted that he had drunk a bottle of wine every day for fifty years, and it had not injured him; but of his twelve children, six died in infancy, one was insane, one was imbecile and the rest were hysterical invalids. Did not drink injure that man?
It sometimes happens that the traits of the man, not appearing in his children, may reappear in his grandchildren. This skipping of generations is called atavism, from the Latin word atavus, an ancestor, and this may be the form in which alcoholic heredity manifests itself. In western Pennsylvania I found this family history: The father and mother were total abstainers, but the mother’s father was a drunkard. There were six children, three sons and three daughters. The sons resembling the maternal grandfather were drunkards. One committed suicide and two became tramps. None left children.
The daughters were sober and reputable; but in their families the daughters were sober and the sons drunkards. This shows how the women of a family may transmit tendencies to their sons and makes the question of the habits of the girl’s father of importance to the young man who may think of marrying her.
The use of tobacco is supposed to be a habit that affects no one but the user; that, therefore, it may be considered a question of personal indulgence. In truth, its evil influences are not limited to the one who uses it, but are transmitted in a variety of nervous diseases to his posterity.
Dr. Pidduck, of England, says: “The hysteria, the hypochondriasis, the consumption, the dwarfish deformities, the suffering lives and—early deaths of the children of inveterate tobacco-users bear ample testimony to the feebleness of constitution that they have inherited.”
These statements suggest that it is worthwhile to investigate the results of tobacco upon the human race before deciding to give children a tobacco-using father.
But someone may ask: “If the young man has reformed, should we not forgive him?”
Certainly! But that might not make it safe to marry him. The “wild oats” sown in youth may have planted seeds of wildness in the children that come to him in his mature years and the harvest be indeed a bitter one.
Young women frequently do not know that the sowing of “wild oats” often brings on the man a disease which may infect the wife and be transmitted to the children. Many a pure young wife suffers untold agony and dies a loathsome death, leaving children perhaps to suffer from their father’s sin and to die prematurely, because she did not know that the reformed rake was not a suitable man for a husband.
The disease known as syphilis, which no man can be sure of escaping if he deviate from the Path of purity, is the most loathsome of all diseases and one from which the system can never, with certainty, be freed. It may lie dormant for years, and then light up its baneful fires in the man himself, or flame up in an ineradicable taint in his children.
While the inheritance of certain diseases would make it seem necessary for the young person possessing them not to marry, there is danger of becoming morbid upon the subject and thinking that any taint of undesirable characteristics makes matrimony, to the highly conscientious, wrong.
We must remember that heredity is not fatality and that many detrimental characteristics may be overcome by constant, hopeful effort on the part of the young people themselves. The knowledge of possible evil should but arm them the stronger for the conflict that shall result in their handing on to their offspring a better inheritance than they themselves received. Let them remember that there can be the breaking of the bonds of ancestral sin; that—
“Back of thy parents and grandparents lies
The great Eternal Will. That, too, is thine Inheritance, strong, beautiful, divine,
Sure lever of success to him who tries.”
If we know ourselves as children of God, we claim our Divine Heredity and its reward.
We are in danger of laying too much stress upon the transmission of evil. We must remember that the very certainty of the transmission of evil qualities is a guarantee of the transmission of good qualities even in greater degree and for ‘anger time. The sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation, but mercy is shown to thousands of generations of them that keep the commands of the Lord.
If the young couple are both filled with the deepest desire to overcome all defects of character in themselves they will surely be rewarded, and may dare to claim the promise that “The mercy of the Lord is from generation to generation upon them that fear him, and his righteous ness unto children’s children of such as keep his covenant and to those who remember his commandments to do them.”
The question of marriage the supreme problem of human relationships. In its highest sense means the union of two interests with the maintenance of two distinct individualities. In true marriage there no merging of the one in the other, no subordination of the one to the other, no owning of the one by the other. The marriage ceremony does not change personal characteristics. Each remains an individual, having preferences, judgments, opinions, habits, as before. The wife attaches her husband’s name to her own; but that does not affect her personality, and is an erroneous idea to suppose that by becoming a wife she ceases to be an individual.
The problem that confronts her how she shall be true to the wife’s duties and at the same time true to the woman’s needs. How shall she care for her husband and not neglect herself? How shall she be individual without being antagonistic; strong, without being aggressive; just to him, without being unjust to herself? The husband’s problem the same, with difference. He has to solve the difficulty of being protector without being an owner; provider without dictating what he shall provide; suggester, often a decider, without being a dictator. It is a very valuable secret for both the young husband and wife to know how to retain through married life the sweetness of the days of courtship. ‘Too often those days are glorified with a radiance that soon fades under the strain and stress of married life, and the two who thought they could never be as indifferent to each other as many married people are, come at last to be able to endure separation with composure and even to be somewhat indifferent in each other’s presence.
The idea of the ownership of the wife by the husband is one of the thoughts that brings in harmony. The lover has been so deferential, so willing to yield his preferences for hers, that the wife is not prepared for the husband’s immediately assuming the manner of a dictator; while he, taking it for granted that he is the head of the family, sees no reason why he should not at once assume control. Without intending to be unkind, he begins to decide for his wife her con duct, not only towards himself, but towards the whole world. If she manifests rebellion, he asserts that she is unfaithful to the duties of the wife; that he has a right to dictate and she no right but to obey.
To maintain the dignity of the “house-band,” to be worthy of the control of the household while not assuming the right of absolute authority over the wife, is indeed a problem requiring for its solution the highest degree of Christian philosophy. This can only be obtained by acquiring the most reverent idea of woman’s place in life and choosing a wife in accord with the high ideal thus created. A woman worthy of the position of wife, mother, comrade, friend, counsellor, will be one to be trusted with the guidance of her own life as well as the management of the household.
The man who seeks his highest happiness in marriage will always remember that it is a school wherein he is to be taught the delight of loving service, the dignity of manly tenderness, the glory of self-denial, the joy of making the happiness of others.
Then will come as his reward the grateful love and thoughtful consideration of wife and children, who will hasten to honor one who has acted honorably and claimed no honor; to obey the slightest wish of one who has been worthy of obedience, but who has never played the tyrant.
All love, sweetness, brightness and beauty will flow into the life of the man who has been true to his own soul and who has recognized that each member of his family is another soul with God-given rights which he is bound to respect. And if, amid all the strain of life, he can keep the lover-like ways, he will win his wife’s grateful recognition.
The wife does not anticipate with delight the prospect or possibility of becoming an old story to her husband or of losing her power over him. The problem of how to keep her hold upon his love, how to remain to him always the one perfect, unduplicated woman in the world, is to her a question of the deepest interest.
I have already suggested that the maintenance of individuality is a necessity for both. The man does not expect to lose his individuality in that of his wife, nor should she allow herself to be wholly merged in the individuality of her husband. This does not mean that she is to be rebellious, contradictory, self-assertive in unpleasant ways; but it means that she shall have her ideas, her opinions, her aspirations, her principles, as she had in her girlhood, and not become merely a reflection of the ideas, opinions and principles of her husband. In taking his name she has not ceased to be a responsible soul. Her dignified recognition of this fact and its courteous assertion will make her far more entertaining than if she were but an echo of him. One may at first be interested or amused with an echo, but it soon grows wearisome.
In the duet of life, the two may with pleasure occasionally sing antiphonally; but, too long continued, the delight changes into fatigue. Sometimes they may sing in unison; but this is only melody. Harmony can be produced only when they sing different parts in accord, and sometimes a slight discord only leads to modulation into a sweeter key.
Discussions that aim to make all the music of life a simple strain, sung by all voices, often end in a jangle that neither melodious nor harmonious. But a sweet-spirited, courteous exchange of ideas that differ, but are kept within the bounds of the true spirit of loving regard, gives a zest and spice to conversation which was not wanting in the courting days and which added much to the zeal of the wooer. A part of the young wife’s knowledge should be to know how, with tact, wit and discretion, to stimulate her husband’s intellect while not irritating his temper. She should also know how sweetly to yield her own opinion when personal preference only is involved, and how, quietly and gently, to maintain it when it is a question of conscience.
She will thus win admiration for her mental powers, respect for her unselfishness, reverence for her honesty, and love for herself as the epitome of all that is lovely and desirable.
There is no better way to retain a husband’s love than to be his true comrade. This involves being interested in all that interests him and, therefore, capable of listening understandingly to his plans, thoughts and aspirations. The thrills and ecstasies of passion soon die away, but the delights of true comradeship are lasting.
The uneducated woman cannot be a perfect comrade for a cultured man, even though she possess beauty of form and feature; while the plain woman whose intellect and culture fi t her to understand her husband’s ideas and whose heart prompts her to take a real interest in her husband’s pursuits, can hold her husband’s loving reverence through all time. Sir Edward Bulwer says that a man wants in a wife a companion. “He does not want a dancing animal nor a singing animal nor a drawing animal; yet these accomplishments have cost many women years of painful toil to acquire and they often marry a man who cannot appreciate any one of them.” Then, too, the ability to display these accomplishments dies with youth; but the heart-comrade ship grows stronger and truer as time goes on.
The wife who would retain forever the husband’s love must make of herself always something sweetly mysterious. Her demonstrations of affection should never become commonplace by their very lavishness. The lover was the wooer, and when he becomes the husband he may perhaps feel that he can now sit down in serene repose with nothing more to do, nothing more to learn, nothing more to discover.
It is man’s nature to woo, and the wife may well give the husband still some occupation in that line. The coyness, coquetry and apparent indifference of the maiden may not be becoming to the wife, and yet there is a coquetting with 0ne’s husband that may be very charming and that may awaken a more earnest desire to know more fully the soul of this attractive, ever womanly, ever affectionate, yet somewhat elusive creature whom he calls wife. Yesterday she was demure, quiet, and perhaps solemn; today she is playful, teasing, bewitchingly coquettish. Yesterday she was tenderly demonstrative of affection, today she allures but retreats, smiles invitingly, but keeps ever beyond reach. What new phases will she manifest tomorrow? What new charms will she display, what new depths disclose? She is ever true, her coquetries are ever for him and him only, but he feels that he cannot sit down in careless apathy, but is ever stimulated to new interest, new endeavor.
And this is good for him. He needs to be held up to the highest ideals in himself, and he should be made to realize that she is ever alluring to higher aspirations by the constant revealment of unexplored regions of beauty in herself.
He should be made to feel that he has not fathomed the deepest recesses of her nature. He should be made to question, although she has revealed a realm of beauty and good ness, whether there are not yet unexplored regions of her nature left for him to survey and conquer. He should feel that he has not learned all that her mind and soul have in store for him. He should realize that he can never sit down in slip-shod ease, secure under all circumstances, but that he must live up to the highest in himself always; must daily grow purer, stronger, nobler, if he would keep the highest place in her heart.
James Lane Allen, in “Aftermath,” has expressed, in more charming phrase than I can master, much that I have desired to say. He says: “Although we have now been two months married, I have not yet captured the old uncapturable loveliness of nature which has always led and still leads me on in the person of Georgiana.
I know but too well now that I never shall. The charm in her which I pursue, yet never overtake, is part and parcel of that ungraspable beauty of the world which forever foils the sense while it sways the spirit—of that elusive, infinite splendor of God which glows from afar into all terrestrial things. Even while I live with Georgiana, she retains for me the uncomprehended brightness and fresh ness of a dream that does not end and has no waking. This but edges yet more sharply the eagerness of my desire to enfold her entire self into mine. We have been a revelation to each other; but the revelation is not complete; there are curtains behind curtains, which, one by one, we seek to lift as we penetrate more deeply into the discoveries of our union.
“Sometimes she will seek me out and, sitting beside me, put her arm around my neck and look long into my eyes, full of a sort of beautiful, divine wonder at what I am, at what love is, at what it means for a man and woman to live together as we live. Yet, folded to me thus, she also craves a still larger fulfillment. Often she appears to be vainly hovering on the outside of a too solid sphere, seeking an entrance to where I really am. Even during the intimate silences of the night we try to reach other through the throbbing coals of flesh—we but cling together across the lone impassable gulf of individual being.”
One of the minor preparations for wifehood is the making of the trousseau, but the young woman is unwise who allows dressmakers and shopping to absorb the whole of the last weeks of her girlhood. One practical young woman of my acquaintance had her entire trousseau completed and put away several weeks before marriage, and during that time she devoted herself with sweet thoughtfulness to parents and home, and was never denied to her lover because of the exactions of the dressmaker. That last month of her girlhood, instead of being filled with distracting cares and annoyances, remains in her memory as one of the most beautiful periods of her life. During these days she had not only sweeter companionship with her parents, but became more frankly confidential with her lover in the discussion of the new duties before them. Her example is well worthy of imitation.
The trousseau of the girl with plenty of money presents only the problem of choice according to desire. To the girl with a meagre purse, the problem is much more serious, how to make desire accord with means. Yet even the bride with plenty of money may well consider its prudent spending.
A young wife of two years’ standing, talking with a company of marriageable girls, gave them some wise counsel drawn from her own experience. “Don’t buy expensive underwear,” said she. “If I had the money I foolishly in lingerie in Paris, I could use it to far better spent advantage now. It is all nonsense to pay ten dollars for a night dress. It looks very pretty, but it doesn't wear well, and its beauty is wholly wasted on the laundress who rubs it to pieces with no compunction. If I had it to do over again, I’d never pay over one dollar and a half for a nightdress.”
This same idea can well be applied to all articles of underwear. Good material and simple trimming that will bear laundering should be the ruling idea. If the bride makes the garments herself, she can have better clothing for the same money than if she buys ready-made. But if the making will take her time and strength to an undue degree, she would better purchase ready-made, remembering always that the plainer the garment for the money, the better and therefore more serviceable the material.
As to number of garments, a half dozen of each will be a good supply of muslin articles, while three changes of flannel will be quite enough. Combination flannels are the most healthful, and all other garments should be supported by an underwaist (not a corset) fitting neatly, but loose enough to allow of the fullest breath even when fastened. This waist may be stiffened with cords or featherbones, but should have no steel in front.
In addition to the several white petticoats that are needed, there should be a thin colored petticoat for summer wear and a warmer one for winter, but both should be light. A silk petticoat is quite desirable, and yet can be dispensed with if the purse is light.
No one but a wealthy bride should wear white silk or satin for a wedding dress. For the bride of small means the white muslin or organdie is far more sensible, for it can be worn as a party dress at the simple functions which such a bride will probably attend. A silk dress of some delicate tint may be worn with propriety and render good service in after social occasions. A neat traveling costume makes a practical wedding dress. While tulle veils and orange blossoms, satin fl ounces and bridesmaids are not an extravagance for the rich, they are certainly not in good taste for those whose life must continue on a plane of economical simplicity.
To my mind, the less show at a wedding the better. It is such a serious thing to get married, and in many cases so uncertain, that it seems to me it is wise to leave the display for the silver wedding, when a quarter of a century shall have proven whether the wedding is really an occasion for rejoicing or of sorrow.
It is not needful to detail the wardrobe for the full purse, but the bride who counts her pennies will be glad of helpful suggestions. In addition to wedding dress, she will need a service able street or traveling dress made simply and of a material that will not spot, wrinkle, or catch the dust, a tight woven goods with a smooth surface. She will need a dress for church wear and this can also do service for smaller social occasions, the wedding gown serving for the greater festivities. For house wear in the afternoons at present a good dress skirt and a few pretty shirt waists will be sufficient. A pretty wrapper or tea gown is a comfortable luxury for rainy days or evenings, the greatest objection to being the possibility of its being donned mornings and so preventing outdoor exercise. Wrappers and slippers should be reserved for special indoor wear, and the ordinary morning attire be one that can be worn on the street. Then the bride ready to take morning walk with her husband as he goes to his work her own duties do not interfere, and even the dishwashing might well wait while she indulged in this little attention.
If she her own maid as well as mistress, she will need two or three serviceable working dresses made without superfluity of ornament and short enough to clear the floor. Cut after the princess style, but extending upon the waist only to form high girdle or bodice without sleeves, this dress may be worn over shirtwaists. The bodice may be supported by straps of the material going over the shoulder. No style can be simpler and more convenient. Pretty aprons cover in the kitchen, and when they are laid aside, the dress itself is attractive and pretty. A half-dozen pairs of hose, a pair of stout walking boots, two pairs of Oxford ties, a pair of storm rubbers, and one of toe rubbers, and home slippers complete the footwear. A mackintosh and umbrella and a plain hat or cap fi t out for rain and insure outdoor exercise in all weathers. A golf cape is very practical, and a rainy day short skirt a necessity.
The question of bridal tours is one worthy of consideration. I see no reason why a young couple at the very outset of their new and untried life together should be sent out into the world among the prying eyes of strangers to be subjected to the inconvenience and fatigue of travel. It is, usually, under such circumstances that the most disagreeable, rather than the most desirable characteristics of people manifest themselves. Nowhere are people more nervous, more selfish, than upon journeys.
I think that the most desirable plan would be to postpone the wedding journey and enter at once upon their united home life. A letter just received from a young wife seems to me very pertinent at this point:
“After puzzling my brain awhile over your question as to what a young wife should be wise about, I conclude that if she is “wise” as a young woman, she will be pretty likely to solve the problems of wifehood. However, I consider some experience with the “bread-and-butter” problem prior to marriage as almost a necessity. Equally necessary is a continued contact with the business world in some way, either as a wage-earner or in connection with the management of the household finances, in order to emphasize in woman the quality she is somewhat likely to lack—self-dependence. Of course, it is essential that the woman, who is the larger factor in forming the home surroundings, should have definite knowledge of art, in its application to the home, and of house-sanitation.
“In regard to sex matters, she should be intelligent concerning the bodily structure and functions of both men and women; and there should have been sufficient study and discussion of the subject by husband and wife before marriage that there may be a definite understanding as to the relations that are to exist between them.
So often it happens that men of high ideals in all other things have not yet come to look at the marital relation from any but an individual point of view—with no conception of the woman’s possible entirely different attitude that it shows a foolhardy confidence to leave consideration until after marriage.
‘Another thing I think of as deserving emphasis—a young couple who are intelligent concerning the sex-life and who aim to exercise self-control in the marital relation, whether or not they believe in continence, should plan that work should immediately follow the marriage day; work that would fill the minds and even crowd the time, in order that sentiment may not become too exuberant and the “moral muscles” relax.
This puts a veto on planning a wedding tour with days or weeks of separation from genuine work.
It were better for the play-days to come later.’ Many times the savings of years go into a hurried trip for a few weeks and the home is defrauded of comforts in order to gain a short-lived and debatable pleasure. If a trip is taken, it should be a restful one, one that will remain in the memory through all time as a precious possession, not marred by reminiscences of selfish demands and timid, shrinking compliance.
A young man on shipboard was observed to be apparently very dejected. A sympathetic fellow passenger spoke to him of his loneliness.
‘Yes,’ replied the young man, ‘the circumstances under which I am going abroad are very sorrowful. I am taking my wedding tour and had not enough means to bring my wife along.’
This is a very good kind of a wedding tour. There would be fewer unhappy brides and possibly fewer divorces if the young wife remained at home with her mother and the young husband took the bridal tour alone. Certainly one great and generally unrecognized source of danger to wedded happiness would be avoided. This danger may perhaps be best illustrated by the electric battery. If the positive and negative poles are brought near to each other there will be a succession of sparks, growing less and less until finally they cease altogether. Both poles have become charged alike and no longer attract, but even repel. If they are now separated for a time, they will again become positive and negative and the same phenomenon will occur as before.
Without attempting to say anything as to animal magnetism or the like, I will simply say that human beings are in a sense like electric batteries and attract or repel each other. When this physical attraction is very strong, it is often erroneously called love. Marriage based on this attraction alone has a. very unstable foundation. A man and woman may attract each other very strongly through their physical natures; but if they are constantly together, day and night, they finally reach the condition where they cease to attract physically and may even repel. If they are ignorant of this fact, they may suppose that they have ceased to love each other and therefore be very unhappy.
It is to the interest of a confection or that his clerks do not constantly devour the sweets. He therefore says to each new clerk: ‘Eat all the candy you want.’ The result is that the clerk, in a few days, is satiated if not utterly disgusted. The wisest clerk would eat very sparingly and so retain a constant liking for the confections. In like manner young married people, during the honeymoon, away from the friendly association, with no occupation, wholly dependent on each other for society, cloy themselves with sweetness; they are satiated with caresses; they have exhausted their mental resources; they have possibly worn themselves out with sexual excesses, and, finding no longer the ecstasy and thrill of courting days, imagine they have—made a mistake and really do not love each other. Had they been wiser they would have indulged more moderately; have kept apart and occupied enough to maintain their attractive relation to each other, and so have escaped satiety.
All this is one great argument for occupation, for both, during the first weeks of married life.
When this feeling of apathy or indifference to each other is observed, if the couple understand the cause they will” not brood over an apparent diminution of love, but will arrange their lives so as to restore their lost power to attract.
In order that both shall be adequately occupied it would seem necessary that the young couple should keep house; for the bride who boards has very little with which to employ her time, and, having so little to do, is quite apt to magnify unimportant trifles and perhaps to imagine a neglect that is not real. In boarding the wife is thinking about her husband; in housekeeping, she is thinking for him. She will have been occupied during the day in many pleasant duties and will have things of interest to talk over with him when he comes home for the evening. They will not be subjects of gossip or scandal; they will not be complaints that he has become less considerate and attentive. But she will consult him about the interests of the home-making—
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