Essentials Of A Happy Marriage
( Originally Published 1918 )
THE first great essential of a happy marriage is a deep, intense, reciprocal love. So strong is the desire for marriage that many individuals make the experiment of trying to find happiness in marriage without this first great essential.
The young woman longs for a home and for children of her own. She says to herself, in considering the proposal of some admirer, "This man says he loves me devotedly and will do every-thing to make me happy. I do not dislike him; on the contrary, I find his society very agreeable. He has a good income. He can give me all that .I crave in the way of home and children. I may never have another chance."
So she accepts him, believing that she is in a fair way to find the happiness which she craves. Marriage, however, is the most intimate relationship of life, and calls, therefore, for the greatest amount of forbearance and understanding. Only a great love will enable one to stand the strain of the exigencies of the marriage state. The liking which seemed a sufficient basis for the union, instead of growing into love, as was expected, may turn into positive dislike, because of the many little things which come up to cause a disagreeable rasping between the two personalities.
The great difficulty, of course, is to be able to recognize a true and lasting lave. Many a young girl faces her first proposal in the greatest condition of uncertainty.
"How can I know whether I love this man"? is the unspoken question that springs up in the minds of hundreds of girls. They would give anything to have some one of riper experience to turn to who might help them understand their own emotions.
The first assistance that can be given these girls is this fundamental proposition: So long as there is any doubt in your own mind as to whether or not you love a man, that doubt in itself is proof that your feeling for him is not the intense and overwhelming emotion which would stand the strain of a lifetime. Not until a deep conviction is borne in upon your soul that this man is the one man for you should you even consider binding yourself to him in any permanent way.
This does not mean, necessarily, that sudden, apparently overwhelming passion is the true love of a life time. It does mean, however, that, so long as doubt remains in the mind, there should be no definite action taken. The time may come when this very same individual may become all the world to the young woman; but until she be-comes convinced that he is she should take no definite step.
Suppose, however, that she has been overtaken by a sudden passion. How is she to know whether or not it is lasting? One of the very best ways is to submit to the test of absence. Let her send the young man away from her for a fairly long period of time, or let her seek other scenes of activity for herself. If, as time goes by, in spite of her separation from him, she finds herself more and more persistently drawn by her heart in his direction, and this feeling grows more intense the longer they remain apart, then she may feel somewhat assured that there is the desired permanency in the love that has come to her.
The intense and overpowering form of love which we call passion is an essential component of the love which should result in marriage. This does not mean a passion which is selfish or de-based. It does mean, however, an intensity which is able to sweep aside much which otherwise might form insurmountable obstacles.
Not only, however, must there be a powerful physical attraction, but the mind as well must be satisfied. A most essential element of a lasting love is an abiding admiration. Each one of us desires to be able to look up to those whom we love, and mutual admiration is necessary for a successful marriage.
In addition to this, there must be absolute sincerity. Friends may be able to overlook a little occasional dissimulation, but in the close interchange of thought which takes place in the daily companionship of marriage, the least tinge of insincerity injects an element of instability. There must be complete confidence each in the other, so that, no matter what may happen, that faith which is the foundation of permanency may never be shaken. This abiding faith will lead to the constant interchange of mutual confidences. This will tend to the building up and strengthening of those mutual interests which go so far toward uniting the two lives into one common existence. Each should be deeply interested in the least occurrence which happens to the other, and, through the constant sharing of the daily happenings, will come an increasing of the joys and a decreasing of the sorrows of life.
Even more important than physical and mental harmony is a unity of spiritual development. It is only in the realm of the spirit that real unity can be achieved. For this reason, the two should ever strive to draw closer and closer together in all that pertains to the life of the real. self, which is the life of the spirit.
When we turn to a consideration of the individual endowments which lead to a successful marriage, we find, first of all, the great need for physical health and vigor. Health means wholeness, happiness, superabundant vitality and the overflowing good cheer which carries one triumphantly over the hard places of life.
Next, we must have courage, the daring that is willing to take a chance, and glories in the conflict because, through struggle, one may achieve mastery.
A keen sense of humor is a great lubricator of life's machinery. The one who can see some-thing funny in the most tragic situation is the one who can most quickly regain that equilibrium which is the first step toward extricating one's self from the difficulty.
And then, with all this, must go the spirit of willingness to compromise on non-essentials. Where it is a matter of principle, each one must stand for what he or she sees to be right, but where it is a matter of mere detail, the one who most quickly sacrifices personal preferences on the altar of love most quickly proves his or her fitness for connubial bliss,