Choosing A Husband
( Originally Published 1918 )
A HUSBAND should not be an accidental acquisition; he should be the result of a deliberate choice.
No woman buys the first gown she sees when she steps into a shop to escape a shower. She first makes up her mind that she wants a dress for certain uses. She decides what will probably be the material, and has, in general, a pretty good idea of what will be in accordance with her tastes and needs.
Should she not exercise at least as much care in making the choice of a life companion? He will be a much more important factor in her life's happiness than a mere bit of apparel, and he can-not be so easily discarded. Upon the success of her choice in this particular will depend, very largely, the success or failure of her life.
That the young woman is supposed to be chosen, not to choose, I realize very well. But anyone who is acquainted with the real facts in the case knows that, in reality, it is the young woman who exercises the power of choice. She it is who attracts and draws to her the individual who is most pleasing to her tastes. Her methods are not apparent to the superficial observer. She may even be more or less unconscious of them herself, but they are none the less real and effective.
She must have, therefore, some standard of choice. She must realize what it is she is selecting this man for.
In the romantic days of her early adolescence, she thinks only of that which may contribute to her individual pleasure. The man who is hand-some to look upon and can stir in her a thrill of physical admiration, seems to her the most desirable individual in the world. In reality, how-ever, she is not considering in the least his true place in her life. This is one more reason, a most important one, why it is advisable for young girls to wait a little before making a definite choice of a husband. They should wait until their own real purposes and ambitions in life have more fully developed, so that the choice can be made more in accord with what will be their lifelong desires.
The real vital function of the man of her choice is to be the father of her children. If parents were willing and able to answer the early questions of their children as to their own origin, and to continue talking sensibly and seriously with them upon the subjects related thereto whenever their inquiries indicated a desire for further enlightenment, young men and young women would grow up with a thorough understanding of the importante of the parental function. It sometimes even shocks a young girl to suggest to her that she should consider the welfare of her possible children when she is thinking of accepting some young man's proposal. It should not be a shocking suggestion to her, however, and would not, if she had been brought up to think rightly upon this vitally important subject.
Let her choose, then, first of all a MAN in every sense of the word. Not a mere appendage to a cigarette; not a lounge lizard; not a perambulating stock-ticker; not an animated booze receptacle ; not a whited sepulchre of disease and corruption; but a man who is physically strong, mentally alert, morally pure and clean and up-right. Without these essentials of physical health, mental capacity and moral integrity, a man is not fitted to make a successful husband and father.
If a young woman follows her own intuitions and cultivates her own keen critical faculties, she will be able to judge pretty well for herself in all of these matters. She can tell by a young man's clear eye, upright carriage and springy step that he is in a condition of abounding health and vitality.
Bleared eyes tell the tale of alcoholic intoxication and nicotine-yellowed fingers betray the weak-willed, self-indulgent, inveterate smoker.
The man who is completely absorbed in business generally lacks the time and interest to pay any continuous attention to the gentler side of life, and as soon as the first flush of ardent devotion has passed he will, in all probability, be neglectful of his wife, and later of his children.
As for the man who is morally corrupt, a woman's intuition will generally warn her, if she will but listen and follow its indications. Unfortunately, too many women are in the habit of silencing this inward monitor, and so lessen the protection which it is intended to afford them. These men have learned through their association with women of another type just how to stir the sex nature of a woman, and through their powers of fascination they stimulate that side of a woman's nature which causes her to refuse to listen to hints of danger and insist upon following her own desires.
It is in some such way as this that many a good girl is lured to her ruin. She has not learned to distinguish between her own higher and lower desires, and so she does not recognize that it is the better part of herself which utters this persistent and disturbing warning, and that it is the lower part of herself which endeavors to stifle all restraining suggestions. The girl who is honest with herself will be able, through their different effect upon her own emotions, to distinguish between the glance of frank admiration from a pure-minded man, and the look of sensuous enjoyment from one of the dangerous type referred to. From a man's conversation, also, much may be learned of his thoughts. If these appear to be running always in the direction of sensuous pleasure, if not of sensuality, the young girl would do well to govern her actions with discretion, and to turn resolutely away from any intimacy with a man of such calibre. Even though he should eventually marry her, she will probably find as the years go by that the better and more enduring part of her nature is left unsatisfied, while purely physical pleasures have not only ceased to exert their former sway over her, but have become an almost unendurable degradation.
Physical vigor is apt to bring with it abundant good spirits and cheerful optimism, and these attributes are most essential to a successful married life. The man or woman who always has a grouch, cannot claim to add very much to the happiness of his or her family. Girls would do well to remember this, for, unfortunately, their pity is often touched by a young man who always appears to be having a hard time.
Pity in women is a very dangerous feeling, for many of them mistake it for the more vital and lasting emotion of love. Pity indicates a negative attitude of mind, and is generally called forth by a negative mental state in its recipient. You pity the man who is down and out, as he sits in a dejected attitude with his head hanging low, and his hands dropping limply at his sides. You say, "Poor fellow!" and shake your head, and enter into a corresponding weak and flabby mental attitude.
If you had true sympathy for him you'd clap him on the shoulder and say, "Cheer up, old fellow. The battle is not lost yet. Get up and go to it."
Of course, this latter attitude does not allow of so much sentimental petting as the former, and so does not often lead to romantic attachments; but it is for this very reason, much safer for all concerned. Let the girl who is tempted to marry a man because she "feels so sorry for him" remember that there will be many occasions in her life when she will need a strong arm to learn upon, and a courageous spirit to uphold her in her time of trial.
There can be no question but that love is the essential foundation of all true marriage, and yet Iove, as that word is commonly used, is not enough.
There must be a strong physical attraction in order that there may be a harmonious and life-giving physical relationship.
There must be mental companionship in order that, as the years go by, the two may grow more and more intimately into each other's lives.
There must also be a spiritual union. They must have common aims, ideals, and a common attitude toward life and its great purposes. It is only in this highest realm of the spiritual, as we call it, that an enduirng union can exist, and without this, the coming together of the two individuals may prove to be only temporary.