Why American Marriages Fail

“A new relationship between the sexes has arisen, a slipshod unchivalrous companionship, which before marriage they nominate ‘good form,’ but which after marriage they illogically discover to be cause for tears or for temper.”

I. The Stage of the Knife

“We surgeons of the law do desperate cures, Sir!”

That a large percentage of marriages achieve very little beyond a bare working compromise with happiness is not to be seriously denied. Nor is it to be doubted that there are more matrimonial catastrophes to-day than there were a generation ago. In fact, every recent decade has shown a marked increase in the evil of divorce in the United States, — out of all proportion to the growth of population. It is also a matter of statistics that the evil is growing more rapidly in our country than in Europe. Of course, this preponderance may be partly accounted for by the greater number of divorce courts on this side of the Atlantic. We have 2921 courts which have the power to grant divorces, as against England’s one, Germany’s twenty-eight, and France’s seventy-nine.

Since during the last fifty years more radical changes by far have come in the social status of women than in that of men, there is a chance that at her door may lie the cause of at least some of this fast-growing social disease. And it is upon that admittedly daring assumption that these few suggestions are based.

There are those who consider that the statistics of divorce represent only an apparent fact, the argument being that this is the age of expression, not suppression. They go on to say that there are few more diseases in the world of to-day than there were in Babylon, but that the wider and more intelligent recognition of disease and the modern differentiation in diagnosis lead to a false impression; that the real difference lies in the fact that a physician’s work is now done in the open; that his discoveries belong to the morning paper; and that our modern life teems with specialists, hospitals, and an ever-enlarging materia medica. Medical books and magazines and lectures are more and more accessible to the general public.

In the same way it is claimed that the increasing difficulties in the marriage relation to-day are only apparent; that that question, too, has only just come into the open. The lovers of individualism maintain that it is high time that the enlightened surgery of divorce was resorted to, forgetting that “the significance of the increase of divorce must be sought in its relation to the family and the social order generally, rather than for its bearing on individual morality,” still less for its bearing on individual happiness.

To follow the parallel a bit farther, may it not be suggested that, as there is a growing conviction among the best physicians that the knife is resorted to unnecessarily often to right physical disorders, the same may be true of psychological disorders? Gentler remedies, dietary measures, the daily régime of more intelligent living, have been known to spare more than one patient the horrors of the operating table. In fact, is not prevention the only genuine modern miracle? Toward that great end surely come all the physical sciences, all social philanthropies and philosophies, bringing in outstretched hands their gifts to suffering humanity!

Three “instances” come uppermost: (1) Woman’s failure to realize that marriage is her work in the world. (2) Her growing individualism. (3) Her lost art of giving, replaced by a highly developed receptive faculty.

First: Marriage is woman’s work in the world—not man’s. From whatever point it is viewed, physical or spiritual, as a question of civic polity or a question of individual ethics, it is her specific share of the world’s work—first, last, and always; allotted to her by laws far stronger than she is. And the woman who fails to recognize this and acknowledge it has the germ of divorce in her veins at the outset.

Moonlit and springtime moods all to the contrary, the fact remains that marriage is not a man’s work, but one of his dearest delusions, from which he parts begrudgingly. Moreover, it is not even necessary to him in the accomplishment of those things which are his work. It is generally no more than his dream of prolonging through years a humanly improbably condition. Happiness as a husband and father has always been his scarcely whispered prayer, his dearest secret hope, toward which all his idealism yearns. That numerous other and very potent motives enter into men’s hearts is not in the least overlooked; it is only claimed that to the average man his future marriage is little more than a very beautiful dream.

But the wife who insists childishly upon treating marriage, either in theory or practice, as a beautiful dream, is forgetful of how very little is left of earnest life-work for a woman if she repudiates the dignified duty of wedlock placed upon her shoulders. Why should she not be taught the plain fact that no other work really important to the world has ever been done by a woman since “the morning of the world”? Only as a woman, with all that that entails upon her, is she alone, preëminent, unapproachable. And yet apparently her whole energy is to-day bent upon dethroning herself!

Men, at this stage of civilization, are not only the world’s workers, breadwinners, home-builders, fighters, supporters of all civic duties, — they are also the world’s idealists. All else is mere quibbling!

Whatever the future may develop, up to the present time no great religion, deserving the name, has ever been founded by a woman; no vital discovery in science ever made by her; no important system of philosophy; no code of laws either formulated or administered. Nor along the supposedly more feminine lines of human development has, as yet, any really preëminent work come from her. Upon literature, music, sculpture, painting, women have as yet made very few enduring marks. As to her recent small successes as self-support, however to be commended and encouraged, they do not lead to any big end outside of herself or her immediate surroundings; her purposes are personal and ephemeral.

The poets are responsible for much of the present feminine megalomania, but modern scientists are effectively reducing the swelling, as it were; which may lead to a generally healthier social condition all around the family circle. In estimating the secondary differences between men and women, Havelock Ellis’s interesting summary of what recent scientific research has so far accomplished states several facts that are markedly contrary to the general drift of unscientific opinion: —

“As regards the various senses … the balance of advantage on the side of women is less emphatically on their side than popular notions would have led us to expect. The popular belief is really founded on the confusion of two totally distinct nervous qualities: sensibility and irritability—or as it is perhaps better called, affectability; women having greater irritability, men deeper sensibility.”

Galton, the pioneer in accurate study of the sensory differences between man and woman, remarks, “I found as a rule that men have more delicate powers of discrimination than women, and the business experience of life seems to confirm this.”

Two of Ellis’s more homely illustrations tend to support this view: “It is worthy of note that pianoforte tuners are usually men;” and, “men have a monopoly of the higher walks of culinary art; women are not employed in such occupations as tea-tasting, which requires specially delicate discrimination; they are rarely good connoisseurs of wine; and while gourmands are common, the more refined expression gourmet does not even possess a feminine form.”

The few foregoing suggestions are offered in refutation of the present false and demoralizing deification of women, especially in this country, an idolatry of which we as a people are so inordinately proud. One of the evil effects of this attitude is shown in the intolerance and selfishness of young wives, which is largely responsible for the scandalous slackening of marriage ties in the United States. Every stranger coming within our gates is amazed at the social domination of the female in our country, the subordination to her and her wishes of the hard-working, self-effacing male.

An extreme antithesis to this American woman-worship is of course to be found in England; and a picture comes to mind full of grim humor—a typical John Bull, deep magenta complexion, Pickwickian in figure, as sure of himself as the sun itself, the entirely joyless parent of four grown daughters. They stood in line before the counter in a silk shop in Italy. Four lengths of the same dull elderly shade of purple were measured off and paid for by the Great Briton; the four Britonesses stood helpless, voiceless, exchanging sly glances of bitter disappointment and disgust. They were asked no questions, hence they were as dumb as the beasts of the field. Once papa remarked with resounding complacence, —

“A good wearing shade, my dears.”

“Oh yes, papa!” returned the spiritless chorus.

Papa gave each one her bundle, whereupon she said, “Thank you, papa!” and then he led the way pompously, and the five filed out, the narrow, broken-hearted shoulders of the girls drooping more than ever. The big brilliant eyes of the Italian clerk met those of the writer, an international smile was exchanged, and he exploded into two words: —

“Barbare! Sauvage!”

But that some middle ground between these poor abject English girls and our equally abject American fathers and husbands may be discovered, is not despaired of in this age of many and sudden changes.

It is contended (not without a decent show of timidity!) that in marriage, more often than not, the man is the idealist, however far he himself falls short of his own standards. Witness his inevitable dislike for and impatience of the whole barbaric display of a public wedding—that senseless whirl of grossly material things in which women revel. “What has it all to do with you, and our love, our happiness?” What wife has not stored away somewhere in her memory words like these, pleaded in a lover’s voice? And the chances are that the woman called him selfish, and swore prettily that she reveled in “such vile matter,” so she be “fairly bound.”

The average wife who managed to live, after a marriage for love, up to the average husband’s ideal of her before marriage, will, it is safe to say, reach her highest spiritual development. She need not aspire to any higher goal than the poor man’s own illusions! The real trouble is that they are rather likely to prove uncomfortably exalted.

In fact, to preserve his ideal of her—just the average busy man—is really her life-work. Hers, somehow, by hook or by crook, to save out of the inevitable strife of those early days of character-reconstruction, at least a workable armistice; some sort of a broad friendship which leaves room for human frailties; to cultivate a habit of reasonable concession; a motherly wish to be a source of harmony to her husband; and an honest determination to arrest the disease of “incompatibility” (latent always) in its incipiency, long years before it reaches the stage of the knife; to rise a little above the primitive frankness of a certain colored wife who admitted nonchalantly, — “O yes, I done left ’im!” “Wha’ for you done left ’im?” she was asked. “Oh, I jes’ natch’ully los’ all taste fo’ ’im!” which explanation, crude as it is, would cover the cause of an astonishing number of divorces in this year of grace 1907.

II. Growth of Individualism

“My sweet, my own—Myself!”

The rock upon which most of the flower-bedecked marriage barges go to pieces is the latter-day cult of individualism; the worship of the brazen calf of Self.

It is admittedly not easy to remember that our lives are only important as integral parts of a big social system. Especially difficult is it for a woman to be made to realize this, because her whole life hitherto has been generally an experiment in individualism; whereas a man’s, since the first primitive times, has become more and more an experiment in communism. The inborn rampant ego in every man has found its wholesome outlet in hard work, generally community-work, which further keeps down his egoism; whereas the devouring ego in the “new woman” is as yet largely a useless, uneasy factor, vouchsafing her very little more peace than it does those in her immediate surcharged vicinity.

Nowadays she receives almost a man’s mental and muscular equipment in school or college, and then at the age of twenty she stops dead short and faces a world of—negatives! No exigent duties, no imperative work, no manner of expending normally her highly-developed, hungry energies. That they turn back upon her and devour her is not to be wondered at. One is reminded of that irresistible characterization: “Alarm-clock women that buzz for a little and then run down.”

And so it comes to pass that this highly-trained, well-equipped (and also ill-equipped) feminine ego faces wifehood—the one and only subject about which she is persistently kept in the dark. And from the outset she fails to realize, never having been taught it, that what she then faces is not a brilliant presentation at the Court of Love, not a dream of ecstasy and triumph, not even a lucky and comfortable life-billet—she is facing her work at last! her difficult, often intensely disagreeable and dangerous, life-task. And her salary of love will sometimes be only partly paid, sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes not at all—very rarely overpaid—by either her husband or her children. One of the precise facts that young women should be taught, as they are taught physical geography, is that men, all men, have their high and low emotional tides, and a good wife is the immovable shore to her husband’s restless life.

It would appear that the indiscriminate and undigested education of the female masses and classes is depriving us Americans of good servants and of good wives at once. They are all “above their station!”

The really small percentage of unmarried women who have the blessing of paid work of any sort in their lives (as an absolute necessity against starvation) are of the elect, and of course know it not! The rest must wait for matrimony, if modest; struggle for it, if not. And then all this unexpended feminine egoism, joined with unexpended physical energy, demands from the normally expended masculine egoism far more of everything than he is at all prepared to give, far more than she has any just claim to demand. More of his love, more admiration, more time, more money—she wants more of them all to satisfy her recently discovered Self. Ask the first girl of twenty who presents herself, let her be the average badly educated, restless, pampered, passionate, but shallow-natured maiden of the day, — superb in physique, meagre in sentiment, — and note her answer as to what she demands (not hopes for!) of her probable husband, quite irrespective of what he may get in return.

He must be a god physically (that seems to be the modern American girl’s sine qua non); he must have wealth, brains, education, position, a perfect temper, and a limitless capacity to adore her, kneeling. And he, poor soul, after the first exigent mood, which soon passes, wants very little more than peace and a place to smoke unmolested; combined preferably with a guaranteed blindness to his general faults and particular fads. A recent public vote on this subject actually resulted in a stronger poll for “sweet temper” than for any other masculine prerequisite in a wife.

In a broader aspect American women are as a whole pampered and worshiped out of all reason, a condition which is sometimes found in young civilizations. In even a brief comparison with the same class in other countries, it will be found that our women as a whole do not deserve it. In France the proportion of wage-earning women is thirty-four per cent of the wage-earning population; in the United States it is only seventeen per cent. In France the working-women form eighteen per cent of the population, compared with six per cent in this country. Further, they do not render the conscientious careful personal domestic service of the German women; nor the financial support of French wives, and intelligent helpfulness in commercial as well as domestic affairs. How many American husbands could seriously advise with their wives on the subject of business and expect even comprehension, let alone sound business advice? An astonishing number of French women of all classes are in commercial matters the gifted “silent partners” of their husbands, however loquacious in social doings. The painstaking thrift of European women has no parallel in this country; nor the painstaking cleanliness that is a revelation to American eyes accustomed to the general “slouch” from one hand of the United States to another. It has been said of the much-maligned Italians that only among the Chinese can be found a parallel to their almost tragic economies. Half of Italy could live on what New York City alone throws away in a year. In England too, every intelligent woman understands politics, would be ashamed not fully to comprehend the measures before Parliament; and during election times she works with the energy of a ward politician for the man or idea that has won the right to her loyalty. Then, too, she lives more in other people’s lives than we do. Each woman feels her obligation to give much of her energy to an endless detail of philanthropic work in her immediate neighborhood.

On the other hand very much more philanthropic work is done in this country, outside of the churches, than in England, but it is managed on a broader, less personal basis. In fact, it is left to twenty clear-headed, business-like women to do the work which is divided among two thousand of her English sisters. This is precisely what the writer wishes to prove, — the general idleness and self-centredness of the average American woman, and her unproved claim to be worshiped.

One very salient difference strikes the American traveler in walking before noon about any of, say, four European cities, London, Paris, Berlin, or Vienna. It may be summed up in the exclamation, “Why, where are the women?” An Italian friend fighting his way along Washington Street in Boston, walking, not on the sidewalk, which was a solid immovable congestion of femininity, but on the cobblestones of the narrow street, was heard to gasp, “The Public is here a common noun of the feminine gender!” He on his side wondered where the men were. The whole world of women in the city, and from its suburbs, apparently, betakes itself to the shops every day, between nine o’clock and twelve. Shops are stifling, street cars jammed, sidewalks impassable. This is more or less true of shopping districts in all cities all over the United States.

This phenomenon represents several truths: we are prosperous; our men never “shop;” and as a people our women dress far beyond their incomes, the men remaining singularly negligent in their dress. Our sense of proportion in money expenditures has not yet properly developed; that only comes in a more advanced stage of civilization.

On a morning walk an English woman said to the writer, in one of our western cities especially given over to the national passion for dress, “Any countrywoman of mine dressed as that woman is, or that, or that, would be in her carriage. She would return to a substantial home, the door would be opened by a man in livery, every item of her environment would match the elegance of those furs, that frightfully expensive hat, that very smart broadcloth walking suit. Whereas the chances are (you see I’ve been keeping my eyes open!) that she came in a street-car, and will go home in one; she lives either in tiny lodgings, — I beg your pardon, flat! — and will open her front door with a pass-key; or else she lives in one of the suburban towns, in a very trumpery sort of little house, which does not in the least match those furs nor that hat! And a slovenly ‘slavery’ attends the door when she rings for admittance—”

“Or what is much more likely, her daughter or her mother,” added the American.

The main cause of this daily submergence of our streets by the feminine world is not mere vanity, for the industrious, home-staying French women have that quality to an even greater and much more insidious degree. It seems to be a combination of excessive energy and sheer idleness of purpose, and the national vice of extravagance.

The writer has taken the time and pains to follow, more than once, several typical American women on a typical morning shopping tour, and has discovered the anomaly that the longer they take to shop, the less they actually buy! And these idlers are not the well-dressed prosperous women, — they are the poorly clad, pale and irritable from fatigue. From counter to counter they go, fingering, pricing, commenting, passing on, hour after hour. Sometimes an ice-cream soda in the basement is their only lunch, followed by a complete rearrangement of hair in the “Ladies Parlor;” then a slow stroll through the “Art Department,” and they remark casually to any one who will listen, “Well, I guess it’s about time to go home!” One involuntarily wonders about that “home”! These facts are true of tens of thousands of our women in every city in the Union; and much travel has failed to discover its exact equivalent anywhere else in the world.

These fact mean a big economic loss somewhere in our development. All the writer cares to claim is that our women as a whole are spoiled, extremely idle, and curiously undeserving of the maudlin worship that they demand from our hard-working men.

That the higher-class women waste their time in equal measure is still more easy of proof. They crowd the smarter shops, bent on the American worship of “Everything Ready-made;” matinées are packed with solidly feminine audiences. The hair-dressers’, the manicurists’, the cafés at lunch-time, are full to overflowing with women—extravagant, idle, self-centred. Moreover, the always small class of so-called society women, per se, works harder and during longer hours in their pursuit of pleasure than any other women in our country. They must perforce live by some sort of regulation and economy of energy to remain in the running at all.

Of course there are capable, earnest, industrious specimens of beautiful womanhood in every city, town, or village in the land, who make not only good wives and mothers, but who are leaders in philanthropic work, and often also retain their social preëminence by a careful apportioning of their time and vitality. These exceptions serve to emphasize the unworthiness of the woman who strives but to

                    live and breathe and die
A rose-fed pig in an aesthetic sty!

She has not merged her fate with her husband’s if married, nor with her father’s if not; she does not properly supplement their lives, she is striving for a detached profitless individuality. I emphasize this, for the fact that men are selfish, and vicious, and “desperately wicked,” has been so thoroughly exploited, that the preference given to a less acknowledged economic situation may perhaps be pardoned.


“Wifehood is thought great in India in proportion to its giving, not receiving.” – Sister Nevedita.

In India an affection which asks for an equal return, so many heartbeats for a like number, is called “shop-keeping.” Among us Westerners this Eastern exalted faculty of giving affection and not looking for any equable exchange of commodities, has degenerated into a sort of passion for sentimental bargains!

Unfortunately, there are no genuine psychic bargains thrown out on life’s counter. The really good spiritual things cost the most, as do the material things. Success in any undertaking, even marriage, is always both shy and obstinate, and hides behind quite a thorny hedge of persistence, hard work, unselfishness, and above all, patience, a quality, now gone out of fashion, which made of our grandmothers civilizing centres of peace and harmony; for they were content to use slow curative measures to mend their matrimonial ailments, and the “knife” was looked upon with horror. One finds so often in the women of that generation a strange quiet as of wisdom long digested; a deep abiding strength; an aloofness of personality that makes for dignity; sweet old faces that bear the marks of “love’s grandeur.” What is there to-day in all this fret and fuss and fury of feminine living, that compares with the power for good of these wonderful old women, fast disappearing?

We, of our day, on the contrary, hear much of such things as these: “Out upon your patience! If patience had not gone out of us women, we should still be sold in the market-places! From it were welded our chains, and the whole ignominy of the past.”

There is really only one serious objection to this sort of talk—it is not true. The abolition of all forms of slavery that the world has ever seen began in some man’s brain, working from above down, not from beneath up! No great united action of women has led to their gradual emancipation. Big changes such as that have always been born in some man’s big soul, an entirely impersonal masculine ideality working slowly toward the general good.

Girl are capable of great patience, energy, and persistence in the acquisition of education or what are known as accomplishments. And later on in life, if women, bent on social success, were as easily discouraged, as exacting, as irritable in the accomplishment of that task, as they often are in the undertaking of marriage, the list of the world’s successful salons would indeed be a brief one. There is no doubt that the women of the day have the qualities that would make for success, even in marriage, if they elected to expend them in these commonplace ways.

But the present excessive education of young women, and excessive physical coddling (the gymnastics, breathing exercises, public and private physical culture, the masseurs, the manicurists, the shampooers) have produced a curious anomalous hybrid: a cross between a magnificent, rather unmannerly boy, and a spoiled, exacting, demi-mondaine, who sincerely loves in this world herself alone. Thus quite a new relationship between the sexes has arisen, a slipshod unchivalrous companionship, which before marriage they nominate “good form,” but which after marriage they illogically discover to be cause for tears or for temper.

Two winters ago an old-fashioned woman who had lived in many lands chaperoned a party of well-bred, decidedly “smart’ American young people, bent upon examining into some of the larger settlement workings of New York City. During a long evening entailing much walking and crossing of crowded streets, the girls strode along as detached and independent as if it were broad daylight, and they quite friendless. They crossed the bustling avenues, climbed in and out of cars, and never one masculine hand raised to help, nor voice to guide. The effect of such almost brutal discourtesy was startling indeed to the older woman, who had for years been out of touch with Young America. One generation had brought this painful change about. Whose new ideal of sex relation was this? Before the evening was over illumination came.

“Will you be good enough to give me your hand as I get out of the car? I’m accustomed to it,” final said the woman of a past generation in a decidedly unamiable tone. The young man’s hand went out willingly at the next stop, and in a low voice he said, with a sigh and a smile, —

“It’s a comfort to be with a woman once more who wants such a thing! I hope you’ll pardon me, but it’s not our fault. The girls snub us, you know, and say it’s the worst possible form, and all that; and yet the fellows would all like to do little things like that for women—I know I should! It seems as if the girls were snubbing one of our most decent instincts, don’t you know—but—well, you see how it is! My mother always taught me that manners were but morals wearing their best bonnets and gowns.”

Is it to be wondered at that the indefinable charm, the sacredness and mystery of womanhood are fast passing away from among us? When women themselves see the standard of conduct lower down; when they consider it a gaucherie to blush, shyness a laughable anachronism, sentiment “sickening nonsense,” courtesy “bad form,” is it cause for wonder that a few months after marriage a girl so often finds her husband disillusioned and in an ugly reactionary mood? Finding also herself stung into a fury of disappointment and resentment at his want of that same instinctive tenderness and courtesy which she had repulsed before marriage, and which now, when it is too late, she not only longs for, but demands!

“If women thought less of their own souls and more about men’s tempers, marriage wouldn’t be what it is,” wrote a recent feminine philosopher. There are several facts about the masculine character of which women will do well to realize the immutability. It makes not one particle of difference what the wife expects or demands in marriage, whether she gives freely or begrudgingly, if for any reason whatsoever a man does not find his home happy, — or at least peaceful, — whether it be her fault or his, — the chances are that he will close his lips, put on his hat, and go with his brutal way—elsewhere! He may seek distraction among other men, in a frenzy of work or pleasure—and he may not.

Of one thing the young wife may be sure, that a man has neither the instinct nor the time to coddle his disappointments in marriage—he puts on his hat! This is his universal, silent, unlabeled argument, that the happiness of that home is not his business, but hers. If the fault is his, the brute expects patience; if it’s hers, he expects self-control. If neither is forthcoming—well, that is her lookout! He wanted to be happy, he expected it, or else he would not have married her.

Under all of this selfish shunting of the responsibility of home-happiness on to the woman’s shoulders, lies a deep justifying truth, — it is her business, —and the fact that some of nature’s laws, such as gravitation, are at times extremely irritating, does not, however, make them inoperative.

Let the fault be his or hers, the main source of trouble lies in the undue development of youthful individualism. That the fault is generally hers, is of course not for a moment implied; but as the great French pessimist, in a mild mood, suggests, “Quarrels would not last long if the fault was only on one side.”

On his side, nine times out of ten in this country, a man marries for love. Of course he idealizes her, and is absolutely sure that she is going to make him happy. Surely the greatest source of peril to the young wife lies in the distorted vision of her bridegroom’s eyes, blinded by a passion for perfection! It would indeed be heaven if love’s lens were after all the only just one, instead of being generally the most untrue!

The man’s motives, if selfish, are generally as pure as are consistent with faulty humanity. At least he considers them a fair basis for a happy marriage; and he also thinks that, if he stays true and steadfast and sober, and clothes and feeds his wife, he has done his part. That he wants to continue loving her and being beloved, wants happiness, goes without saying; was it not nominated in the bond?

He is perfectly amazed when some strange, obscure element suddenly intrudes and turns his, as well as her, melody into discord; blackens his, as well as her, ideal. He is helpless, bewildered, frantic,

Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I!

On the young wife’s part, she has been brought up in ignorance of a man’s make-up, of his latent brutalities in which is rooted his very strength to bear the burdens of life. Unprepared, undisciplined, uncounseled, impatient of a less thing than godhood itself, she often refuses even to try to adjust the yoke to her inexperienced shoulders, and more and more often throws it off, glorying in the assertion of her “persistent self.” She has not been told that perfection does not exist; that the yoke of imperfection is laid on every pair of shoulders, his as well as hers; that no wife celebrates her golden wedding, smiling and content under her gray hair, who has not her secret history of struggle, bitter disappointment, loneliness, jealousy, physical and mental agony. It is safe to say that she also did not marry an angel, for the very simple reason that there are none—male or female—in the whole wide world. But she was blessed with that “passion of great hearts,” patience, and she has been victorious in the battle of life, — the battle that we are all fighting, every one; not this weeping wife here, nor that one there, nursing her wrath.

“It is better to face the fact, and know, when you marry, that you take into your life a creature of equal, if of unlike, frailties, whose weak human heart beats no more tunefully than your own.” The engineer of a train must have learned well his business before he is allowed to assume the responsibility of the levers. How much knowledge of the even more complicated physical and moral levers of marriage do the average young people bring to bear upon their life problem?

Happily many of the colleges for women have commenced to recognize the wisdom of introducing the study of the family, and the statistics of sociology. It would seem that such a chair should be filled by a woman holding the degree of motherhood and wifehood, whatever else she may have picked up of human knowledge. And even then, with all that undoubtedly could be taught our young women along these lines, it is but a preparation; there is the test ahead of them all, when they will need the wisdom that only life itself can slowly and painfully teach.

Somewhere before the benediction of the marriage ceremony might well be inserted Amiel’s beautifully cadenced words to women facing their great life-work: “Never to tire, never grow cold; to be patient, sympathetic, tender; to look for the budding flower and the opening heart; to hope always; like God to love always, — this is duty.”