Chapter 69

  1. Husband and Wife

“O let us walk the world, so that our love

Burns like a blessed beacon, beautiful,

Upon the walls of life’s surrounding dark.”

— Massey.

The true marriage is the result of years of mutual endeavor to please, and comes of patient efforts to learn each other’s disposition and taste. This can be done by all who cherish right views of the duties and pleasures of the marriage relation.

You have but one life to live, and no amount of money or influence or fame can pay you for a life of unhappiness. You can not afford to quarrel with one another. You can not afford to cherish a single thought, to harbor a single desire, to gratify a single passion, nor indulge a single selfish feeling, that will tend to make this union any thing but a source of happiness to you. So it becomes you at starting to have a perfect understanding with one another. It becomes you to resolve that you will be happy together at any rate, or that if you suffer it shall be from the same cause and in perfect sympathy. You are not to let any human being step between you under any circumstances.

Human character, by a wise provision of Providence, is infinitely varied, and there are not two individuals in existence so entirely alike in their tastes, habits of thought, and natural aptitude that they can keep step with one another over all the rough places in the journey of life. There must be a leaning to one another. The compromise can not be all on one side. You can be happy together if you will, but the agreement to be happy must be mutual. Draw your souls closer and closer together from year to year. Get all obstacles out of the way. Just as soon as one arises attend to it, and get rid of it. At last they will all disappear. You will have become wonted to one another’s habits and frames of mind and peculiarities of disposition, and love, respect, and charity will take care of the rest.

If you observe faults in your companion keep them to yourself. What right have you, who should be the very one to kindly conceal faults, to inform others of their presence? Neither father nor mother, neither brother nor sister, have any right to be informed of the secrets of your domestic life. A husband and wife have no business to tell one another’s faults to any body but themselves. They can not do it without shame. Their grievances are to be settled in private between themselves, and in all public places and among friends they are to preserve towards one another that nice consideration and entire respectfulness which their relations enjoin. With a true wife the husband’s faults should be secret. A wife forgets when she condescends to that refuge of weakness, a female confidant. A wife’s bosom should be the tomb of her husband’s failings, and his character far more valuable in her estimation than life.

Happiness between husband and wife can only be secured by that constant tenderness and care of the parties for each other which are based upon warm and demonstrative love. The heart demands that the man shall not sit silent, reticent, and self-absorbed in the midst of his family. The wife who forgets to provide for her husband’s tastes and wishes renders her home undesirable for him. In a word, ever-present and ever-demonstrative gentleness must reign, or else the heart starves.

There is propriety in all things, and though public displays of affection, familiarity of touch, and half-concealed caresses are always distasteful to men and women of sense, yet love is of such a nature that you must give it expression or it languishes. There are husbands so cold and formal that they have no kiss or caress for the wives whom they really love. There are wives to whom a single demonstration that shall tell to their hearts how inexpressibly pleasant their faces and their society are, and how fondly they are loved, would be better than untold gold.

The affection that should link together man and wife is a far holier and more enduring passion than the, enthusiasm of young love. It may want its gorgeousness or its imaginative character, but it is far richer in its attributes. It should not call for such daily proofs of existence as is demanded of the lover, but it is human to wish for the freshness of morning to continue far into the day and evening. True, it is vain to expect this, but humanity continually wishes for what can not be; and, though the glow and sparkle of the morning of love will fade away, yet it should be as fades the bewitching charm of morning into the quiet splendor of the Summer day; and, though recognizing that exhibitions of tenderness so appropriate for the morning of life are out of place in its noon, yet, as long as it is human to love, so long are exhibitions of it, quiet though they may be, gratifying to the one beloved.

We exhort you who are a husband to love your wife even as you love yourself. Continue through life the same manly tenderness that in youth gained her affections. Reflect that though her bodily charms may not now be so great as then, yet that habit and a thousand acts of kindness have strengthened your mutual friendship. Devote yourself to her, and after the hours of business let the pleasures which you most highly prize be found in her society. The true wife wishes to feel sure that she is precious to her husband—not useful, not valuable, not convenient simply, but that she is dear to him; let her be the recipient of his polite and hearty attentions; let her notice that her cares and loves are noticed, appreciated, and returned, her opinions asked, her approval sought, and her judgment respected; in short, let her only be loved, honored, and cherished in fulfillment of the marriage vow, and she will be to her husband a well-spring of pleasure.

We exhort you who are wife to be gentle and considerate to your husband. Let the influence which you possess over him arise from the mildness of your manner and the discretion of your conduct. Whilst you are careful to adorn your person with new and clean apparel—for no woman can long preserve affections if she is negligent on this point—be still more attentive in ornamenting your mind with meekness and peace, with cheerfulness and good humor. Lighten the cares and chase away the vexations to which he is inevitably exposed in his commerce with the world by rendering, as far as is in your power, his home pleasant. Keep at home. Let your employment and pleasures be domestic.

What a man desires in a wife is her companionship, sympathy, and love. The way of life has many dreary places in it, and man needs a companion to go with him. A man is sometimes overtaken by misfortune; he meets with failure and defeat, trials and temptation beset him, and he needs one to stand by and sympathize. All through life, through storms and through sunshine, conflicts and victory, man needs a woman’s love. Let him think upon his duty in return for this love. You who have taken a wife from a happy home of kindred hearts and kind companionship, have you done what you could to make amends for the loss of those friends and companions? Remember what your wife was when you took her, not from compulsion, but from your own choice—a choice based on what you then considered her superiority to all others. She was young—perhaps the idol of her happy home; she was as gay and blithe as the lark, and the brothers and sisters at her father’s cherished her as an object of endearment. Yet she left all to join her destiny with yours—to make your home happy, and to do all that womanly ingenuity could do to meet your wishes, and to lighten the burdens which might press upon you.

Consult the tastes and disposition of your husband, and endeavor to give him high and noble thoughts, lofty aims, and temporal comforts. Let the husband see that you really have a strong desire to make him happy, and to retain the warmest place in his respect, his admiration, and his affection. Enter into all his plans with interest. Sweeten all his, troubles with your sympathy. Make him feel that there is one ear always open to the revelation of his experiences, that there is one heart that never misconstrues him, that there is one refuge for him in all circumstances, and that in all weariness of body and soul there is one warm pillow for his head, beneath which a heart is beating with the same unvarying truth and affection, through all gladness and sadness, as the faithful chronometer suffers no perturbation of its rhythm, whether in storm or shine.

, In, pager

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