The Eugenic Marriage
A Personal Guide to the New Science of Better Living and Better Babies
By W. GRANT HAGUE, M.D.
College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia University), New York; Member of County Medical Society, and of the American Medical Association
In Four Volumes
New York THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY 1916
Copyright, 1913, by W. GRANT HAGUE
Copyright, 1914, by W. GRANT HAGUE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE FORMATIVE PERIOD
The best age at which to marry—Incompatibility of temperament—A happy marriage need not be a successful one—The evils of early marriage—The wedding night, its medical aspect—The honeymoon—When marital relations are painful—Times when marital relations should be suspended—The first weeks and months of wifehood—The formative period—A true marriage—A wife's true position in the household—Only 5% of happy marriages—Period of adaptation—Differences of opinion—Differences of principle—The attainment of success—Arguing trifles—You must know what you want—The right kind of wife—Contributing to her husband's efficiency—What are the requisites of efficiency—Good health—Thoroughly cooked meals—Rest at night—Having a system—Enough exercise—Freedom from worry—Do your part—The first quarrel—Fault finding—The husband's efficiency depends upon the wife—Work must be interesting—The wife's part ... PAGE 331
ADVICE TO YOUNG WIVES
HOW TO ACHIEVE
What the young wife owes to herself—Why was I born—What are the personal qualities necessary to success—What are the personal qualities necessary to happiness—Self-control—What is a thought—The evil habit of hasty judgment—The bad thought habit—Training the mind—"Go about it in the right way"—Be sure your husband's friends are your friends—Be a good fellow—Two kinds of people in the world—Everything depends upon what we do with our mind—The most popular woman—The gift of flattery—Choosing your friends—True friendship expects and demands nothing—True friendship is necessary—"By your friends shall ye be known"—Making resolves—The formula of success—When fortune knocks. ... PAGE 357
The study habit—The germ of self-culture—Millions of tiny cells in our brain—The economic value of the study habit—Two ways of gaining knowledge—Happiness in the company of those striving for higher ideals—A young wife's incentive to self-culture—The difference between moral and mental disloyalty—The study habit creates its own interest—Nosophobia, or the dread of disease—"Keep still and be well" ... PAGE 375
A good housekeeper and home-maker—What constitutes a good housekeeper—Preparation and selection of meals—Washing dishes—Pots and pans—Dusting and cleaning—Work cheerfully and be thorough—Don't be a dust chaser—Don't get the anti-sunshine habit—Air your rooms—The ideal home—The medical essentials of a good meal—What makes the home—Working for something—The average housewife's existence is slavery—What shall we work for—Making ends meet—Rest and recreation—Try a nap—Get enough sleep at night—Go out of doors—Take a vacation now and then—Life insurance—Owning a home—The cheerful wife and mother—The indifferent wife and mother—Husband and wife ... PAGE 389
HOW WE CATCH DISEASE
How we catch disease—How germs enter the lungs—How germs work in the body—The function of the white blood cell—How an abscess is formed—The evil habit of spitting in public places—Sunlight and germs—Why it is necessary to open windows—Facts about tuberculosis—The tendency to disease—The best treatment for tuberculosis—Consumption is a preventable and a curable disease—When delay is dangerous—What to eat and wear in hot weather—Scientific dressing—Drink plenty of water—What to drink when traveling ... PAGE 409
DISEASES OF WOMEN
DISEASES OF WOMEN
Diseases of women—The beginning of female disease—Ailing women are inefficient—as home-makers, as wife, as mother—Few ailing women become pregnant—The chief cause of female disease—The existence of the average mother—Female diseases are avoidable—The story of the wife—Women who don't want children—Abuse of the procreative function—What the woman with female disease should do—Cancer in women—Cancer of the breast—Cancer of the womb—What every woman should know about cancer—Change of life—The menopause—The climacteric—The average age at which the change of life occurs—Symptoms of the change of life—Importance of a correct diagnosis—Danger signals of the change of life—Conduct during the change of life ... PAGE 433
THE PATENT MEDICINE EVIL
THE PATENT MEDICINE EVIL
What mothers should know about the patent medicine evil—Tonics—Used by temperance people because it could "stimulate"—Stomach Bitters—Blood Bitters—Sarsaparilla—Celery Compound—Malt Whisky—Headache remedies—Pain Powders—Anti-headache—Headache Powders—Soothing syrups—Baby Friend—Catarrh powders—Kidney Pills—Expectorant—Cough syrup—Lithia Water—Health, wealth and happiness for a dollar a bottle—New Discovery for Consumption—Consumption Cure—Cancer cures—Pills for Pale People—Elixir of Life ... PAGE 451
THE PATENT MEDICINE EVIL (continued)
The —— Consumption Cure—Personals to Consumptives—Nature's Creation—Female weakness cures—Various compounds and malt whiskies ... PAGE 467
THE PATENT MEDICINE EVIL (continued)
How patent medicine firms and quacks dispose of the confidential letters sent to them. Patent medicine concerns and letter brokers—The patent medicine conspiracy against the freedom of the press—How the patent medicine trust crushes honest effort ... PAGE 481
THE PATENT MEDICINE EVIL (continued)
The patent medicine evil and the duty of the mothers of the race—"Blood money"—The people must be the reformers—Mothers' resolutions ... PAGE 489
"The achievement of an object is dependent upon our determination. Effort is a matter of will. Failure is a product of misdirected determination."
THE FORMATIVE PERIOD
The Best Age at Which to Marry—Incompatibility of Temperament—A Happy Marriage Need Not Be a Successful One—The Evils of Early Marriage—The Wedding Night, its Medical Aspect—The Honeymoon—When Marital Relations are Painful—Times when Marital Relations Should be Suspended—The First Weeks and Months of Wifehood—The Formative Period—A True Marriage—A Wife's True Position in the Household—Only Five Per Cent. of Happy Marriages—Period of Adaptation—Differences of Opinion—Differences of Principle—The Attainment of Success—Arguing Trifles—You Must Know What You Want—The Right Kind of Wife—Contributing to Her Husband's Efficiency—What Are the Requisites of Efficiency—Good Health—Thoroughly Cooked Meals—Rest at Night—Having a System—Enough Exercise—Freedom from Worry—Do Your Part—The First Quarrel—Fault Finding—The Husband's Efficiency Depends Upon the Wife—Work Must be Interesting—The Wife's Part.
THE BEST AGE AT WHICH TO MARRY
In order to determine the best age at which to marry, we must be guided by certain fixed standards. We must find out from statistics the average age of the parents of the best babies. We must determine and analyse the qualifications of what constitutes the "best" babies, according to the eugenic ideal. We should give heed to the fixity of temperamental characteristics in order to determine their adaptability to conditions that prevail at certain ages. We should select an age in advance of the period at which science has determined individuals to have outlived any hereditary tendencies.
We have abundant proof that the best babies are born of parents between the twenty-third and the twenty-sixth years. We know also that the age which responds, with the fullest degree of plasticity, to temperamental characteristics, is in the early twenties. We know, likewise, that inherited tendencies may be said to have been outlived at or about the twenty-second year. The ideal marrying age, therefore, is, for both male and female, approximately the twenty-third year.
The physical, mental and moral development of both men and women, at this period, evidence a high degree of adaptability, and are responsive to the institution of marriage. Their hereditary traits, if any previously existed, assume a dormant form at this age. They have cultivated the temperamental qualities which they will retain, with few modifications, throughout life. On the other hand, their dispositions are responsive to reason, and are capable of readjustment. Their temperamental characteristics are plastic, and under favorable conditions it is possible for both to evidence a degree of sympathy and toleration that bespeaks future harmony and success. No marriage can result in mutual happiness and success if one of the participants is temperamentally incapable of changing his or her convictions. One of the fundamental essentials to peace in the home is the quality of adaptation to circumstances, and no other virtue will be called into existence oftener than this quality. At this age, a man is eager to contribute to the contentment and happiness of his partner, even if it is necessary to sacrifice his own whims and opinions, and a woman, at this period, is temperamentally so constituted that she will respond to the same impulses.
Incompatibility of temperament simply implies that two individuals are so constituted that they cannot, or will not, adapt themselves to the temperamental characteristics of each other. This condition is one of the most prolific causes of unfortunate marriages. Age has a great deal to do with this situation. Men over thirty have unconsciously developed habits of judgment and are too set in their opinions and ways to accommodate themselves easily, or without friction, to the temperamental differences that will undoubtedly exist in their wives. The spirit of adaptation, which is a characteristic of younger years, is lacking, and a mental readjustment is scarcely to be expected. We, therefore, frequently observe in the marriage relations of certain individuals a spirit of friendship existing rather than that of companionship which should be the quality that binds them together. Statistics prove that "affinities" creep into the lives of those who marry early, or in those who marry after thirty. This form of domestic infelicity may be rightly regarded as a product of "incompatibility of temperament."
A happy marriage need not be a successful one. Some couples attain happiness through sorrow, grief, and failure. The so-called happy marriage, like happiness itself, is only a myth, made up of anticipation and memory. You have only to look into the calm and wrinkled faces of old women, and talk to them to discover that the outcome of unselfishness and abnegation forms the nearest approach to happiness in married life or out of it. It is the bearing of the burdens of life that constitutes its happiness.
THE EVILS OF EARLY MARRIAGE.—No woman has the vitality to stand the strain of maternity before the twenty-third year. If a girl marries at eighteen years of age she gives the world children totally unfit to struggle with its problems. At about twenty-two years she may give one child of value to the world, but all others following will be increasingly unfit. In early marriages children are apt to come too frequently, and this is one cause of infant mortality. Statistics show that children born with an interval between them of only one year have a mortality of one hundred per cent, higher rating than those born with an interval of two years. And if these children are the progeny of very young mothers the percentage is even greater. The percentage of children who are malformed and idiotic is greater among those born of too young parents. It has been shown that the child can only inherit what the parents possess. If the parents are not of an age when all the powers are at their highest, the child is robbed of just this amount of growth and force lacking; no amount of education or training can supply this loss.
There is another feature of early marriages that should receive serious consideration. A girl of eighteen or twenty has not reached that period of growth where certain inherited tendencies will show. If she has inherited a predisposition to consumption she may outgrow this period provided she is permitted to reach her full growth without subjecting her constitution to any strenuous physical or mental strain. If, however, this girl marries and becomes a mother, the incident effect upon her health will most likely weaken her to the extent of bringing to the surface the inherited tendency. Many mothers succumb to just such conditions, where had they remained single until a later period they could have assumed the responsibility of maternity without any evil consequences.
The idea that by an early marriage a woman can train and change the inborn characteristics of her husband is a mistake. Few women can reform a husband after marriage. If she cannot reform him before marriage she will never do it afterward. These inborn traits will have their way despite anything she may be able to do to change them—only the man himself can control and govern them. During the period of this temperamental transformation the function of parenthood should not be exercised. Only when a man's character is fully matured should he be permitted to transfer it to another generation.
The idea has been advanced that early marriages will tend to preserve youth from sowing wild oats. The woman who is the victim of this delusion will reap a harvest of discontent and misery. Any man who needs the sacrifice of a woman to cultivate the art of self-control is not a fit citizen, far less a fit husband or father. A man who is willing to bring children into the world before he is a self-governed animal does not understand the first principles of race-regeneration, and it is the duty of parents to educate their sons and daughters in this fundamental idea. To be an efficient parent one must be mentally, morally, and physically developed.
THE WEDDING NIGHT;—ITS MEDICAL ASPECT.—The fundamental object of true marriage is the propagation of the species. Woman plays the more important part in the consummation of this duty inasmuch as she is the origin and depository of the future being. It is, therefore, most important that she should not be wholly ignorant of the nature and responsibilities of her position. Suffering, disease and death may result as a consequence of ignorance of these matters. It is the duty and the privilege of medical science to state, in language which all may understand, the facts regarding this interesting human event.
It would seem as though suffering to some degree, characterized each epoch in a woman's life; menstruation, marriage and maternity. Much may be done, however, to lessen the pain necessary to the consummation of marriage. Not infrequently difficulty is experienced in this respect and great care, forbearance and gentleness must be exercised or unnecessary pain and injury may result. It is quite possible to cause serious injury by unrestrained impetuosity and this must be guarded against. It is sometimes absolutely necessary to consult a physician, especially in cases where greater resistance is experienced than is to be expected. These are rare cases.
The first conjugal approaches are usually accompanied by a slight bleeding. They may not be so, however, and the absence of blood has no significance or meaning. The most suitable time to select for marriage is midway between the monthly periods. This is a season of sterility, and as the first nuptial relations may be followed by indisposition, pain and nervous irritability, it would be well to select a time when these ailments shall have an opportunity to subside before the appearance of the disturbances incident to pregnancy.
THE HONEYMOON.—From a medical standpoint there is great need of a radical change in the way in which this nuptial period is spent. For many weeks previous to marriage the bride's existence is a long drawn-out period of nervous tension. Instead of enjoying mental and physical rest and repose, every moment of the time is crowded with exacting incidents, which, ordinarily, would wreck the nervous system of a robust individual. If this exciting preparatory experience ended in a period of rest and recuperation, it might not prove physically disastrous, instead of which, however, we know that the bride is subjected to a series of physiological tragedies which few weather with impunity. At no time of her life is she more in need of being surrounded with all the comforts of home and the intelligent direction of sympathizing friends who understand and appreciate the crisis through which she is passing. Custom, however, dictates that she shall be hurried from place to place at a time when the bodily quiet and the mental calmness and serenity so desirable to her should be the only object in view.
Marital relations still continue painful and will be so for a few weeks. Too frequent indulgence at this period is a fruitful source of various inflammatory diseases, and often occasions temporary sterility and ill health. In many cases constitutional disturbances and nervous disorders have their beginning at this time and these unfortunate conditions are directly caused by the discomforts incident to the silliness of the social custom which deprives the woman of the rest and quiet necessary.
The awakening of the sexual function is a tremendously important medical incident in the life of any woman. The simplest mind may adequately understand why such an experience should be consummated in a cheerful environment of domestic comfort and peace. To drag a girl around sight-seeing, when her nerves are on edge and supersensitive; when she is physically unfit, weary and not at all interested; when her brain is apprehensively busy with secret conjectures in which her husband even may not participate, is a species of torture which the average bride submits to with the best grace possible because social custom dictates the stupid programme.
Mothers should approach this subject with tact and diplomacy, but they should, nevertheless, approach it with firm intentions to persuade their daughters to consider the situation from a common sense standpoint. The custom of the honeymoon survives because young brides do not appreciate the facts involved. It is the mother's duty to acquaint them with the truth, and no sensible mother will plan, or agree to a honeymoon that involves continuous discomfort and possible serious consequences to the health of her daughter at the beginning of what should be the happiest period of her life.
WHEN MARITAL RELATIONS ARE PAINFUL.—Nature did not intend that the act by which the earth is to be replenished should be painful. If therefore, pain is a constant characteristic of this function, it is an evidence that disease exists and it should be given attention at the earliest possible moment. A displaced, congested womb is most frequently the cause. Such displacements most likely are a result of imprudence in dress, constipation and general negligence on the part of the victim. To delay or postpone assistance in such cases is dangerous, while on the other hand, relief is prompt and as a rule satisfactory if taken in time.
TIMES WHEN MARITAL RELATIONS SHOULD BE SUSPENDED.—There are times when such relations are eminently improper. There are certain legitimate causes for denial by the wife.
Intoxication in the husband is a good reason for refusal. Idiots and epileptics have been produced as a result of one parent being intoxicated when fecundation took place. Many cases are on record whose history is well authenticated where the mental faculties of the offspring have been totally destroyed.
Convalescence from a severe sickness is a just cause for sexual abstinence. The existence of any local or constitutional disease which would be aggravated by marital relationship is also a just cause of refusal. The existence of a contagious disease renders a refusal valid. Sexual intercourse should never be permitted during the menses. Pregnancy is unquestionably a just cause for refraining from all marriage duties.
THE FIRST WEEKS AND MONTHS OF WIFEHOOD.—The daughter is established in her own home: she is now the young wife, the prospective mother. What can we say that will be helpful at this period—those wonderful first weeks and months of wifehood? Her guiding star will unquestionably be the unconscious lessons she has absorbed from the tactful talks with mother. She will unwittingly pattern her conduct, to a large extent, after her, and follow the routine mother adopted in the old home. But there is a new factor to be considered. Her life, present and future, her possibilities, her very happiness, is dependent upon the husband. The old saying, that, "you must live with a man to really know him," she will find to be all too true. The story of her future life might be safely told if we could know how she will meet the new vicissitudes. She has known her husband only as a sweetheart, she has clothed him with virtues that exist only in her imagination, will he measure up to her expectations? She is watchful and tactful,—the little mother-talks she remembers. She did not believe when mother told her, that he had qualities which she would only find out after marriage, but she knows now. She is learning that household duties are exacting and fretful; that, though married, life still has a few thorns. She finds out also that the long day, when husband is at business, affords many opportunities for reflection and serious thought. These moments of seeming leisure are the moments of destiny. They are the introspective moments, when she weighs and measures out for herself sympathy, if she is not made of the right stuff, or she makes strong resolutions, and prepares herself mentally to win out in the new life. They are the moments when her subconscious intelligence is trying to express itself in the spirit of truth and honesty, when she weighs and measures and analyses the exigencies of the new environment. Her destiny depends upon the inspiration that is impressed upon her brain as a result of these self-communings.
Most of us would not follow exactly the path we trod had we the opportunity to live our lives over again. The young wife has the chance to "do it over again." She has the opportunity of a new beginning. She should regard this opportunity as the most precious gift she will ever obtain. Many would give untold wealth for her chance. Happiness and riches lie at her feet. All the experiences that make life worth living are within her grasp. It all depends upon herself. An enthusiast is apt to be insistent. If his cause is just we gain by his insistency and determination. We are enthusiasts on this subject, we want you to believe in our disinterested sincerity. We believe,—in fact we know, that the first few months after marriage is the critical period in every woman's life so far as the attainment of happiness and success is concerned. No physician can practice medicine for years and fail to have this truth impressed upon him again and again.
Every intelligent person knows that most young girls enter into the marriage relationship without a real understanding of its true meaning, or even a serious thought regarding its duties or its responsibilities. Maternity is thrust upon these physically and mentally immature young wives, and they assume the principal role in a relationship that is onerous and exacting. We know that the duties of wife and mother require an intelligence which is rendered efficient only by experience. We know that young wives acquire habits which undermine their health and their morals unwittingly. And we also know that the product of this diversified inefficiency is what constitutes the decadence and the degeneracy of the human race. Is it any wonder that mistakes occur, that heartaches abound, and that homes are degraded?
What is the remedy? Education! Systematized instruction; an efficient and everlasting propaganda of education carried into the homes of the thousands of young wives and mothers who are willing, but who do not know how to play their part creditably and efficiently.
THE FORMATIVE PERIOD.—The period prior to marriage is the formative period, the character building years. Matrimony is to be the test of how we have built our castle. The success of the matrimonial venture—for every marriage is an experiment—depends absolutely upon the result of the first year. We would, therefore, seriously, and earnestly, request the young wife to think deeply upon this problem and not to ignore the fact that the success of the venture is absolutely dependent upon her efforts to a very large degree. Some may assert that the husband is the essential equation, so far as happiness and success is concerned in the matrimonial venture. We do not think so. A home is what the woman makes it. A man may not be an ideal husband, or even a good father, though his home, to his children, may be heaven itself if the wife is a born mother and a good woman. On the other hand a man may be patient, hard working, self-sacrificing, good father, but he cannot make a happy home, for his children, if his wife is not the right kind of a woman.
A true marriage implies love and confidence, and in the vast majority of marriages these qualities can be regarded as tangible, and may be used as any other business equity is used, for a certain time. The length of time depends upon the use to which this asset is put during the early months of marriage. It is the utilization of this time, how best to employ it, that concerns us here.
A word as to a wife's true position in the household may be opportune. There is no question but that her status has changed in the last generation. Whether this change is for the better is a matter of opinion. It is too large and too intricate a problem to be fully discussed in a book of this character. Any opinion on such a subject must of necessity, in our judgment, be a warped one. There are few, very few, absolutely happy and congenial homes. It has been estimated that only five per cent. of all marriages are successful. If five per cent. make a success of marriage why could not the other ninety-five? The reasons are not fundamental or serious—they are trivial as a rule. It is making the right beginning that counts. If this is the secret, and every married person of experience will testify to this truth, the young wife should give the matter her serious consideration. In the life history of every couple there is a period of adaptation, which is sooner or later passed through at the expense of one or the other, or both, resigning themselves to an acceptance of the stronger, or positive, elements in the other's disposition.
DIFFERENCES OF OPINION.—If a woman discovers, for example, that her husband has very decided views upon certain matters, and these views do not in any way conflict with the law, moral or otherwise, and the adoption of them does not necessitate the denial of a principle, it would be far better for her to acquiesce in these views, rather than to obstinately adhere to her opinions,—especially if she cannot, in a friendly way, offer an argument strong enough to convince him he is wrong. One or the other of every married pair will have to be willing to give in, in all trivial matters that come up from day to day, if a harmonious degree of existence is to be reached.
It is certainly natural to assume that ordinarily the wife will be the one to concede most. She is supposed to be endowed with all the gentler attributes. Therefore our advice,—irrespective of all the arguments which may be made, and which we need not even hint at, here, but which are at the tongue's end of every so-called advanced woman,—is for the young wife to gratefully concede a great deal to her husband.
If a man's daily life is clean, and if his ambition is to work in order to provide a comfortable home for his wife and children, he is deserving of the love and confidence of any true woman. And inasmuch as you have chosen this man for your husband, for your guide and for the father of your unborn children, it behooves you to find out how you may quickly accommodate yourself to be his helpmate, his friend, his confidant and companion, throughout all the years of your life. Let us assure you without fear of contradiction, that you will endear yourself to him by your willingness to be advised and guided by him. Such an attitude will engender a tangible confidence that may be drawn upon to weather temperamental contests that might otherwise prove to be serious obstacles in building up a mutual respect and trust and which is essential to peace and happiness. He will look for your word of cheer, and he will willingly tell you more and more of his inmost thoughts and ambitions, and unconsciously he will rely upon your judgment, your womanly intuition, your help, in every move he makes. The time when you will have to "give in" will have passed away. You will have made yourself part of his life, his mentality, you will have reached the goal of domestic happiness, and that is as near paradise as most of us reach in this world. It all depends upon "how you go about it" in the first few months of married life.
Consider the other picture. If a wife cultivates, or has the inherited inclination to argue trifles, to bicker over mere matters of opinion, even if she wins occasionally, what does she gain? Nothing! The husband resents the tendency to argument. His pride is wounded at the thought that his wife needs to be convinced of every opinion he advances. Such an attitude completely breaks down the tangible confidence that is essential to peace and happiness. Soon he begins to keep his opinion to himself; the serpent enters the home; the wife finds he is interested in things of which he does not inform her. Jealousy, lack of confidence, doubt,—the skeletons of all domestic peace and happiness soon accomplish their terrible and tragic work, and the end is not difficult to imagine.
Most of the things regarding which husbands and wives quarrel are of no special moment. They are not momentous subjects,—it is usually a trifle that mars the domestic peace. It takes but a few years for most women to appreciate that many of the things that cause heartaches are not of any consequence at all. They originate, as a rule, in one or the other failing to appreciate that the other has certain individual rights which demand some degree of respectful consideration. The ego element in human nature is responsible for a very considerable portion of the domestic infelicity that mars the home life of a large proportion of the people.
TRIVIAL DIFFERENCES.—Many homes have been broken or rendered permanently wretched by trivial differences. The husband may like to play games, the wife may want to read. One may like to go out to parties and theaters, the other may want to stay at home. Before marriage these differences appear to merest trifles and are the subjects of good-humored bantering; after marriage they cause constant dissension, constant friction. A trifle is the usual beginning, a divorce may be the end. A little lack of tact, an unwillingness to sacrifice self in a small measure "at the right moment" and friction would have ended.
It is a reflection upon our intelligence, and it is rather significant that it should be the little, trifling things that cause most of the troubles and heartaches in the world. We rarely quarrel over the important episodes Of life; the real things, the things that constitute the measure of our manhood and womanhood. Ask any of your friends, be they Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant, Baptist or Episcopalian, Democrat or Republican, whether, in their best judgment, it is better to be honest or dishonest, clean or dirty, false or true, intelligent or ignorant, an idler or a worker; whether it is better to be gentle and kind or brutal and cruel, a gossip and scandal monger or to mind our own business and to speak kindly of our fellow-man, whether, in short, it is better to be good or bad? And yet these are the real, the fundamental qualities that brand a man, or a woman, or a race of people, as worthy and true and Christ-like.
To the eugenist, a thought obtrudes itself at this point. It is the logical, the link between the cause and the effect. Why do we waste so much time arguing and fighting over non-essentials? Why is the world such a big quarreling-pot over nothing? And the eugenist suggests, if it is not possible, that the explanation may be found, in the fact, that the human family, as a race, is below par; that so many of us are incomplete; that it is the product of the combined mental effort of the unworthy element that makes all the trouble? It is scarcely logical to assume, that an individual who has been brought into the world by healthy, worthy parents, and whose ancestry for generations have been clean, honest people; and whose upbringing and education has been adequate to fit him to become a respectable, decent citizen, could, or would be a trouble maker. On the other hand, can we expect, or are we justified in hoping that an individual whose ancestral record is bad, whose environmental conditions are faulty, whose education has been neglected, who is in all probability physically and mentally deficient, will be capable of conforming to the standards of the other individual? From an imperfect whole, may we not naturally expect bad parts? From a diseased body and mind, may we not look for a low standard of thought and action? And may not these conditions account for the greater part of the little, as as the big, troubles that mar the peace and progress of the race? Will not the elimination of the eugenically unworthy rid the world of its heartaches and sorrows? It is not only a suggestive thought, it is an inspiration for the exercise of the supreme intelligence of the statesman, the sociologist, the teacher and the preacher alike.
DIFFERENCES OF PRINCIPLE.—There are more serious differences than those of taste, however. There are differences of principle.
They do not reveal themselves before the promise "for better or for worse." The sentimental days of courtship did not bring them out. But now that they have settled down to the routine of ordinary living, nature brings them to the surface and the issue must be met. It is discovered that the wife is a devout Christian and a faithful church attendant while the husband insists on his wife spending Sunday in the country, or at the seashore. The woman tries to get her husband to go to church but she fails. He tried to get her to accompany him but he does not succeed. There is a rift in the lute, little sorrowful heart pangs on the part of the woman, and the man feels sore and grouchy and wanders away alone, then finally open quarrels and indifference. Two lives are pulling apart. Someone must give in; but which one? The observance of her religious duties to the wife is a matter of principle. The husband's method of spending Sunday is simply habit. He has no right to interfere with her liberty in this respect. The one to give in is the one whose conscience is not trampled upon. If the husband refuses to go to church with his wife, he can do so amicably, and in such a tactful way that his wife cannot reasonably feel permanently offended, but he must not object to his wife going to church, nor has he the right to insist on being accompanied in his outing by his wife. On the other hand, the wife must not nag or quarrel with him continuously on the subject of religion. Those little incidents will come up in the experience of every married couple. They are not serious or insurmountable in themselves, but they can be made serious by mismanagement.
The true wife is the home-maker, not simply the housekeeper. She is responsible for its attractiveness and its comfort, its morals and its existence. The marriage vow "does not make a wife, but comradeship in the bearing of the burdens of life, does." She must be Love and Justice and Truth to her children, and companion and friend and helpmeet to her husband.
We, therefore, advise the young wife to begin wedded life with definite plans and ideals.
THE ATTAINMENT OF SUCCESS.—In the first place, you do want your particular matrimonial venture to be a success. Success in one sense is getting what you want. You must, however, know exactly what you want. Very few people know what they want, but those few are the ones who manage to "get there." If you ask a dozen of your friends what their plan of life is, what they are working for, what they really want, not one of them probably could tell you with any degree of exactness. Most people go along in an indefinite way, working from day to day, more or less dissatisfied, and with absolutely no feeling of certainty as to what the future holds in store for them.
Human effort is an example of energy misdirected and it is the greatest potential energy in the universe. Really to want something means that we must be willing to sacrifice everything necessary to attain our wish, and to concentrate and direct all our efforts in its attainment. To do this, we must be efficient, we must be healthy, we must strive day and night, and we must want intensely to achieve success.
During the first few weeks of married life the young wife, if she is a wise little lady, will take stock. She will begin to think, and she will naturally speculate about the future. She will try to determine the facts in her particular life that are the important ones so far as the attainment of success is concerned. Her material success of course is dependent upon the efficiency of her husband. Now, a married man's efficiency depends almost entirely on his wife. If a man attains great material success, he will acknowledge, if he acknowledges the truth, that his wife is deserving of most of the credit. The husbands of most good, sensible wives are successful. If a man is, unfortunately, married to a woman who is not a helpmeet, who is not a well-balanced wife and mother, and achieves success, he does so by reason of his innate strength of character and in spite of the unjust drain on his efficiency. Most men under these circumstances however lose heart and interest and become failures.
The young wife, therefore, will definitely plan in just what way she can contribute to her husband's efficiency.
WHAT ARE THE REQUISITES OF EFFICIENCY? GOOD HEALTH.—He must have regular meals. The food must be carefully selected and suitable to his personal needs according to the character of the work in which he is engaged. The food must be properly and thoroughly cooked. If he does not understand the science of eating, the wife must educate him. Remember his success means your success, his failure, your failure. If you were in charge of a highly complicated machine, you would not allow it to be ruined by careless misuse. You may have married a healthy animal, but animals are tricky and uncertain. He is still your lover and he will do anything reasonable for you, if you "go about it in the right spirit and in the right way." Be sure you "go about it in the right way." Be tactful, be patient, don't nag. Don't tell him of his faults, simply note them then determine what you want to accomplish. In a little while, he will become enthusiastic and will be telling his friends how to eat, and what to eat, and, later, he may try to convince you that he thought of the idea first. This is the typical man. You will learn how to manage him, and your first success will encourage you—he will be a child in your hands—if you only "go about it right." And this applies to everything you do that has any relation to domestic peace and happiness and final success.
The woman who grasps the meaning of the following truism and determines to practice it, is well on her way to happiness and success. "It is the man that has a system in both life and business that wins the battles." The struggle of life has become so strenuous that most everyone's nerves are always near the explosive point,—the man who has a system in life has discovered that there is nothing to be gained by being disrespectful or discourteous, or by butting rough-shod into the affairs or interests of other people; tact, diplomacy, flattery, the temperamental capacity to wiggle around the explosive corners of other peoples' irascible nerves to gain your point, is "having a system," and it wins battles. The young wife who knows how to do this, is so far ahead of the army of ordinary young wives, that she need not take time to look around to see if the others are gaining ground. They will never overtake her.
REST AND SLEEP.—The husband must get enough rest each night, so don't drag him away to parties and balls and late suppers. Be a philanthropist—give him the care you would give a thoroughbred horse with which you hoped to win a big stake. Let him think, however, that you are doing it for his sake. To you the prize is a greater stake—it means life's failure or success. Remember you are in this fight to win. The gratification of whims and fancies during the first year of married life leads to the establishment of expensive habits, and may be the one factor that will mean failure in the future, when you will wish, with all your heart that you had begun differently. The time to sacrifice, to work hard, to plan ahead, is when one is young; when hope is strong and health is good—not when ambition falters, when age grows weary, when efficiency is impossible, and when regrets crowd in on us and failure crushes energy and hope and happiness. The struggle of life is a real one to every soul born, but it is worth the fight, and the glory of a fight won is the greatest human satisfaction this side of the grave. Try it, try to win.
ENOUGH EXERCISE.—Be sure your husband is getting enough exercise. If his work is desk work, think out some plan to compel him to take the exercise every healthy animal requires. Make up your mind definitely what is necessary and exactly what it is you want him to do, and then begin to work in your own successful way with that object in view. It may be systematized gymnastic work he needs. If so, suggest to him the advisability of becoming a member of a club or gymnasium, or get two sets of exercisers and begin work on them yourself if necessary. Devote ten minutes every morning and night to exercise. He will soon follow you, and many happy contests you will have and profitable ones too. Working together is the secret of domestic peace. Even if this reads like slavery or self-immolation, what do you care? You are happy, you are working for something, the time will come when you will have realized your ambition. Domestic happiness and material success are worth all we are asked to pay for them and they are never obtainable on the bargain counter.
It may be outdoor exercise he needs, try golf, swimming, baseball, tennis, anything to gain your point; and, all the time, remember you are leading him by your apron-string because you have discovered the secret of "how to go about it."
FREEDOM FROM WORRY.—A man cannot work efficiently and worry at the same time. Modern business methods are conducted on such a strenuous basis that, to keep "in the ring," a man needs every ounce of reserve he can command. Don't imagine your husband is totally free from cares and responsibilities just because he is not at business. He may have left his office a few minutes earlier than usual to get away from trouble. Encourage the system. When a man feels in his heart that there is one person in the world to whom he can always turn, and be sure of a loving, sympathetic greeting, one who understands and believes in him, one place he can always go and feel certain of enjoying peace, and comfort and contentment, there is little danger of any friend supplanting the wife, or any club or saloon taking the place of home.
DO YOUR PART.—The moment you know your husband is in the house, change the expression on your face, smile, even if it pains you, and go to him with a familiar word of greeting and give him a kiss. Do this every day of your life, unless when you are sick in bed, when he will go to you. Establish this habit, and if ever the day comes when he returns from work and there is no greeting, no kiss, stop the whole domestic ship, regard it as a tragedy. Don't let the first entering wedge of discord come into your life. If there is no first quarrel, there will never be a second. If you are at fault you had better right matters at once or take the consequences. Take our advice. Don't experiment with a man. Deep down, every man is a brute. There is a certain elemental devil in every male animal. Don't rouse it. You are only a woman. Don't invite a quarrel. You will get the worst of it. Keep on the peaceful side of the street. It is always a mistake to talk too much. Words are poison when silence is golden. You cannot make a mistake by leaving the husband alone if he is at fault. Time is a wonderful physician; she will heal almost any wound. Your tact, your silence, your seeming fear (in other words, your method "of going about it in the right spirit and in the right way"), and an opportunity to think it over, will make him ashamed of himself. He will want to crawl back into your good graces and the lesson will be a long remembered one to him,—if, and this is tremendously important—the wife does not glory in her triumph and nag him about it. The temptation to err is great and there are few young wives who can resist it. Keep silent, however. Don't refer to it and you will win more than you know. Blessed is she who can forget what is not worth remembering.
You will have averted the first quarrel and, inasmuch as the "first quarrel" is an historic event in every married woman's experience, it may be worthy of a little further consideration.
THE FIRST QUARREL.—Some women become weak in a crisis and spoil their own chances of success, despite the fact that circumstances may have been working in their favor. Some women meet a crisis bravely and do exactly the right thing at the right time but falter and fail after the crisis has passed. Take, for example, the incident we have just narrated. When a husband brings into the home a sample of his real self, for the first time, it is not really an unexpected event, though it may be an unpleasant shock to the young wife; and she must not render it an important incident by mismanagement. Nevertheless, it is in itself a momentous occasion, and it may prove to be the moment of destiny. The spirit of the lover has been the dominant spirit so far, the atmosphere of the honeymoon has continued, there has been no friction, no quarrel. To-night the husband has carried a business grouch into the home, his militant impulses are just below the surface, the slightest unfortunate word, the least lack of tact, a failure to "sense" the situation correctly, will explode the mine and wreck a dream. Deep down in the man's heart he does not want a quarrel but the brute in him will fight if the environment invites it. It takes two to quarrel. Silence on the part of the wife, therefore, is the only solution of the problem. If the first quarrel never takes place the second will never have to be dreaded. Silence, no matter what the provocation may be; no matter how acute the sense of injustice may be, silence is the only safe way out. The husband if left alone, will be ashamed of the situation his lack of self-control has created, the lover spirit will conquer the brute. He will regret the pain he has caused; he will want to forget and be forgiven quickly though he may not go through the formality of an apology. A formal apology and reconciliation will, in his judgment, dignify the episode and make a mountain out of a molehill. The wife will be wise to so regard it though it is an injustice to her. The husband will not underestimate the importance of the event, however, and in many ways will be a better husband in future, but he does not want to talk about it or be talked to regarding it. This is part of the psychology of the male, and the successful wife discovers it early and acts accordingly.
Having safely piloted your craft through the troubled waters, don't prove weak and silly when you reach a safe harbor. When the moment of passive reconciliation arrives, when it is necessary to resume the domestic routine, don't show the spirit of resentment. Be pleasant, don't cry, don't become hysterical. Be strong, ignore the whole affair, leave it in the hands of time and forget it. The victory is yours, don't lose it.
FAULT FINDING.—At a later date, when, in all probability, the wife will be the one whose conduct will incite trouble because of the worries incident to her more or less monotonous, domestic existence, much care will have to be exercised so that an unwitting fretfulness may not cause quarrels. When a man comes home at night tired and hungry, longing for peace, and comfort, and pleasant conversation, it is worse than anarchy to not only get no greeting, but to note the discontent on his wife's face, and to listen to a tirade of fault finding. Your husband has troubles of his own. The maid's impudence, the crossness of the baby, the noise of the neighbor's children, the toughness of the meat from the butcher, do not interest him. He is hungry, he wants to eat, and above all, he wants rest and peace. We are considering this subject from the economic standpoint. The young wife must recognize that if she is a fault finder, if she worries her husband, she interferes with his efficiency and jeopardizes the attainment of success,—her own success. From a purely selfish standpoint, it is a bad investment.
It may interest many young wives to know, that a number of large corporations have recently begun to systematically investigate the domestic environment of their employees. If it is found that they are not happy, or that they do not enjoy a restful and congenial home life, they discharge them. They claim that a man who is worried cannot be efficient, and if he is not efficient he is not a dependable individual to have in their employ. Some railroads will not allow an engineer to drive a passenger train after it is discovered that he is unhappily married. The young wife should, therefore, appreciate that she may be directly responsible for her husband's efficiency and success. If a woman is guilty of conduct that interferes with the earning capacity of her husband she is erecting an obstacle to happiness and success that is fundamental, permanent and insurmountable. In justice to herself and to her husband and to the future she should promptly decide if the conditions are such that a change is impossible, and if so she should, in order to avert a tragedy, seek a separation.
WORK MUST BE INTERESTING.—No man can exert the highest degree of efficiency if he is not interested in his work. This has become a business truism. How can the wife aid in this matter? By cooeperation, by tactful advice, by suggesting new methods, by originating new ideas that may open the way to new possibilities.
Even menial work is interesting if we regard it as a stepping-stone to something better. It must be done thoroughly, however, to justify this hope. Life is a struggle, a struggle in which many are vanquished and few survive. Only those few survive who fit most perfectly to their environment. If a man is getting proper nourishment and sufficient exercise, and is free from worry, if in other words he has vitality, he cannot possibly fail to give full value for what he receives. His work will at least be satisfactory. If his lack of interest in his work is because it does not fully satisfy his ambition, this is a splendid opportunity for the tactful and resourceful wife.
It was suggested to an enterprising little wife, whose husband was earning a small salary as a bookkeeper, to advise him to study stenography and correspondence at the Y. M. C. A. He did so, and is now the private secretary of the president of a large corporation, at a salary of six thousand dollars per year. His wife encouraged and cajoled him during the long winter nights when he studied late. She sacrificed herself by giving up all social entertainments and other pleasures. She catered to his tastes and comfort, and she talked so entertainingly during spare moments of what the future would be when he was a great success, that he was simply compelled to make good. She got her reward, and the very struggle and effort strengthened their characters, broadened their sympathies, and taught them the true meaning of love and affection.
Other young wives may achieve similar success if they "go about it right." That is the secret. That was the secret of this young wife's success. She first knew what she wanted, she then prepared the way by tactfully showing her husband how he could increase his efficiency. She kept the subject diplomatically before him by directly praising him, assuring him that he had the ability, that he would find it easy, that he was meant for "higher things." Then she drew word pictures of where they would live, the kind of house she would like and the new furniture she would buy, and where they would spend their vacations when he was earning the salary which she knew he was worth. They began to live in this future, it became part of their life, his pride was awakened, he would be ashamed to fail, he was whipped to the post and spurred to the finish and he won the race, because he had married the right kind of a woman. "The right kind of a woman,"—the woman who knows that "the marriage vow" does not make a wife, but that comradeship in the bearing of the burdens of life does.
THE WIFE'S PART.—Having read the preceding pages some young wives may ask if that is really what being married means? If it is all work and sacrifice and no pleasure? That is exactly what it means and if there is no pleasure in work and sacrifice, then there is no pleasure in married life. The young wife who fails to see the significance of this interpretation of what has been written has a fundamentally wrong idea of what married life means.
A woman who begins her wedded life with less loyal ideals than are depicted in the performance of the duties we have enumerated is imposing on her husband and is false to herself. She will not attain happiness and success. To marry in order to have a good time should be a state's prison offence.
Happiness and contentment and success are products of duty well done. They are the logical recompense for effort and sacrifice. Individual happiness is not the chief object of existence in this life. To work efficiently is the supreme obligation. It is naturally to desire happiness and to labor for it; but it is absurd to be annoyed and angry because we do not find it. Happiness through marriage is never attained except by never-ending self-abnegation and effort.
We must struggle or we will degenerate. A correct interpretation of racial progress proves this truth. Effort is the supreme law. All good things have been given to man at the price of labor.
ADVICE TO YOUNG WIVES
"Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know."
HOW TO ACHIEVE
What the Young Wife Owes to Herself—Why Was I Born—What Are the Personal Qualities Necessary to Success—What Are the Personal Qualities Necessary to Happiness—Self-control—What is a Thought—The Evil Habit of Hasty Judgment—The Bad Thought Habit—Training the Mind—Go About it in the Right Way—Be Sure Your Husband's Friends Are Your Friends—Be a Good Fellow—Two Kinds of People in the World—Everything Depends Upon What We Do With Our Mind—The Most Popular Woman—The Gift of Flattery—Choosing Your Friends—True Friendship Expects and Demands Nothing—True Friendship is Necessary—"By Your Friends Shall Ye Be Known"—Making Resolves—The Formula of Success—When Fortune Knocks.
WHAT THE YOUNG WIFE OWES TO HERSELF.—If the young wife is making a conscientious effort to do her duty, there are certain things she owes to herself, to her husband, to her unborn children. She too must preserve her health, her efficiency. In guarding the health and contributing to the efficiency of her husband, she will have done much in this direction. She will, however, have many spare moments at her disposal. We have already remarked that these are the moments of destiny. In the coming years she will look back upon these moments with real pride, or regret, according to how she spent, or misspent them. Let us begin all over again, with renewed interest and enthusiasm, and try to understand just what is meant by this.
Every human being asks himself, or herself, at some time in life, the questions, "Why was I born? For what purpose was I created and put upon this earth? Is there any real object or purpose in living, except to pass the time from day to day, and year to year?" To most, the reply is perplexing,—and not at all satisfactory. All great minds who have deeply studied this problem, unanimously agree that there is a purpose in life. We are not a thing apart,—an isolated entity. We are part of the living whole; every thought, every deed, every spoken word, every sentiment, every passion, every prayer, is inter-related with every other thought, deed, word, sentiment, passion and prayer of every other living thing in all eternity. We have an ideal to maintain, and if we are untrue or fail, we interrupt, we desecrate the everlasting scheme of the universe. We will therefore be held responsible for our manner of living,—for the sum total of our existence. We have a purpose to fulfill, a responsibility to sustain. If we are false to that purpose, and fail in our responsibilities, we rob the world of the help we should bestow, and, in a far larger measure, we deprive ourselves of benefits and pleasures, every moment of our lives, greater than we can conceive.
The world is many centuries old, and many millions of human beings have lived and died during that time. A certain percentage of these men and women lived lives which bettered the world. They left a thought which will live through all the ages. They proved the truth of some basic unchanging principle. They drew the attention of mankind to the reality of a certain immutable fact. These truths, these principles, these facts, have all been tested, and they have been found to be everlasting. In other words, we find there are certain truths, certain principles, certain facts, that every living thing must obey, must subscribe to, must live up to or perish. Every thought, every deed, every movement, of every living thing, is regulated by unalterable laws which govern our lives and to which we must conform or pay the penalty in failure. Human nature is God's riddle!
WHAT ARE THE PERSONAL QUALITIES THAT EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN TO BE NECESSARY IN THE ATTAINMENT OF HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS?—Experience has taught us that certain personal qualifications are essential to the attainment of success and happiness. We must, for example, be master of ourselves. We must have acquired the art of self-control. Self-control is an evidence of a high intelligence. There are many gradations of mental progress before complete self-control is reached. Complete self-mastery in matrimonial conflicts is a long and difficult acquisition. Probably it is fully acquired in the fewest possible cases. The one who acquires self-control, who gives in during the adaptative period of which we have written, is not the weaker. The young wife should always keep in mind that the underlying principle to be vigorously adhered to in the home, is justice. There will arise many occasions that will severely test your disposition and your patience, but, if you have yourself well in hand, if you understand yourself, you will emerge from the conflict successfully and as a consequence a little stronger. When we acquire the determination to efface self in these domestic squabbles we begin the building of a character.
WHAT IS A THOUGHT?—The greatest product of creative inspiration is the human brain. The very fact that each human being possesses one of these marvelous products implies responsibility, the responsibility of what we will do with it. A thought is a creation of brain or mind activity. It may be a bad or evil thought or it may be a good thought. Let us now go back to the young wife just as she is about to begin the hour or so of recreation in the afternoon. Her work being done for the time, let us suppose she elects to do a little fancy needle work. She finds a comfortable seat and is soon apparently engrossed in her work. Is she? Doubtless she is, and a very commendable, harmless, inviting picture she presents, but a thousand thoughts are passing through her mind. It is not the sewing that she does, that will be weighed in the balance, it is not the patient stitch, stitch, stitch, that she takes, that will mark the hour well spent. It is the one thought that will predominate over all the others, that will tell the ultimate tale, because of its effect on her own mind. A thought once created, even if it is never expressed, is as much a created entity as a deed executed.
Suppose this young wife attended a social gathering in some friend's house the evening before, and for some trifling reason she formed an unfavorable impression of another lady guest; during the hour of her sewing, which we are discussing, she goes over in her mind all the incidents of the gathering, and because of the previous impression, she still thinks unkindly of the lady in question. She passes judgment upon her in her own mind. What has she really done? She has created a thought an opinion, which now becomes a part of her mind, because it is recorded in her brain cells forever, and, inasmuch as she was not justified in passing judgment upon a person's character in this hasty way, she harmed herself by establishing a bad habit,—a habit of hasty judgment,—which will have an effect on her method of judgment as long as she lives. The evil effect may not end here,—it seldom does. A chance remark,—still the product of the hasty opinion,—made to some other woman regarding this lady, will give this other woman an unfavorable impression of the person, and if you could trace all the little gradations of the first unjust opinion, through all the stages of a gossiping community, you would be astonished at the growth, and the evil accomplished by the thought, born amidst the apparently innocent and commendable surroundings of an hour's sewing. If you educate your mind to create bad thoughts you will become a victim of the habit. Each bad thought makes the creation of another bad thought more easy, because a bad habit is, as we all know, a difficult thing to live down. Therefore a bad thought unexpressed does harm only to the individual who creates the thought. If the bad thought is expressed to another party, it is impossible to tell or estimate the harm it may do. Life is what we make it. If we get into the habit of thinking unjust, unkind, selfish, bad thoughts, we live in that atmosphere. Your whole life will be a reflection of your mental attitude. If you feed your mind on such food how can you hope to grow into a contented, happy woman? Let us not dwell upon the dark side. There is another picture, one more inviting, more difficult to realize, it is true, but more perfect as a consequence.
TRAINING THE MIND.—There never was a time in the history of the world when so many people were striving after definite knowledge,—some scheme of mentality, some mental atmosphere,—some spiritual or idealistic phenomena,—which would satisfy the craving, the hunger of the restless and dissatisfied human mind for absolute enlightenment regarding the mysteries of life. It is a curious fact that to attain such knowledge, all these various bodies, no matter how they may differ as to the method of procedure, concede that the education of the human mind and the recognition of its exact capabilities is the ultimate province through which final enlightenment must come.
We must, therefore, recognize that on whatever we do with our mind, in our own little way, will depend the measure of success and happiness to which we may aspire. Success is not attained without effort, but every little effort we expend will help wonderfully in the task. Train your mind to think just, kind, good thoughts. Do not dwell upon the bad side of any problem, search for the good side, because every problem has a good side. So also has every human soul. When the unkind, the unjust, the bad thought is conveyed to you by another, do not admit it, do not dwell upon it, render it negative at once by assuring yourself that there is another side to the question. We all know how easy it is to kick the under dog. We all have in mind some friend, some acquaintance, some old lady, perhaps, who is famous in her community for her kindly ways, and for her kindly thoughts. The two go together. It is well known among her friends that she will not tolerate any unkind, unjust, evil report, of even the humblest or lowest member of society to be expressed in her presence, without instantly defending the maligned victim, by picturing the possible other side. Her life has been an example, an inspiration in the community, because she has always exerted a kindly, sympathetic, helpful influence. It is this atmosphere, this environment, that checks gossip, stifles scandal, saves heartaches, and prevents domestic tragedies.
The most interesting study you will ever engage in, if you are true to yourself, will be the working of your own mind.
The resourcefulness of your brain will be a constant pleasure to you. You will be aided by books and you will find a lesson in every thing you see and hear. Life will appear different, and you will rise above the plane in which the little routine annoyances of daily life seem burdens and sorrows. A woman, if she goes about it "in the right way," can do with her lover-husband what she pleases. If she uses that power for selfish motives, or for a wrong purpose, in the end she will be the loser. If she is far seeing, and uses her power to build up a home, and is just, and respects her husband, and honestly gives him his true place in her scheme, and loves and honors him, and is tactful, there is no limit to what she may accomplish, so far as the personal happiness of herself and husband and children are concerned. We all know that law is not always justice. We likewise know that there is no such anomaly as a perfect human being. The ability to gain a point, without apparent coercion, or a sacrifice of truth or honor, depends upon the successful qualities that go toward the building up of a complete and harmonious personality. It is an axiom in psychology that to attain the highest success, one must first understand, and, understanding, conquer the bad, and develop the good features in one's own temperament, before attempting to rule the conduct of any other person. You must understand yourself before you attempt to understand your husband. Many of his best qualities,—qualities that if rightly understood, will go a long way toward making your life a happy one,—can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and become incessant factors for doubt, jealousy and quarreling.
Because your husband prefers to do a thing in a way that does not quite satisfy your taste, does not necessarily mean that he is wrong, and such a condition does not justify an argument. Consider the matter seriously, in silence argue it out with yourself and give his side the same justice you hope to get. If you can develop convincing proofs, that his way is not the best way, even though it isn't really wrong ethically, he will probably concede the point, provided,—and don't overlook this,—you "go about it in the right way, and in the right spirit." It isn't likely you will be given a patient hearing, if in the past you have been in the habit of nagging and browbeating him. Don't look upon tactful ways of gaining your point as evidence of weakness. It is distinctly an evidence of strength of character, and, each time you win a point in a friendly debate with your husband, you will have gained much. He will respect you all the more because of your justice; and will secretly admire you because of your ability to protect yourself. You will gain confidence in your judgment, and you will see things in a broader, and from a less selfish standpoint.
YOUR HUSBAND'S FRIENDS SHOULD BE YOUR FRIENDS.—Be sure your husband's friends are your friends. Business or professional exigencies do not always permit a man to choose or select his acquaintances. You can be sure, however, he will not ask or expect you to associate with any doubtful person, though it may be necessary to extend a welcome to an undesirable business, or professional associate, for the time being. When these occasions occur, do not mar the opportunity to help by any exhibition of temper, or dissatisfaction. He may be trying to make the best of an unfortunate incident. Help him. Do not discourage him for at heart his object is to gain some business advantage that will redound to your advantage as well as his own.
Nothing pleases a man more than to know that his wife is "a good fellow," that no matter what seems to be questionable on the surface, he can rely upon her to know that everything is right underneath,—that his motive is good.
Do not invite him to tell a lie in order to avoid a scolding. Nothing is more unfortunate, nothing is more easy for an ordinarily good, but misunderstood man, than the tendency to fib about little things, if he feels in his heart that his wife will scold,—that she will fail to see the point. It wounds his self-respect to have to do so, yet he selects the minor evil as he sees it, he sacrifices his manhood in the interests of domestic peace.
TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.—Roughly, there are two kinds of individuals in the world, the individual who will, and the individual who will not. There are individuals who will not see the truth, who fail to see the point in an argument, who are obtuse and obstinate. This trait is largely wilful perversity and ignorance. We cannot help noting them in the passing, but we scarcely hope to interest them, though we cannot restrain our sympathy.
Young wives who come within this category will remain the laggards, the degenerates. Their evolution is revolution, they become the fault-finders, the discontents, the gossips. They do not love themselves nor are they loved by any human being. They are the domestic failures. As wives they dishonor the sex, as mothers they dishonor God.
In reality, there is but one thing in the universe—mind. By "mind," we mean the ability to reason. Every human being comes into the world with this ability. Our health, happiness, efficiency, success, depends absolutely upon how we utilize this birthright. There is no limitation to this ability. Heredity and environment have little to do with it. It is a personal equation. "It depends upon how you do it," has been frequently reiterated in the preceding pages. This implies, to what use you put your mind, and this is the secret of the young wife's efficiency and success. True happiness is a mind product. It is a creation of mind activity. The evanescent pleasures are not character builders, but a created thought is a pregnant possibility. The young wife who begins her wedded life with ideals with the determination to succeed, with certain well thought out plans, will progress. Her world is her husband and her home. Her husband must succeed, her home must be comfortable and happy. She must contribute her full share in achieving these results. If she permits her personal amusement to be the dominant purpose she will fail. She cannot transgress the law and remain immune. How can she begin right? Give her best to her home. A woman who gives her most gracious smiles and her most captivating manners to society, is false to her husband and her home. The prettiest gown and the brightest jewels should grace her own dinner table. To bring them out only to attend a reception, or a tea party, is a desecration. Many women expend their moral and spiritual strength upon the "club," and bring the withering remnants as a sacrifice to the blighted home fireside. We have no right to help build a church, or foster a philanthropy by depleting our strength and resources in the effort, only to give the frazzled ends of our talents to home and home-making. Nor has a woman any right to exhaust her strength in the toil of mere housekeeping, and reserve for the evening hour of conversation a bundle of quivering nerves and an exasperated temper. These women are not home-makers. Their ideal of wifehood and motherhood is fundamentally wrong. Every power of the body, and of the mind and spirit, should be devoted to the achievement of a home atmosphere. It is the creation of this quality that spells contentment, peace, happiness, and no other.
A young wife with an ideal, with a definite plan, and with a true appreciation of her dignity and importance, will never find time to daily gossip over the back fence with her neighbor, nor will she join the sewing circle whose function is well known to be scandal bartering. "Give your best to your home,"—one of the great advantages of having a specific plan is that it wholly engages our mind. If we have an object in view, if we want something, it implies interest, and if we are interested deeply in something we think about it. Every spare moment will be used by the mind in devising ways and means to achieve our purpose. We will not find time to seek the questionable amusement of gossip. The women who are eternally poking their noses into other people's business, who burden their minds with other people's affairs, who are busybodies, always neglect their homes and their children. They have no ideals, they are the derelicts of the community. Remember that "Satan finds some mischief still for idle minds to do."
THE MOST POPULAR WOMAN.—The most popular woman is the one whom a majority of all women would vote for in a popularity contest. Many women are so notoriously vixenish and jealous of members of their own sex, that, it would seem to be worth while to analyze the qualifications of the most popular woman, in an effort to discover the one quality which appeals to her own sex. After exhausting the list, we find the most popular woman possesses, in a high degree, the quality of tactful, or diplomatic flattery. The art of flattery is an acquired habit. Statesmen and politicians know its value. Even the little seekers after public office cultivate it assiduously. It is undoubtedly an asset of much value in every sphere of life, but it must not be overdone. Every member of the human-family will tolerate a large amount of it without showing resentment. This is the reason why it is a valuable asset and of such general usefulness. Sometimes a woman will boast that she detests flattery, yet she is highly pleased when you tell her that the one quality you admire in her is that she cannot be flattered. If, therefore, the young wife desires to become popular, for her own sake, or if she regards this as one way to contribute to her husband's efficiency, should his success depend upon public approval,—she may cultivate the art of diplomatic flattery. The cultivation of any art is not a one-sided accomplishment. It is beneficial in many ways, and aids distinctly in character building. No one, for example, can acquire the art of tactful flattery and retain a sour or mean disposition. To flatter efficiently you must seem delighted, and the delight must express itself in smiles and kindly words. These habits will impress themselves upon your inner consciousness, and before you know it, the habit will be a constituent part of your temperamental armamentarium.
The most popular woman will acquire the habit of making some flattering observation every time anyone's name is mentioned, and she will never be guilty of criticising a living person or a dead one. She will make it her rule in life, in order to sustain her reputation, never to make an enemy. She will cultivate the insinuating art of shaking hands, of smiling sweetly, and of making apropos remarks. No one will ever leave her without feeling that she is an exceedingly gracious person. She will even convey to them, in her inimitable way, the impression that she thinks they are "just right." She will use "blarney" as a science in an artful way. The flattering remarks she will make regarding others will be passed along by those to whom she makes them, and she will be responsible for an epidemic of egoism all over town. It is a wonderful art.
If the young wife keeps this up for some time she will begin to notice certain things. She will be accorded much flattering attention herself and she will be treated with marked consideration wherever she goes. She will be received cordially, and every aspiring other woman will make strenuous efforts to include her among her friends. She will be invited to participate in public functions when members of her sex take part, and she will be favored and her interests furthered in all social organizations.
She will, without doubt, wear her laurels becomingly, and her success will be easily acquired. Her spirits, and her health will promptly respond to the elixir of her interesting labors. Life will be full of new and surprising interests and it will be well worth the effort expended. Sleep will be more refreshing, she will not be troubled with nerves, and her appetite will be a source of profound thankfulness to her. She will radiate a quality of good-fellowship that will be infectious, and her whole philosophy of existence will be charity itself. Surely it is worth while.
CHOOSING YOUR FRIENDS.—The young wife should choose her friends with caution. Remember you are beginning a new life in which even trivial matters may exercise an influence that will be bad. One should appreciate the difference between true friendship and indulging in friendly relationship with promiscuous acquaintances. A physician has a better opportunity of observing the conduct of the feminine element of a community than any other person. We have come to divide young wives into two types: those who attend strictly to their own affairs, and those who mostly attend to their neighbors' affairs. It is not too much to say that a young wife's time will be wholly occupied if she has begun her housekeeping career with the intention of becoming a home-maker. She cannot, therefore, afford to waste her time with promiscuous acquaintances. Women who become promiscuous in their friendships have time to waste for a number of reasons,—
1st. Their husband and home is not their whole existence. If success and happiness depend upon how the first year of wedded life is employed, then husband and home should be the young wife's whole existence.
2nd. Women with time to waste have no ideals. Women without ideals are not home-makers. A home-maker cannot acquire any information from a woman who wastes her time in idleness.
3rd. Idleness creates mischief. One who is idle is a mischief maker. An idle brain is looking for amusement, and as the impulses of an idle brain are evil, these women are gossips, and scandal-mongers, and home-breakers.
4th. True friendship demands nothing. Promiscuous friendship on the other hand does demand something, and as these women live in the evil atmosphere, they live mentally on scandal and gossip. This is their mental plane and they give and take nothing higher than that which they understand.
The young wife will, therefore, be wary of this form of friendship. Infinite harm is being done in every community in the country in this way. No home, no person is too sacred for the vituperative tongues of these scandal-mongers. They are densely ignorant though they may be fluent talkers. They ingratiate themselves into the confidence of a willing victim, learn the victim's secrets, and rend her to pieces on the next street corner. Many a man has begun wedded life with the laudable intention of helping to mold his young wife's mentality, of preserving her innocence and purity of thought, only to be undone by the evil machinations of these human derelicts. He will be amazed and astonished at the opinions she gives utterance to, and if he does not find out where she is getting them, and check the desecration going on, she will be beyond his reach in the very near future. No self-respecting woman will tolerate such acquaintances. There are, however, many innocent, pure women, who are innately too gentle to assert themselves by insulting another woman at this stage of their experience, who have the makings of a good wife and mother, who wittingly become victims by reason of their very gentleness, and consequently lose their ideals, and drift into failures.
True friendship is necessary. Many men and women rightly attribute their whole success and happiness to having had the right kind of a friend or friends. Charles Kingsley when asked by Mrs. Browning to tell her the secret of his life, said, "I had a friend," A friendship that is not an inspiration, an incentive to higher thoughts and nobler deeds, is not true. "True friendship demands nothing." It gives. We should cultivate the friendship of those who know more than we do, so that we may learn and profit by the relationship. Some people radiate sympathy and helpfulness and inspiration. Instinctively we can tell those people when we come into their presence. We leave them, not once, but always, with the feeling that there is something about them that energizes and inspires. They draw out our better selves. We are conscious of our shortcomings and faults, and in their company we strive to give utterance to worthy thoughts. We feel capable of great deeds. If we could surround ourselves with these friends, we feel that life would mean more, and that we could accomplish much. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." This is where true friendship is valuable. These moments of inspiration help us to pull ourselves together. We climb a little higher; we see further and clearer; we learn the meaning of life's duty; they change the whole complexion of living. The little things, the annoyances, the disappointments, the failures, the pains, the sorrows, the passions, we see in their true perspective and they no longer usurp importance, because we are beginning to learn the significance of the things beyond. The incidents of life are no longer life itself.
One friend, one true friend to the young wife, will indeed be a tower of strength to her. Every young wife needs a friend. The desire for sympathy dwells in every human heart. Even the assiduous person needs encouragement and a little praise. It is wonderful how a mite of laudation will prod us to be more worthy. Even our joys never intoxicate save in the telling. By sharing our happiness and joys with another we double them. True friendship means confidence, affection, harmony, love. To be in harmony with one person means that we invite the harmony of all mankind.
If man is made in the image of God every human being must be more or less divine. Confidence, affection, harmony, love,—the attributes of true friendship,—are the divine sparks in our humanity. True friendship, therefore, is growth in the divine sense. There are real things in life which we seldom acknowledge but which are, nevertheless, real. We do not often admit the existence of the divine in ourselves, but it is there. If we did acknowledge it oftener we would live nearer the truth, nearer God.