"Happiness and Marriage"
by Elizabeth Towne
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1904. An interesting read on love and marriage written from the viewpoint of the time. Contents: To Be Happy Though Married; A Tale of Woe; To Be Loved; The Pharisee Up-to-Date; So Near and Yet So Far; Marriage Contracts; Some Hints and a Kick; The Heart of Woman; The Law of Individuality; Harmony at Home; A Mystery; The Family Jar; The Truth About Divorce; and The Old, Old Story.
TO BE HAPPY THOUGH MARRIED.
"Some dear relatives of mine proposed Ada as my future bride. I like Ada and I gladly accepted the offer, and I mean to wed her about the middle of this year. Is this a working of the Law of Attraction? I want to make our married life happy and peaceful. I long for a wedded life of pure blessedness and love and joy without even a pinhead of bitterness ever finding lodgment in our household. How can I attain this state of peace? This is what I now do: I enter into the Silence daily at a particular hour and enjoy the mental picture of how I desire to be when married. Am I right? Please tell me how to make my ideal real." Tudor, Island of Ceylon.
The above letter comes from a member of the Success Circle who is a highly cultured and interesting looking native East Indian. We have a full length photo of him in native costume.
He asks if "this is the working of the Law of Attraction." Certainly it is. Just as the sun acts through a sheet of glass so the Law of Attraction acts through the conventionalities of a race. Whatever comes together is drawn together by the Law. Whatever is held together is held by that same Law of Attraction.
This is just as true in unhappy marriages as in happy ones. If two people are distinctly enough individualized; that is, if they understand and command themselves sufficiently; their attraction and marriage will bring to them only pleasure. If they are not distinctly enough individualized there will be a monkey-and-parrot experience whilst they are working out the wisdom for which they were attracted.
When soda and sour milk are drawn together there is a great stew and fizz, but the end thereof is sweetness and usefulness. So with two adverse and uncontrolled natures; but out of the stew comes added wisdom, self-command and rounded character for each.
When each has finished the work of helping the other to develop they will either find themselves really in love with each other, or they will fall apart. Some stronger attraction will separate them at the right time--perhaps through divorce, perhaps through death.
All our goings and comings are due to the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction giveth, and it taketh away. Blessed is the Law. Let it work. And forget not that all things are due to its working.
This does not mean that the Law has no way of working except through the conventionalities of a people. Many times the attraction is to break away from the conventional. The stronger attraction always wins--whatever is, is best for that time and place.
"Tudor" says he "enters into the silence daily at a particular hour and enjoys the mental picture of how he desires to be when married."
His success all depends upon the equity in that picture; upon its truth to the law of being.
An impractical idealist lives in the silence with beautiful pictures of "how he desires to be when married." When he gets married there isn't a single detail of his daily experience which is like his mental picture. He is sadly disappointed and perhaps embittered or discouraged.
It all depends upon the picture. If Tudor's picture contains a benignant lord and master and a sweet little Alice Ben Bolt sort of wife who shall laugh with delight when he gives her a smile and wouldn't hurt his feelings for a farm; who does his bidding before he bids and is always content with what he is pleased, or able, to do for her; if this is the style of Tudor's mental picture he is certainly doomed to disappointment.
I have a suspicion that Tudor is a natural born teacher. His mental pictures may represent himself as a dispenser of moral and mental blessings. He may see Ada sitting adoringly at his feet, ever eager to learn. If so there will certainly be disappointment. East Indian girls may be more docile than American girls; East Indian men may be better and wiser lords and masters; but "Ada" is a Human Being before she is an East Indian; and a Human Being instinctively revolts from a life passed in leading strings. If Tudor continues to remind her that he is her schoolmaster she will certainly revolt; inwardly if not outwardly. Whether the revolt comes inwardly or outwardly harmony is doomed.
The first principle of happy marriage is equality. The second principle is mutual confidence, which can NEVER exist without the first.
I do not mean by "equality" what is usually meant. One member of the married twain may be rich, the other poor in worldly goods; one an aristocrat, the other plebeian; one educated, the other unschooled; and yet they may be to each other what they are in truth, equals.
Equality is a mental state, not a matter of birth or breeding, wisdom or ignorance. The TRUTH is that all men and women are equal; all are sparks of the One Life; all children of the one highly aristocratic "Father"; all heirs to the wisdom and wealth of the ages which go to make up eternity.
But all men and women are more or less unconcious, in spots at least, of this truth. They spend their lives "looking down" upon each other. Men "look down" upon their wives as "weak" or "inferior," and women look down upon their husbands as "animals" or "great brutes." Men are contemptuous of their wives visionariness, and women despise their husbands for "cold and calculating" tendencies.
Every man and woman values certain qualities highly, and in proportion as another fails to manifest these particular qualities he is classed as "low," and his society is not valued.
This is the great source of trouble between husbands and wives. Each values his or her own qualities and despises the other's. So in their own minds they are not equal, and the first principle of harmony is missing.
The real truth is that in marriage a man is schoolmaster to his wife and she is equally schoolmistress to him. This is true in a less degree, of all the relationships of life.
The Law of Attraction draws people together that they may learn. There is but one Life, which is growth in wisdom and knowledge.
There is but one Death, which is refusal to learn. If husbands and wives were equals in their own minds they would not despise each other and refuse to learn of each other.
The Law of Attraction, or Love, almost invariably attracts opposites, and for their own good. A visionary, idealistic woman is drawn to a practical man, where, kick and fuss and despise each other as they will, she is bound to become more practical and he more idealistic. They exchange qualities in spite of themselves; each is an unconscious agent in rounding out the character and making more abundant the life of the other.
Much of this blending of natures is accomplished through passion, the least understood of forces. And the children of a union of opposites, even where there is great contempt and unhappiness between the parents, are almost invariably better balanced than either of the parents.
I cannot believe that unhappy marriages are "mistakes" or that they serve no good purpose. The Law of Attraction draws together those who need each other at that particular stage of their growth. The unhappiness is due to their own foolish refusal to learn; and this refusal is due to their contempt for each other. They are like naughty children at school, who cry or sulk and refuse to work out their problems. Like those same naughty children they make themselves unhappy, and fail to "pass" as soon as they might.
Remember, that contempt for each other is at the very bottom of all marital unhappiness. The practical man despises his wife's impulsive idealism and tries to make her over. The wife despises his "cold and calculating" tendencies and tries to make him over. That means war, for it is impossible to make over anybody but yourself.
Because the man despises his wife's tendencies and she despises his, it never occurs to either to try making over themselves, thus helping along the very thing they were drawn together for.
If Tudor's picture holds two people who are always equal though utterly different; whose future actions are an unknown quantity to be taken as they come and each action to be met in a spirit of respect and inquiry, with a view to understanding and learning from it; if over and through all his picture Tudor spreads a glow of purpose to preserve his own respect and love for her, at all costs;--if this is the sort of picture Tudor makes in the silence he will surely realize it later.
It requires but one to strike the keynote of respect and personal freedom in marriage; the other will soon come into harmony.
You can readily see that all marital jars come from this lack of equality in the individual mind. If a man thinks he is perfectly able to take care of and to judge for himself he resents interference from another. On the other hand if he believes his wife is equally able to judge for herself, he never thinks of interfering with her actions. Of course the same is true of the wife. It is lack of respect and confidence which begets the making-over spirit in a family, and from this one cause arises all in harmony.
Individual freedom is the only basis for harmonious action; not only in marriage but in all other relationships of life.
And individual freedom cannot be granted by the man or woman who considers his or her judgments superior to the judgments of another. A man must accord his wife equal wisdom and power with himself, else he cannot free her to act for herself. A woman must accord her husband that same equality, or she cannot leave him free.
It is human (and divine) nature to correct what we believe to be wrong. Only in believing that the other "king (or queen) can do no wrong," lies the possibility of individual freedom, in marriage or out.
The man or woman who knows he or she is believed in and trusted is very careful to deserve that trust. Did you know that? The sure way to have your wishes consulted is to exalt and appreciate the other party. Did you know that a man or woman will cheerfully sacrifice his or her own opinions in order to retain the respect and love of the other? But if he thinks the respect and love of the other party is growing less he will give free reign to his own desires.
Married people "grow apart" for the one reason that they find fault with each other. Of course it begins by their being disrespectful to each other's faults, but it soon develops into disrespect of each other. From "looking down" upon a husband's faults it is only a few short steps to looking down upon him. His faults keep growing by recognition, and his good points keep shrivelling for lack of notice, until in your mind there is nothing left but faults. From trying to make him over you come to despair, and give him up as an altogether bad job.
And there isn't a grain of sense in all this madness. Stick to the TRUTH and you will get rid of the madness and the friction, too. The truth is that your husband, or your wife, would be an egregious fool to follow your judgments. You don't know beans from barley corn when it comes to the actions of anybody but yourself. The One Spirit which enlightens you as to your actions is also enlightening your other half as to her actions; and do you suppose this Spirit is going to favor you with better judgment about your other half's duties, than it has given her? I guess not. Don't be presumptuous, my boy. Do you own little best, and trust your other half to do hers. Trust that she is doing the best.
And above all trust the One Spirit to run you both.
If you do this your wife will rise fast in your esteem. And the higher she finds herself in your esteem the harder she will try to please you--and rise higher.
And, girls, don't forget that the shoe fits equally well the other foot. Either man or wife can bring harmony out of chaos simply by respecting the other half and all his or her acts.
A marriage without "even a pinhead of bitterness" is a marriage without a pin-point of fault-finding, mental or oral.
A TALE OF WOE.
"Why is it that, in more than two-thirds of families the wife and mother bears not only the children but the burdens and heartaches? The husband supplies the money (generally not enough), the wife has the care of a growing and increasing family, the best of everything is saved for 'Father' and he is waited on, etc. If the children annoy him he goes to his club; if the wife dies, why there are plenty more women for the asking. Thousands of women are simply starving for Love and men are either willfully blind or wholly and utterly selfish. You possibly know that this is quite true. Another thing that has caused me many a time to question everything: During the Christmas holidays many times I have seen half-clad, hungry, shivering little ones gazing longingly into the wonderful show windows, wanting probably just one toy, while children no more worthy drive by in carriages, having more than they want. Love, home, mother, everything; on the other hand hunger, want, blues (many times), and both God's children. Let us hear what you have to say about this." B. B.
Why does the mother in two-thirds of the families bear not only the children but the burdens and heartaches? Because she is too thoughtless and inert not to. It is easier to submit to bearing children than it is to rise up and take command of her own body. It is easier to carry burdens than to wake up and fire them. It is easier to "bear" things and grumble than it is to kick over the traces and change them. To be sure, most women are yet under the hypnotic spell of the old race belief that it is woman's duty to "submit" herself to any kind of an old husband; but that is just what I said--women find it easier to go through life half asleep rather than to think for themselves. Paul says a woman is not to think, she is to ask her husband to think for her. (At least that is what the translators say Paul says. Privately, I have my suspicions that those manly translators helped Paul to say a bit more than he meant to.) It is easier to let her husband think for her even when she doesn't like his thoughts. So she uses her brain in grumbling instead of thinking.
People who don't think are ruled by feeling. Women feel. They feel not only for themselves but for other people. They shoulder the burdens of the whole family and a few outside the family. They do it themselves--because it is easier to feel than to think. Nobody walks up to a woman and says, "Here--I have a burden that's very heavy--you carry it whilst I go off and have a good time." No. The woman simply takes the burden and hugs it and "feels" it--and prides herself on doing it. And maybe the thing she hugs as a burden is no burden at all to the other people in the family. My dear, women as a rule are chumps. They'd rather feel anything than to think the right thing.
Now I'd like to know if you think a woman who has made herself round-shouldered and wrinkled and sour-visaged over burdens--anybody's burdens, real or fancied--is such a creature as attracts love or consideration from anybody. Of course she is not. It is no wonder she receives no love or consideration from her husband or anybody else. She has made a pack mule out of herself for the carrying of utterly useless burdens that nobody wants carried and the carrying of which benefits nobody; and now that she has grown ugly and sour at the business she need not feel surprised at being slighted. And she need not blame folks for slighting her. She assumed the burdens; she carried them; she wore herself out at it; it is all her own fault. It was easier for her to feel, and grumble, than to wake up and THINK, and change things.
Nobody who thinks will carry a single burden for even a single day. He knows that fretting and worrying and grumbling only double the burden and accomplish nothing.
Woman has built herself for bearing children and burdens. When she gets tired of her bargain she will think her way out of the whole thing. In the meantime the harder the burdens grow the more quickly she will revolt and make of herself something besides a burden bearer.
It is all nonsense to talk about the men being "willfully blind or wholly and utterly selfish." No man wants a burden-bearing, round-shouldered, wrinkled and fagged-out wife. No man respects or loves a woman who will "submit" to bearing unlimited burdens or babies either. And if a woman "submits" and yet keeps up a continual grumbling and nagging about it, a man simply despises her.
What every man hopes for when he marries a woman, is that she will be a bright, trim, reasonable comrade. If she is even half-way that she will get all the love and consideration she can long for. But in three-quarters of the cases of marriage the woman degenerates into a whining bundle of thought-less FEELINGS done up in a slattern's dress and smelling like a drug-shop. Her husband in despair gives up trying to understand her, or to love her either.
The woman in such a case is apt to suffer most. Why not? She makes it the business of her life to "suffer." She prides herself on how much she has had to "suffer," and "bear." She cultivates her "feelings" to the limit. A man thinks it "unmanly" to give way to "feelings." So he uses all his wits to keep from doing so, and to enable him to hide his own disappointment and make the best of life as he finds it.
A man uses his best judgment when he meets disappointment. A woman trots out her "feelings" and her best pocket-handkerchief, and calls in the neighbors. So the woman gets the lion's share of "sympathy"--which means that all the other women get out their best handkerchiefs and try to imagine just how they would "feel" if in her place.
Of course there are exceptions. I have heard of men who wept and retailed their woes; and I have heard of women with gumption.
The woman who wrote the letter at the head of this chapter is a feel-er, not a thinker. She looks at the forlorn, bedraggled specimens of her own sex and "feels" with them, never THINKING that the women themselves have anything to do with making their conditions. She "feels" with the woman because she is a woman. Being an unthinking creature she cannot "feel" for the man at all.
Woman is the weaker creature for no other reason than that she lives in her "feelings."
Man is the stronger for no other reason than that he uses his wits and his will to control his feelings. "B. B." has seen children gazing into shop windows. Immediately she imagines how she would "feel" if in their places. She does not stop to THINK that in all probability the simple act of gazing into the window may bring more real joy to those children than the possession of the whole windowful of toys would bring to some rich man's child. She does not think that life consists not in possessions or environment, but in the ability to use possessions or environment. If she were an Edwin Abbey or a Michael Angelo she would gaze on our chromo-bedecked walls and work herself up into a great state of "feeling" because we had to have such miserable daubs instead of real works of art. If she saw us gazing on an Abbey or Angelo picture she would weep tears to think we couldn't have such pictures instead of those hideous bright chromos on our walls. It would never occur to her that we might be privately comparing her Abbeys and Angelos with our chromos, and wondering how anybody could possibly see beauty in the Abbeys and Angelos.
About nine-tenths of women's so-called "sympathy" is just about as foolish and misplaced as that. If "B. B." would go up and get acquainted with some of those small youngsters she sees gazing into the shop windows she would find some of her illusions dispelled. She would find among them less "longing" than she thinks, and more wonder and criticism and pure curiosity--such as she would find in her own heart if she were gazing at a curio collection.
I remember a large family of very small boys that I used to "feel" for, very deeply. Poor little pinched, ragged looking fellows they were, and always working before and after school hours. I gave them nickels and dimes and my children's outgrown clothes, and new fleece lined gloves for their blue little hands. They kept the clothes hung up at home and the gloves stuffed in their pants pockets. And one day I discovered that every one of those small youngsters had a bank account--something I had never had in my life! They lived as they liked to live, and I had been harrowing my feelings and carrying their (?) burdens for nothing.
This world is not a pitiful place. It is a lovely great world, full of all sorts of people, every one of whom exactly fits into his conditions.
And the loveliest thing of all about this bright, blessed old world is that there is not a man, woman or child in it who cannot change his environment if he doesn't like the one he now occupies. He can THINK his way into anything.
A real, deep, tender feeling will prompt one to do all he can to alleviate distress or add to the world's joy. Real feeling prompts to action. But this sentimental slush which slops over on anything and everything in general is nothing but an imitation of the real thing. To sympathize to the extent of acting is good; to harrow up the feelings when you cannot or will not act, is simply weakness.
"Feeling" is subject to the same law as water. Take away its banks and it spreads all over creation and becomes a stagnant slough of despond. Confine it by banks of common-sense and will and it grows deep and tender and powerful, and bears blessings on its bosom.
The professional pity-er is adding to the sum total of the world's misery.
The world is like "sweet Alice Ben Bolt"; it laughs with delight when you give it a smile, and gets out its pocket handkerchief to weep with you when you call it "Poor thing!"
Then it cuts its call short and runs around the corner to tell your neighbor what a tiresome old thing you are anyway.
Never you mind the tribulations you can't help, dearie. Just wake up and be the brightest, happiest, sweetest thing you know how to be, and the world will-be that much better off.
"Happiness and Marriage" by Elizabeth Towne
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