« ElőzőTovább »
erate or retard our passage through it, but never did man and woman come together with any purpose at all of making a united and happy life, without finding that it lay before them, -most to their amazement, many to their despair. I trace much of the mistake and misery of married life to the ignorance of this great fact — that there is inevitably a season during which the process of assimilation between two dissimilar spirits is going on, during which they are learning to respect each others’ views, to make allowance for each others’ weaknesses, to mutually accommodate and adjust mutual wishes and rights — which must be a season of more or less unhappiness and trial — the east wind and the cloud, out of which are to be born all the beauty and promise of a true life. Once pass safely through it, and all is well. It is the “narrow” of their intercourse through which they must go before they can stand firm on the “broad” solidity and confidence of love. It argues nothing against the reality of the love between two hearts, nothing against their adaptation to each other, or the future progress and harmony of their lives. Only let them know beforehand, that this is to be; only let meddling and injudicious friends stand aside as the process goes on ; only let those concerned most nearly in it, work the great result out by themselves, and if they are in earnest, by God's help, they shall issue out of the shade into the light that shall grow brighter and brighter with every new year, and every fresh experience. The grand, enduring harmony shall come out of all this seeming discord. You cannot bring any two foreign substances into contact — not those which have the closest chemical affinity—but it takes some moment of time, to adjust themselves to each other, to throw off that which is foreign to union, and draw out the latent properties of relationship. They have to learn “the art of living together,” these things which henceforth are to exist in an inseparable unity. So must these hearts which may yet exist as twin spirits through the long ages and experiences of eternity. The fact about that condition prior to marriage, called an engagement, is, that it is the very worst preparation for marriage that can be conceived. The first work for married people to do, is to get acquainted. They come together really as strangers, in some respects greater strangers than in the first days of their intercourse, and they must not be surprised, nor should they be alarmed, if even the honeymoon be shaded by clouds. I remember to have heard of a bride who desired a friend to go with her on her bridal journey, as “she really was not acquainted with her husband.” No bride is. No bridegroom knows his wife. That is a thing to come. The process may be long and trying. It might be prevented largely if the previous intercourse of the parties were upon a more rational footing. That we seem to decide cannot be. Custom, convention are against it. Only when they meet beneath the same roof do the man and woman begin to know each other. Amid all other new relations and duties they find rising and imperative this, and many an one will confess to you that the most unhappy year of their lives was the first year after marriage, the time of the process of getting acquainted,— that they then thought it was all failure and mistake, but that gradually out of it grew broad and substantial happiness, the result of acquaintance, mutual accommodation, and respect. Letit be set down as the first fact for those who go to make a home, that their first necessity will be to get acquainted. I well remember the shock that I, as a young and inexperienced enthusiast, received from one whom I then considered cold and hard of heart, whose words of real wisdom — had I but then understood them — would have saved me many a mistake, many a useless regret. Anticipating only joy, seeing nothing of the perils before me, a friend said “only upon conditions is married life a life of happiness.” I did not understand it then, perhaps I could not have understood it then, but I understand it now, and few things have taken a firmer hold upon my memory as my act, than those words only upon conditions. That I think is the great secret of the happiness of home. And I
wish I might get it into the ear of every new husband and wife, that they are going to make a happy and successful life of it themselves in their new home — that they are going to make the lives of those that shall be intrusted to them happy and successful only wpon conditions. God is not going to interfere with any miracle of his and make a true home life for you, but you are to make it for yourselves. What the Home needs at its commencement and in its simpler relations, it needs all the way through and in every relationship. Its success is still conditional. Let a single member of a household forget or neglect his duties to the other members-of it, and the home fails. It rests upon conditions all the way through. There are one or two other things about home life, which seem to me so important as elements in home success, that I must speak briefly of them here. The first is the necessity of compromise. We have had so much of that in our political history for some years, that the word even has become an offence with many, while the thing savors only of unmanly yielding of high principle, and base surrender of great trust. The word, however, is a good one, and so is the thing. The difficulty has been in its use. If you will look not only into human life, but into all organized existence, you will see that all harmonious action is the result of compromise, that there has everywhere to be an accommodation of forces, that life, as nature, is a system of checks and balances — compromises, – that no one element or power is allowed full, unlimited sway. That would bring old chaos back again. The order of the systems, the alternations of day and night, the fertility of the seasons, the flow of rivers, the stability of oceans, are results of equilibrium among forces, any one of which breaking away and exercising its unchecked right, would bring swift and broad destruction to all. Compromise makes our safety. Society likewise rests upon this basis, and is secure so long as it is undisturbed. When some one force rises and insists upon supremacy, then trouble and disintegration and revolt. So in the nation, so in the church, so in the lesser affairs between man and man, and so in the home. I have had men marvel at me because in the marriage ceremony I have wished that the new couple might learn the true compromises of love. They have thought there was a contradiction in such language, that it was a stepping down from the high level upon which wedded love should be assumed to stand, introducing the inexperienced to an unworthy temptation. A very little reflection should convince of the contrary. Wedded love, true home life, are impossible except as the result of compromise. The man or woman who attempts to act without it will make a miserable failure, must become either a selfish tyrant or an abject slave.