THE nuptial ceremony must take place, and this, the wedding day, is looked to with particular delight the gala day of one's whole life, to which no other occasion can compare. The rooms and hall are decked with flowers and festoons of evergreens. The dearest friends are gathered in, festivities are prepared, the banquet spread; and presents, rich and beautiful, to cheer the bride and groom. The joyful couple are now arrayed in bridal robes and habit neat; with hand clasped in hand, there they stand in solemn silence, to listen to the words pronounced which make them acknowledged husband and wife.
A new life is now spread out before this happy pair. For them it is like a birth into another sphere; and as they step forth to tread the path of life together, there is as much care to be observed as when a child begins to walk the slippery sands upon the shore. Upon this one act in life, to a great extent, hangs their destiny.
The influence of a constant companionship in siich intimate relations is calculated to mould a character in loveliness and beauty, or to have an opposite effect. No business transaction, no enterprise or speculation, can compare with this one voluntary act; hence with what discretion it should be consummated.
Although parties may be well mated, without constant watchfulness troubles will arise that may never be removed. Scarcely a day will pass but one or the other will see where a duty has been omitted, or some cause for grief occurred.
"The kindest and the happiest pair
Under every circumstance, andin all positions, from the humblest to the most exalted, all persons should feel under a moral obligation to consider with due respect the feelings of those with whom they associate; but this duty between husbands and wives is more imperative. Under no condition is it more essential that kindness, forbearance, and gentleness should be exercised than in these relations. The closer the bonds of friendship, and the more intimate the association, the more sensitive the heart becomes to coldness or distrust.
Before marriage, when both were free and at liberty to seek or accept the kindness and sympathy of others, the feelings of resentment or indifference might be expressed at any violation of these just rules of courtesy, and friendship may cease between the two, and neither will suffer greatly, for there is a chance for other friends to fill the place of the one rejected. But at the shrine of marriage, when each proffers to the other a sacred love and holy trust jewels of the heart, more precious than ever decked a prince's crown where all special interest in society is sacrificed, for this exclusive individual affection and confidence should be maintained by both, that they may so live as to make each other happy.
But when neglect takes the place of past devotion; when hard words and sharp rebukes are substitutes for kindness; the trusted wife or doting husband is forced to see and feel the change, and will realise when quite too late that misplaced confidence has worked out utter ruin. During courtship every act was but to please; no neglect was suffered then. It was "Miss Sally" here, "Miss Sally" there. Nothing more harsh was spoken; and if she had an apple, it was "Miss Sally, don't eat that apple skin; if you please I'll pare it for you." The lover kindly performs the deed, and from the point of his knife her dainty hands receives the apple with, "I thank you, sir." All that is right, and quite polite, just as it ought to be. But after marriage, in six months' time, when the wife would like to have an apple, "Go, get one! Bring me one, too!" Now, the fruit is not prepared and passed to her politely. He eats his apple; she eats hers. Apple skins don't hurt married women; they are very bad for girls! Wives may often swallow peel, core, and stem, for aught some husbands care, so they don't trouble then.
And then again the lover says, "Miss Sally, do not go out to church alone to night it is quite unsafe; be ready at seven o'clock, and I'll be here." And there he is at the hour appointed, and she is ready, waiting. He kindly escorts her to the church, secures the seat. If the air is warm he fans her face while she listens to the sermon; but after a few years of married life, too often, all this kindness is forgotten, and when the hour arrives, the husband says, "Sail, are you going to church to-night?" "Yes," she replies, "I wish to go." "Well, come along, I'm going." He then starts off and leaves her.
After the duties are performed, and wife gets to church with one child in her arms and another by her side, she sees her husband sitting by a friend, and service not commenced; she takes a seat behind the men and hears their conversation. The husband declares that all women are deceitful; "There's my wife Sally has changed much since we've been married. For six weeks she was just as kind and affectionate as a woman need to be, but now an iceberg could not be colder. I have no faith in women." Poor man! All this time he has been weaving a pall to bury her love, and at last he finds it buried. The husband had become transformed from a gentleman to a clown. Sally could not love a clown; she loved him when he was a gentleman, or treated her as one should; but since the change took place in him, Sally's heart was changed and cold.
And women, too, do all things well to suit and please the lover. During courtship, when he came, the room was warm, the hearth was swept, the newspaper on the table, and she was always ready to welcome him, although duties might be calling, for she must be polite she must not meet him coolly. But after a few years, when, the husband comes home in the evening, all things are changed. The room is strewed with scraps of cloth; the light is dim, and the fuel low in the untidy grate; the easy chair is now pushed back, or is occupied by herself; the newspaper is torn; she has her hair in papers yet, or dangling on her shoulders, and a novel in her hand. She does not lift her eyes, much less to greet the man with smiles, who would gladly have stayed and spent his leisure hours at home; but all seems so different she so changed, and everything so cheerless he takes up his hat, and spends the evening out. Then she begins to grieve and wipe away the tears, and mentally she asks, "Why does he leave? he used to spend his evenings here, but now he does not care for me." Poor, thoughtless woman; she little knows the power that wives possess that many husbands are repelled through their wives' own carelessness.
It is often these thoughtless acts and multitude of little wrongs which shake our earthly happiness. The irritating trifles, the oppositions offered, the untimely criticisms, and many slight offences with greater purport than strangers recognise in them, make up the multitude of domestic differences which weigh upon the heart and depress the spirits, sometimes beyond reaction. Yet sorrows of greater magnitude may be endured with resignation. The death of friends, adversity and misfortune, have all been met with philosophic bearing, although they shocked the soul and almost paralysed the brain; but, like the purifying effect of a terrific storm, sweet peace and calmness follow:
"A something light as air a look,
After marriage do not forget to speak the gentle words you used to say; repeat those kindnesses. Tell each other daily of your love. We never weary of these words, "I love, I love." These are the sweetest sounds the ear has ever heard, and always fresh and new.
Do not take for granted that your wife knows you love her, but often tell her so. She is never so old and grey, but that to tell her you love her as in her earlier day, will add youth to looks and lightness to her step.
No man so far advanced in years, but for his wife to gently smooth his hair, and tell him of her love, will add lustre to his eye, and strength to limb.
Make little presents now and not rich expensive gifts that one could ill afford; not costly jewels, expensive ornaments, northings quite out of reach. It is the little kindnesses which make love more sweet. Wife can make a necktie from apiece of her wedding garment, and when the husband finds it ready to adjust, "Ah! where did this come from? I have seen this cloth before." "Oh, Santa Claus has been around," the wife replies. "It was you, my dear, who put it there, and this is from your wedding gown." He proudly lays the tie about his neck, and loves her all the more.
When husband goes away from home he should bring something back for wife. Buy a book, a fan, a flower, a collar, or a handkerchief; this always comes in good. Have it wrapped in soft white paper, and toss it on her lap. Watch those nervous hands how they tear the paper off. "What is here?" she asks, and is amazed to see the trifle brought. "Where did you get it?" she exclaims. "In town," he says. "Did you find it?" "Oh, no; I bought it." "For whom? " For my wife I left at home." "Then you thought of me while absent." "Did you suppose I never thought of you only when in your presence?" "I did not know; but yes, I did. Pardon me for that; and it was very kind of you. Thanks ever so much, and it is handsome, too just what I wished for, and just the colour. How very good you are." In showing her present to a friend, she says, "This handkerchief I value highly; it is the one my husband gave me. I shall only use it as my best, for parties, weddings, funerals, and such occasions." She folds it in a small compass and puts it to her face. It thrills her cheek as Joe's apple thrilled my hand. And this is real love-making.
Without the marriage institution, though ancient and time-honoured, yields the evidence of superiority over a life of celibacy, it will yet fail to win the respect and admiration of the more philosophically inclined; as the too frequent discordancies, and apparent troubles, are not easily waived by minds who are forced to doubt the assumed advantages claimed by some marital participants; because they do not prove, by their own success, the benefits they claim. Like some professing Christians, who are confident of their soul's salvation, based solely on their faith, when their daily lives bespeak many unchristianlike acts, by robbing the widow of her mite, and trampling on the weak, until the non-professing stand aloof, and are ready to exclaim that profession is not as sure a proof of godliness as a life of good and noble deeds. So the legal bond of marriage should not be the only proof of married sanctity; but the increase of happiness by the growth of love would be a stronger evidence that marriage is a holy rite, and not alone a man-made institution for selfish purposes, but that its origin was from a Higher Source, and is fraught with superior advantages for a purer and better life.
After marriage true courtship should begin, and love-making never cease, if we would live contented with our married state.
"Let those love now who never loved before;
"Love, courtship and marriage" : Anna M. Longshore Potts
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