Have you taken upon yourselves the conjugal relation? Your high and solemn duty is to make
each other as happy as it is in your power. The husband should have, as his great object and
rule of conduct, the happiness of the wife. Of that happiness, the confidence in his affection is
the chief element; and the proofs of this affection on his part, therefore, constitute his chief
duty - an affection that is not lavish of caresses only, as if these were the only demonstrations of
love, but of that respect which distinguishes love, as a principle, from that brief passion which
assumes, and only assumes, the name - a respect which consults the judgment, as well as the
wishes, of the object beloved - which considers her who is worthy of being taken to the heart as
worthy of being admitted to all the counsels of the heart. He must often forget her, or be
useless to the world; she is most useful to the world by remembering him. From the
tumultuous scenes which agitate many of his hours, he returns to the calm scene, where peace
awaits him, and happiness is sure to await him; because she is there waiting, whose smile is
peace, and whose very presence is more than happiness to his heart.
In your joy at the consummation of your wishes, do not forget that your happiness both here
and hereafter depends - O how much! - upon each other's influence. An unkind word or look,
or an unintentional neglect, sometimes leads to thoughts which ripen into the ruin of body and
soul. A spirit of forbearance, patience, and kindness, and a determination to keep the chain of
love bright, are likely to develop corresponding qualities, and to make the rough places of life
smooth and pleasant. Have you ever reflected seriously that it is in the power of either of you
to make the other utterly miserable? And when the storms and trials of life come, for come
they will, how much either of you can do to calm, to elevate, to purify, the troubled spirit of the
other, and substitute sunshine for storm?
We cannot look upon marriage in the light in which many seem to regard it - merely as a
convenient arrangement in society. To persons of benevolence, intelligence, and refinement, it
must be something more - the source of the greatest possible happiness or of the most abject
misery - no half-way felicity. You have not had the folly to discard common sense. You have
endeavored to study charitably and carefully the peculiarities of each other's habits,
dispositions, and principles, and to anticipate somewhat the inconveniencies to which they may
lead. And as you are determined to outdo each other in making personal sacrifices, and to live
by the spirit of the Savior, you have laid a foundation for happiness, which it is not likely will
be shaken by the joys or sorrows, the prosperity or adversity, the riches or poverty, or by the
frowns or flattery, of the world. If there is a place on earth to which vice has no entrance -
where the gloomy passions have no empire - where pleasure and innocence live constantly
together - where cares and labors are delightful - where every pain is forgotten in reciprocal
tenderness - where there is an equal enjoyment of the past, the present, and the future - it is
the house of a wedded pair, but of a pair who, in wedlock, are lovers still.
The married life, though entered never so well, and with all proper presentation, must be lived
well or it will not be useful or happy. Married life will not go itself, or if it does it will not keep
the track. It will turn off at every switch and fly off at every turn or impediment. It needs a
couple of good conductors who understand the engineering of life. Good watch must be kept
for breakers ahead. The fires must be kept up by a constant addition of the fuel of affection.
The boilers must be kept full and the machinery in order, and all hands at their posts, else
there will be a smashing up, or life will go hobbling or jolting along, wearing and tearing,
breaking and bruising, leaving some heads and hearts to get well the best way they can. It
requires skill, prudence, and judgment to lead this life well, and these must be tempered with
forbearance, charity and integrity.
The young are apt to hang too many garlands about the married life. This is so as this life is
generally lived. But if it is wisely entered and truthfully lived, it is more beautiful and happy
than any have imagined. It is the true life which God has designed for his children, replete
with joy, delightful, improving, and satisfactory in the highest possible earthly degree. It is the
hallowed home of virtue, peace, and bliss. It is the ante-chamber of heaven, the visiting-place
of angels, the communing ground of kindred spirits. Let all young women who would reap
such joys and be thus blessed and happy, learn to live the true life and be prepared to weave
for their brows the true wife's perennial crown of goodness.
The experience of an excellent lady may be of benefit to some reader. She had a very worthy
husband, whom she did not love as she should. The trouble was she had not entirely
surrendered herself to him until she had been very ill. She says: "I have been very ill, almost
dead. Such care and devotion as I have had! What a rock my heart must have been, not to be
broken before. Day and night my husband has watched me himself, sleepless and tireless;
nobody else could do so much. Now I know what love means. My husband shall never say
again, 'Love me more.' He shall have all there is to give, and I think my heart is larger than it
was a year ago. What a thrill of joy it gives me when I catch his eye, or hear his voice or step.
My heart runs to meet him and my eyes overflow with tears of happiness. How man and
contemptible it seems to me to desire the attention of other men, or to wish to go anywhere he
cannot accompany me. I despise myself for ever thinking such pleasures desirable. I delight to
say, 'My husband, my good, noble, generous, forgiving husband, keep me close to you. That is
all the happiness I ask.' I know now that all the trouble was the result of not having a full,
complete giving up of myself, when I promised to be a wife - a consecration of true love."
The warmest-hearted and most unselfish women soon learn to accept quiet trust and the
loyalty of a loving life as the calmest and happiest condition of marriage; and the men who are
sensible enough to rely on the good sense of such wives sail round the gushing adorers both for
true affection and comfortable tranquillity.
Just let a young wife remember that her husband necessarily is under a certain amount of
bondage all day; that his interests compel him to look pleasant under all circumstances, to
offend none, to say no hasty word, and she will see that when he reaches his own fireside he
wants, most of all, to have this strain removed, to be at ease; but this he cannot be if he is
continually afraid of wounding his wife's sensibilities by forgetting some outward and visible
token of his affection for her. Besides, she pays him but a poor compliment in refusing to
believe what he does not continually assert, and by fretting for what is unreasonable to desire
she deeply wrongs herself, for
"A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty."
Make a home, beautify and adorn it; cultivate all heavenly charms within it; sing sweet songs
of love in it; bear your portion of toil, and pain, and sorrow in it; con daily lessons of strength
and patience there; shine like a star on the face of the darkest night over it, and tenderly raise
the children it shall give you in it. High on a pinnacle, above all earthly grandeur, all gaudy
glitter, all fancied ambitions, set the home interests. Feed the mind in it; feed the soul in it;
strengthen the love, and charity, and truth, and all holy and good things within it!
When young persons marry, even with the fairest prospects, they should never forget that
infirmity is inseparably bound up with their very nature, and that, in bearing one another's
burdens, they fulfill one of the highest duties of the union. Love in marriage cannot live nor
subsist unless it be mutual; and where love cannot be, there can be left of wedlock nothing but
the empty husk of an outside matrimony, as undelightful and unpleasing to God as any other
kind of hypocrisy.
We have all seen the trees die in summer time. But the tree with its whispering leaves and
swinging limbs, its greenness, its umbrage, where the shadows lie hidden all the day, does not
die. First a dimness creeps over its brightness; next a leaf sickens here and there, and pales;
then a whole bough feels the palsying touch of coming death, and finally the feeble signs of
sickly life, visible here and there, all disappear, and the dead trunk holds out its stripped,
stark limbs, a melancholy ruin. Just so does wedded love sometimes die. Wedded love, girdled
by the blessings of friends, hallowed by the sanction of God, rosy with present joys, and
radiant with future hopes, it dies not all at once. A hasty word casts a shadow upon it, and the
shadow darkens with the sharp reply. A little thoughtlessness misconstrued, a little
unintentional neglect deemed real, a little word misinterpreted, though such small avenues the
devil of discord gains admittance to the heart, and then welcomes all his infernal progeny. The
presence of something malicious is felt, but not acknowledged; love becomes reticent,
confidence is chilled, and noiselessly but surely the work of separation goes on, until the two
are left as isolated as the pyramids - nothing left of the union but the legal form - the dead
trunk of the tree whose branches once tossed in the bright sunlight, and whose sheltering
leaves trembled with the music of singing birds now affords no shade for the traveler.
There are two classes of disappointed lovers - those who are disappointed before marriage,
and the more unhappy ones who are disappointed after it. To be deprived of a person we love
is a happiness in comparison of living with one we hate.
The Conjugal Relation
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy