Rules for wedded couples who would be happy
by Nixola Greely-Smith
Perhaps more well-meaning persons are tinkering away at the marriage problem today than at any other period in the history of civilization. All the more serious writers of the day make it the theme of discussion and philosophy. The bread and butter romance has been relegated to the nursery, where it belongs. Almost alone among first rate contemporary writers, W T Locke still spreads his pages with the honey and treacle love that never was on sea or land, but which was the only kind to be read about in English 20 years ago.
There is a whole school of social philosophers, among whom H G Wells is foremost, who believe that happiness in marriage is to be established by the public endowment of motherhood. According to this view, the bearing of children is a service to the state and should be recognized and recompensed as such. So long as the mother has to depend upon the generosity of the individual man for that maintenance which society should supply collectively for her and her children, so long will strife invade the family circle.
Among the advocates of the endowment of motherhood in the United States none is more widely known that Mr Henry Neil, who has been called the father of the mothers’ pension system, which is already a law in the state of Illinois.
As to the question of mothers’ pensions
Mr Neil, who is now among us seeking new world’s to convert to the idea of mothers’ pensions, contributes the following letter to this discussion.
I don’t mind saying that the endowment of motherhood seems to me the most plausible of all the schemes which have been devised so far for improving the quality of the race:
Certainly the economic independence of women is not the answer to the cry for better and more children. For the working mother means children improperly fed or carelessly reared. Yet, so long as the rewards of motherhood are so uncertain and so precarious, more and more women will remain celibate or childless.
Enter at this point the sentimentalist, who exclaims: “Motherhood is its own reward. A real mother asks for no other!” Maybe not for herself. But how about her children? The more intelligent she is the more truly and tenderly maternal her spirit, the greater the guarantees she will demand for the present welfare and future security of her children. But many persons are a long way from believing this.
Happiness aided by finding the right mother-in-law
“If you want to be happy in marriage, pick your mother-in-law first.”
This contribution to the lore in courtship was made the other day by Rev E E McKay of Chicago in a Sunday night talk to young men. “Mothers,” the western pastor observed, “are living pictures in the albums of the years, announcing just what time will do for their daughters. “Find me a mother whose house has no order — the rolling pin in the music rack, the satin sofa pillow in the coal box; who never combs her hair until she ‘goes out,’ and who looks like a fright until somebody comes — if the text is true, the daughter will keep house in the same manner.
“Find me a mother who will turn her baby over to a nurse and let a silken poodle lead her to a downtown club, who will go to sleep at night with a dime novel under her pillow and a 15 cent head on top of it — I say nothing but the grace of God can keep the daughter from doing just the same thing as the mother.
Find one who can play on the stove and piano, too
“But show me a mother who is kind of heart, decisive of will, Christian in character, a good housekeeper, whose daily orders are that ‘dirt, debt and the devil’ cannot enter her home, who can play as elegantly on the cook stove as she can on the piano — in short, a mother given to industry, self-sacrifice and concentration — and the reproduction of such a mother is easily seen in the daughter.
Maybe Rev Mr McKay is right — maybe the force of mother’s noble example will be sufficient to overcome certain traits of personal indulgence and shiftlessness which daughter must have inherited from father. Scientifically, biologically, a young man anxious to know the worst of his future wife should study not mother-in-law but father-in-law. For it is written by Gallon’s law of heredity that the daughter shall inherit the genius and the weakness of the father.
Of course, if YOU don’t believe in heredity and are willing to trust to gentle maternal precepts to overcome a transmitted tendency to throw newspapers on the floor or to burn holes in the centerpiece, study your future mother-in-law. Otherwise, keep your weather eye on father and learn a little something about grandparents of all varieties, In my opinion, any self-respecting young woman in love would think twice before entrusting her fate to a young hero whose ghoulish glance from her to her mother would proclaim the thought, “unto this likeness must she come at last.”
No intelligent person overlooks hereditary possibilities altogether, but how is it possible to bank on mother’s saintly qualities or father’s goodly piety when the strange phenomenon of atavism may take the offspring back to a rollicking, unregenerate great-grandfather and skip their virtues entirely?
Cupid ought to be blind, and it’s well he is
The ancients did not portray Cupid as the blind god for nothing. He ought to be blind. What would the Greeks think of our modern bespectacled little Johnny-Boston-Beans of a love deity? If we are going to make him wear glasses, and feel his pulse and take his temperature every little while, why not get his thumb imprint while we are about it and put him in the rogues’ gallery? Maybe, after all, he belongs there.
Still, if we are in love, let’s be in love, and if we are scientific and eugenic and all that sort of thing, let’s do that well, too.
So, young man, if you want to get a biologic hint of what your adored one will become in a few years, take father out and buy him a few glasses of sarsaparilla or any other beverage that will live up to its reputation as an incentive to truth. Mother-in-law, on the contrary, should be put under the microscope by the young woman in doubt about the wearing qualities of her fiance.
Illustration: Postcard from 1913 — “Will you marry me? Why I only met you yesterday, I know, but I am only staying here a week.”
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Publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California)
Publication date: January 26, 1913