A Happy or Unhappy Marriage?
If those who are contemplating marriage would not have miserable, unhappy reflections after marriage, they must make it a subject of serious, earnest reflection now. This step taken unwisely is one of the most effective means of ruining the usefulness of young men and women. Life becomes a burden, a curse.
No one can so effectually ruin a woman’s happiness and usefulness, and make life a heartsickening burden, as her own husband; and no one can do one hundredth part as much to chill the hopes and aspirations of a man, to paralyze his energies and ruin his influence and prospects, as his own wife. It is from the marriage hour that many men and women date their success or failure in this life, and their hopes of the future life.
I wish I could make the youth see and feel their danger, especially the danger of making unhappy marriages.
Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will not advance his plans in this direction without the knowledge that God approves his course. He will not want to choose for himself, but will feel that God must choose for him.
We are not to please ourselves, for Christ pleased not Himself. I would not be understood to mean that anyone is to marry one whom he does not love. This would be sin. But fancy and the emotional nature must not be allowed to lead on to ruin. God requires the whole heart, the supreme affections.
Make Haste Slowly
Few have correct views of the marriage relation. Many seem to think that it is the attainment of perfect bliss; but if they could know one quarter of the heartaches of men and women that are bound by the marriage vow in chains that they cannot and dare not break, they would not be surprised that I trace these lines.
Marriage, in a majority of cases, is a most galling yoke. There are thousands that are mated but not matched. The books of heaven are burdened with the woes, the wickedness, and the abuse that lie hidden under the marriage mantle.
This is why I would warn the young who are of a marriageable age to make haste slowly in the choice of a companion. The path of married life may appear beautiful and full of happiness; but why may not you be disappointed as thousands of others have been?
Those who are contemplating marriage should consider what will be the character and influence of the home they are founding. As they become parents, a sacred trust is committed to them. Upon them depends in a great measure the well-being of their children in this world, and their happiness in the world to come. To a great extent they determine both the physical and the moral stamp that the little ones receive. And upon the character of the home depends the condition of society; the weight of each family’s influence will tell in the upward or the downward scale.
Vital Factors in the Choice
Great care should be taken by Christian youth in the formation of friendships and in the choice of companions. Take heed, lest what you now think to be pure gold turns out to be base metal. Worldly associations tend to place obstructions in the way of your service to God, and many souls are ruined by unhappy unions, either business or matrimonial, with those who can never elevate or ennoble.
Weigh every sentiment, and watch every development of character in the one with whom you think to link your life destiny. The step you are about to take is one of the most important in your life, and should not be taken hastily. While you may love, do not love blindly.
Examine carefully to see if your married life would be happy or inharmonious and wretched. Let the questions be raised,
- Will this union help me heavenward?
- Will it increase my love for God?
- And will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life?
If these reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward.
Most men and women have acted in entering the marriage relation as though the only question for them to settle was whether they loved each other. But they should realize that a responsibility rests upon them in the marriage relation farther than this.
They should consider whether their offspring will possess physical health and mental and moral strength. But few have moved with high motives and with elevated considerations which they could not lightly throw off—that society had claims upon them, that the weight of their family’s influence would tell in the upward or downward scale.
The choice of a life companion should be such as best to secure physical, mental, and spiritual well-being for parents and for their children—such as will enable both parents and children to bless their fellow men and to honor their Creator.
Qualities to Be Sought in a Prospective Wife
Let a young man seek one to stand by his side who is fitted to bear her share of life’s burdens, one whose influence will ennoble and refine him, and who will make him happy in her love.
A prudent wife is from the Lord.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her,
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
He who gains such a wife “findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.”
Here are things which should be considered:
- Will the one you marry bring happiness to your home?
- Is [she] an economist, or will she, if married, not only use all her own earnings, but all of yours to gratify a vanity, a love of appearance?
- Are her principles correct in this direction?
- Has she anything now to depend upon?
I know that to the mind of a man infatuated with love and thoughts of marriage these questions will be brushed away as though they were of no consequence. But these things should be duly considered, for they have a bearing upon your future life….
In your choice of a wife study her character.
- Will she be one who will be patient and painstaking?
- Or will she cease to care for your mother and father at the very time when they need a strong son to lean upon?
- And will she withdraw him from their society to carry out her plans and to suit her own pleasure, and leave the father and mother who, instead of gaining an affectionate daughter, will have lost a son?
Qualities to Be Sought in a Prospective Husband
Before giving her hand in marriage, every woman should inquire whether he with whom she is about to unite her destiny is worthy.
- What has been his past record?
- Is his life pure?
- Is the love which he expresses of a noble, elevated character, or is it a mere emotional fondness?
- Has he the traits of character that will make her happy?
- Can she find true peace and joy in his affection?
- Will she be allowed to preserve her individuality, or must her judgment and conscience be surrendered to the control of her husband?
- Can she honor the Saviour’s claims as supreme?
- Will body and soul, thoughts and purposes, be preserved pure and holy?
These questions have a vital bearing upon the well-being of every woman who enters the marriage relation.
Let the woman who desires a peaceful, happy union, who would escape future misery and sorrow, inquire before she yields her affections,
- Has my lover a mother?
- What is the stamp of her character?
- Does he recognize his obligations to her?
- Is he mindful of her wishes and happiness?
- If he does not respect and honor his mother, will he manifest respect and love, kindness and attention, toward his wife?
- When the novelty of marriage is over, will he love me still?
- Will he be patient with my mistakes, or will he be critical, overbearing, and dictatorial?
True affection will overlook many mistakes; love will not discern them.
Accept Only Pure, Manly Traits
Let a young woman accept as a life companion only one who possesses pure, manly traits of character, one who is diligent, aspiring, and honest, one who loves and fears God.
Shun those who are irreverent. Shun one who is a lover of idleness; shun the one who is a scoffer of hallowed things. Avoid the society of one who uses profane language, or is addicted to the use of even one glass of liquor. Listen not to the proposals of a man who has no realization of his responsibility to God.
The pure truth which sanctifies the soul will give you courage to cut yourself loose from the most pleasing acquaintance whom you know does not love and fear God, and knows nothing of the principles of true righteousness. We may always bear with a friend’s infirmities and with his ignorance, but never with his vices.
Easier to Make a Mistake Than to Correct It
Marriages that are impulsive and selfishly planned generally do not result well, but often turn out miserable failures. Both parties find themselves deceived, and gladly would they undo that which they did under an infatuation. It is easier, far easier, to make a mistake in this matter than to correct the error after it is made.
Better to Break Unwise Engagement
Even if an engagement has been entered into without a full understanding of the character of the one with whom you intend to unite, do not think that the engagement makes it a positive necessity for you to take upon yourself the marriage vow and link yourself for life to one whom you cannot love and respect. Be very careful how you enter into conditional engagements; but better, far better, break the engagement before marriage than separate afterward, as many do.
You may say,
But I have given my promise, and shall I now retract it?
I answer, If you have made a promise contrary to the Scriptures, by all means retract it without delay, and in humility before God repent of the infatuation that led you to make so rash a pledge. Far better take back such a promise, in the fear of God, than keep it, and thereby dishonor your Maker.
Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honor God. Marriage affects the afterlife both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will make no plans that God cannot approve.