How to Make Marriage a Success - Reciprocity Essential to Marital Happiness - The Value of. Tact - Inviolability of Correspondence - Man's Standard of Honour

It is unlikely that any man will feel brave enough to read this article. I feel, therefore, that I am addressing women only on this great subject.

The great aim of the young bride is to make her marriage a success in every way. Her home is to be the prettiest within the possibilities of the combined exchequer. It is also to be orderly, regular, entirely comfortable, and cleverly conducted. Meals are to be served to the moment,

Has she not heard, all through her life, that unpunctuality in this particular is nothing less than an outrage upon the master of the house, and consequently a deadly matrimonial crime? When "Punch" gave his immortal bit of advice to the young wife, "Feed the brute," he might have added, "and see that you do it up to time."

The bride makes all these good resolves gaily and blithely, little recking of the difficulties that lie in the way of keeping them.

"Woman," it has been said, " has to be a natural historian in the den of the most complicated and difficult animals in the world." Hence it is that the first year of marriage is almost always a very trying one. The newly married couple are entirely unacquainted with each others' corners, those sharp edges that are all the more unpleasant because completely unexpected.

It is a very salutary plan to inquire within as to whether there are no corresponding corners in one's own character. This is the best way of achieving that toleration which is one of the first lessons to be learned in married life. "He has such irritating little-ways," the inexperienced wife thinks to herself. Let her reflect that quite possibly he may be thinking the very same thing about her, and perhaps schooling himself far more effectually than she to put up with them.

Where Angels Fear To Tread

Reciprocity is indispensable to home happiness. In other words, to give and take. But even this needs practice. Disparity in reciprocity is a source of friction.

And yet how often the generous and the ignoble nature are unequally yoked together. True, there'may come, after many years, a sort of fusion. The lower is drawn up, while the higher leans down to help, and both at last are on the selfsame plane.

But what did Tennyson say? He took a gloomy view of marriage when the masculine was the inferior:

"As the husband is, the wife is. Thou art mated with a clown,

And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down."

The lover, however, would naturally take a pessimistic view when his "cousin Amy" had married someone else, as she had done in "Locksley Hall."

"No sandpaper for the asperities. Apply oil" is the advice of one who has enjoyed the companionship of three husbands. It is wise counsel. The foolish wives who "rush in where angels fear to tread" may attack a husband's faults of manner with an audacity born of ignorance. Gentleness is a far better way. Like the oil recommended by the thrice-wedded adviser, it works insinuatingly and smoothly.


The young wife learns very soon after the honeymoon, sometimes before its close, that when a man is tired and hungry he needs soothing treatment. No demands are to be made upon his patience.

This quality is sometimes in an invalid condition, and the attacks come on so suddenly, the causes of them are so obscure, that the greatest consideration is necessary for the sufferer. Only cheerful subjects are to be presented for his attention. Disquieting topics must be thrust into the background. Delinquencies of servants or tradesmen, small annoyances, trifling losses must all be kept for a more suitable moment.

The busy man, coming home after a tiring, possibly depressing, day in the City, likes to feel that his comfort has been the object of his wife's solicitude during his absence. He hates to come home and find her absent. The house should be warm and well lighted, and as he steps into the hall it is well if a tempting savour shall be perceptible, suggestive of good things to come.

Marchioness Townshend gives a hint to wives in "Musings and Maxims." "Never ask your husband for a cheque for household expenses in the cold grey light of the after-breakfast hour. Wait until after dinner, and see that you give him a good one; then he will feel that his money is not being wasted."

There is true wisdom in this. Perhaps it may be objected that his dinner should be a good one every day, irrespective of any demand upon his cheque-book. But every man has his special fancies, and the clever wife sees that one or more of these shall figure on the menu on such occasions.

Nor is this entirely with a selfish view to saving oneself annoyance and trouble. It also serves to maintain the serenity of mind of the master of the house. Suppose the cheque in question be asked for after breakfast, before the day has begun to mellow itself, the result may be that a sweet frame of mind suddenly becomes curdled. A fairly happy man is turned into a moody, disagreeable one. What a pity to deprive any human creature, more particularly one's own husband, of a single hour of sunny brightness; to make his cheery whistle cease, and to see a cloud come over a face that, a moment before, was carelessly gay.

Better far is it to have a fixed sum allotted for housekeeping, and so to arrange that automatically it is handed over on a certain day. This is the plan followed in Turkey.

More, in that country the wife is never asked how she has laid out the money. Can every man in Britain lay his hand on his heart and say he has never inquired into this matter ?

"Always meet your husband with a smile." was the Victorian plan. Well, do not let it degenerate into a giggle or a grin. Few things are more irritating than a chronic smile, a resident contraction of the muscles that has lost all meaning because it is always there. It is far better to give up the smile and merely look pleasant.

Demonstrative Affection

It is peculiarly irritating to a man if, when he comes in rather late for dinner, his wife rings the bell, remarking that the fish will be quite spoilt. What is spoilt fish compared with a ruined temper ? Even if it happen to be his favourite fish, suppress it if it is really spoilt. If not, make the best of it without remark. He will know quite well the cause of its condition.

But on no account follow the dastardly plan of the meekly mulish wife who heaps coals of fire on the poor man's head by her attitude of quiet resignation and assiduous, unnaturally assiduous, attentions. No good, true wife would descend to the despicable meanness of the coals of fire trick.

A mistake that a young wife often makes is a display of demonstrative affection. If very much in love, she feels that she could never tire of telling him about her feelings. But he tires very soon of hearing of them. Sugar is cloying, and of honey one soon has enough. A little reticence is advisable.

Expansiveness in the expression of devotion leads to satiety, and that is a deadly foe to the development of the sincere affection, the close friendship, that should follow upon the fading glamour of early love.

' Do you love me as much now as you did before we were married ? " is a futile question. What can the man say but "Yes " ? If the wife cannot find out for herself that he does or does not, not any number of queries can enlighten her.

Letters Are Personal Property

In fact, questions are always to be avoided. If a husband is going out without mentioning his destination, it is simply gross folly to inquire. Had he wished to tell, he would have done so. Should he not wish to tell, questions enrage him, because either he must prevaricate or make known an intention that he would prefer to keep to himself.

It is wise to let it be understood from the first that letters, whether written or received, are personal property to the writer or recipient. The marriage ceremony has made the two into one, but it has exercised no alchemy of the kind upon their two families. Letters from relatives should never be read but by those to whom they are addressed, unless proffered by the person who has received them. Again, friends may write confidentially, thinking that their letters will be seen by one person only. It is unjustifiable for the other partner to read them without permission.