Calling in love may be considered a natural incident of most girls' lives, as inevitable as measles or whooping-cough. An Irish priest once asked a little girl, " What is the proper preparation for matrimony, my child?" and, with true Celtic wit, the girl replied, "A little courting, please, father." It is very true. If love does not make the world revolve, it adds very much to the interest of existence. So long as there are girls and boys, love-making will exist in the land, and the unfortunate fact is that the elder members of the community look at the matter as they do. Many parents seem to have forgotten, by the time their children reach the grown-up period, the days of their own youth, and it is the instinctive feeling of girls that their mother will not "understand" that prevents confidence between mother and daughter in so many cases. If only mothers would strive to remember that love-making must occupy a big place in the lives of all natural and attractive girls many mistakes might be averted, and in some cases tragedies too. The attitude of many elderly people towards the whole question is absurd.
In either case their mental attitude cannot be said to encourage that comradeship and confidence which would mean so much to the young girl beginning life. The very best thing a girl can have is a real, genuine friendship with her own mother, the sort of friendship that makes a girl talk naturally and simply of every incident in her life. The right type of mother can do much to help her daughter if she has understanding and tact. By wise and kindly guidance she will help her child to escape the pain which the unsatisfactory love affair inevitably brings. And how many mistakes girls can make, from lack of knowledge, from ignorance of the world as it is, only girls themselves know. But the mother ought to know. She should determine to keep in touch by every effort she can with her daughter's interests. She should know her friends and meet her acquaintances, even if it means considerable sacrifice of time and personal interests.
At the same time, it does not follow that the mother's advice is the best. It depends altogether on the type of mother, but if she has sufficient tact and love to win her daughter's confidence, the probability is that her advice will be of the sound order. That the worldly mother exists is quite true. It is she who uses her influence to make her daughter choose the husband who will be the "good match" from the world's point of view. Money and social position are assets in a husband. It is a fact nobody can deny, but they are not the essential requirements. The "best match" is the marriage which promises happiness because the two prospective partners are alike in nature, sympathetic in temperament, and have a sound basis of mutual affection and friendship.
The question of money, of course, cannot be ignored. There is one thing more foolish than marrying for money, and that is marrying without any at all. The future income must bear a relationship to the social status and position of the girl. What would be comfort for one couple would be abject poverty for another, and here again character comes in. If the man is of the unselfish type, he will cheerfully give up superfluous luxuries in the shape of wine and unlimited smoking. If the girl is practical and economical, with a sound knowledge of housewifery, they can be perfectly happy on what their friends would declare a microscopic income. That is where the wise mother can guide them. If she is a reader of character she can give her daughter a good deal of sound advice as to the wisdom of venturing matrimony with a man who is very apparently selfish and self-indulgent, however charming and delightful in social life. After all, falling in love is something of an education. A girl rarely marries her first, or even her second love, and this is a fortunate thing in most cases. In early life mutual attractions are easily formed on very slight foundations. Mutual tastes, good looks, and propinquity suffice in themselves to produce many interesting love affairs which would never stand the test of married life.
After all, there are two kinds of flirts. Many nice girls are called flirts when in reality they belong to the order of women who love life, who instinctively desire to be liked and loved, who cannot help making themselves sympathetic, and are consequently popular with both sexes. The girl who regards the occupation of flirting as a game, who will flirt, even when she knows that she will make half a dozen people miserable, who deliberately collects scalps wherever she goes, is of a different type altogether. In all fairness, it must be said that thoughtlessness rather than intention to do ill may really prompt her. No woman worth the name desires to add one spark of un-happiness to the vast amount that already exists in the world. Mothers, with their maturity and greater knowledge of the real meaning of life, can do a great deal to guide girls and help them to regard life from the higher standpoint. Many a girl spoils her own life by a reputation for flirtation. The best type of girl is natural and sincere in her love affairs as in everything else. There is far too much artificiality and insincerity in such matters. That is where men are more admirable. They like a girl and try to let her know it, and they are hopelessly at sea when the girl is kind and responsive one day and actively disagreeable the next. " Don't let him see that you really like him " is the foolish advice of the mother or friend who imagines that a man must be " managed " into falling in love with a girl. Liked for Herself But, fundamentally, certain people attract each other. A man is drawn to a girl by some psychic cause irrespective really of looks, brains, even character. Many things, of course, influence him, but there must be this congenial relationship or strong attraction if any lasting love is to come out of it. A girl ought to be liked for herself, and if she cannot keep a man by being natural, simple, and sincere with him, she is better without him. Most girls who are honest about the matter will acknowledge that they would like to marry some time, and, after all, happy marriage is the ideal sphere for everyone.
Thus a mother ought to realise the importance of her daughters choosing a good husband in the best and highest sense of the term. She should teach a girl to admire character in man or woman, to grasp the truth that good looks are nothing, weighed in the balance with good habits, that an upright, manly, energetic, clean-minded man who has his way to make in life is a far better match than the opulent, self-indulgent, selfish husband who can give his wife a good position, but whose record has not been one which would bear investigation.
Mr. Bernard Shaw believes that the woman chooses the man, and there is some truth in the idea. At least the attraction has to be mutual. The best results are to be expected when sound friendship as well as " love " exists. The wise girl makes sure that her love affair is a real thing, not a passing.fancy which a short engagement and hasty marriage will give her no time to discover. Marriage is the most important incident in any girl's life, and it merits serious thought and consideration in every case. It may be that nowadays, with greater freedom and a more equal standard between man and wife, a girl's chances of happiness are greater.
The old ideal that the wife must be the obedient slave of her lord and master has practically died out. " Will you marry me? " said the small boy. " Yes," replied the little girl. " Then pull off my boots."
The girl's reply is not recorded, but it would probably be more forcible than polite. The ideals of matrimony which were fashionable when primitive man clubbed his primitive wife when she demurred at doing her own work, and half of his into the bargain, are not likely to be tolerated by the modern girl,
The happiest marriages are based on equality; that is why the right sort of higher education makes for happiness in married life. The wife who can be a good partner, who is what the
French call as " intelligent " as her husband, who is in no sense his inferior mentally or in character, will keep her husband's love, respect, and admiration until the end. That is the basis of all true happiness in married life, and it ought to be the ideal of every girl who marries.