Why Courtship should Follow Marriage - A Man's Way of Showing Affection - What the Woman Prefers - A Mischievous Proverb - Why Children are Desired - Darby and Joan - Married Comrades an has strangely paradoxical ways of M looking at life. For one thing, he, in many cases, believes that all the time of courtship should come before marriage, instead of realising that it is the greatest necessity of after-marriage.
Before marriage a girl is free to follow her own pleasures and fancies; she has, usually, a mother to see that she changes her stockings when she gets her feet wet, to plan for her meals of an attractive kind, and generally make her comfortable and happy and unworried. Her lover is an extra luxury, and his love is a pleasure which she does not in any way have to earn.
After marriage there is no one but herself to look after her wet feet and her dinners, and, in addition, she has to look after someone else's needs. Now she feels her lover, whose name the law has changed into "husband," is an absolute necessity, and his love is what she asks in return for her services to him.
He believes that he has proved his love during the days of engagement, and that she will no longer need to be constantly reminded of the sweet things he said to her on moonlight nights, and as they sat in the dear, dim little tea-rooms after a day on the river. It does not occur to him that against all the new and arduous duties of housekeeping and husband-caring she needs the balance of tender words, sentimental conversations over the fire, loving kisses, rapturous glances.
Some husbands have a faint notion that they ought to do something to compensate their charming little wives for all the trouble they take over the dainty meals and the pretty house, so they buy boxes of chocolates with actresses' heads on the lid, bunches of lilies of the valley at a time when these frail blossoms are at their highest price, or seats for the theatre for some play they are especially anxious to see. And as they carry home these divers gifts they congratulate themselves on having done more than their duty. The astute wife quite grasps the significance of the gift, though she would much rather have had an hour's "real loving" than the biggest box of chocolates any firm has yet invented.
The world takes the same view of after-marriage as most husbands. The relatives-in-law of the married pair never think of rattling the door - handle now when the couple chance to be left alone in the room. The husband is expected to choose some other woman than his wife for his partner at bridge; he is expected to forget to let his wife go first from the room; and he is expected to have found out the truth of that miserable proverb "Familiarity breeds contempt."
Relatives do not move away from the carriage door when he sees his wife off for a journey, and they rather expect he will be much more lively and cheerful after his wife's departure.
Yet these husbands who believe that their love need no longer be demonstrative are really loving husbands. They will willingly wheel the baby's perambulator up all the hills, help with the washing-up and bed-making and coal-carrying when the domestic hindrance refuses to be lured from the safe shelter of the registry office; would dash into blazing buildings to rescue their wives, and will wait hours in a draughty, cheerless station on a winter's day for a long-delayed train. Their only fault is that they have forgotten that once love is offered to a woman she always wants it; once she has tasted the joys of a man's affection her life becomes very barren if it be denied her. The reason of divorce cases is often that the husband has forgotten to carry on his courtship, and the wife, in desperation or anger, allows another man to do it for her.
"I don't expect my husband to make a fuss of me," said a wife. "He did all that before we were married." But, of course, this was not true - it was pride that uttered that speech.
"I have got used to his casual, undemonstrative ways," said another wife. "I don't expect loving and kisses now." Pathetic remark - when all the time her heart was starving for proofs of his love.
I believe there are a few women who can get on without their husband's courtship, but this number is very small, and they are hard women who have never been and would never be demonstrative themselves.
The reason most women crave for children is that they may have someone on whom they can lavish their love, and get love in return. They think of the little arms that will cling tightly round their neck; they dream of the little ones who will run to "mummy" when a finger is scratched; they long for such words as, "Make it better, mummy!" or "I do love you, my mummy!"
"Give me love, whatever it costs," is woman's motto; and when, after the first year or so of married life, her husband's love becomes more formal, less generously given, she will risk her life willingly that she may have that other gift of marriage, the love of a helpless baby.
It is a trite saying that woman is never tired of the words "I love you!" But it is one of the truest of sayings. Love to a woman is what sunshine is to a flower - without it she becomes a very miserable thing.
A woman will always have a demonstrative love to her husband. When they crouch over the fire in easy-chairs, old people with grey hairs and little warmth in their blood, the old lady still pats the old man's hand, kisses his bald head, and calls him "dearest." And, as very often by this time the old man will have realised that courtship ought to come after marriage, he will smile back at the old lady with his sunken lips, and allude to her as my sweetheart."
If a man is accused of not still "making love" to his wife after marriage, he will at once bring out the old tired excuse, "Oh, I'm worn out after a day's hard work, and don't want a lot of kissing and love-making when I come in." Yet he does not object to all the little attentions he receives from his wife at this time of exhaustion - his warmed slippers, his nicely prepared meal, which did not come by Aladdin's lamp, his prettily dressed wife, who kisses him as he sits down in the chair by the table, puts a bunch of sweet-smelling flowers near, smiles lovingly, and asks, "Have you had a hard day's work, darling?"
For, of course, man cannot live without love; it is as necessary to him as to a woman - look at the old bachelors! A husband very soon feels hurt if his wife does not want to kiss him before he starts in the morning, and if she does not use the old endearing names of courtship, which to him never grow old or familiar. He is very jealous of the first baby, fearing it will get more love than he; and even as he grows older he will remind his wife that he is "more important than the children."
But, happily, the new generation are beginning to realise that courtship must come after marriage as well as before. The old jokes about wives are fast slipping into the murky background of the past - even the audiences of third-rate music-halls no longer laugh at them - and husbands are beginning to know that their wives are worthy of a wage, and that the wage a woman prefers is the wage of love. The saying "You would never know they are married, he is so loving to her," is getting quite common, and very many more couples on getting married actively resolve to make love a basic principle of the union. Thirty years ago one never heard the term "comradeship" applied to matrimony, and by the married persons themselves.
We all know couples now who, though married, are as affectionate as the proverbial turtle doves. A husband whose wife was a prominent suffragist and social worker boasts he is his wife's doctor. "If ever she feels a bit run down, or burns her finger on the oven, or wants to cry, I always take her on my lap like a child, and love her till she feels better." And outwardly they are a most hard-headed couple.
A middle-aged man a short time ago had a serious operation in hospital. When he was moved into the private ward, he kept murmuring, "Little, girl, little girl, I want you!" His wife came to see him as soon as she was allowed - a plain, tall woman, with glasses, and straight hair turning grey. As the nurse moved away from the bedside, she heard the man murmur lovingly, "Little girl, I have wanted you badly!"
And this love of husband and wife is the truest sentiment the world possesses. It is the sentiment that will bring into the world a race of healthy, upright, fearless people, and many of the problems which perplex the world now will be solved easily when each man realises the advantages of after-marriage courtship.