It has often been said that true love can never die, but this is somewhat of a fallacy. Love is a living thing, and requires nourishment, as does every other living thing. It can be starved, it can be neglected and maltreated, and under those conditions it will die, and, once dead, it is very, very hard to bring back to life.
There have been many cases where between two people who have loved, and loved passionately, something has happened to wither their affection, and hatred has taken the place where once love reigned. But these cases are more or less abnormal. Hatred is not a sentiment that the majority of people are capable of experiencing, and, as a rule, when love dies, its place is taken by indifference, and indifference makes a gulf which is often difficult - ay, next to impossible - to bridge over.
It is a little saddening, on looking round at the married couples of one's acquaintance, to note how often this indifference seems to come after a few years of married life.
What is the reason that it should be so, and with whom does the fault lie? What has happened to kill the passionate adoration with which husband and wife seemed to regard one another at the time of their marriage? In those days they were never to be seen apart; now they are very seldom seen together, except when the exigencies of the world they live in ordain that they should endure one another's society for at least a little while.
Sometimes the place of love is taken by a passive dislike, which is the most difficult feeling of all to combat, and which will grow if not actually discouraged.
Two people often love and marry each other without there being any real understanding between them, and with very little knowledge of the character of the individual they have chosen as life's partner.
They fall in love with an ideal, but they marry a reality.
It is quite natural that during the period of courtship and the engagement the young people will want to appear at their very best towards each other, and, without any intention of dissembling, each will often act otherwise in the presence of the fiance than under different circumstances.
After a few months of matrimony, however, the "newness" wears off, husband and wife are absolutely natural towards each other, and then comes the time when tact and patience are required, for this is the period which is to determine whether anything but ashes will remain after the passion of love has burnt itself out.
No love remains for any length of time at fever heat. Either it grows cold and colder still, or it deepens into the love that knows no changing.
Sometimes, when the first romance of love is over, a husband and wife become "casual" in their behaviour towards one another. Most likely, no real slight is intended, but they are looked upon as "only my husband," or "only my wife," and this often strikes. the keynote of disenchantment.
Husbands and wives should always be of paramount importance to one another; and in nine cases out of ten, if a wife loses the place she once held in her husband's regard, the fault lies somewhere within herself, and the niche, once lost, is difficult to recover.
Husbands and wives sometimes take one another too much for granted. Women are too apt to think that their husband's affection is theirs by inalienable right, and it is a great shock if they one day become awakened to the fact that the love of which they were careless has slipped from their grasp and is theirs no longer.
The wooing of a husband is far more difficult than the wooing of a lover.
There was a woman once who lost the affection of her husband through sheer inertia, or, to put it quite plainly, laziness.
He was a business man, and obliged to breakfast very early, and, being full of consideration for his wife, thought early rising made too long a day for her, so persuaded her to stay in bed for breakfast.
He was fond of golf, and, after a week in the City, was very glad to have a Saturday and Sunday on the links. His wife was a non-player, and foolishly resisted all his persuasions to learn, the result being that he went off alone to his recreation.
Now, the average man is a gregarious animal, and does not care to do things by himself, and, without meaning any disloyalty, this particular husband found himself enjoying the society of other women in his games without casting a thought to his stay-at-home wife.
Insensibly they drifted apart, till at length the wife realised the fact that her husband no longer tried to persuade her to accompany him in any of his expeditions, but went off quite happily without her, and that if she sometimes failed him when he desired her company in the evening, it did not distress him as it would once have done.
He had become absolutely indifferent to her, and her absence or her presence, save as it affected his physical comfort, meant nothing to him.
He had been wont to admire her immensely, but somehow lately she had neglected to take any particular pains with her appearance, and unconsciously he had answered to the change by failing to observe her at all.
When the wife to whom I have referred realised to what a pass affairs had drifted, she sat down to review the situation. She knew how difficult it would be to rekindle a love that was dead, but her affection for her husband was as strong as ever, and the thought of losing him fanned it to a white heat of fervour.
The first morning she appeared at breakfast the husband was distinctly cross. He had grown accustomed to silence and the morning paper, but he deemed it churlish to read while his wife sat opposite to him. He was decidedly testy when she saw him off on the doorstep, and he gave vent to a few sarcastic remarks, but the wife persevered.
One day she asked him to take her to play golf with him, and his face expressed the consternation he felt. He was distinctly relieved to remember he already had arranged a foursome.
The wife was patient, and eventually the match came off, and the husband was unaffectedly delighted to find that, although she was only a novice, she had mastered the rudiments of the game, and gave promise of being quite a good player.
In the evening it was pleasant to be able to discuss the game, etc., with an intelligent companion. He little knew that his wife was laying herself out with infinite tact and patience to recover what she had lost.
Years after, they were talked of as an inseparable couple, but the woman knew how nearly she had let happiness slip from her grasp.
It is a dangerous thing to play fast and loose with love, because sometimes when it is neglected or rejected by one it goes to another, and then the departure is nearly always irrevocable. I say "nearly always," because I know of a case of a man whose wife was completely wrapped up in her house and her children to the entire neglect of every other consideration. She appeared not to want her husband in the least, and in time he began to believe such was the case, and so he sought solace and sympathy elsewhere. A chance word opened the eyes of his wife to what was happening, and she determined to win him back again from the woman who had stolen him from her.
She was sensible enough to know that tears and protestations would only serve to drive him farther from her, so she summoned her woman's wits, and determined to make him fall in love with her again.
It was no easy task. She first had to reawaken his interest, and then to fan it into the flame of love; but when a woman really means to conquer, a man becomes as a reed in her hands, and this case was no exception to the rule.
To the women who do not know is this counsel given: Hold fast to that which you have, and take no man's love for granted.