This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
Marriages are usually contracted to gratify varioius desires, as love, fortune, or position. The results are most truthfully stated by an eminent divine in the following passages: --
"Who marries for love, takes a wife; who marries for fortune, takes a mistress; who marries for position, takes a lady. You are loved by your wife, regarded by your mistress, tolerated by your lady. You have a wife for yourself, a mistress for your house and friends, a lady for the world and society. Your wife will agree with you, your mistress will rule you, your lady will manage you. Your wife will take care of your household, your mistress of your house, your lady of your appearances. If you are sick, your wife will nurse you, your mistress will visit you, your lady will inquire after your health. You take a walk with your wife, a ride with your mistress, and go to a party with your lady. Your wife will share your grief, your mistress your money, and your lady your debts. If you die, your wife will weep, your mistress lament, and your lady wear mourning. Which will you have?
To man there is but one choice that he can rationally make, a marriage of love. My female readers, I hope, will also decide rather to wed a husband than the master or the elegant gentleman.
A little foresight, a little prudence, and a little caution, will prevent in most cases the entrance into a marriage which, by the very nature of the alliance, is certain to be an unhappy and improper one.
The physician, in his advices as to the conduct that should be observed by the husband and wife, is more properly confined to physiological aspects, but as the behavior in every respect is so intimately blended, it is not amiss, in a medical work, to state what the conduct should be in general. Unhappiness in wedded life is the result frequently of a couple being joined who should not on any account have been thrown into marital companionship. It is found that they are uncongenial in every respect, and hence the natural and inevitable result is dissension and a mutual regret of marriage. The pharmaceutist knows that if a chemical element is incompatible in a mixture that no amount of shaking, trituration, or commotion that he may produce will make the contrary element act affinitively; on the contrary, the more violent his endeavors the more the incompatibility is manifested. It is precisely so in the union of the man and woman who are by nature and purposes of life incompatible. Discord is evident at the first contact, which in time increases to ebullitions and explosions of temper, and the more they attempt to reconcile their differences the greater they become; the affections are destroyed, and each one becomes conscious that they have made the greatest mistake of their lives. Each blames their misfortune to the other when both are to blame, not so much on account of their combativeness, as that is but a law of their nature, but because neither of them had the wisdom to abstain from entering into the marital relation. It is, of course, commendable that both should be desirous of making the best of their union, and that each should display prudence in their conduct, but in the face of all their endeavors the galling fact of incompatibility is ever present, and no amount of the best efforts will make the union a happy one. If children are born to them they will in all probability be of a vicious nature, lacking in all the noble qualities, and who, born with the innate disposition, and reared and schooled in the midst of family discord, will almost inevitably "go to the bad," thus adding materially to the general misery of the parents, both of whom are ready and honest in their belief and averment that the disposition of the chidren is the heritage from the other. It is unfortunate that such marriages are consummated, for the diversity in all the actions and purposes of life naturally manifested by both is too great to be reconciled by the most earnest exercise of either prudence or forbearance. Such a union has always been, and will always be, an unhappy one, and the best endeavors will scarcely make it tolerable. It may be poetical to say that such a man and woman are one, but they are decidedly two on all subjects and conditions of married life.
It is not to be supposed, however, that every infelicitous episode in married life is to be ascribed to incompatibility. The turbulence in many cases is owing to decided misconduct on the part of either husband or wife. Many unions would be very happy if but a generous effort would be made to render it so; but if either one is actuated by a spirit in opposition to mutual confidence, mutual welfare, and mutual enjoyment, it will either create a slavish submission on the part of one, or the assertion of mutual equality. In both cases the result is detrimental to conjugal bliss. A tame submission begets disrespect, and the assertion of the right generates the "family jar." In the social and commercial intercourse of man and wife, mutual confidence, mutual endeavor, and mutual benefit should be the objective point. Concealment of purpose is as wrong as deception in action, and neither should be for a moment entertained. The wife should be the possessor of the husband's secrets, and the husband the custodian of the wife's confidences. To be actuated by secrecy either in intent or action is nothing more than duplicity, and an attitude in entire opposition to the spirit of wedded life; but, while the author in every instance advocates an open and candid intercourse between the husband and wife, he can only hurl anathemas upon the one who betrays the confidence. To be worthy of confidence, and to be entrusted with secrets, demands the fidelity that will not betray the one or divulge the other. Deception on the part of either husband or wife will, in spite of all attempts at concealment, often be detected, causing justly indignation and loss of respect. It is an evidence that the one to whom everything should be confided is deemed unworthy of trust, and it puts at an end that harmony and confidence that should exist.