This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Although the boy Cupid is notoriously blind, and shoots his arrows wildly, yet it is not amiss for the prudent man to take such an important step as marriage with his eyes open. A vast amount of domestic infelicity, and a vast amount of 6ocial vice, which is the consequence of this infelicity, would be saved were people a little more discreet and sensible in their selection of those with whom they propose to join irretrievably their lives and fortunes. So far as mental and moral qualities are concerned, we shall have little to say, others, and they better qualified than ourselves, having given abundant advice on these topics, but in what relates to the physical, we have some hints to offer, which, if observed, will go far to insure a fortunate alliance.
The young man who goes forth in search of a wife should not overlook health, nor undervalue beauty in the woman he seeks. Without the former, the will lose half the pleasure which otherwise would be his at; with the latter, the attractions which bind him true to his own hearth will be redoubled. A sickly, nervous, peevish, inefficient wife - qualities which are naturally associated - is not a help-meet, but a dead weight to a man; a homely, or even an indif-erent-looking woman runs a risk of being slatternly, of dis-gasting her husband, and of alienating him. The powers and the charms of personal beauty deserve to be appreciated and applauded far more than is the vont, and when it is remembered that real beauty means also sound health, we cannot hesitate to answer the young man who asks us depre-catingly, "Would you have me marry for beauty?" with a round affirmation: "You probably cannot do better."
The relative ayes of the two should be thought of. No young woman should marry before she is twenty, and it is not wise for a man to select a wife who is his elder. Such unions usually result in estrangement. A seniority of between five and ten years on the part of the husband is most highly to be recommended.
A writer whom we have already quoted, says: "I think there should always be an interval of about ten years between a man of mature age and his wife. Women age much more rapidly than men, and as the peculiar functions of matrimony should cease in both parties about the same time, such interval as this is evidently desirable." But we are of opinion that a difference of less than ten years is more suitable. As above remarked, from five to ten years may be taken as the limit.
It is also well to be aware of the fact that when the husband is the elder, the children are more likely to have a majority in the male sex. Why this is, we shall have occasion to explain subsequently. Then, too, man retains his powers and passions longer than woman, and his fidelity is more assured when she is fresh and blooming, than when she has already become old while he retains his vigor. These are low motives, it may be said, but they are such as we know influence our sex powerfully, and we must therefore enlist them on the good side.