by: Durant Drake
If marriage were always undertaken with adequate caution, there would seldom be need of annulling it. It is matter of common knowledge that there is tendency in recent years toward a loosening of the marriage bod; the ease with which divorces are granted in some States has become a national scandal. Among the causes for this are the lessening of allegiance to religious authority, the loss of the older fears and restraints, the growing spirit of adventure and iconoclasm. With the breaking-up of traditions, the lure of freedom, has been strong, especially upon the so-long-dominated and docile sex. Women are becoming better educated and asserting their rights everywhere; they are now able to earn their living in many independent ways, and are in a position to break loose; the era of the subjection of women is over, and it is natural that many, particularly of the idle and frivolous, should turn this new-won liberty into license. Divorce must certainly not be so easy as to encourage hasty and unconsidered marriage, or to turn this most sacred of relationships into a mere experimental and provisional alliance. “Trial marriage” is a palpably reprehensible scheme, involving an unwarrantable stimulus to the sex appetite; many men would enjoy taking one woman after another, until their passion in each case had exhausted its force with the lapse of novelty; women, who are not so naturally promiscuous, would suffer most. What would become of the children is a question whose very posing condemns the proposal. But a lax divorce law provides practically for trial marriage; one or the other party may enter into the contract and pronounce the solemn vows without any intention of keeping them when it shall cease to be for his or her pleasure. Not in this way is to be got the real worth of marriage; the conscious and earnest effort, at least, must be to keep it for life. An easy short cut to freedom would tempt too many from the harder but nobler way of compromise, conciliation, and self-subordination. If one is weak and erring, or petulant and unkind, the other must patiently and lovingly seek to help, to educate, to uplift; seventy times seven times is not too often for forgiveness; and many a marriage that seemed hopelessly wrecked has been saved by magnanimity and tactful affection. There is a fine disciplinary value in these forbearances, and much opportunity for spiritual growth in the persevering endeavor toward harmony and mutual understanding. Many a man and woman who might have been lost if divorced, has been saved for a better life by the unwillingness of wife or husband to desert under grievous provocation. There comes an ebb to most conjugal disputes; while there is any hope for readjustment and revival of live it is wrong to break marital vows. many a divorce has been as hasty and ill-considered as the marriage it ended, and has left the couple in the end less happy and useful members of the community. Particularly when there are children should the parents sacrifice much for the sake of giving them a real home, the both the mother- and father- love. Yet there are cases where love is hopelessly killed and harmony is impossible; cases where much suffering, and even moral degeneration, would result from continuance of the married life. where a man transfers his love to another or indulges in infidelity to his vows; where he crazes himself with liquor or some other narcotic, and will not give it up; where he treats his wife with cruelty or contempt, or through selfishness or laziness deserts or refuses to support her; where she refuses to perform her wifely duties, gives to other men, makes home intolerable for him— in short, in any case where mutual loyalty and cooperation are hopeless of attainment, it is surely best that there should be separation. It does not make for the welfare of the children, or the sanctity of marriage, that such wretched travesties of it should continue. whether the guilty man or woman, the one wholly or chiefly to blame for the failure, should be permitted to remarry is another matter; but probably, on the whole, it is better than the alternative encouragement of immorality and illegitimacy.