In the truest sense of the word, woman was created to be man's comforter, a joyous helpmate in hours of sunshine, a soother, when the clouds darken and the tempests howl around his head; then, indeed, we perceive the divinely beautiful arrangement which marriage enforces.
Man in his wisdom, his rare mental endowments — is little fitted to bear adversity. He bows before the blast, like the sturdy pine which the wintry storm, sweeping past, cracks to its very center; while woman, as the frail reed, sways to and fro with the fierce gust, then rises again triumphant towards the blackening sky. Her affection, pure and steadfast, her unswerving faith and devotion, sustain man in the hour of darkness, even as the trailing weed supports and binds together the mighty walls of some mouldering ruin.
Would you know why so many unhappy marriages seem to falsify the truth that they are made in Heaven? Why we see daily diversity of interests, and terrible contentions, eating the very life away, like the ghoul in the Arabian tales, which prayed on human flesh? It is that women are wrongly educated. Instructed, trained, to consider matrimony the sole aim, the end of their existence — it matters not to whom the Gordian knot is tied. Soon the brightness of this false aurora borealis fades from the conjugal horizon; and the truths of life, divested of all romance, in bitterness and pain rise before them. Unfitted for duties which must be fulfilled, physically incapacitated for the responsibilities of life — mere school-girls in many instances — the chains they have assumed become cables of iron, whose heavy weight crushes into the heart, erasing for ever the footprints of affection, and leaving instead the black marks of deadly hate.
Then comes the struggle for supremacy. Man in his might and power asserts his will, while woman, unknowing of her sin, and unguided by the divine light of love — neglects her home; then come ruin, despair, and death. God help those mistaken ones, who have thus hurried into union, ignorant of each other's faults, opinions, and dispositions, when too late they discover there is not, nor ever can be, affinity between souls wide as the poles asunder.
Notwithstanding these miserable unions, we must consider marriage divine in its origin, and alone calculated to make life blessed. Who can imagine a more blissful state of existence, than two united by the law of God and love, mutually sustaining each other in the jostlings of life; together weathering its storms, or basking beneath its clear skies; hand in hand, lovingly, truthfully, they pass onward. This is marriage as God instituted it, as it ever should be, as Moore beautifully says —
"There's a bliss beyond all that the minstrel has told,
When two that are linked in one heavenly tie,
With heart never changing and brow never cold,
Love on through all ills, and love on till they die!"
To attain this bliss, this union of the soul, as well as of hands — it is necessary that much should be changed. Girls must not think, as soon as emancipated from the nursery, that they are qualified to become wives and mothers. If woman would become the true companion of man, she must not only cultivate her intellect, but strive to control her impulses and subdue her temper, so that while yielding gently, gracefully, to what appears, at the time, perhaps, a harsh requirement — she may feel within the "calm which passes all understanding." There must be a mutual forbearance, no fierce wrestling to see who will rule. If there is to be submission, let the wife show how meekly omnipotent love suffers all things. Purity, innocence, and holy beauty invest such a love with a halo of glory.
Man, mistake not then your mate, and hereafter, bitterly repenting, exclaim at the curse of marriage. No, no, with prudent foresight, avoid the ball-room belle — seek your twin soul among the pure-hearted, the meek, the true. Like must mate with like; the kingly eagle pairs not with the owl, nor the lion with the jackal.
Neither must woman rush blindly, heedlessly, into the noose, imagining the sunny hues, the lightning glances of her first admirer, true prismatic colors. She must first chemically analyze them to be sure they are not reflected light, alone from her own imagination. That frightsome word to many, "old maid," ought not to exercise any influence over her firmly balanced mind; better far, however, lead a single life — than form a sinful alliance, that can only result in misery and wretchedness. Some of the purest and best women that ever lived, have belonged to that much decried, despised sisterhood.
Wed not, merely to fly from an opprobrious epithet; assume not the holy name of wife, to one who brings trueness of heart, wealth of affection, while you have nothing to offer in return, but cold respect. Your first love already lavished on another: believe me, respect and esteem are but poor, weak charms to ward off life's trials. Rise superior to all juvenile imaginations; bear nobly the odium of old maidism, if such be your fate, resolve to live on singly, and strive with the means God has given you — to benefit, to comfort your suffering sisters.
Would man and woman give to this all-important subject, so vital to their life-long happiness, the consideration it requires, we would not so often meet with men broken in spirit — sad mementos legibly written on their countenances; with women prematurely old — unloving wives, careless husbands. Meditate long before you assume ties to endure to your life's end. Pause even on the altar-stone, if only there you see your error; for a union of hands, without hearts — is a sin against high heaven.