Book Title: The Real Home
Courtship and Marriage
Chapter 2
by: Mrs. Vesta J. Farnsworth

Dr. Cortland Myers is authority for the statement that three thousand marriage ceremonies are performed in the world every day.

A man uses great care in selecting a partner in business.  If he wishes to purchase a jewel, he takes more time to examine the gem than the casket that contains it. A partnership in business can easily be dissolved. A precious stone may be exchanged or sold. But how much more care is necessary in selecting a companion for life, one concerned not in business only, but in every relation and interest as long as both shall live!

If a man purchases a house, he inquires about its situation, whether he can secure a perfect title, the cost of the property, and whether it is adapted to his needs; yet a man and a woman unite their interests in marriage without serious reflection as to whether they are adapted to each other, or whether their union will prove a blessing or a curse.  Surely more foresight and good judgment should be used in such a choice than in a business transaction.

Too many look upon marriage as a trivial ceremony instead of a life partnership; hence, on every hand are disappointed, unhappy, miserable married men and women, and homes filled with discord and distress.  Upon no other choice in life does so much of earthly happiness or unhappiness depend.

Many have no higher motive in marriage than to please themselves.  A young man is attracted by a pretty face and pleasing manners.  A young woman sees the prospect of a home, some one to love and care for her; and nothing further is considered. Neither understands that true love is based on unselfish sacrifice for the one beloved, on giving rather than on receiving.

PREPARATION NEEDED

One who intends to enter the marriage relation should question his motive. Does it spring from selfishness, or from pure affection? Much that is called love is base passion.  True love can afford to wait. It thinks of the welfare of the one beloved, instead of selfish gratification. It does not take for its measuring rod, “I,” “me,” and “mine.”

A young man should have good health before he plans to marry.  To be clean in body and mind is necessary if he would be a good husband. It is well for him to obtain his school education before marriage, for he will find himself seriously handicapped if he undertakes to finish a college course afterward.

In ancient times a young man’s ability was questioned. Was he industrious?  Could he provide for a wife and family?

Before a young man loses his heart, he will do well to study the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs. Will the girl he loves develop into the wife there described?  The following qualities also are worthy of consideration:

She keeps her own room in order.

She is a good housekeeper.

She can bake good bread, and prepare tasty, inexpensive meals.

She can do plain sewing.

She is neat and modest in her dress instead of stylish and extravagant.

She is intelligent, and possesses a practical education.

She is not quick-tempered and easily offended; neither is she sullen and moody.

The one chosen for a wife should be an earnest Christian.

HOW TO CHOOSE A HUSBAND

How shall a young woman know that her admirer is worthy of consideration as her future companion? She will do well to learn whether he possesses these qualifications:

Is he a Christian? If not, he lacks the one thing needful.

Has he bad habits of any kind? Is he addicted to vice?  Does he drink, use tobacco, play games of chance, or keep bad company?

Has he a practical education?  Is he studious and a lover of good literature?

Is he industrious? Has he entered some line of business in which he has begun to win success?

Is he cheerful and social, or gloomy and morose?

How does he treat his mother and sister? Does he expect them to wait on him?  How does he treat all women?

Is he kind to animals, or does he delight in tormenting them?

Is he a spendthrift? Does he spend money freely for clothes, amusements, or pleasure of any kind, or is he saving and economical?

Is he selfish and overbearing in his dealings with others, or is he generous and kind in all his associations?

If a young man does not have these credentials of character, wait a while, young woman; keep on in your own preparation to match grace with grace until the right one comes to claim you.

A husband needs training to become the head of an efficient, happy home.

STUDY THE MARRIAGE RELATION

Ruskin says: “Marriage…is only the seal which marks the vowed transition of temporary into untiring service, and of fitful into eternal love.”

Marriage is one of God’s best gifts to man.  It is a sacred covenant, based on mutual regard and affection, that the parties will live together as husband and wife until death separates them.

“He who gave Eve to Adam as a helpmeet, performed His first miracle at a marriage festival.  In the festal hall where friends and kindred rejoiced together, Christ began His public ministry. Thus He sanctioned marriage, recognizing it as an institution that He Himself had established….

“The family tie is the closest, the most tender and sacred, of any on earth. It was designed to be a blessing to mankind. And it is a blessing wherever the marriage covenant is entered into intelligently, in the fear of God, and with due consideration for its responsibilities.” The Ministry of Healing p. 356,357

SHOULD CHRISTIANS MARRY UNBELIEVERS?

Christian young people will not enter into a lifelong alliance without asking counsel of God.  They will be willing to accept His choice, to abide by His decision.  The man and woman who become interested in each other will inquire if God approves their union. A power we do not possess is needed to read hearts and to know the future.  They should ask if their choice is His for them.  He will not disappoint the earnest seeker.  But many fear to trust His choosing; they rely on their own wisdom.

Young people should also ask counsel of their parents. Father is a better judge of men then his daughter can be. Mother’s clear eye can often read clearly the character of the young woman who interests her son, and will discern whether she will develop into a good wife. It is unfair to parents not to ask their advice on a matter so important.

It is a serious mistake for a Christian to marry and unbeliever. “Only in the Lord,” is the Bible rule. Even a professed Christian man and woman may not be fitted to live together as husband and wife; much less can those live in harmony who have little or no sympathy with one another’s religious conviction.  “Unless you would have a home where the shadows are never lifted, do not unite yourself with one who is an enemy of God.”

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Such a yoke will become galling, as many have proved by sad experience. One earnest Christian young woman who made the experiment wrote:

“I have a good home, a good husband, and all, but oh, I am so starved for a different plan and way of living. I find all is true that has been written regarding this most important undertaking.  The world is so full of things that seem good, and being constantly in it, takes all else away.  Not that I have a desire for the world, but it takes time and energy, so that the all-important thing of seeking God is let go, and one awakens to find himself lost. I do love Him, but feel now as though I should like to sound into the ears of every one who is harboring such a thought, that it is an unwise step, a dangerous one, a sad one, instead of a happy one as we plan.

“Yes, there is all power in prayer, but I have let go somehow; and now I seem to have a brass heaven above and no help seems near. I believe in God, but power is lacking.”

Those who marry expect to increase their happiness.  But there must be union of sentiment, a planning and a working together for the same object. To the true Christian the hope of heavenly joy, union with Christ, come before every other consideration; therefore, there can be no true union between one who lives for this world and one whose life is hid with Christ in God.

Yet I spite of warnings and the experience of those who venture on forbidden ground, some will argue that their case is different; and they feel sure they will be able to save the object of their affections.

One wife thus relates her experience:

“Oh, I want to be nearer and nearer each day to God, but it seems that my cares and the indifference of my husband cause me to be negligent of my duty!  The cares of my household would be nothing if I could only lean upon my husband to lead in spiritual things. But he is not converted; and while he does not oppose me, yet at times I feel crushed and withered spiritually because I cannot converse with him on subjects that are nearest and dearest to my heart; in other words, I cannot feel free in my spiritual life.  ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,’ is God’s admonition to us; and yet we are like Eve; we disbelieve God’s judgment, and taste the forbidden fruit, and like her also, we receive the recompense for our sins, and many are the lives that are blighted as the result.   Oh that young people could realize the danger of marriage with unbelievers!

“I feel more every day my need of my husband’s help with my little ones. I am too weak to lead them alone.  I pray that the time may be hastened when his heart may be made right with God, and we in harmony may live for eternity.” …

COURTSHIP

It is well for young people first to be comrades, without being sentimental. Traits will be manifested in their associations which indicate strength or weakness of character, and it is wise to become well acquainted before marriage.

It is well always to remember that true love “seeketh not her own;” it is unselfish. This trait may be cultivated during courtship, and bear its blessed fruit later in married life.

“Let those who are contemplating marriage weigh every sentiment and watch every development of character in the one with whom they think to unite their life destiny.  Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterized by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honor God.  Marriage affects the after life both in this world and in the world to come.  A sincere Christian will make no plans that God cannot approve.” The Ministry of Healing p. 359.

BE HONEST AND SINCERE

In courtship there must be absolute sincerity. To strive to win affection, or to accept it without striving, and then toss it aside as a worthless thing, is unworthy of any man or woman.  Never flirt.  Let your attitude in all affairs of the heart be perfectly honorable.  Do not accept lover-like attentions from a person you do not love.

Some seem to regard it as creditable to have a new lover every few weeks.  Such persons do great injury to themselves and to others. 

Dr. Cortland Myers deals thus with these hypocrites:

“There is a foul fiend dressed in the bright garments of frivolity and flirtation. He is guilty of the blackest crimes. In the whole list of sins, his is, in some respects, the meanest.  His name is ‘Flirt,’ and he is only the shadow of a man.  He is the shell without the kernel, a painted, polished surface that has no heart and fountain of real life below.

“The young woman, the girl, who follows this unholy pastime, is not a flower of humankind, but a mere bit of thistledown floating in its lightness on the winds of social falsehood; a butterfly in seeming, all airy and bright colored, but under the wings, a mere loathsome caterpillar, with a contorted body and no soul at all. The most despicable of all the members of the human family is the one who trifles with those eternal verities of love, of the heart, and of the sweet and solemn pledge of holy betrothal….

“The need of this hour is to restore to the promise of marriage its rightful sanctity. There is more solemnity here than even at the marriage altar.  The latter is only the repetition of the former; the one only the publication of the other, that was performed in the secret silence of the soul with ten thousand angels for witnesses.” The Lost Wedding Ring,” p. 46-50

A visitor, while passing through a hospital for the insane, came to a padded cell, in which was a girl whose claw-like hands clasped the iron bars that inclosed her. Her sad face peered out between them, and he low moans were pitiful to hear.

“What brought her here?” was asked.

”Her lover was untrue, and she became insane years ago on account of it,” was the answer.

There is a just God who will avenge such wrongs. It is an awful sin to trifle with a loving heart, to deceive, mislead, and betray.

MANNER OF COURTSHIP

“Avoid the appearance of evil, “ is a wise maxim to follow during the interesting and thrilling days of courtship.  Young women and young men will do well to safeguard their reputation. They should not permit liberties or conduct which would compromise them in any way. Nothing should be done of which they will ever feel ashamed, and which will bring regret in after years.  Let them be afraid of familiarity, and let it be known that it will not be tolerated.

Take time to become acquainted.  Don’t be in a hurry. If you are in doubt, wait. When sure that preparation of body, soul, and heart is complete, and that the marriage ceremony will only ratify what has already been done in heaven, then the marriage day may be appointed.

WEDDING BELLS

A deep and holy joy pervades all the plans for this occasion.  Since marriage is a Christian institution, one of the keepsakes brought from Eden, it is certainly appropriate that everything connected with it should be in harmony with the Creator’s idea.

Jesus will be present at the wedding if He is invited. His presence will not lesson joy, but increase it.  It is questionable whether He would approve of all the expense and outward show customary at worldly weddings, and it would be well to pause and ask whether this or that will please Him when laying plans for this pleasant occasion.  None will ever regret that they consulted His wishes.

There will be joy, real joy, in the hearts of those most interested. The pleasure of the expectant bridegroom is a type of the rejoicing our Master feels in His chosen ones. “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” He knew that every bride would think of her wedding outfit, for He asks, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?”  The day a young woman is united to her beloved should be one of the happiest in all her life, and she should look her best.

Still, the sensible bride will hesitate before spending so much upon fiery for her wedding that she will be a further burden on those who have educated and cared for her all her life.  She will not have her mind so occupied with clothes that there will be no time to think of the untried future.  The thoughts of a bride before her wedding day are long, long thoughts.  They are too sacred to be spoken.  In mute expectancy and tender trust, they reach to the future with the husband to whom she is giving all her heart.

She remembers so many who have been unhappily married. They started as though they expected wedded life to be a pleasure excursion instead of a serious problem to be studied, a mine where rich nuggets await the seeker of wealth.

It is to be feared that many brides give more attention to the wedding gown, the many costumes she thinks necessary, the bridesmaids and how they will appear, the wedding feast, and the expected presents, than to the heart preparation, the unselfish purpose, that should fill every bride with inexpressible longing.

There seems to be an appropriateness in having the marriage solemnized in a church; but if the parties choose otherwise, let the wedding take place at home, surrounded by the dear ones. Marriage is a holy, sacred institution, and should be celebrated as such.  The wedding may be conducted in such a way that the day will ever be gladly remembered.

And now the feast is spread. The minister has arrived.  The hour strikes, The wedding march begins; then comes the ceremony. There is a holy hush as the vows are spoken. Christ Himself seems to place His hands on the bowed heads as the officiating minister of God offers prayer for the two made one.  Then, amid smiles and tears, greetings and congratulations are showered upon the happy couple.

THE MINOR CHORD

But where is mother after they have sped away for the honeymoon? – She is found in her own room, father sitting beside her, their hands clasped.  There are tears on mother’s cheek, a quiver in her voice. Yes, she is glad Dorothy is married, but oh, how she will miss her!

One daughter, the eldest of a large family, who had shared home burdens until her wedding day, could hardly understand why mother pressed her so closely to her quivering, agonized, heart as she left home after he marriage, and the first letter received from her father said: “Your mother and I were like David’s men at Ziklag, the day after you left us.  We wept until we had no more power to weep.”

Fathers and mothers know so well the experience retold in the following lines:

 

 A humble cottage ‘neath the hill,
 Where children laugh and romp at will –
 With parents’ tender love and care,
 How could their lives be else than fair?
 Oh, let them all be glad to-day,
 For swift the years will pass away,
 And when they’r women grown, and men,
 ‘Twill never be the same again.
 The wedding bells may sweetly ring,
 And glory be on everything;
 But when one leaves the dear home nest,
 ‘Tis lonelier for all the rest.
 And if they one by one shall leave,
 How can the parents help but grieve?
 All come and go, and love – but then,
 ‘Tis never quite the same again.
 Ah, well! Perhaps ‘tis better so,
 That deeper meanings we may know.
 There is no loss, no grief, no pain,
 That may not bring its own sweet gain;
 And in that blessed land above,
 There’ll be again one home, one love,
 Then one in heart, and one in name,
 At last ‘twill ever be the same.

                           -Mrs. Frank A. Breck

 

The wonderful day is over. The bride has folded her veil and laid it away, - the veil she will wear but one in all her life.  A piece of her wedding gown, a bit of her cake, and flowers from her bouquet, as keepsakes, - all, all are laid aside.

And then a sense of new responsibility comes over the bride. She is a married woman. She is to be the mistress in a new home. What does the future hold for her and her husband? Will they be simply husband and wife, or will they be as well the best of friends, enjoying to the full the good things of life?

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