Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Many Love Marriages End.
Love is to marriage what yeast is to bread.
  Without it the loaf is heavy and indigestible.
  But, like bread, marriage requires other ingredi-
ents besides yeast to render it a success.
   There must be the common-sense brand of flour
and the milk of human kindness and a pinch of salt
from the mine of tact.
   There must be the strong hands of natural sym-
pathy to knead these ingredients thoroughly, and
the well-heated oven of home life for the baking.
   The reason so many  love marriages end disas-
trously is because some one of these ingredients is
lacking.  Sometimes all are lacking.  A scant use
of common-sense flour is the fault which Cupid, the
chef, most frequently falls into.
   A marriage may begin with a great deal of uncom-
mon affection and devotion; but if common sense is
not employed, disaster follows.
   Some men cannot possess anything without desir-
ing to make it all over.  As children they break
their toys into pieces and try to reconstruct them.
As youths they buy a dog or a horse and proceed
immediately to clip its ears or tail, and when they
marry they invariably begin to correct and
“improve” the wife.  No matter how much they
have admired her as she was before marriage,
they attempt to make her all over afterward.
   A man may succeed in this, if he begins with
care and discretion.
   I do not think it is a proof of the highest love
when two people resolve to take each other with all
their mutual faults, and make not the least effort to
help each other to overcome them.  There is no
such thing as being stationary in character.  We
are slowly and imperceptibly growing better or
worse, stronger or weaker, all the time.
   Marriage ought to be a splendid partnership for
mutual improvement.
   A man may dearly love and greatly admire the
general characteristics of a girl, and at the same
time see certain qualities which he knows would be
better either toned down, suppressed, or stimulated.
   It is the office of true love to try and produce
these changes, and often great good results from
such efforts.
   I have known a crude rough diamond of a girl to
be polished into perfection by the skill of her hus-
band, and she never knew the polishing process was
going on.  I have known a brusque, quick-tempered
woman to acquire tact and amiability under the
tutelage of her husband, and I have seen a cross,
despondent-natured man develop the most cheerful
and pleasant qualities under a wife's gentle influ-
ence.  But time, patience, tenderness, and infinite
tact were employed in all these cases.  When
either party goes about the reconstructing business
roughly and abruptly, it indicates a lack of sense, if
not a lack of heart.
   A young wife, who separated from her husband
after three years of discord, explained her trouble
to me as follows:
   "Charlie and I came up as young people
together," she said.  "He was my admirer from
the time I was fourteen until at nineteen I became
his wife.
   "During my girlhood he seemed to think I was
the most charming thing on earth.  I had a way of
saying whatever came into my head, my remarks
often astonished people, but Charlie said my pecu-
liarities were 'cute,' and he thought me so refresh-
ingly original.
   "Before we had been married two weeks, all this
changed.  My 'cute' sayings worried him, my origi-
nality struck him as bad form.  I was criticised and
rebuked a dozen times a day for the very things he
had admired in me as a girl.  I grew self-conscious
and afraid to speak in his presence.  Then he called
me sullen and disagreeable, and so the chasm
between us widened until it was a farce for us to
attempt to live together.  It seems terrible when I
remember how much in love we were upon our
wedding day."
   Here is a case where a man's lack of common
sense ruined the happiness of two people.  The
lover who had flattered and praised the girl during
three or four years of courtship ought to have real-
ized that the fault-finding and critical husband
would not be able to keep her heart.
   Kindly criticism between husband and wife
should never be objected to by either party.  But
it should be done with the greatest possible del-
icacy, and in the tenderest manner, and long
intervals of praise should intervene between the
times of criticism.
   Fault-finding is a good deal like the drink or
opium habit.  Once begun in a family, it is very
easy to continue, and very difficult to arrest one's
self.  But I believe the happiness of more families
has been wrecked by it than from alcohol or
   On the other hand, the lack of a timely word
of criticism has caused many a wife or hus-
band to become fixed in some habit which resulted
in Cupid's flight.
   Men are far more touchy than women about
being criticised.  A man can point out a fault in his
wife much more calmly than he can listen to her
when she reminds him that he is growing careless
in some matter which seems trivial, yet is of vital
importance if not corrected.  Yet these reminders,
when given with affectionate courtesy and consid-
eration, often save the honeymoon from eternal
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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