Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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The Influence of Religion.

    Dear Madam:  I so much enjoy your good advice, and
would like to have your opinion regarding the marriage of
Catholics and Protestants.  Do you think chances of future
happiness equal to those of same religious views?
                                    ST. LOUIS.

    In the days when I found the Duchess's novels
fascinating, and judged the world by their stan-
dard, I felt a keen scorn for lovers who allowed a
question of religious views to interfere with the
course of true love.
    Acquaintance with real life and real people has
modified my opinions in the matter.
    If two people love each other so wholly, broadly,
deeply and tenderly that the customs of the world
regarding the forms of religious worship are nothing
to them, and if they can realize that all religions
contain the same central idea, and that it is the
spirit, not the letter, of a creed which is of impor-
tance, then it is perfectly safe for them to marry,
whether they are Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists,
or Mahometans.
    But it is rare to find both the man and woman
who take this comprehensive and broad view of the
matter after the glamour of the honeymoon passes
and life settles into practical channels.
    One of the two--usually the woman--becomes in-
sistent that the other shall give up the views of a
lifetime and adopt her own.  Argument ends in dis-
cord, and trouble ensues.  The religion which is
based upon the commandment to "love one another"
leads to quarrels and hatred.
    Even where people are too sensible and well bred
to allow such serious results to ensue, much sorrow
and estrangement frequently arise from a differ-
ence in religious views, especially where there are
    The man who marries a Catholic wife, and is satis-
fied to let her enjoy her faith, is seldom satisfied to
have his sons reared in that same faith.  Yet this
is what he consented to do before marriage.
    The Protestant wife finds it quite difficult to
allow her children to be educated in a way so
opposed to her own ideas of what constitutes reli-
gion, and constant friction as a result.
    People can be very in married life, who
have opposite opinions on every matter save
mutual love and loyalty.  But they need to be
broad minded, good tempered, and well balanced to
meet such a situation.
    Without question there is a safer prospect of hap-
piness for a man and wife whose tastes are similar
and whose habits of thought are in harmony.
    I know a serious quarrel which occurred be-
tween a newly married couple because the young
wife went sailing one hot Sunday afternoon with
her relatives, and her strictly orthodox husband
considered that she had broken the Sabbath by so
doing, and endeavored to scold and nag her into his
    It is the highest possible ideal of marriage when
two people find themselves physical mates, mental
comrades, and spiritual companions.  In order to be
all this, they need not pursue the same vocations,
not belong to the same church.  Intellectual and
spiritual sympathy and toleration are all that are
needed to create happiness and harmony.
    I once heard a great Hindoo teacher say, "Think
of God as the ocean, and the varying creeds as
pitchers of different shapes, which human beings are
taking to the ocean to fill.  So long as each is filled
with divine love, what does the shape matter?"

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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