2. How True Marriages are Formed
"What . . . God hath joined together."
Mark 10: 9
The Lord creates people in pairs, and these pairs are specifically related, like the heart and lungs. Each part is made for one other, and for no other but that one. It will not fit any other; it cannot unite perfectly with any other. This specific adaptation is as perfect in human beings as it is in the components of any material substance. The Divine wisdom is not limited to a general arrangement of the substances and forces in the creation. It operates in the least things and in the most specific manner. The Lord is faithful in that which is least, and in this way He becomes faithful in much. What a defect and defeat of the creation it would be if it were left to chance and accident whether an animal or a child was born without a heart or lungs, or with half a brain, or with only one hand or foot! It would be just as great a defect in the Divine methods if it were left to chance to provide the complement to every human being's nature which he needs to gain the happiness for which he was created.
A true marriage, which consists in the union of souls, can take place only between those souls that were made for each other. Only those can unite. There may be what is called marriage between a man and woman of the most opposite nature. That is a merely external and legal union. But a real marriage goes deeper. It is not determined by circumstance; it is not formed by merely natural and worldly means. In such legal connections the man and the woman - we can call them husband and wife only by common courtesy and common usage - meet on the material and merely natural plane of life. Their thoughts and affections are limited to this world and to this life. They may get along comfortably, be of great assistance to each other, and enjoy much of natural life, and yet have no communion of spiritual and human affection and thought.
But man is a spiritual being. He is destined by every faculty of his nature to find his home and the means of his happiness in the spiritual world. The longest life in this world, compared with his life in the spiritual world, is as a moment to eternal years. It is as the acorn which lies in the ground for a few months, compared with the oak which lives for centuries. Our life in the material world is the acorn; our life in the spiritual world is the undying oak. The Lord provides for the organization of man's spiritual nature and its perpetual development. He bends every event and natural circumstance to man's permanent and highest good. He provides for it in the creation of human pairs and in their preparation for union. They may be separated by time and space and circumstance, and even by worlds. They may never meet in this world, and still the preparation may be going on for the eternal union of natures destined to be joined together by God.
If this fact were known and understood, it would have a most important influence on all our thoughts and purposes with regard to marriage in this world. We should regard it as the most important relation that exists between one human being and another. It would enter into and control all our purposes and the whole conduct of life. Young men and women would be instructed in the nature and importance of this relation, and how to prepare themselves for it. While it is true that human beings are created in pairs, and every one has a specific nature and original endowment of faculties for union with a corresponding nature, this . creation is not completed, and, as it were, stereotyped and unchangeably fixed by one act of creative power. The work is continually going on. It is true that the first step enters into all the subsequent ones and modifies them. But the original endowment is also modified by all the influences and means that are active in its development. Human freedom enters as a large factor in the result. A human being is not made as the artist moulds an image in the soft and passive clay, or cuts it in marble. Man himself co-operates with the Lord in his creation. The Lord says to every human being, "Let us make man." Every man and woman, therefore, co-operates with the Lord in determining the final result. What each one becomes, without any knowledge of the unknown being who is the complement of his or her nature, is determining who that being shall be. Everyone is becoming the complement of some other being by the character formed. The knowledge gained, the affections cherished, the habits confirmed, the character organized, are all elements which must enter into, modify, and determine the result.
Common observation and universal experience testify to this fact. Why is there a reciprocal attraction between one young man and one young woman rather than between others? Is it not because there are qualities of heart, some peculiarities of manner, some graces of form and speech, of look and act, that are specially pleasing? But these are mostly the result of culture in its largest sense. The whole life in all its acts and apparently trivial circumstances has contributed to the result. What the boy and girl are doing in early childhood and youth, the innocent affections they exercise which give to the morning of life the charm that fragrance and tender beauty give to the flower, the education of circumstance and relation, and the little unnoticed daily acts as well as the formal instruction, give quality to the affections, color and form to the intellect, tone to speech, and grace, or the want of it, to manner; all combine to determine those special and peculiar qualities that constitute individuality and prepare for union with one person rather than another. It is in the nature of things, therefore, that boys and girls and men and women are determining, by the characters they form, to whom they are to be joined in eternal union. They are to be matched and mated. They are to find their counterpart, the complement of their form and nature. But what that counterpart will be must be determined by what each one is and becomes.
It necessarily follows from this that in an important sense every man and woman has the power of determining, and is determining, who the real partner shall be. The responsibility of choice is committed to each one. The man may ask, Where am I to find my wife? The woman may ask, Where am I to find my husband? The answer must be, Look within your own mind and see what manner of man or woman you are. Who will fit you? That must be determined by what you are. God cannot join incongruous natures together, much less those of opposite and hostile character. The pure and the vile are not homogeneous; evil is not the complement of good, virtue of vice. They are as opposite as heat and cold, light and darkness. God cannot join them together. He can join those natures only which are the complements of each other.
True marriages are formed, and can be formed, only by the cultivation of those faculties which can be united. The man must cultivate and develop those faculties that are distinctly masculine in form and quality. The woman must cherish and perfect those qualities of heart and intellect that are distinctly feminine. The union of the masculine and feminine mind is not the conjunction of the same mental qualities. It is not the direct union of heart with heart, or thought with thought, as is often supposed. It is the union of the will of the one with the understanding of the other, of affection with thought, and thought with affection. The wife does not love the husband because he possesses the same qualities of brain and heart that she does. She has no desire to marry herself. She does not want a wife, but a husband. The husband does not love the wife for masculine qualities, but for womanly ones. He does not want a man for a wife. Men of great intellectual powers are often devotedly attached to wives who are quite their opposites in this respect. The man has an intellect already. It is not a library, or a dictionary, or a geological cabinet he needs. He wants intelligence, it is true, but not in its cold and sharp forms. He seeks it clothed in the garments of feminine beauty and bathed in the warm light of love. He is not attracted by the dry bones of truth; he seeks it clothed with living flesh and rounded into graceful feminine forms. On the other hand, the woman is not charmed by weak and blind affection. She desires love, but she prizes it in the power and glorious form of truth. She loves wisdom, but wisdom is love directed by truth to a noble purpose. This is a universal law of the Divine order, which is beautifully exemplified in chemical affinities and in the numberless combinations of matter in the creation of material objects. Affinity is not due to sameness, identity, but to those qualities which mutually accommodate and adapt substances to one another, and enable them by their union to form a more excellent whole.
Every woman is preparing herself for marriage by the disposition and qualities of head and heart she is cherishing. This is true not only in general but in particular. Every affection must have its corresponding truth, which is the form and measure of it; the affection itself determines with what truth it shall be joined. If we have one of the elements of a substance we desire to form, we must obtain the other; and what the other will be must be determined by the one we possess. If we desire to form water and have hydrogen, any gas will not answer; we must have oxygen; we must have the element that will combine with the one we possess. The one we possess then determines the one we must procure. According to the same principle, what a man or woman becomes by heredity, by education, and by culture in its widest and most specific sense, determines who the corresponding partner shall be. To every woman, in a large degree, therefore, is given the choice of her husband, and to every man the choice of his wife, and every one is choosing by the character he or she is forming. Each one is becoming the measure of the other; each one is developing the special qualities that must find a correspondent. Each one is making preparation for marriage, and determining who the partner shall be, by every affection exercised, by every thought indulged and every deed done. Chance, or circumstance, or casual meeting have no control over the final result. Beings that are the complements of one another cannot be kept apart. No obstacles of time, or place, or circumstance can prevent the union of those whom God has destined for each other. They may never meet in this world, but congenial souls cannot fail to find each other when all natural obstructions are removed. The force that draws them together pervades the spiritual universe, touches every soul in the innumerable multitude, as the magnet finds the least atom of iron and separates it from every other substance. Those whom God has destined for each other cannot be kept asunder.
This certainty of result in the operation of the Divine laws, and the agency which we have in the result, bring the whole question home to each one of us personally, and lay upon us the responsibility and necessity of choice, because our free choice in the formation of our own characters is a part of the Divine plan. It is our share in the preparation that concerns us, and the knowledge that it is a most important factor in determining the result must have great influence with us in the ordering of our lives. If we were called together, knowing that whatever we brought was to be matched in quality and quantity and to become ours; if the material of our garments would determine the materials of which all future garments were to be made; if the ornaments we wore, or the metal of our money would be what we should forever possess, should we come in coarse and faded attire? Should we adorn ourselves with tinsel and glass when we could put on gold and diamonds? Should we fill our purses with coppers and nickels instead of silver and gold? There is not a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, who would be guilty of such folly. Let us not, then, be guilty of the infinitely greater folly of being indifferent to what we become, because that will determine the character of him or her who is to be our other self, with whom we are to become indissolubly one.
In view of this law of the Divine order, from which it is impossible to escape as from the power of attraction, let us consider some of the special means by which we are to determine the character of husband or wife.
As marriage is the destiny of every man and woman, and the means which the Lord has provided for our happiness, we should look forward to it as the most desirable, the most intimate and sacred relation in life. Parents should instruct their children in the principles of its nature, and as far as possible provide the means for a correct knowledge of its importance. Many do labor diligently to provide the means for its natural wants and comforts. But when its true nature is understood and in some degree appreciated, they will be still more solicitous and diligent in providing the means for a more adequate appreciation of its spiritual importance, and for meeting its responsibilities and wisely performing its duties. Parents will not accomplish this by trying to find a suitable match, as judged by natural standards, but by training up their sons and daughters to become worthy of pure and noble partners.
In due time young people should diligently and faithfully begin to prepare themselves for this union. This should not be done in the silly and ruinous way that is so common, by thinking of this one or that, magnifying the importance of wealth and station and material conditions, but by making themselves worthy to mate the worthy, knowing that what they themselves are determines who are to be the complements of their being.
The true effort to prepare for marriage leads to the shunning of every evil that would taint the purity of marriage, and every error that would tend to disturb its harmony. This will be a most powerful motive in regulating the conduct of life. The young man and the young woman will say, If I am the measure of what I desire in husband or wife, I must raise the standard of excellence as high as possible. If I desire an unselfish companion through the eternal years, I must myself be unselfish. I must be pure if I would be linked to purity. I must be kind if I am to expect kindness, truthful if I am to wed the truth, faithful to every trust if I desire fidelity in my other self. I must shun in myself every imperfection that could lessen my respect for husband or wife and tend to separate us.
This would lead to the cultivation of those amiable traits of character which prevent friction and give a charm to the most intimate human relations. It would be a powerful and constantly operating motive to form habits and acquire graces and accomplishments that would break the monotony and relieve the drudgery of constant labor, sand make the daily contacts in the journey of life a pleasure rather than a weariness and an annoyance. It would stimulate to industry, to a wise economy, and to wisdom in the conduct of affairs. It would quicken the desire to become intelligent and to cultivate all the qualities that would grace and make rich in promise and experience the union of two natures in one mind.
It is too often the case in marriage that the husband expects the wife to yield entirely to his wishes, and the wife cherishes the vain hope that the husband will yield even to her whims and caprices. These expectations furnish the conditions for inevitable disappointment and division. The true grounds of union are directly the reverse. The young woman should cultivate a love of what is right, true, and wise, and should seek for these qualities in the husband, that it may be a delight to yield to him and be guided by him as their embodiment. The young man should cherish the love of what is good and true, and seek the embodiment of this love in his wife. So far as he succeeds he will love to yield to the power of- her love and to be led by her affection. In this state each one desires to be the other's, each one desires to give and to receive, and the result is harmony of thought and affection and unity of life. The husband and wife cherish a sacred regard for the rights and happiness of each other. There is no question who shall yield. They both yield. There is no conflict to decide who shall govern. They govern conjointly. There is no question who is the greatest and wisest and best. Each one thinks the other is the greatest, the wisest, and the best. The result is freedom, harmony, and union.
It may be said that there are no such perfect men and women. This may be so; but it cannot be denied that this excellence of character is what every one should aspire to and strive to attain. Every woman should aim to become a perfect woman, and every man should aim to become a perfect man. This is the goal all should seek; and when we have a true idea of what human perfection is, it is not so difficult of attainment as is generally supposed. Perfection consists in doing the best we can, according to the measure of our knowledge and ability. An infant maybe be perfect as an infant in all its ignorance and helplessness. Boys and girls can be perfect according to their ability. A woman can be a perfect daughter, sister, wife, mother; and she is perfect in all these relations when she faithfully performs all her duties according to her best knowledge and ability. The Lord makes the ability of every one the standard of perfection for him, and judges him by that. He gives the same commendation of ‘good and faithful servant" to the one who has five pounds that He does to the one who has ten. Perfection is a relative attainment for a human being. The only absolutely perfect Being is the Lord. It is towards that perfection that we should move. Our happiness will not consist in attaining it, but in striving to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect; and every step we take towards Him will be a perfect step if taken according to the best of our knowledge and ability.
Marriage, like regeneration, or the attainment of any excellence, is a gradual process. The preparation for it begins in time, and some steps in its accomplishment may be taken in this world, but it never can be completed here. Indeed, there is no point in the degree and perfection of the-union between two homogeneous natures that will not be passed. A true marriage is not only an eternal union, but it is a continually increasing union. The ceremony that legalizes or consecrates the marriage is only an incident in the real union. It is an important incident, and should be reverently regarded. It is a landmark in the progress of marriage, but it is not the beginning or the end of it. It gives to it the sanction of law, and the freedom of personal intimacy, which is most favorable to real union of thought and affection. . The genuine marriage is formed by the interchange of intelligence and affection in daily life. The will and understanding of husband and wife meet and become conjoined in the common duties and pleasures of social, domestic, and personal life. Thought is received and adopted by affection, and affection by thought. The kind look, the true word, the helping hand, the loving tone, the gentle caress, the quick sympathy, and the innumerable and unconscious ways in which affection expresses itself are flying from will to understanding, and from understanding to will, and weaving the two natures into one web. By these mutual and constant contacts the bonds of affection are forming and gaining strength, and the power of mutual attraction is constantly increasing and drawing soul closer to soul.
It is true that there are many obstacles in the nature of both husband and wife to this interior and genuine marriage. Great difficulties must be met and overcome. Much must be surrendered that is very dear and hard to relinquish. There is immense significance in the words, ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." The father and mother that both husband and wife must leave before they become one flesh, one life, are the supreme love of self and the world, and there is no treasure so precious to the natural mind as this love. It is ndeed the life that we must all lay down before we can become one with the Lord and each other. It will cost many a struggle and much keen anguish, and sometimes despair.
The relations of husband and wife are peculiarly adapted to effect this surrender of each to the other. The intercourse and reciprocal services of daily life constantly call for the suppression of self and for mutual service in little things which are not too great for our strength. So we give up one point after another, and every position of self abandoned is seized by a true love. The surrender and the victory are mutual. The husband gets more than he gives; the wife gains more than she loses. Each one gets a nobler and a purer self. Each one gains a larger power over the other, and becomes more distinctly and consciously free. This process of giving and receiving, of surrender and victory, will go on until all the obstacles of union are removed and free play can be given to every affection, to seek and find its corresponding self.
In all these trials and temptations God is joining husband and wife together. The fine filaments of thought spun, as it were, from their life, like the fibres with which the silk-worm weaves its cocoon, are twisted into one thread which becomes a living bond binding each to each, and forming the line along which the messages of mutual affection constantly pass and repass. All that is not homogeneous to both is being gradually displaced, and in each a new nature, a new self, is forming, which is the image of the other, different but corresponding. The wife becomes the image of the husband, but in feminine forms. The husband becomes the likeness of the wife, but in masculine lines, as a daughter resembles her father and a son his mother. The nature of each is modified and completed by the other, but in the process of assimilation the wife becomes more distinctly and beautifully feminine, and the husband more distinctly and nobly masculine. There is no merging of one nature with another by which each loses some distinctive quality, as two drops of water melt into one. This would destroy all individuality and all ground of affection and possibility of marriage. The lines which distinguish husband and wife are more firmly drawn. The more closely they are united, the more distinct the union.
Some conditions of life seem to be more favorable for the
formation of this union than others. But this we cannot know. There is no
condition wholly incompatible with it. Where husband and wife, by natural
law, possess such incompatible natures that no real union between them is
possible, still the one or the other or both may be exercising those
qualities which will prepare for a true marriage. The wife may be
developing the purest and noblest feminine qualities, with a patience,
fidelity, and heroism, under stress of opposition and desertion, which
will fit her for a corresponding noble nature. The same may be true of the
husband. Those who are truly married in heart and soul may be separated by
time and space or the dissolution of the material body, and still be
cherishing those affections and cultivating that love and wisdom in the
conduct of their lives which will, at the proper time, and in the orderly
ways which the Lord will provide, bring them into conscious and blissful
union with those who possess corresponding natures. We come, therefore, to
this conclusion : that every woman prepares herself for a true marriage by
cultivating and becoming the embodiment and form of womanly dispositions
and qualities of mind and heart; that every man prepares himself for a
true marriage by becoming a pure, true, and noble man, and in this
way becoming worthy of a corresponding pure, true, and noble woman.
Through whatever phases of life they may pass, and whatever natural unions
they may form, every one will be joined by God with the one who is his or
her measure. And those whom God joins together can never be put asunder,
but will continue forever to come into a more blissful union. The process
of marriage will never cease.