Marriage: and the family first
“There is a kind of beauty … that increases and does not diminish with the years,” wrote Margaret Weymouth Jackson; a beauty “that lies within, and shines out. … It is the thing called character that comes with maturity and self-discipline. … And it means so much to the person one lives with. … No one could be so foolish as to deny the charm of youth and beauty,” but they are “so fleeting … that … we must get on a sounder … basis. … With a stranger … one can assume a virtue … but one can assume no virtue for the every day, year-in, year-out … [living together in life]. One must possess that virtue, body and soul, for its own sake. … And so we come back to fundamentals; that … to make a success in marriage” character is required—character in money matters, character in morality, in faithfulness, character to consider the family first, character that includes cleanliness, honesty, and self-respect and a bit of pardonable pride—not “the kind of pride … that [indulges in petty quarreling, or] is forever taking offense at trifles … [not] pride that can never forgive or forget. … There must be much forgiving on both sides.” 1 But always remember that in a marriage the family is foremost, for if a marriage is broken, children pay a price; children who are torn between those they love; children who have to choose, or have others choose for them. Solomon himself could not make this kind of decision to the blessing and satisfaction of all concerned. People can change. They can find respect, even if romantic love has partly left. There should be kindly frankness; confiding; no furtive secrets and no “brooding about the might-have-beens,” 2 but going on from here, wherever you are; partners working on a common problem—“conquering instead of running away. Making and keeping a happy home takes character and constancy, as does everything else worthwhile. But what else ever yields such rich rewards?” 2
Margaret W. Jackson, “Marriage As it Ought to Be,” Good Housekeeping, June 1933.
Selected phrases from Dr. Hubert S. Howe, “Can’t I Save My Marriage?” Good Housekeeping, January 1935.
Theirs that commit them … theirs that permit them
There is this from Thomas Fuller that is worth some further thought: “The first faults are theirs that commit them; the second theirs that permit them.” 1 We have cited before the sentence from Plautus that says, “I count that man as lost who has lost his sense of shame.” 2 We lose much also when we lose our sense of concern—or when we cease to be embarrassed about just plain, low-minded morals; when we cease to concern ourselves with what can or should be done. Indifference to anything that is far from what it ought to be is a dangerous disease, for there is no evidence or indication that evil, without opposition, will ever put restraints upon itself. This brings us to an oft-quoted sentence: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” 3 When we see immodesty, false standards, attractive temptations, and people, young and old, persuaded to patronize low-minded entertainment or persuaded to partake of things that would be injurious to body, mind, and morals—if to all of this we turn aside with seeming unconcern, we can expect society to move further toward the downside, because evil is brazen, greedy, unembarrassed, without regard for wholesomeness, or health, or happiness, or the everlasting things of life. And so there comes a time when we have to search ourselves, and not always blame all things on others, or onto the trends of the times—for circumstances don’t simply make themselves. And without the courage to stand against what shouldn’t be, life could drift to its lowest level. “Stand with him while he is right,” said Abraham Lincoln, “and part with him when he goes wrong.” 4 To paraphrase the sentence earlier cited: I count that man as lost—that civilization, that society as lost—that has lost the sense of embarrassment, or the sense of shame. “The first faults are theirs that commit them; the second theirs that permit them.”
Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, No. 4528.
Plautus, Bacchides, 1. 485 (act iii, sc. 3).
Attributed to Edmund Burke.
Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Peoria, Illinois, Oct. 16, 1854.