John Ruskin was another man too great and too good to resent love’s going where it is sent. He had married, knowing that her respect and admiration but not her love, were his, a beautiful and brilliant girl much younger than himself. They lived happily a number of years. Then Ruskin brought home the painter, Millais, to make a picture of his wife. Artist and model fell in love. Ruskin found it out, and refused to allow his wife to sacrifice herself for him. He divorced her and gave her to Millais, and the three were life-long friends.
If I were a man in such a case as A. J.’s I should treat my wife as I would a daughter. I would treat her as an Individual with the right of choice.
Many a daughter has rushed headlong into a marriage which her relatives opposed and she regretted at leisure.
If someone grabs you by the arm and pulls hard in one direction you are forced to pull hard in the opposite direction, or lose your balance and fall. If a daughter is pulled away from the man to whom she is attracted, her Individuality rebels and she pulls toward him harder than she would if let alone. She chooses to follow the attraction which at the time is pleasanter than that between herself and her frowning relatives.
Remembering this I would free daughter or wife and trust to the God in her to work out her highest good. I would believe that whatever she chose to do was really for her highest good. If I really loved her I would prefer her happiness to my own.
And in it all I should be deeply conscious that whatever is, is best, and that all things worked together for MY best good as well as for hers.
Whatever appearances may show to the shortsighted, the real TRUTH is this:—Justice reigns; the happiness of one person is not bought at the expense of another; the law of attraction brings us our own and holds to us our own in spite of all its efforts to get away; it never leaves us until, THROUGH SOME CHANGE OR LACK OF CHANGE IN OURSELVES, it has ceased to be our own.
A man’s “mental attitude” toward the other man in such cases as A.J.’s should be the same as toward other men—the attitude of real kindness toward an Individual who, like the rest of us, is being “as good as he knows how to be and as bad as he dare be.”
This does not mean that the husband shall allow himself to be used for a door mat, nor held up for the ridicule of the neighbors. A sensible father expects his daughter to observe the proprieties. The daughter of a sensible father is more than willing to meet these expectations. In the same way a sensible husband will expect his wife to see no more of the lover than “society” permits her to see of any man not related to her. No sensible American woman will jeopardize her good name under such circumstances. She will control her feelings until she has proved her new attraction and been duly released from the old. If a woman will not conduct herself in a self-respecting manner the sooner she leaves the better for the husband. As for herself, she will learn by experience—as Princess Louise did.