We shall probably not be disputed when we state that, aside from religion, at least, the most momentous problem in the life of every man and woman is that of love and marriage.
Says Edward Carpenter: “That there should exist one other person in the world toward whom all openness of interchange should establish itself, from whom there should be no concealment; whose body should be as dear to one, in every part, as one’s own; with whom there should be no sense of Mine or Thine, in property or possession; into whose mind one’s thoughts should naturally flow, as it were, to know themselves and to receive a new illumination; and between whom and one’s self there should be a spontaneous rebound of sympathy in all the joys and sorrows and experiences of life; such is, perhaps, one of the dearest wishes of the soul. For such a union Love must lay the foundation, but patience and gentle consideration and self-control must work unremittingly to perfect the structure. At length, each lover comes to know the complexion of the other’s mind; the wants, bodily and mental; the needs; the regrets; the satisfactions of the other, almost as his or her own—and without prejudice in favor of self rather than in favor of the other; above all, both parties come to know, in course of time, and after, perhaps, some doubts and trials, that the great want, the great need, which holds them together is not going to fade away into thin air, but is going to become stronger and more indefeasible as the years go on. There falls a sweet, an irresistible trust over their relation to each other, which consecrates, as it were, the double life, making both feel that nothing can now divide; and robbing each of all desire to remain when death has, indeed (or at least in outer semblance) removed the other.
“So perfect and gracious a union—even if not always realized—is still, I say, the bona fide desire of most of those who have ever thought about such matters.”
In such a union as the author quoted has here described men and women find life’s deepest and truest joys and satisfactions. In it there is solace for every sorrow, balm for every wound, renewal of life for every weariness, comfort for every affliction, a multiplication of every joy, a doubling of every triumph, encouragement for every fond ambition, and an inspiration for every struggle. Those who are thus mated and married have found a true heaven on earth. But such a mating and such a marriage is not, as many fondly suppose, based solely upon the incident of “falling in love.” If we have no other advice to give the young man or the young woman than that which has so often been given, “let your heart decide,” we have, indeed, little to offer.