After all is said and done, the fiercest domestic conflicts arise out of the inherent childishness of men and women. Pride and the unwillingness to concede personal error, overtender egoism, bossiness, and rebellion against it, petty jealousies and stubbornness,—these are the basic elements in discord. Children quarrel about trifles, children are unreasonably jealous, children fight for leadership and seek constantly to enlarge their ego as against their comrades. Any one who watches two five-year-olds for an hour will observe a dozen conflicts. So with many husbands and wives.
Unreason, petty jealousy, stubbornness over trifles, bossiness (not leadership), overready temper and overready tears,—these cause more domestic difficulty than alcohol and unfaithfulness put together. The education of American women is certainly not tending to eradicate these defects, which are not necessarily feminine, from her character. In the domestic struggle the man has the major faults as his burden; the woman has a host of minor ones. She claims equality for her virtues yet demands a tender consideration for her weaknesses.
Dealing with petty annoyances, disagreeing over petty matters, with her mind engrossed in her disillusions and grievances, many a woman finds her disagreeables a burden too much for her “nerves.” That a philosophy of life would save her is of course obvious, but this is a matter which we shall deal with later.
THE SYMPTOMS AS WEAPONS AGAINST THE HUSBAND
Throughout life, two great trends may be picked out of the intricacy of human motives and conduct. The one is (or may be called) the Will to Power, the other the Will to Fellowship. The will to power is the desire to conquer the environment, to lead one’s fellows, to accumulate wealth (power), to write a great book (influence or power), to become a religious leader (power), to be successful in any department of human effort. In every group, from a few tots playing in the grass to gray-headed statesmen deciding a world’s destinies, there is a struggle of these wills to power. In the children’s group this takes the trivial (to us) form as to who shall be “policeman” or “teacher”, in the statesmen it takes the “weighty” form as to which river shall form a boundary line and which group of capitalists shall exploit this or that benighted country. The will to power includes all trends which inflate the ego,—love of admiration, pride, reluctance to admit error, desire for beauty, lust for possession, cruelty, even philanthropy, which in many cases is the good man’s desire for power over the lives of his fellows.
Side by side with this group of instincts and purposes, interplaying and interweaving with it, modifying it and being modified by it, is the group we call the will to fellowship. This is the social sense, the need of other’s good will, the desire to help, sympathy, love, friendly feeling, self-sacrifice, sense of fair play, all the impulses that are essentially maternal and paternal, devotion to the interests of others. This will to fellowship permeates all groups, little and big, old and young, and is the cement stuff of life, holding society together.