The object of vocational help is not merely to keep the “square peg” out of the “round hole.” The girl arbitrarily placed in a suitable occupation may never discover why she is there, and may be handicapped all her life by a deep conviction that she fits somewhere else. “Know thyself” is a good old maxim yet. The teacher or vocational guide is fitted by the place of observation she holds to help the girl to study herself and the possibilities that life holds out to such as she thus finds herself to be. The final choice should be made by the girl.
Marriage may, or may not, in these days, be the opening door into the homemaker’s career. Many a young woman is a homemaker before she marries. On the other hand, women sometimes marry without any thought of making a home.
But, after all, it is safe to assume that marriage and homemaking do go hand in hand. The great majority of wives become managers of homes of one sort or another. Shall we then frankly educate our girls for marriage—“dangle a wedding ring ever before their eyes”? Or shall we regard marriages as “made in heaven” and keep our hands off the whole matter?
The proportion of marriages in the United States which terminate in divorce was in 1910 one in twelve. Divorce in this country is now three times as common as forty years ago. The success or failure of marriages cannot, however, be measured merely by the divorce test. We cannot avoid the knowledge that many other unhappy unions are endured until release comes with death. When we say unhappy marriages, we mean not only those which become unendurable, but all those in which marriage impedes the development and hence the efficiency of either party to the contract. Unhappy marriages include not only the mismated, but also those whose unhappiness in married life is due to their own or their mate’s misconception of what marriage really means. It is obviously impossible even to estimate the number of marriages which are happy or unhappy; but we are safe in saying that the processes of adjustment in many cases are far harder than they ought to be, and that many marriages which seemingly ought to bring happiness fail of real success.
In view of the fact that so many marriages fall short of what they might be, it would seem that some sort of assistance to the girl in choosing a husband and to the young man in choosing a wife would be wise, such as the instruction we give boys and girls to enable them to be successful in the industrial world. In short, it is not enough to prepare girls for homemaking by making all our references to marriage indirect. Young men and women are entitled to more knowledge of marriage, its rights, privileges, and duties; they need to realize that in these days of complex living marriage is a difficult relation which requires their best energies and wisest thought.