BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
[continued from yesterday]
...Nevertheless, a prolonged neglect of the practical side of a husband's love must wear out a wife's affection, and then there is an end of all love, the family life is broken and the strength of society is sapped at its foundations. The husband's practical love of his wife, therefore, his care for her dress, her housekeeping, her health, her pleasures, has consequences reaching much further than would appear at first sight. His affection must be translated into action, else he fails in one of the greatest duties of his manhood.
Thirdly, a husband's love must be exclusive. The Christian dispensation in forbidding polygamy shows how much more it is in conformity with the laws of human nature than the other religions which allow plurality of wives. If there is one instinct which is paramount in woman it is that the love given to her by her husband must be exclusive.
And what the law of nature demands the law of revelation confirms and sanctions. The Christian wife cannot for a moment tolerate the idea which prevails in the Mormon or the Mohammedan social systems.
Even more peremptory is the law of nature against the crime of adultery. Nowhere, however, are these laws of nature more carefully protected than in the Catholic Church. She has had twenty centuries' experience of human nature. She knows quite well that those laws cannot be observed by merely forbidding the grosser sins of adultery or polygamy. One does not fall into those sins suddenly, while leading an otherwise pure and blameless life. The way is prepared by a series of seemingly less harmful sins, the unchaste thought, the unchaste look, the unchaste word. Therefore it is, that in the matter of purity the Church brands as mortal sin even the lesser faults when deliberately committed.
The true Christian husband, then, will not be content with merely guarding against sin. He will strive all he can in the opposite direction. He will avoid even innocent attentions to others which may possibly give displeasure to his wife. He will make it a special study and effort that his wife shall realize that she is the only one who has any attraction for him. If this habit of thought and action be sedulously cultivated it will bear fruit on both sides. The mutual love between husband and wife will be so strong and constant as to leave no room for jealousy, for such love is strong as death, and actually is the death of that jealousy which would be hard as hell.
What has been said of a husband's love applies equally to a wife's love. It must be affectionate, practical, and exclusive. Although these qualities are ordinarily found more pronounced and more natural in the wife than in the husband, yet even the wife cannot afford to leave them to natural impulse. She also must cultivate them, must watch them, must seek out opportunities of giving them free and healthy exercise. There is only a slight difference in their order. Bending to the nature of the man, instead of making her love first affectionate, then practical, then exclusive, she will simply reverse the order, so that her love shall be first exclusive, then practical, and then affectionate.....
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.