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They hold fast that which they should surrender without a murmur. There is but one rule for conjugal obedience, and that is, that the woman should obey all such requisitions as are consistent with her higher duties. If she is unfortunately yoked unequally with an unbeliever, she must obey God first, and her husband afterwards. But this is a situation, in which no considerate Christian female will ever voluntarily place herself. A woman who loves God, and desires to serve him, will never risk uniting herself with one who is still in the darkness of unbelief. She has no right to expect a blessing on any prayers she might intend to put up for her partner, for God has only promised his blessing to those who move in the prescribed path of duty, and the precept is imperative, that the believer shall not enter the conjugal state with the unbeliever. Who could venture to say to God—“Lord, I have disobeyed thy commands, nevertheless, I expect a blessing upon the forbidden step I have taken. I have married a man who denies the Saviour who died for him; he treats with coldness or contempt my religious profession. He considers my dearest hope as a wild chimera, and the object of my dearest affections as a fabled being: and yet I expect to be happy with him; to be able to reconcile my duty to him, with my duty to you, so that neither will clash with the other!” Is not this strange reasoning? But I forewarn you, my dear girl, that the hope of being happy in such an union is vain. Nay—I dare not even promise you security in such a state! How can the love which is felt for an infidel, be productive of happiness to a vital Christian: Can a wife bear to think of the probable doom of the man she loves? can she love him truly, and endure the thought of an endless separation from him?-Surely not. There are impediments in this bad world to conjugal felicity, without this most insurmountable one. The very
acuteness of sensibility which characterizes women, operates to the destruction of their happiness, in such a case.
The advice which I now give you, dear Mary, to curb even your amiable feelings, will tend to prepare you for happiness in the married state. When I think how much misery is occasioned by the ungoverned sensibility of women, I feel inconceivable anxiety to warn you on this head. Excess of all kinds is to be avoided, and we may love those with whom we are connected in this life idolatrously, and thus lay ourselves open to the awful penalty of God's violated law. If we love God supremely, there is no fear of our exceeding in the measure of our subordinate affections; yet, trust me, my dear girl, there is more pain than pleasure in inordinate attachments to our kindred dust. Women are most prone to commence conjugal life, by expecting the same devoted attention from the husband, that they received from the lover. This expectation will almost always be disappointed; for when the cares and avocations of life press hard upon the head of a family, he has not that time for cultivating his tender feelings, that his unoccupied hours of youth afforded. It is a fatal error, for a woman to suffer herself to be soured by perceiving this inevitable change. She had far better lay up firmer materials for domestic happiness, than those gathered from the romance of a youthful attachment. I have known wives make themselves completely miserable, because their husbands were wanting in some little trivial attention, which they had been accustomed to pay the mistress or the bride. That morbid sensibility, which watches every turn of the eye, and every tone of the voice, lest perchance they should indicate some change of feeling, is the scourge of both parties in married life. True affection is a dignified and exalted feeling, that needs not such dainty aliment to maintain it. It is supplied by a perennial flow of vital kindness, springing from the heart, and sanctioned by the understanding. It looks not to trifles as signs of its existence, for it pervades every impulse, and reigns in every action. Yet this deep and abiding love, may exist without those exterior observances, which mark rather the requisitions of the wife, than the spontaneous tenderness of the husband. They may be exacted until they become mechanical and unmeaning, if not irksome and disagreeable. Why should it be said of women, that they are always unreasonable in their exactions of attention and respect from their husbands? Does not this evil sometimes arise from vanity, which is gratified by exhibiting its power, or from a desire of being conspicuous amongst married people less tenacious of these observances? I once walked in the dark after a married couple, who little dreamt they had an auditor, and I heard the wife réproach her husband vehemently, for his want of attention toward her during the evening: “You neither brought me refreshments, nor turned over the leaves of my music book, nor asked me if my headach had gone off, during the party,” said she. “ Indeed, my dear," said the husband, “ you were surrounded by so many who paid you these attentions, that I thought my presence would be superfluous. As for your headach, I thought of that, I assure you, but you looked so blooming and handsome, that I was in hopes you could not be suffering 'bodily pain.” “Perhaps,” said she, quickly, “you thought me deceitful, and did not believe in the reality of my headach?” “O, my dear! how can you believe me capable of such odious suspicion,—did I ever give you reason to doubt my perfect reliance on your word?” “I don't know," said she, peevishly; "you are strangely altered, I think; at least I am not as happy, or as se
cure of your affections, as I used to be.” “O dear,” exclaimed the husband, “this is both unkind and unreasonable.” The wife here burst into tears..6 I knew,” sobbed she, “ that my time of misery would soon come, but I little thought, when I came out this evening, of hearing such bitter reproaches!” “Hush, hush! my dear wife, I hear footsteps; don't let us make ourselves ridiculous." This made matters
The wife wept more bitterly, and said that her sensibility was scorned, and her affection slighted. How far the scene proceeded, I know not, as my way led me in a different direction. But I frequently saw this couple, and all my observations tended to convince me, that the lady was destroying her own happiness.
I accidentally met her one day in a store, with a radiant countenance, looking over some newly imported goods. She had just selected a silk, and had the dress pattern cut off, when her husband entered. She went up to him, playfully, and said, “Come now, admire my taste,-look here," pointing to a silk that had just been rejected as frightfully unbecoming, “ I want to try your taste, and see if it is not instinctively similar to mine. An't this beautiful; and an't this ugly?” pointing to her own choice exultingly. The poor man happened to be totally without taste, but he made all possible haste to agree with her, not being aware of her stratagem. Her brow clouded instantly." What!” said she, "are you serious?-can you think this frightful thing handsome in reality?”. “My dear, did you not tell me you admired it?” “ Yes; but I concluded of course you would understand my jest: I wanted to exhibit your taste to these ladies.” “Then, my dear, you wanted to exhibit what I have not, and never shall have.” “Well,” said she, “I had hoped you would learn of me such trifles as these; but I see you disdain the idea of being taught by
your wife: true man! after all my hopes that you were unlike the rest of your sex.”
I witnessed many more instances of a similar nature, which accounted for the change that four fleeting years made in both husband and wife. At the end of that time they left our city, and I know not what has become of them. I was invited, among other friends, to spend an evening with them before their departure, and I cannot give you a better lesson on the subject of ill governed sensibility, than by narrating circumstantially the events of the evening.
I was one of the first guests who arrived, and as I entered the passage, I heard voices pretty loud in a side
6. You must have your own way, to be sure, as master of the house and of me," said the wife, “but you violate all my wishes, and derange all my plans, by your arbitrary proceedings.” “My dear Esther," said a soothing voice, “I am not the tyrant you represent. If I had a reasonable wife, I should be a complaisant husband.” “ Ay, that is always your way,—you lay your own faults upon me, and represent me as a virago; when every body knows I was a remarkably sweet tempered girl.” “I know you were, Esther; that was one of your greatest attractions to me; for I always thought a good temper an indispensable requisite in married life: but I shall offend you if I go on.”' 6 Never mind, speak sir,” said a whining voice—“I give you · leave.” “Well, my dear wife, I will speak, with the hope of opening your eyes at last to your greatest fault, and my greatest misfortune. Your morbid sensibility is almost as great a scourge to me, as a bad temper could be. You are perpetually doubting my affection; and if you don't take care, you will yourself fulfil the prophecy you have so often uttered, that I shall cease to love you altogether. Pray restrain these unreasonable feelings.