Love Lingers Here: Intimate Enduring Relationships– Essay III: The Stories We Are Told
Friendship, furthermore, held a spiritual characteristic, at least when conceived in the context of marriage. Friendship is based, according to Gladden and Good Housekeeping, not on sentimentality or passion, but rather on a “communality of interest in the realities of character.” Intimate relationships that endure are based on share value and rules (called “character” in 1912).
What was the nature of these, shared values and rules? There was general agreement about certain values and rules at the turn of the 20th Century in most modern societies. For instance, most of the writers about marriage — who were inevitably men — declared that marriage is intended primarily for the reproduction of children. In keeping with this purpose, young men should “decide whether he and [his perspective bride] are sufficiently robust and represent a sufficiently healthy heredity to warrant the bringing of efficient children into the world.” (Ladies Home Journal, 31, p. 4, July, 1914) Women similarly should select a husband who can help her produce healthy, intelligent children. Even a liberal visionary like Scott Nearing (together with Nellie Nearing) proposed in 1912 (Ladies Home Journal, 27, p. 7, March, 1912) that:
. . . it is upon that ‘yes’, or ‘no’ — that selective choice of the woman — that depend the mating of this particular man and woman and the possible transmission of a combination of their qualities to some of the children born into the next generation. Not only is it the man’s future misery or happiness which hangs on the balance of the woman’s choice: she also determines, in part, the characteristics of a new generation.
At the turn of the 20th Century, marriage was also considered a moral commitment, a sacrament that was intended to further God’s purposes and preserve the morality of society. A very young Winston Churchill declared in a 1913 Good Housekeeping article that happiness and unhappiness in marriage is linked directly to religious commitment. Churchill speaks of marriage being based in rebirth — a process whereby we “find, by some means, the secret of our individual existence, to discover the work we were intended to do for the service of humanity.” Churchill suggests that while society and individuals may require legal protections based on the laws of marriage and divorce, neither society nor individuals need protection from the spiritual established in rebirth and based in a spiritual succeed: “marriage is the supreme responsibility. A marriage commitment will be the most sacred undertaking of all.” In a similar manner, other writers of the time speak of marriage as a social arrangement, a social duty, a religious sacrament “the greatest and holiest of adventures” (Cabot, 1912, p. 834).