War creates its own problems, particularly for young people whose lives are so directly affected by it.
By far not the least weighty of these problems for many of our young people is the question of a war marriage. Shall they marry now, before the young man leaves for active service in the armed forces, or shall they postpone every consideration of marriage at least for the duration?
Stating the question in that form we already leave out of consideration all such marriages as are directly brought about by the war. TO be sure, in these days of emotional stress a soldier boy may strike up an acquaintance with some young lady, either at home or near his camp, and in order to drown his sense of loneliness rush into marriage with her. Or some giddy young woman will allow her head to be set awhirl by the sight of a uniform, is flattered by the attentions of its occupant and before the excitement has died out has made an insane vow which is intended to be binding for life. Such foolhardy marriages are always to be condemned, and especially in times like these. But they can safely be left out of consideration here since we expect better things of our young people than that. Nor, on the other hand, is it necessary to consider in this category each and every marriage that is contracted in times of war. It is very well conceivable that vows are spoken which are not brought about in any way by our times and are only indirectly affected by them. If the prospective bridegroom has every reason to believe that he will not be called away into active service, the war itself need not be a reason for postponing the wedding day. Just because the country is at war does not mean that a holiday must be declared on marriages.
But I have particularly such cases in mind where a young couple have known each other and have actually kept company with a view to marriage for some time. Under normal circumstances they would be married now or in the not too distant future. But as the case now stands the young man will be, or is already called into service and their separation from each other is imminent. Their problem is a very real one, shall they marry now in the face of their impending separation, or shall they postpone it until the young man returns, which may mean waiting for a number of years or even no marriage at all?
Certainly neither consideration is very pleasant, yet if the question be considered calmly and rationally there can be but one answer: wait!
Too often the arguments raised in favor of war marriages prove the case against them.
Sometimes the fear is harbored, though generally not expressed, that one or the other may not prove faithful during the period of separation, so that a wedding ring might help to remind them of their sincerity. But if sincerity lies not deeper than that, an unfaithful boy or girl friend will prove to be a greater asset than an unfaithful husband or wife. What better proof of love and faithfulness can there be than the test of a forced separation?
Or it is also possible that the young couple wish to seal their undying love for each other with a marriage vow. Yet the seriousness of the step which is taken must not be forgotten. A monthly check from the government is a poor compensation to a lonely wife, and an insurance indemnity to a bereaved widow, who has forsaken father and mother to cleave to an absent husband. The young lady may even desire to have a child as an abiding remembrance of him, but she may well consider that a mother of a child is not free to come and go as she may desire, has difficulty in keeping a job and caring for her family at the same time, and can easily make herself a burden to her mother and family. Facts are inescapable and must be considered.
The young man may even anticipate coming to a home and family of his own upon his return, and the young lady may dream of welcoming her newly-gotten husband. Yet little thought is given to the fact, that both, and particularly the young man, are due to undergo remarkable changes during their absence from one another. Will the young lady left behind still be the blushing bride of his dreams, and will the young husband still be the same person, with the same make-up and outlook on life, as she daily sees in the picture before her? Will time and the gruesome experiences of war leave impressions which can readily be erased so that they can immediately accommodate themselves to each other as man and wife? If the war should leave him a physical or mental wreck, which does happen in some cases, and he becomes a burden to her instead of a support, should she be expected to cope with that? Surely it is better that one life be ruined than two, particularly if the possibility can be foreseen in advance. They may both be very certain of their abiding love for each other, yet love cannot overrule the grim realities of war.
But, you may ask, are there no exceptions to the rule that war marriages should be avoided? No doubt, each case stands or falls on its own merit and must be judged individually. Yet it is equally certain that any young couple must have an absolutely air-tight case, especially in times like these, to escape the maxim, “marry in haste and repent at leisure”.
And even so I can readily imagine that this weighty question, which so directly involves the lives of many young people, has many other angles to it. How about discussing it in our Open Forum? It can only prove beneficial to all of us.