To many persons the marriage ideal we have set up will seem beyond the range of possibility for most human beings. And, judging by existing conditions, they are right about it. Probably from one-third to one-half of all men and women who marry find themselves unhappy sooner or later, not to mention those who are simply moderately contented.3 The present divorce rate—about one divorce for every six marriages—while regarded by some as appallingly high, really paints too bright a picture of the marital situation. There are a number of factors that conspire to make divorce statistics inadequate as an index of marital unhap-piness. Religious prohibitions, of course, deter many from dissolving marriage. Moral sentiment is probably even a greater force in holding unhappy couples together. Many persons who consider themselves thoroughly emancipated and by every rational standard know that they should live at opposite poles of the earth rather than under the same roof find almost insuperable mental barriers standing in the way of their freedom. Economic necessities, in rural districts especially, and everywhere in those age groups in which it is difficult for a woman to support herself, cause many to endure their unhappiness with stoic resignation. Added to these influences are the expense and the perjury required by our laws to enable a couple to obtain a divorce, and the vicious system by which parasitical young women may be granted alimony though not rendered by matrimony incapable of earning a living for themselves. The difficulty, too, of establishing new social contacts, which either or both of the divorced couple must face, is also a potent factor in keeping incompatible men and women together. And we have not yet even mentioned children, whose interests make separation a very serious matter, and justly so. Finally, we cannot judge the success of marriage altogether by the reports of the participants, for it is a part of the conscious or unconscious personality-defense of persons who have to make the best of a bad proposition, to try to believe or assert that they are happy.
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