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All the tendencies of our civilized life are, in personal matters, towards
individualism; they involve the specialization, and they ensure the
sacredness, of personal habits and even peculiarities. This individualism
cannot be broken down suddenly at the arbitrary dictation of a tradition,
or even by the force of passion from which the restraints have been
removed. Out of deference to the conventions and prejudices of their
friends, or out of the reckless abandonment of young love, or merely out
of a fear of hurting each other's feelings, young couples have often
plunged prematurely into an unbroken intimacy which is even more
disastrous to the permanency of marriage than the failure ever to reach a
complete intimacy at all. That is one of the chief reasons why most
writers on the moral hygiene of marriage nowadays recommend separate beds
for the married couple, if possible separate bedrooms, and even sometimes,
with Ellen Key, see no objection to their living in separate houses.
Certainly the happiest marriages have often involved the closest and most
unbroken intimacy, in persons peculiarly fitted for such intimacy. It is
far from true that, as Bloch has affirmed, familiarity is fatal to love.
It is deadly to a love that has no roots, but it is the nourishment of the
deeply-rooted love. Yet it remains true that absence is needed to maintain
the keen freshness and fine idealism of love. "Absence," as Landor said,
"is the invisible and incorporeal mother of ideal beauty." The married
lovers who are only able to meet for comparatively brief periods between
long absences have often experienced in these meetings a life-long
succession of honeymoons.
There can be no question that as presence has its risks for love, so also
has absence. Absence like presence, in the end, if too prolonged, effaces
the memory of love, and absence, further, by the multiplied points of
contact with the world which it frequently involves, introduces the
problem of jealousy, although, it must be added, it is difficult indeed to
secure a degree of association which excludes jealousy or even the
opportunities for motives of jealousy. The problem of jealousy is so
fundamental in the art of love that it is necessary at this point to
devote to it a brief discussion.
Jealousy is based on fundamental instincts which are visible at the
beginning of animal life. Descartes defined jealousy as "a kind of fear
related to a desire to preserve a possession." Every impulse of
acquisition in the animal world is stimulated into greater activity by the
presence of a rival who may snatch beforehand the coveted object. This
seems to be a fundamental fact in the animal world; it has been a
life-conserving tendency, for, it has been said, an animal that stood
aside while its fellows were gorging themselves with food, and experienced
nothing but pure satisfaction in the spectacle, would speedily perish. But
in this fact we have the natural basis of jealousy.
It is in reference to food that this impulse appears first and most
conspicuously among animals. It is a well-known fact that association
with other animals induces an animal to eat much more than when kept by
himself. He ceases to eat from hunger but eats, as it has been put, in
order to preserve his food from rivals in the only strong box he knows.
The same feeling is transferred among animals to the field of sex. And
further in the relations of dogs and other domesticated animals to their
masters the emotion of jealousy is often very keenly marked.
Jealousy is an emotion which is at its maximum among animals, among
savages, among children, in the senile, in the degenerate, and
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