Along with those sexual incompatibilities which will be more fully noted under their appropriate heads, there are many scarcely less fatal—of temper, taste, habit, religion, age, and a dozen others— which ought to be carefully avoided in a wife, or husband, if the union is to be one of either happiness or permanence. Some of these will be treated in their relation to the sexual life, and the others, being rather moral and sociological than sexual, may be left properly to the already numerous works on the former themes.
But in concluding these brief remarks on divorce, it may be proper to state that the present laxity of the marriage law, in most civilized communities, is due to the gradual decay of those restrictions with which the early Church sought to surround the institution of marriage; and is probably no more significant a reaction than is apparent in other directions. With the law regarding marriage as a civil contract, and religion pronouncing it a sacred and moral institution; with one part of society viewing divorce as a penalty upon the delinquent spouse, and another as a refuge for the innocent; it is hardly to be wondered at that we should have not only the present inconsistencies of legislation in regard to it, but that indifference touching the obligations of marriage itself which is so deplorable a characteristic of the times.
It would be unjust, however, to leave the subject without a passing glance at its medical side; disease, either of mind or body, with the vicious propensities incident thereto, being the most frequent of all the causes of divorce. The State of Iowa, I believe, was the first in this country to take up the matter of physical and mental fitness to marry, in discussing the divorce evil. Legislators there advised the appointment of a medical commission to pass upon the physical and mental condition of every applicant for a marriage license. Other States have since suggested variously modified provisions of this general principle; but. through the old stereotyped cry that such legislation would be "an abridgment of individual liberty." and "an infringement of constitutional right," nothing definite seems, so far, to have resulted.
If such legislation could be had, however; if marriage were surrounded by proper safeguards, and subjected to proper sanitary supervision, I unhesitatingly venture the opinion that divorce would fall of its own weight.1
1 For the Divorce Laws of the United States see Bishop, "Marriage and Divorce," 1873.