First Published: Revolution No. 5, May 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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In a socialist society, love between husband and wife is built on the identity of political beliefs and on the foundation of struggling together for the revolutionary cause. The relationship between husband and wife is first of all comradely relations and the feelings between husband and wife are primarily revolutionary sentiments. For this reason, a husband should take the attitude of a revolutionary comrade toward his wife. This is reflected in the attitude of regarding one’s wife as a revolutionary comrade-in-arms in the common struggle in the political sphere, as a class sister with whom one labours together in production or work, and as a companion with whom one lives together at home, respecting and loving each other, helping each other, and encouraging each other in making progress together. This is the Communist standard, morally and ideologically speaking, by which a revolutionary deals with the question of love, marriage and family. Only by conforming to this standard can one handle correctly all problems that may arise in the life between husband and wife.
Although the old economic foundation has been destroyed, the influence of bourgeois and feudal ideas and the force of habit left by the old society cannot be completely eliminated overnight. In varying degrees, these ideas and force of habit still influence the mind of a certain number of people. Have we not noticed that certain men, in the first few years of their marriage, showered affections upon their wives and pledged to stay married with them until old age? However, with the lapse of time in later years of their marriage, they began to cool off in their feelings for their wives until eventually they got so tired of their wives that they would seek the end in the tragedy of divorce. Have we not also noticed that some men in, doing their work have treated others on equal terms and performed their duties with industry? However, once back in their homes, they will put on the airs of the “master of the house”, letting their wives do all the housework, while they themselves move about here and there, waiting for meals to be served and clothes to be cleaned and pressed. If the wives are slightly negligent or disobedient and protesting, they will think that the dignity and self-respect of being husband is hurt and will then start a big quarrel.
We must take note of the fact that some men are very often inclined to take a superior attitude toward their wives under the guise of “affection”, On the surface, at least, they may appear to be very fond of their young wives and take good care of them in every possible way. However, in their mind, they seldom regard their wives as class sisters and revolutionary comrades with whom they labour and struggle together. Rather, they regard their wives as cherished piece of private property for their own appreciation. Instead of regarding their wives as revolutionary companions, helping each other and seeking progress together in the life they are sharing together, they regard their wives merely as “nurses” keeping them company and serving them. Although in this case there is the love of husband for his wife, this kind of love is not real love, class love and comradely love, which is built on the foundation of political ideology. This kind of love cannot be strengthened and cannot last long. If the wife loses the bloom of youth, if she is stricken with this or that ailment, and becomes physically disabled one way or other, the husband, finding that she is no longer the object of appreciation and can no longer keep him company and do housework for him, may turn his attention to other women and find his new object of affection disregarding the suffering of his wife. This is a reflection of bourgeois thought on the question of marriage and family during the transition period. This is the root cause of the unfortunate tragedy that has befallen many husbands and wives and families.
Everybody is now striving for the revolutionisation of his own thought. This means that in handling all kinds of problems, one should adhere steadfastly to the proletarian stand, point of view, and method, including the attitude toward love, marriage and family according to communist principles. Revolutionisation of the thought of man should find expression not only in work but also in everyday life, in love, marriage and family, and between husband and wife. This is because when a man and a woman become husband and wife, it is not merely a private affair in the life of an individual but that on the day they are married, both have certain responsibilities to society in that they may struggle together, labour together, live together, and bring up and educate their children together. Whether the relations between husband and wife are handled well or poorly has a bearing not only on the happiness of family life and on the growth of the next generation of successors, but also, in an equally important way, on the development of the socialist revolution and socialist construction. It is in line with the communist moral standard that one should take the revolutionary attitude toward love, marriage and family. This standard demands that the husband should never take a fickle, reckless and irresponsible attitude toward his wife and children in the pursuit of his own so-called “romantic desires”.
It cannot be denied that youth and good looks are indeed factors that make men and women fall for each other. This is because when a man is young, his physical and intellectual growth in many aspects exudes fresh vigour and vitality that draws admiration. However, man is a rational creature and, therefore, he should realise that apart from the natural attractions of the sexes, the main concern for a man and a woman to become husband and wife should be whether or not their political ideas are identical, instead of regarding youth and good looks as the only condition for choosing a wife. Since all things tend to grow and change, it is impossible for any mortal being to preserve its youth forever. This is also so with man. It is the unalterable law of nature that man will slowly grow old and change his looks with the increase in age. If young people are merely after youth and good looks when choosing their life-mates without taking heed of the political qualities of the other party, the result will not necessarily be true happiness. Just look at those young people, who become man and wife on the impulse of the moment and on the basis of good looks and love at first sight disregarding compatibility based on identical political ideas and mutual understanding. See how in most cases they cannot get along well with one another in everyday life, quarrel with each other constantly, and suffer greatly. They find it difficult to live together or apart after discovering the difference in political ideas and each other’s defects in manners and moral qualities. Then, look at those who become man and wife after they have built their true revolutionary feelings on the basis of labouring and struggling together. Although they are not necessarily attractive in their looks, they have a common ideological foundation and fine moral qualities. Because they respect and love each other, help each other, care for each other in everyday life and seek progress together, are they not very happy in their married life? This shows that whether life between husband and wife is happy or not is determined by whether their moral qualities are good or bad, and not by their looks. This is because good looks do not mean inner beauty. True and lasting beauty can only be found in political qualities, inner feelings, good thought and fine style of doing things, and only love built on this foundation is forever green.
Attention to housework is an important part of the life between husband and wife. Mishandling of this part of married life may also affect marital harmony and happiness. By suggesting that a husband should take the revolutionary attitude of equality toward his wife, do we mean that both husband and wife should divide housework equally between themselves, or that the husband should devote more of his time and efforts to housekeeping and attend to his wife’s other needs? No, it is not so. If housework is divided in this way, it cannot be considered as true equality, for the key to this question does not lie in the form of sharing household chores, but rather in the attitude of the husband toward the wife after he is hack home. Will he regard her as a revolutionary comrade and companion or a “slave” and a “servant” at his beck and call and who is around in the house to attend to his needs? Will he regard housekeeping as the common obligation of both husband and wife or as the “natural duties” of a woman in her lifetime? If both husband and wife take the correct attitude, then this problem will of course be solved without any difficulty. Just look at many couples around us, who help each other regardless of the nature and amount of housework when they are back home every day and who talk and laugh freely, bring up and teach their children together and keep their house in order. Sometimes when the husband’s regular work is heavy, the wife will of her own accord do a little more housework, so that the husband may concentrate his efforts on the completion of his task. Or sometimes when the wife is a little indisposed, the husband will also of his own accord do more things in the house, so that the wife may have proper rest. How pleasant and happy is the life of these couples! This shows that whether the life between husband and wife is happy or not depends on the attitude of revolutionary comradeship toward each other by caring for each other and helping each other, and not on the question of who obeys whom, who attends to whose needs, who does more household chores and who does less housework.