Never were American young people more conscious of the challenge of marriage. They are not willing to accept the idea they have often heard expressed by their elders that marriage is a lottery. Neither do they believe that when they marry, they are given a blank check which permits them to draw from the bank of happiness as they please. Instead, even though they do not know how to go about it, they feel more and more that there is something they need to do to give themselves a fair chance of achieving success. A mere acquiescent waiting for Fate to come and lead them into paradise is contrary to their spirit. They seek as best they know how some way of finding their proper mate and some means of becoming equal to the testing that even the most reckless of them in their better moments realize that marriage is sure to bring.
This fact-facing of the marriage problem shows, more fully than anything else could, how much our youth today are expecting from marriage. Even those marriages that peter out and sink to a barren drabness started out with high hopes, and, although the victims may not know what brought about their mishap, they generally feel there was blundering somewhere and that this need not have happened.
Some young people grow cynical because they are so familiar with matrimonial failures; but most of them, even when they have noticed that many of their friends are unhappily married, become more determined to find, if they can, the secret of success. This leads them to ask for help, for insight, and to become fact-seeking with a frankness that seems to be their most marked characteristic. They have not been led into this attitude by any influence from their elders; they have acquired it from their own realistic approach to the marriage problem, which they clearly see has more emotional meaning than anything else that is likely to come to them through choice during their lifetime.
This request for help by young people in courtship, in engagement, in their first years of marriage, and when they plan to assume parenthood, cannot be met merely by words of caution. They do not welcome just being told what they should not do. What they seek is positive assistance. They do not want advice, but they want information and insight. They have become convinced that there are facts about marriage that people have learned through experience, especially through the searching of the scientists, and they ask that they be given the advantage of this knowledge.