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"Marriage is one of the most important human activities," said Professor Ernest R. Groves, foremost pioneer in the field of marriage courses, when questioned on the advisability of such a course at Harvard.
"A course in marriage is needed in every college," he continued. Harvard, he believes, is no exception to this rule. Although undergraduates here have a background superior to that of many college students in the mass, this would only mean, in his opinion, that they are introduced rather sooner than some students to the complex expectations of marriage that result from advancement and culture.
Professor Groves started one of the first courses in marriage in the country at Boston University, and then went down to do more work at the University of North Carolina where he is stationed at present. He taught several summers at the Harvard School of Education, and took the place of Henry W. Holmes, dean of the school, in one of his courses when Holmes was sick.
Groves hesitated to say whether women or men were more in need of instruction in such a course or not, but finally concluded that women needed it the most. At North Carolina 130 men take the course to 40 women. "Women," he said, "were more interested in problems of courtship than the men and the men were more interested in such problems as fertility, sex life of later years, and difference in sex impulse of men and women. Possibly the men were a little more interested in the problem of pregnancy, which is not what one would suppose."
The first text book for such a course, "Marriage", was written by Professor Groves, and has become immensely popular not only at North Carolina, but elsewhere. "Some text book should be used," he said, "and my students agree with me apparently, because although we sell a hundred or more copies a year here to our students, thus far there has never been a second hand copy procurable. In other words, the students keep this particular book."
Whether knowledge in the field causes more successful marriages or not is still a little doubtful, but the conclusions of Professor Grove point to the former eventuality. "Undoubtedly many students have a more mature attitude toward marrying, as a result of study, and make a sounder choice.
"Since selection of mate is to a large extent something influenced by emotions, there must be many students whose marriages are not greatly directed by their course in marriage. On the other hand, the information they gather helps them make of their marriage a success. I have been driven to the belief that most men and women not only mate sincerely but with a large measure of promise."
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