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It is recognised that to discuss Eng-' lish wives is to tread on very danger-J ous ground. It is a subject that has been much debated and not always in the Christian spirit of charity. But if it has been much discussed here in 'New..Zealand, what shall we say or the endless arguments amongst our troops in JiJnglanti which were orten proved or disproved by ■ appeal to Prussianism. It may be interesting,, however, to set on record what our average "digger" has thought and said in regard to the matter, it runs like this. ' Every man lias a right to choose for himseli, to please his own taste. There is no compulsion in marriage, or at least, not Before you are married! iMo' due lias a right to criticise a New Zealand soldier because he has exercised this freedom of choice, and he does not dig. Ins own grave oy doing so any more surely than the man who marries a New Zealand girl. Vefc so it would appear by the chorus or lonely maidenhood that has gone up throughout our land. If majority rule is to govern .every walk or life, to circumscnoe all individual liberty, then before the next war we may expect a marriage with English girls prohibition law. But these man-ages are still being merrily consummated in England, and the "digger" hnds the reason not so very far to seek, it lies with the New Zealand girl. In the past she lias been used to a good home, a happy round of social life, a care-free, sunny existence. Where she has been compelled to go out-to work, life has not pressed haruly upon her with long hours and small wages. She has .been independent.' in consequence, she lias not been willing to marry a man early in life, to Strug-! gle with him, to be a true help-meet, iahe wants to . start in married life where her mother left off. She is not willing to help,a man up, only to. join him when he has arrived. He may not bask in the sunshine of her smile till he can pay for the fur coat that keeps^her warm. Our New Zealand maid d<3e& not wish to make happiness, but rather-to have it made ror her. bhe thinks this is her due. bo it is, and would be gladly paid it she remembered that there was a little due on her side. To marry for love is not quite right unless there is a house thrown in.. The young man must wait till he is a sufficiently elncient_ earning machine before he may claim his happiness. '. Very often by that time it has j lost its snap. That this is so may be judged by comparing the average marriage ages of women here and in England. The marriage age of New Zealand women is later than in most other countries. In the past, it has been a case of "supply and demand, and women in New Zealand have been in short supply j she could hold on for her reserve price and did. The war.inter•.vened arid can our girls fairly resent it if our" soldiers have found a. country Where the conditions were reversed, and have taken advantage of it? It has been a pleasant change for our "diggers" to be in a country where men were in short supply or, if you will, in strong demand. . Now, m regard to the English girl, the digger found very pleasing traits. The English girl was ready to marry for love without making a property reservation; she valued tne " digger ', as a man first, and as a dress-provider a good deal second. She did not wait till she could be assured of "all she had been used to," she joined her man 'for better! ioX • worse; she was out to be his mate, not his private, particular ■parasite.' . Instinctively she;'knew that the ioy of life is found in the progressive attainment, and she was prepared to share in the sweets and bitters or that time, rather than await the lacklustre day when all is won. She was like her sisters of the Middle Ages, she buckled on her knight's armour and steeled his heart before .the fray, bhe did not wait prudently to see if he won. No wonder our innocent New Zealand maids had their sense of fitness and'i decency .outraged. These marriages were not prudent; their only motive; was compelling love; they were too, natural. Surely that is what is meant when these unions are condemned, as being.hasty, ill-considered, mere fancy, imprudent. - Perhaps the "digger" has exaggerated. 'He has painted his New Zealand ( girl blacker than he should. His criticism of her has. not been softened by distance. He. has seen the English j girl offering herself for any and every | sort of war-work, considering herself not demeaned, but rather uplifted, in serving her country in whatever trying, or disagreeable or even beauty-destroy-ing work has been asked of her. In that she seemed very close to our mudstained, war-tortured "digger." Also, he knew what war work meant : to New Zealand girls, because he studied the New Zealand illustrated weeklies. The present writer has simply endeavoured to transcribe the "digger's" stand-} point as he heard it expressed again and again. It may be interesting to those who have asked why New Zealandcrs should marry English wives.

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ENGLISH WIVES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9573, 31 March 1919

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ENGLISH WIVES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9573, 31 March 1919