This section is from the book "Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties", by Marie Carmichael Stopes. Also available from Amazon: Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties.
As marriage is at present such tenderness and such stimulating appreciation is much more likely to come from the woman to the man and his work than from the man to the woman. For too long have men been accustomed to look upon woman's views, and in particular on her intellectual opinions^as being something demanding at the most a bland humouring beneath the kindest smiles.
Even from the noblest man, the woman of sensitive personality to-day feels an undercurrent as of surprised congratulation when she has anything to say worth his serious attention outside that department of life supposed to belong to her " sphere." Thus man robs his wedded self of a greatness which the dual unity might reach.
But in marriage the mutual freedom and respect for opinion, vitally important though it be, is not sufficient for the full development of character. Life demands ever-widening interests. Owing partly to the differen-riation of many types of individuals due to the specialisation of civilisation, which interests thoughtful individuals, and partly to the transmutation of hi? old vagrant instinct, man increasingly desires to touch and to realise the lives of his fellows. In the lives of others our hearts and understanding may find perpetual adventures into the new and strange.
Individual human beings, even the noblest and most cofaplex yet evolved, have but a share of the innumerable faculties of the race. Hence even in a supremely happy marriage, which touches, as does the mystic in his raptures, a realisation of the whole universe, there cannot lie the whole of life's experience. Outside the actual lives of the pair there must always be many types of thought and many potentialities which can only be realised in the lives of other people.
In the complete human relation friends of all grades are needed, as well as a mate. Marriage, however, in its present form is too often made to curtail the enjoyment of intimate friendships. The reason for this is partly the social etiquette, which, though discarded in the highest levels of society, still lingers in many circles, of inviting the husband and the wife together upon all social occasions. It is true that they are separated at the dinner table, but they are always within the possibility of earshot of each other, which very often deadens their potentialities for being entertaining. The mere fact of being overheard repeating something one may "have already said elsewhere is sufficient to prevent some people from telling their best stories, or from expressing their real views upon important matters.
And, still more serious barrier to joy, so primitive, so little evolved are we even yet, there is in most human beings a strong streak of sex-jealousy. For either mate to be allowed to go out uncriticised into the world, is to demand, if not more than the other is willing to give, at least a measure of trust which by its rarity appears nowadays as something conspicuously fine.
Jealousy, which is one of the most frequent shadows cast by the blight of love, is very apt to sow a distrust in one which makes a normal life for the other partner impossible.
It is hard to say in which sex the feeling is more strongly developed. It takes special forms under different circumstances, and if a nature is predisposed towards it, it is one of the most difficult characteristics to eradicate.
Custom, and generations of traditions, seem to have imprinted on our race the false idea that marital fidelity is to be strengthened by coercive bonds. We are slowly growing out of this, and nowadays in most books giving advice to young wives there is a section telling them that a man should be allowed his men friends after marriage.
But this is not enough. There should be complete and unquestioning trust on both sides. The man and the woman should each be free to go unchallenged by a thought on solitary excursions, or on visits, weekends or walking tours, without the possibility of a breath of jealousy or suspicion springing up in the heart of one or the other.
It is true that many natures are not yet ready for such trust, and might abuse such freedom. But the baser natures will always find a method of .gratifying their desires, and are not likely to err more in trusted freedom than they would inevitably have done through secret mtrigues if held in jealous bondage.
While, on the other hand, it is only in the fresh unsullied air of such freedom that the fullest and most perfect love can develop. In the marriage relation it is supremely true that only by loosening the bonds can one bind two hearts indissolubly together.
When they are sometimes physically apart married lovers attain the closest spiritual union. For with sensitive spirits--and they are the only ones who know the highest pinnacles of love--periods of separation and solitude can be revivifying and recreative.
So great is the human soul that some of its beauty is hidden by nearness: it needs distance between it and the beholder to be perceived in its true perspective.
To the realisation of the beauty and the enjoyment of solitude, woman in general tends to be less awake than man. This, perhaps, is due to the innumerable generations during which the claims of her children and of domestic life have robbed her of Nature's healing gift.
Although it is merely incidental to the drama, yet to me the most poignant thing in Synge's beautiful play Deirdre is that she could feel inevitable tragedy when the first thought of something apart from herself crosses her lover's mind. Deirdre and her lover had been together for seven years in an unbroken and idyllic intimacy, and she feels that all is finished, and that her doom, the knell of their joy, had struck, when for the first time she perceived in him a half-formed thought of an occupation apart from her.
This ancient weakness of her sex must be conquered, and is being conquered by the modern woman.