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.
In all life activities, house-building, huntino- or any other, where intellectual and oral tradition comes in, as it does with the human race, " instinct " tends to die out. Thus the human mother is far less able to manage her baby without instruction than is a cat her kittens; although the human mother at her best has, in comparison with the cat, an infinitude of duties toward, and influences over, her child.
A similar truth holds in relation to marriage. The century-long following of various "civilised" customs has not only deprived our young people of most of the instinctive knowledge they might have possessed, but has given rise to innumerable false and polluting customs.
Though many write on the art of managing children, few have anything to say about the art of marriage, save those who have some dogma, often theological or subversive of natural law, to proclaim. Any fundamental truth regarding marriage is rendered immeasurably difficult to ascertain because of the immense ranges of variety in human beings, even of the same race, many of which result from the artificial conditions and the unnatural stimuli so prevalent in what we call civilisation. To attempt anything like a serious study of marriage in all its varieties would be a monumental work. Those who have even partially undertaken it have tended to become entangled in a maze of abnormalities, so that the needs of the normal, healthy, romantic person have been overlooked.
Each pair, therefore, has tended to repeat the blunders from which it might have been saved, and to stumble blindly in a maze of difficulties which are not the essential heritage of humanity, but are due to the unreasoning folly of our present customs.
I have written this book for those who enter marriage normally and healthily, and with optimism and hope.
If theyjearn its lessons they may be saved from some of Jthe pitfalls in which thousands have wrecked their happiness, but they must not think that they will thereby easily attain the perfection of marriage. There are myriad subtleties in the adjustment of any two individuals.
Each pair must, using the tenderest and most delicate touches, sound and test each other, learning their way about the intricacies of each other's hearts.
Sometimes, with all the knowledge and the best will in the world, two who have married find that they cannot fuse their lives; of this tragedy I have not here anything to say; but ordinary unhappiness would be less frequent than it is were the tenderness of knowledge applied to the problem of mutual adjustment from the first day of marriage.
All the deepest and highest forces within us impel us to evolve an ever nobler and tenderer form of lifelong monogamy as our social ideal. While the thoughtful and tenderhearted must seek, with ever greater understanding, to ease and comfort those who miss this joyful natural development, reformers in their zeal for side-issues must not forget the main growth of the stock. The beautiful sense for love in the hearts of the young should be encouraged, and they should have access to the knowledge of how to cultivate it, instead of being diverted by the clamour for " freedom " to destroy it.
Disillusioned middle age is apt to look upon the material side of the marriage relation, to see its solid surface in the cold, dull light of everyday experience;, while youth, irradiated by the glow of its dreams, is unaware how its aerial and celestial phantasies are broken and shattered when unsuspectingly brought up against the hard facts of physical reality.
The transmutation of material facts by celestial phantasies is to some extent within the power of humanity, even the imperfect humanity of to-day.
When knowledge and love together go to the making of each marriage, the joy of that new unit, the pair will reach from the physical foundations of its bodies to the heavens where its head is crowned with stars.
Addition i (to page 49J A curious rigidity of mental and physical capacity seems to characterise some excellent and well-meaning people, and among those whose marriages unaccountably fail to reach just that height of perfection in a physical sense which they may intellectually desire, are those who are either entirely ignorant that sex union may be accomplished in many various posi tions, or those who consider any other position but the most usual one to be wrong.
Yet, curiously enough, it sometimes comes to light that a pair do not even know the usual position, and in my own experience several couples who have failed to have children, or have failed to obtain the complete delight of union, have revealed that the woman did not know that it is not only her arms which should embrace her lover. Consequently, entry was to him both difficult and sometimes impossible.
In addition to this, the encouragement of that spontaneous movement which comes so naturally to those who are highly stirred, needs in far too many of our moderns to be cultivated. A pair should, impelled by the great wave of feeling within them, be as pliable as the sea-plants moved by the rushing tides, and they should discover for themselves which of the innumerable possible positions of equilibrium results in the greatest mutual satisfaction. In this matter, as in so many 6thers of the more intimate phases of sex life, there should not harden a routine, but the body should become at the service of intense feeling a keen and pliable instrument.
Addition i (to page 83) It must be remembered that the parallel of the more primitive creatures cannot be pressed too far, because in a thousand ways we highly civilised human beings have developed in fresh directions away from our ancestral habits. This question, of whether or not it is right and wise to have sex unions during pregnancy, is one on which scientific research should be undertaken. Far too few men and women are clean-minded and frank enough to record their feelings in this connection, and far too few medical men delicately sympatheic enough to elicit the facts even from those women who are personally conscious of them. The little evidence which I have acquired through direct personal confidences about this subject points in absolutely conflicting directions, and there is little doubt that in this particular, even more than in so many others, the health, needs, and mental condition of women who are bearing children vary profoundly. From one distinguished medical specialist I have acquired the interesting suggestion that in one or two cases among his own patients, where the prospective mother had desired unions and the husband 'had denied them thinking it in her interest, the doctor had observed that the children seemed to grow up restless, uncontrollable, and with an unduly marked tendency to self-abuse. On this most suggestive and important idea, I would gladly obtain evidence from parents and the medical profession, for only from a large number of cases can reliable conclusions be drawn. But just as in popular opinion it is good for the child and the woman to gratify any harmless fancy for food which she may develop, so, in my opinion, it seems probable that any desire for moderate and careful sex union between the prospective mother and the father of the coming child should be gratified in the interests of all three'. But this opinion is expressed merely provisionally, and largely in response to a number of inquirers who have asked me about this point. Immoderate and excessive sex union must undoubtedly be looked upon as an unfavourable symptom, and a practising doctor should be consulted about it.