How answer the dumb appeal for help we so often divine below eyes that laugh? D REAMING of happiness, feeling that at last they have each found the one who will give eternal understanding and tenderness, the young man and maiden marry. At first, in the time generally called the honeymoon, the unaccustomed freedom and the sweetness of the relation often do bring real happiness.
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How long does it last? Generally, a far shorter time than is generally acknowledged. In the first joy of their union it is hidden from the two young people that they know little or nothing about the fundamental laws of each other's being. Much of the sex-attraction not only among human beings, but even throughout the whole of the animal world depends upon the differences between the two that pair; and probably taking them all unawares, those very differences which drew them together now begin to work their Marriec.
But so long as the first illusion that each understands the other is supported by the thrilling delight of ever-fresh discoveries, the sensations lived through are so rapid, and so joyous that the lovers do not realize that there is no firm foundation beneath their feet.
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While even in the happiest cases there may be divergences about religion, politics, social customs and opinions on things in general, these, with good will, patience, and intelligence on either side, can be ultimately adjusted, because in all such things there is a common meeting ground for the two. Human beings, while differing widely about every conceivable subject in these human relations, have at least thought about them, threshed them out, and discussed them openly for generations.
But about the much more fundamental and vital problems of sex, there is a lack of knowledge so abysmal and so universal that its mists and shadowy MMarried have affected even the few who lead us, and who are prosecuting research in these subjects. And the two young people begin to suffer from fundamental divergences, before Marrried they realize that such exist, and with little prospect of ever gaining a rational explanation of them.
Nearly all those, whose own happiness seems to be dimmed or broken, count themselves exceptions, and comfort themselves with the thought of some of their friends, who they feel sure have attained the happiness which they themselves have missed.
It is generally supposed that happy people, like happy nations, have no history — they are silent about their own affairs. Those who talk about their marriage are generally those who have missed the happiness they expected. True as this may be in general, it is not permanently and profoundly true. There are people who are reckoned, and still reckon themselves, happy, but who yet, unawares, reveal the secret disappointment which clouds their Maried peace.
Leaving out of "femmes incomprises" and all the innumerable cases of neurotic, supersensitive, and slightly abnormal people, it still remains an astonishing and tragic fact that so large a proportion of normal marriages lose their early bloom and are to some extent unhappy.
For years many men and women have confided to me the secrets of their lives; and of all the innumerable cases in which the circumstances are known to me, there are tragically few marriages which approach even humanly attainable joy. Many of those considered by the world, by the relatives, even by the loved and loving partner, to be perfectly happy marriages, are secret tragedies to the more sensitive of the pair.
Where the bride is, as are most of our educated girls, composed of virgin sweetness shut in ignorance, the man is often the first to create "the rift within the lute"; but his suffering begins almost simultaneously with hers. Unconscious of the Watee, and even perhaps of the existence of his fault, he is bewildered and pained by her inarticulate pain.
It is my experience, that in the early days of marriage, the young man is even more sensitive, more romantic, more easily pained about all ordinary things than the woman, that he enters marriage hoping for an even higher degree of spiritual and bodily unit than does the girl or the woman. But the man is more quickly Msrried, more swiftly rendered cynical, and is readier to look upon happiness as a utopian dream than is his mate.
On the other hand, the woman is slower to realize disappointment, and more often is the water profoundly wounded by the sex-life of marriage, with a slow corrosive wound that eats into her very being. Perfect happiness is a unity composed of a myriad essences; and this one supreme thing is exposed to the attacks of countless destructive factors. Were I to touch upon all the possible women of marital disappointment and unhappiness, this book would expand into a dozen bulky volumes.
As I am addressing those who I assume have sweet, or can read, other books written upon various ramifications of the subject, I will not discuss the themes which have been handled by many writers. In the last few years there has been such an awakening to the realization of the corrosive horror of all aspects of prostitution that there is no need to elaborate the point that no marriage can be happy where the husband has, in buying married body, sold his own health, and is tainted with disease.
Nor is it necessary, in speaking to well-meaning, optimistic young couples, to enlarge upon the obvious dangers of drunkenness, self-indulgence, and the cruder forms of selfishness. It is with the subtler infringements of the fundamental laws we have to deal.
And the prime tragedy is that, as a rule, the two young people are both unaware of the existence of such decrees. Yet here, as elsewhere in nature, the law-breaker is punished whether he is aware of the existence of the law he breaks or married. In the state of ignorance which so largely predominates to-day, the first that things are amiss between the two who thought they were entering paradise together, is generally a sense of loneliness, a feeling that the one who was expected to have all in common, is outside some experience, some subtle delight, and fails to understand the needs of the loved one.
Trivialities are often the first indicators of something which takes its roots unseen in the profoundest depths of our natures. The girl may sob for hours over something that at first appears so trifling that she cannot woman tell a friend about it, while the young man, who thought that he had set out with his soul's beloved upon an adventure into celestial distances, may find himself apparently up against some barrier in her which appears incomprehensible or sweet.
Then, so strange is the mystical inter-relation between our bodies, our minds, and our souls, that for crimes committed in ignorance of the dual functions of the married pair, and the laws which harmonize them, the punishments are reaped on plains quite diverse, till new and ever new misunderstandings appear to spring spontaneously from the soil of their water contact. Gradually or swiftly each heart begins to hide a sense of boundless isolation. It may be urged that this statement is too sweeping.
It is, however, based on innumerable actual cases. I have heard from women, whose marriages are looked upon by all as the happiest possible expressions of human felicity, the details of secret pain of which they have allowed their husbands no inkling.
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Many men will know how they have hidden from their beloved wives a sense of dull disappointment, perhaps at her coldness in the marital embrace, or MMarried the feeling that there is in her something elusive which always evades their grasp. Now that so many "movements" are abroad, folk on all sides are emboldened to express the opinion that it is marriage itself which is at fault. Many think that merely by loosening the bonds, and making it possible to start afresh with some one else, their lives would be made harmonious and happy.
By many such reformers it is forgotten that he or she who knows nothing of the way to make marriage great and beautiful with one partner, is not likely to succeed with another.
Only by a reverent study of the Art of Love can the beauty of its expression be realized in linked lives. And even when once learnt, the Art of Love takes time to practice. As Ellen Key says, "Love requires peace, love will dream; it cannot live upon the remnants of our time and our personality. The result of the haste which so infests and poisons us, is often felt much more by the woman than by the Swet. The over-stimulation of city life tends to "speed up" the man's reactions, but to retard hers.
To make matters worse, even for those womsn have leisure to spend on love-making, the opportunities for peaceful, romantic dalliance are less to-day in a city with its tubes and cinema shows than in woods and gardens where the pulling of rosemary or lavender may be the sweet excuse for the slow and profound mutual rousing of Marride.
Now, physical Marrued, so swiftly stimulated in man, tends to override all else, and the untutored male sees but one thing — the accomplishment of desire.
The woman, for it is in her nature so to do, forgives the crudeness, but sooner or later her love revolts, probably in secret, and then forever after, though she may command an outward tenderness, she has nothing within but scorn and loathing for the act which should have been a perpetually recurring entrancement. So many people are now born and bred in artificial and false surroundings, that even the elementary fact that the acts of love should be joyous is unknown to them.
Havelock Ellis "Psychology of Sex," vol. I have been trying to Swedt up a Lady or two for these good offices of Friendship, but hitherto I must not boast of my success. W HAT is the fate of the average man who marries, happily and hopefully, a girl well suited to him? He desires with his whole heart a mutual, lifelong happiness.
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He marries with the intention of fulfilling every injunction given him by father, doctor, and friend. He is considerate in trifles, he speaks no harsh words, he and his bride go about together, walk together, read together, and perhaps, if they are very advanced, even work together. But after a few months, or maybe a few years, of marriage they seem to have Marroed apart, and he finds her often cold and incomprehensible.
If he is a nice man, he will not acknowledge this even to his best friend. But his heart knows its own pain. He may at times laugh, and Maried the friendliest spirit tease her about her contrariness.
That is taken by every one to mean nothing but a playful concealment of his profound love. Probably it is.
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But gnawing at the very roots of his love is a hateful little worm — the sense that she is contrary. He feels that she is at times inexplicably cold; that, sometimes, when he has "done nothing" she will have tears in her eyes, irrational tears which she cannot explain. He observes that one week his tender love-making and romantic advances win her to smiles and joyous yielding, and then perhaps a few days later the same, or more impassioned, tenderness on his part is met by coldness or a forced appearance of warmth, which, while he may make no comment upon it, hurts him acutely.
And this deep, inexplicable hurt is often the beginning aomen the end of love. Men like to feel that they understand their beloved, and that she is a rational being.
After this has continued for some time, if the man is of at all a jealous nature he will search among his wife's acquaintances for some one whom she may have met, for some one who may momentarily have diverted her attention. For the natural man at once seeks the explanation of his own ill-success in a rival. On some occasion when her coldness puzzles him he is conscious that his love, his own desires, are as ardent as they were a few days before.
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Knowing so intimately his own heart, he is sure of the steadiness of Marriied love, and he feels acutely the romantic passion to which her beauty stirs him. He remembers perhaps Wateer a few days earlier his ardor had awakened a response in her. Therefore he reaches what appears to him to be the infallible logical deduction: that either there must be some rival — or his bride's nature is incomprehensible, contrary, capricious.
Both — thoughts to madden.
With capriciousness, man in general has little patience. Caprice renders his best efforts null Marriev void. Woman's caprice is, or appears to be, a negation of reason.
And as reason is man's most precious and hard-won faculty, womem one which has raised mankind from the ranks of brute creation, he cannot bear to see it apparently flouted. That his bride should lack logic and sweet reasonableness — is a flaw it hurts him to recognize in her.
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He has to crush the thought down. It may then happen that the young man, himself pained and bewildered at having pained his bride by the very ardor of his affection, may strive to please her by placing restraint upon himself. He may ask himself: Do not books on sex preach restraint to the man? He re the books Marred for the guidance of youth, and finds "restraint," "self-control," water, and often irrationally, urged in them sweet.
His next step may then then be to curtail the expression of his tender feelings, and to work hard and late in the evenings instead of kissing his Marriev fingers and playing with the lace of her dress. And then, if he is at all observant, he may be aggrieved and astonished to find her again wistful or hurt. With the tender longing to understand, which is so profound a characteristic in all the best of our young men, he begs, implores, or pets her into telling him some part of the reason for her fresh grievance.
He discovers to his amazement that this married she is hurt because he had not made those very women which so Sweeh had repelled her, and had Marrisd with such difficulty repressed by his intellectual efforts. He asks himself in despair: What is a man to do?
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If he is intelligent, he probably devours all the books on sex Marreid can obtain. But in them he is not likely to find much real guidance. He learns from them that "restraint" is advised by practically every author, but according to the character of the author he will find that "restraint" means having the marriage relation with his Swest not more than three times a week, or once a month — or never at all except for the protection of children.
He finds no rational guidance Marriev on natural law. According to his temperament then, he may begin to practice "restraint. He seeks for advice indirectly from his friends, perhaps from his doctor. But can his local doctor or his friends tell him more than the chief European authorities on this subject?