THE marriage problem assumes importance very early in the life of every man. Many contend that men can live a continent life indefinitely, without being harmed thereby, and such a contention would be upheld by the facts, in the case of some men, but in the majority of instances a man demands a mate. This is a God-given law. You can see it evolving throughout the entire animal world, and from the stand-point of sexuality we belong to the animal world. The instincts and emotions associated with sexual life are shared to a large extent by what we term “the lower animals.”
Many persons have led continent lives for years, without sustaining any harm by reason of their abstinence. In many such instances, their lives have been exceedingly useful to the community. Such people are the exception, not the rule, and in this instance we are not selecting unusual examples. We are simply discussing the ordinary, average man, as he is.
The sex instinct begins to assert itself at an early age. In many individuals it becomes noticeable far earlier than it should, because of the prudery that is found almost everywhere. The curiosity aroused in childish minds by the secrecy and deception practiced in regard to sex subjects, naturally increases interest in the theme, and consequently the sexual characteristics are prematurely developed in both sexes.
As a result of this evil, boys, and less frequently girls, fall into devitalizing habits. The sexual vice known as masturbation stimulates the premature secretion of the seminal fluid, and after the boy has learned the evil of his way, and is able to control himself, this rich fluid continues to be secreted too rapidly, resulting, in practically every instance, in constant losses. This question will be discussed in detail later on. These facts are presented here to show how present conditions tend to create an abnormal sexual appetite.
If a boy can escape masturbation, he will usually be almost entirely free from nocturnal losses, though some experts maintain that normally they occur from two to four times monthly. How-ever, if masturbation is avoided the sexual appetite will not be so insistent. As a rule men who have maintained a continent life for a long period have also been free from masturbation and the evil which follows thereafter.
We may, however, just as well come out and face the problem squarely and honestly, and acknowledge that marriage is the normal condition for nearly all men. The desire for sexual gratification is the strongest force in human nature. Even the craving for food is less imperative, and often of minor importance. Every healthy, strong, virile man must, therefore, realize the necessity for marriage. He must marry somebody, and should carefully choose his mate early in life. Early marriage is advantageous largely because it saves a man from all the diseases and excesses associated with prostitution, as well as from other evils.
To be sure, the economic question assumes considerable importance when marriage comes up for consideration, but we are not attempting to settle that phase of the problem. If you have avoided masturbation, if you can be satisfied with a continent life and are apparently enjoying a normal degree of vigor and vitality while adhering thereto, there can be no objection to your continuing it. Such temperance, however, is the exception.
We hear much about the attractions of bachelorhood. Single blessedness, so-called, is frequently applauded. But in many instances bachelorhood is associated with immoralities of the worst sort. True enough the bachelor may be rarely strictly virtuous and continent-but more frequently he is the opposite. There are no marital ties to bind him, and he feels free to act as his masculine instincts may dictate, so that not infrequently he preys upon the wives and sisters of his friends and associates.
To be sure we are not so silly as to maintain that a marriage ceremony in itself hallows all sexual relations, or that such a ceremony would definitely, insure that every sexual relation would be beneficial. Neither when speaking of marriage, do we refer to all unions sanctioned by the law. True marriage presupposes a keen and intense love between a man and a woman. It is this love that cements the marital bond and marriage lasts just so long as this strong affection exists. If a man and woman break the laws of sexual life, if they outrage what should be our most holy instincts, then they must suffer the penalty. Love which may have brought to each a divine joy, an ecstatic bliss, disappears, and in its place will come often a feeling of mutual disgust, or even hatred, each for the other. Where such a feeling exists, it is a decree or decision rendered by the Most High that this man and this woman should no longer live together. They have already been divorced, and we would therefore say: What God has rent asunder, let no man join together.
There are some men who cannot marry because of financial reasons. When one is so placed that marriage is practically impossible on this account, what advice can be given?
In many instances where marriage is considered impossible, there are ways and means whereby it might be satisfactorily arranged. But let us admit that there are instances in which a man is compelled to support a mother or sisters, and in which marriage would not allow him to continue to carry responsibilities that he feels are imperatively fastened upon him. Or let us take others in which a satisfactory life partner cannot be secured. What is a man to do under such circumstances?
The average book dealing with this subject will advise a continent life. Most writers will say that such a man must adhere to this strict regime until his circumstances have so changed that he can legally and properly take to himself a wife. The writers of these idealistic volumes forget that they are dealing under such circumstances with human problems that are varied in nature.
It must be admitted that when a man can follow advice of this nature it will generally be the better for him in the end; but we are dealing with human instincts and human passions that often go beyond control. The fact that we are for-bidden marriage because of economic or other reasons does not necessarily take us away from all associations with the opposite sex. And with a virile man such companionship is bound at times to arouse passions and desires that seek satisfaction. What is a man to do under such circumstances? The problem is indeed hard’ to solve. The question involved in a situation of this kind is largely as to whether or not the man will be harmed through attempting to lead a continent life, or whether it would pay to incur the risks of disease that attend deviations from the paths of moral rectitude. In other words, are we to follow the usual policy and lay down a definite rule of strict continence to the men who cry for help under such circumstances?
The problem in every instance is varied and individual in nature. As previously stated some men can live a continent life for a great number of years without serious injury to their capacities, mental, moral, or physical. Other men, however, are so constituted that the question of a sexual mate assumes a dominating character that is actually terrifying. Such men will find a continent life practically impossible and, with their particular natures, if they possessed the determination to adhere to a regime of this character it would, perhaps, be productive of injury though perhaps not more than a certain slight decline in vitality. But under such circumstances we are dealing with what might be termed impossibilities. Such men will not remain continent when temptation comes their way. What are we to advise in such cases?
Where the demand for the associations of marriage are so dominating in character, the situation, regardless of all other conditions, demands marriage. And it is unquestionably better that the marriage should conform to the legal and conventional standards. No matter how you may try to avoid other associations and responsibilities that your instincts crave, you cannot avoid the very definite commands of your cravings for a sexual mate.
The man who finds himself possessed of these imperative sexual demands, if allowed freely to associate with members of the opposite sex, will surely find a mate. There is no question about that. The only way a man of this kind can remain continent is to live the life of a hermit, or not meet enough of the opposite sex, and even under such circumstances there is a strong possibility or even probability of his acquiring secret sexual vices that are fearfully destructive in nature. Therefore, although you may be impressed with the idea that you are economically or otherwise so situated that marriage is impossible, yet when you find yourself mated, you should so arrange your affairs that the legal responsibilities associated therewith can be satisfactorily assumed. There is really no other solution of this problem that is tolerable or possible.
Whatever mistakes you may make, avoid the prostitute and the diseases that she carries. Tainted more in body than in soul, she should be shunned as poison. Remember also that the clandestine prostitute, masquerading under the cloak of decency, perhaps as stage performer, a shop girl, housemaid, or in some other form, is even more dangerous than the street-walker. Furthermore, aside from the dangers of venereal poisoning, intimate relations with women of this sort are destructive to character and mind as well as to body.
The use of a mistress, while it may be free from some of the dangers of other illicit relationships, cannot be regarded as a satisfactory solution of the problem, for many reasons, one that such a plan is not fair to the woman. A due sense of honor would make such a relationship intolerable.
What has’ been termed a “free-love union” has often been suggested, but this is equally objectionable. In most cases the term “free love” is only an attempt to justify license. It is a pretty phrase by which to further the purpose of seduction. But when the matter is taken seriously, when the union is based upon the philosophy that love rather than a ceremony sanctifies the marriage relation, and when the couple really live together as in legal marriage, then it really is marriage, and the phrase, “free love,” is a misnomer. There is little or no more freedom in a union of this kind than in a legal marriage. When men and women have tried it, they have found that they are just as tightly bound by the conditions of marriage as they would be by the legal tie.
Marriage, therefore, is the only solution of the problem in practically all cases. Bachelorhood in many cases means immorality or secret vices. If immorality, it tends to become promiscuous, and this means almost certain infection. The only normal, the only safe and the only decent relationship is marriage with a pure, good woman whom one respects and whom one loves, and who loves in return. This is a relationship that is conducive to health and honor and self-respect. One sex is necessary to the other, and monogamic marriage is not only the ideal but the only satisfactory form of union.