MARRIAGE can bring happiness comparable to a heaven on earth, or it can bring misery which might be compared to infernal tortures.
In the intimate relations of married life, man has taken it upon himself to assume the prerogative of dictating to womanhood. This fact is the cause of most of the evils and excesses which we find in marriage. Within the heart and soul of the female are, or normally should be, implanted the definite instincts which indicate the natural period during which the intimate relations of sex can be enjoyed. But in too many marriages, largely because of ignorance, the husband entirely ignores this feminine requirement. He follows the demands of uncontrolled passion, and in some instances the wife feels herself outraged on the first night of her marriage. She may feel that her husband has taken only what are supposed to be his legal rights, and yet her instincts rebel against the treatment she has received. In some instances the wife conceives a feeling of loathing, or, it may be actual hatred, for the man for whom she previously had a strong affection.
Occasionally one sees in the newspapers some reference to a bride who has left her husband the morning after the wedding. Probably there are thousands of other cases in which the newly married woman feels a similar impulse to escape from the man to whom she has given herself, refraining from actually doing so because of the fear of what people will say, or for other reasons. The reason is always to be found in a lack of consideration by the husband on the wedding night. The worst part of it is that the psychic or mental effect of such a brutal introduction to the marital relation is likely to prove permanent. In some cases the psychological effect can never be over-come. The shock to the mind and soul of a sensitive woman, resulting from treatment of this kind, is so far-reaching in its effects that it is likely to dominate her attitude towards sexual matters throughout her whole life. Under proper and natural conditions it is to be expected that a woman’s sexual nature will be easily awakened, but after an experience of this kind it will be very difficult, for the husband to develop in her a normal attitude toward this relationship.
Apart from the psychological effect upon the wife just mentioned, the actual physical injuries in some instances are very serious, particularly when much force is used. Although the loss of a very little blood may usually be expected as the result of the breaking of the hymen, yet in some cases very severe hemorrhages have been brought about through the use of unnecessary violence. Hemorrhages of this kind following the wedding night have even been known, in rare instances, to prove fatal. There have also been cases in which the urethra has been penetrated, instead of the vagina, resulting in serious injuries and lacerations. It is true that these deplorable results are due almost entirely to ignorance upon the part of the husband, as well as upon the part of the wife, but they emphasize the necessity of following the guiding instinct of the wife in all cases.
With every marital intimacy there is a loss of a considerable amount of that life-giving fluid known as semen. One drop of semen is said to be equal to sixty drops of blood, and whether or not this statement is true, the life-creating fluid is certainly a concentrated product of extraordinary richness. When seminal discharges occur in sexual intimacies in which the man and woman cooperate, there is an exchange of magnetism or of energy, call it what you will, which makes up for the loss. But when the relationship is one-sided, when it is insisted upon by the man and not desired or enjoyed by the woman, there is a definite loss in vitality in every instance, there being no return to the man of the energy represented by his loss. In fact, there are many one-sided intimacies of this sort which are undoubtedly almost as harmful to the man as masturbation, to say nothing of the physical and psychical injury to the woman. Now, when a man insists upon what he terms his marital rights, and when he gratifies his passions nightly, or at frequent intervals, he is wasting energy, losing vitality, throwing away strength that could be used to make life resplendent with great achievements.
Marriage is often accompanied by sexual excesses. In many cases such grave mistakes bring bodily weakness and mental deficiency. All of the functions of the body are busily engaged in trying to recover the energy that has been spent in sexual dissipation. The body, it should be remembered, is just as strong as its weakest part. It may aptly be compared with a chain that is as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, when any influence comes into one’s life which lessens the vital strength, the weakest part is attacked. For instance, one man may have a tendency to-ward weak lungs, and when the common sexual excesses associated with marriage intervene he quickly acquires consumption. Another may have a weak heart; still another may have a tendency toward diseases of the kidneys; and sexual excesses develop these weaknesses. So we might go on enumerating defects which would, perhaps, never have assumed serious forms, if it were not for the generally devitalized condition of the system resulting from sexual excess. Even where no serious physical disorders appear as a result of this form of legalized and sanctioned dissipation, one should remember that it robs the brain as well as the body. It saps the energy, No man can be mentally capable and efficient who is continually draining his vitality by sexual excesses. He is sure to be dull and dopey, and it is unreasonable to expect, in fact, it is impossible that such a man should make a success of anything in life. Such men become slaves to their mad desire for sexual satisfaction.
It should be said that when the relation is mutually desired, the woman can usually endure far more sexual abuse than the man. When she is gratified in the relation it is not so weakening to her when carried to excess. In other words, the border-line of excess is, as a rule, reached more quickly by the man than by the woman. If you are observing, you may note, in the course of a Sunday afternoon walk in city parks, or on the streets, many instances in which a healthy, plump and robust-looking woman is accompanied by a sallow, debilitated, thin, dragged-out and dried-out-looking husband. The vital condition and the sexual condition of each will be plainly indicated in their appearance. The vitality of the husband is simply insufficient to support an amount of sexual indulgence that is entirely healthy and satisfactory in the case of the wife. The vital loss in his case, through the continued drain of the seminal fluid, is far greater. On this account it is even more important for the husband than for the wife to exercise temperance in this relationship.
It is, of course, entirely natural for these excesses to be followed by a weakening of the functon, tending toward impotence, or actually producing impotence and premature senility. Specialists in the treatment of sexual disorders find occasional cases in which complete impotence has been brought about within six months after marriage, purely as the result of excess.
The conditions under which a woman suffers most, in connection with abuses and excesses in the marriage relation, are those in which the act is one-sided, the wife simply serving as a tool for the gratification of her husband. This is not only a moral affront to her, but also a source of physical weakness and injury. Intimacies undesired by a woman are always harmful to her. It is an outrage upon her body as well as upon her instincts and feelings. It is only when she is in a state of receptivity and readiness for the relation, when her passions have been thoroughly aroused to the extent of actually demanding satisfaction, that her organs assume a condition in which the act will not be injurious. If she is not in a condition urgently to desire the relation, then it will be productive of irritation and congestion, frequently resulting in serious weaknesses, such as the state of prolapsus of these organs from which so many women suffer.
In most instances sexual excesses bring a fitting punishment. In other words, they destroy the love existing between man and wife. Satiety brings about a condition of disgust and what may be best described by the term “sex-antagonism.” This is -accompanied by a condition of physical repulsion and resentment that makes impossible even a peaceful companionship between the two. It is a reversal of the sex-magnetism which first drew the two together. The strength and power of this sex-antagonism is exactly in proportion to the strength and force of the attraction which was previously experienced. It is the one supreme source of friction in married life. It is the one all-powerful force which drives so many men and women to the divorce courts. Various complaints may be named in the papers filed in a divorce suit, but the condition of sex-antagonism is usually back of these various complaints. Re-member that the sex impulse is not, as ‘so many people imagine, a purely physical manifestation. It pervades one’s entire nature; it is not only physical but psychic as well. It is a part of one’s very soul, and its influence is reflected in every personal and social relationship. For this reason outraged sexuality will breed a degree of hatred and antagonism between a man and woman which is measured quite accurately by the former intensity of their love for each other. These are important facts. Thousands of husbands and wives continually experience this sex-antagonism without understanding the cause of, the unbearable friction between them.
As a result of excesses the most sacred of all human relations is made cheap and commonplace. The marital intimacies finally lose flavor for the man, and frequently are endured by the woman simply from a sense of duty. Consequently the husband is likely to be attracted by other women, and the wife, in turn, is not in all cases blind to the attractions of other men. And there you have a picture of a great many so-called homes of to-day. Husband and wife in name only. Married, though in reality separated. Living in the same house, calling it home, and apparently “grinning and bearing” their unpleasant relations because of the children, or because of their fear of the notoriety that might result from a separation.
As I have said, marital excesses usually begin with the mistakes of the wedding night. They are due, in most instances, to the man’s ignorance and mistaken ideas of his privileges. In some cases, however, they may also be brought about through abnormal manifestations on the part of the wife. Some women are possessed by an uncontrollable passion. They are never satisfied. The intimacies of sex are acceptable to them at all times. The man who has contracted a marriage with such a woman must either possess extraordinary will power or enormous vitality, else he is doomed to certain destruction. No ordinary man can withstand the drain on his vital resources that will almost certainly take place under such circumstances.
It should be remembered that the male is sup-posed to be always ready in a sexual way. In other words, he simply awaits the call of the female, while the latter is supposed to have certain periods during which alone her passions can be aroused. This rule applies throughout the entire animal world. These periods in the human race are usually found two or three days before menstruation and several days thereafter. But when a woman is apparently not affected by these periods, and is in what might be termed a chronic state of passion, the husband confronts difficulties that are extraordinary in character. Such a marriage cannot possibly be productive of permanent happiness, and we should be thankful that it is likely to be childless.