CHAPTER VIII. SEX IN THE MARRIAGE RELATION (THE WIFE)
Girls marry, in the final analysis, because love for the male is an innate natural principle of the female nature. At its best this love is pure and chaste. The good woman realizes that its first purpose is not mere carnal pleasure. It is a special avowal of the wife's relations to her husband, and its natural as well as moral end is the establishment of the family on the basis of a healthy progeny.
The wife-to-be, like her prospective husband, will be well advised to ask for a medical health certificate. No man, no matter how good his reputation may be, should marry (on his own account as well as that of the girl) without thorough examination by a physician. The consequences of venereal infection administered to unborn children by their parents are too horrible to allow of any risk being taken. Another bit of advice, which cannot be too highly commended, is that the prospective husband and wife, before they marry, have a plain talk with each other regarding individual sexual peculiarities and needs. A heart-to-heart talk of this kind would be apt to prevent great disappointments and incompatibilities which otherwise may become permanent.
THE WIFE AND HER POSITION
The natural instinct of a man is to seek his mate. On her he depends for an orderly and lawful indulgence of his sex demands. The greatest longevity and best health are to be found among happily married fathers and mothers. No young woman should marry without a full knowledge of her sex duties to her husband. And she should never consummate the marriage vow grudgingly.
Childbirth is the natural consequence of marriage. Its processes have already been explained in Chapter II of this book. There are, however, some hygienic facts in connection with it which should be noted. Once pregnancy is established, as soon as the fact is suspected, the mother-to-be should look on the little embryo as already a member of the family. Every act of each parent should now be performed (at least to some degree) with reference to the forthcoming infant. The mother's thoughts should be directed to it as much as possible. Mentally she should read literature of a lofty and ennobling character. The theory is that this serves a good purpose in producing a more perfect, healthy and intelligent child. Physically, she should take plenty of active exercise during gestation. Active exercise does not, of course, mean violent exercise. And she should use a “Health Lift.” During this time she should subsist as far as possible on a farinaceous diet, fruits and vegetables. The foods should be plainly cooked, without spices. If all else is as it should be, the birth of the child at the end of the customary nine months will be attended by comparatively little pain and danger.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD CHILDBIRTH TAKE PLACE?
It is most important that the childbearing wife and mother have a long period of rest between births. At least one year should separate a birth and the conception following it. This means that about two years should elapse between two births. If this rule be followed, the wife will retain her health, and her children will also be healthy. It is far better to give birth to seven children, who will live and be healthy, than to bear fourteen, of whom seven are likely to die, while the numerous successive births wear out and age the unfortunate mother.
The above paragraph deals with one detail of what might be called “matrimonial adjustment.” This adjustment or compromise is a feature of all successful marriages. The individual cravings of husband and wife must be reconciled by mutual good will and forbearance if they are to be happy. Attention should be paid in particular to not allowing habit, “the worst foe of married happiness,” to become too well established in the home, and to cultivate that love and affection which survives the decline of the sexual faculties.
THE IDEAL MARRIAGE
The ideal marriage is the one in which affection combines to bring happiness to both partners in a sane union of sex and soul. As one commentator has rather unhappily expressed it: “When married the battle for one united and harmonious life really begins!” It is, indeed, but too often a battle! Forbearance, consideration and respect must be the foundation on which the ideal married state is built. The husband should realize that his wife's love for him induces her to allow privileges of a personal nature which her innate chastity and timidity might otherwise refuse. In return, he should accept these privileges with consideration. He should, in particular, on his wedding night, take care not to shock his young bride's sensibilities. He may easily give her a shock from which she will not recover for years, and lead her to form an antipathy against the very act which is “the bond and seal of a truly happy married life.”
Material changes have taken place in the birth-rate of a number of countries during the past fifteen or twenty years which cannot be attributed to purely economic causes. They do not seem to depend on such things as trade, employment and prices; but on the spread of an idea or influence whose tendency must be deplored, that of “birth control,” a phrase much heard in these days.
The fact that a decline in human fertility and a falling birth rate are most noticeable in the relatively prosperous countries is a proof that it does not proceed from economic causes; but is due rather to the spread of the doctrine that it is permissible to restrict or control birth. In such countries as the United States, England and Australasia, where the standards of human comfort and living are notoriously high, the decline in the birth rate has been most noticeable. On the other hand, we find perhaps the greatest decline in the birth rate in France, a country where the general well-being probably reaches a lower depth in the community than in any other part of Europe. A comparison of the birth rates of France and of Ireland, for example, offer a valuable illustration of the point under consideration. In France, more than half the women who have reached the age of nubility are married; in Ireland, generally speaking, less than a third. In both countries the crude birth rate is far below that in other European lands. Yet the fertility of the Irish wife exceeded that of her French compeer by 44 per cent in 1880, and by no less than 84 per cent in 1900. And since that time the prolificity of the Irish mother has so increased that she is now, approximately speaking, inferior only to the Dutch or Finnish mother in this respect.
In general, in any country where we find a diminished prolificity a falling off of childbirth unaccompanied by a decrease in the number of marriages occurring at the reproductive ages, we may attribute this decrease to voluntary restriction of childbearing on the part of the married, or in other words, to the prevalance of “birth control.” This incidentally, is not a theoretical statement, but one supported by the almost unanimous medical opinion in all countries. Everywhere and especially here in our own United States, we find evidence of the extensive employ of “birth control” measures to prevent that normal development of family life which underlies the vigor and racial power of every nation. These preventive measures which arbitrarily control human birth had long been in use in France with results which, especially since the war, have been frequently and publicly deplored in the press, and have led the French Government to offer substantial rewards to encourage the propagation of large families. From France the preventive practises of “birth control” had spread, after 1870, over nearly all the countries of western Europe, to England and to the United States; though they are not as much apparent in those countries where the Roman Church has a strong hold on the people.
As a general thing, the practice of thus unnaturally limiting families—“unnaturally” since the custom of “birth control” derives from no natural, physical law—prevails, in the first instance, among the well-to-do, who should rather be the first to set the example of protest against it by having the families they are so much better able to support and educate than those less favored with the world's goods. If the evil of voluntary control of human birth were restricted to a privileged class, say one of wealth, the harm done would, perhaps, not be so great. But, unfortunately, in the course of time it filters down as a “gospel of comfort”—erroneous term!—to those whose resources are less. They accept and practice this invidious system of prevention and gradually the entire community is more or less affected.
The whole system of “birth control” is opposed to natural, human and religious law. Nature, in none of her manifestations, introduces anything which may tend to prevent her great reason for being—the propagation of the species. Birth as the natural sequence of mating is her solemn and invariable law. It is in birth and rebirth that nature renews herself and all the life of the animal and vegetable world, and her primal aim is to encourage it. Human law recognizes this underlying law of nature by forbidding man to tamper in a preventive way with her hallowed and mysterious processes for perpetuating the human race. Religious law, based on the divine dispensation of the Scriptures, indorses the law of nature and that of the state.
We may take it, then, that “birth control” represents a deliberate and reprehensible attempt to nullify those innate laws of reproduction sanctioned by religion, tradition and man's own ingrained instinct. To say that the human instinct for the perpetuation of his race and family has become atrophied during the flight of time, and that he is therefore justified in denying it, is merely begging the question. The instinct may be denied, just as other higher and nobler instincts are disregarded; but its validity cannot be questioned. Whether those who practice “birth control” are influenced by economic, selfishly personal or other reasons, they are offending in a threefold manner: against the inborn wish and desire which is a priceless possession of even the least of God's creatures, that of living anew in its offspring; against the law of the state, which after all, stands for the crystallization of the best feeling of the community; and against the divine injunction handed down to us in Holy Writ, to “increase and multiply.”
“Birth control” is the foe to the direct end and aim of marriage, which, in the last analysis, is childbirth. As an enemy to the procreation of children it is an enemy of the family and the family group. As an enemy of the family, it is an enemy of the state, the community, a foe to the whole social system. Mankind has been able to attain its comparatively recent state of moral and physical advancement without having recourse to the dangerous principle which “birth control” represents. Surely that wise provision of our existing legal code which makes the printing or dessimation of information regarding the physical facts of “birth control” illegal and punishable as an offense, can only be approved by those who respect the Omnipotent will, and the time-hallowed traditions which date back to the very inception of the race.