Margaret Sanger, " [Marriage] ," [20 Jun 1944] .
Typed Article. Source: Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of Congress , LCM116:0647B .
“Marriage is both a concession and a demand, and in order to thrive there must be constant thought for the other ‘partner’”. To belong, to cooperate, mutual interest, a oneness. These are the means of defense against the peril of mental and psychic alienation in marriage. Any work, play, or endeavor which keeps two people close together will help keep mutual understanding fresh and active.
Then too, considering that medical science has advanced beyond the physical manifestations of pain and anguish into the psychiatric -- it behoves intelligent men and women to tackle the problems of marriage and love, to put intelligence, brain, and science to work fair and square and adjust accordingly. It can be done.
A man with a physical handicap, a blind eye, a lost arm or leg, a patched up face, is likely to be more gentle and kind in his marriage than the man who suddenly finds himself impotent. His limitation causes resentment and in a blind rage he seeks relief in striking out, in accusation, in reproach and complaint of his beloved. His pride, his vanity are fighting for survival. This is a situation where the woman’s love and knowledge and infinite patience must endure and bridge the gap to his recovery.
Usually this impotence is temporary but to him, who has been pent up for months, he sees the end, and becomes impatient, irritable, negligent, thoughtless, violent, unstable, easily exasperated.
A change from military life to civilian life will not be as simple as just removing the uniform.
The problem of preserving the happiness in marriage as it was before he went away.
There may be mutual repulsion upon his return, or the honeymoon may have been one of blissful rapture and all too short -- you wait and wait for his return.
By knowledge the girl may have revealed the manifold possibilities of achieving or recapturing or enhancing that happiness and not allow marriage to decline into a morass of disillusion, ending in divorce.
Marriage cannot be confined to the sexual physiological factors alone. There are joys and griefs even in a happily married life.
The living husband who went off to war may return and look upon his marriage with a certain serene detachment, too bitter for “follies” of youth and yet too young to forgo them all. It can be a hell of torment to the living partner who has waited and dreamed of a happily married future and finds herself grappling with shadows. A vigorous and harmonious sex attitude in marriage is indispensable to happiness. The loneliness of mind and heart to which this absence has confined him can be more devastating than all the brutality, waste and death he has witnessed.
Women must also remember that the man who has entered the army has had to undergo a complete training to reverse the training given him as a boy and young man in his home -- by his parents and teachers. His training is not to hurt others or to needlessly kill animals or to fight -- all these aggressive urges have been repressed.
Psychiatrists are now facing the problems in the army of men raised by parents and teachers no to hurt other people, and certainly not to kill animals or men -- except in self defense. These boys and men being placed where they had to kill soon became loaded with unexpressed feelings of remorse and guilt. Officials soon became aware of this conflict and had to break down the home or parents teachings and substitute for it a different education and attitude toward group experience -- so the re-education has taken place in him as army morale, but it cannot hold when he returns to civilian life and home and loved ones.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project