Margaret Sanger, "Foundation for Marriage," no date.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 131:008."

No final version was found. This draft may be part of a longer article.


In any plan for building, one of the first things to consider is the laying of the foundation. This is especially true in Marriage, and strange as it may seem to you to say it, but the foundation of a happy married life usually is made during that period of youth called the adolescent period, or the age in the girl from twelve to twenty-two, in the boy fourteen to twenty-three.

This is the period when the girl or boy pack away into their bodies, into the sinews, bones, nerves and blood cells, all the essential qualities of body building they will need for use later on. It is the period for conserving and developing the life energy and power of the vital functions.

If these powers are wasted and dissipated by premature use, it will be impossible to bring them to their highest potentialities in marriage.

For after all every girl and every boy hopes and dreams of the day when he or she shall enter that state called marriage and in terms of the usual love story “live happily every after.”

In life, however, the real love story does not end with marriage. It begins with it.

A certificate of marriage does not guarantee happiness to any of us. Neither love nor happiness are prizes found in the package of the marriage license.

Enduring happiness in marriage can be attained by all of us if we know the rules of the game. The game of life, the game of courtship, the game of love.

As love is essential to marriage, virility is essential to love. Mastery of the power and forces of our bodies, as instruments of our desires, instruments for our expression in love, is essential. Youth, adolescence or early manhood is given the race, not only as periods of preparation, but as periods to develop and build. It is a mistake to hurry through the age of adolescence. Youth must not try “a short cut” to manhood. Life will be and can be more fully realized by the prolongation of this period of preparation for maturity by the conservation of these vital powers making for manhood and womanhood.

All activity--mental and physical--during the adolescent period, when the foundations of happiness are being laid, should be determined by the knowledge that the very architecture of the body, the bones, muscles, nerves, brain is dependent upon the internal secretions of the body and these are intricately tied up with the sexual system, its powers and potentialities.

During the period of growth and development between the age of twelve and twenty-two, the co-ordination of those secretions hormones or chemical messengers absorbed directly into the blood stream, model and shape the bony structure that makes for virility, strength, and beauty.

In all this vital process of body and brain building in the adolescent, the sex glands play a part of equal importance with the other directless glands, the importance of which, modern science tells us cannot be overestimated.

The strength, beauty, vigor, shape of the body with its bones, its sinews, delicately coordinated muscles, its internal organs, heart, lungs, liver, is dependent upon the harmonious activity of these glands. Thus we see that human bodies are both dynamos and motors. We must not tamper with or interfere with the normal development of any organ, for to do so throws the whole process of construction out of balance.

No one can go back and build his life over again. We must go on with what we have, but often, alas too often, a discord in early youth has entered to defeat the well rounded development or our physical and mental powers.

Before the nervous and emotional force can be directed and expended properly and sanely--it must first be created--and stored away. The more power you store up in bones, nerves, glands and blood cells, the greater the force of its expenditure during maturity. The later its use, the longer the period of virility. To store away vitality and sex energy in youth means a greater power and fuller use of it in maturity and old age.

Each process, each period of life, has its own reason. Its own use. Life is a chain, each period a link. Each link dependency upon the preceding link for its strength. We must not hurry through, neglect or shorten them. Sex energy is not only controlled but stored up for without this deep reservoir, this latent force, love cannot, at the great period of marriage, express its power, nor the overwhelming poetry of life find full expression.

It is thus generated, and in a miraculous way acknowledged and ready to be converted as the mysterious miracle of sex love, into ambition.


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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project


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