Margaret Sanger, "War Marriages Are Worth Saving," Apr 1945.
Source: " SHE Magazine: Page Extra Clip Sheet, April 1945 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S72:499."
This is a summary of Sanger's article "War Marriages Are Worth Saving" that was published in SHE Magazine April/May 1945 issue. The published version has not been found. For similar articles see "Lasting Peace for the War Marriage", July 1944 and "How to Avoid Post War Divorces", July 19, 1944.
War marriages made headlines right after Pearl Harbor, when the marriage rate took a sharp up-swing. They are still making headlines, but they are no longer such cheerful ones. Two-thirds of the wartime marriages are doomed to end in the divorce courts, according to one prediction. Another more conservative estimate is that thirty-eight out of every one hundred will fail.
How many of these marriages can really be salvaged? Margaret Sanger, whose courageous fight for birth control has made her name famous throughout the world, has some ideas on the subject which she sets forth in an article in SHE Magazine’s current issue.
Mrs. Sanger has no magic words of advice which can save the marriage born solely of war emotion and found in the sober light of afterthought to be completely wrong. But she does believe that with the proper effort and cooperation a great many war marriages otherwise destined to go on the rocks, can be saved.
Women should realize that their soldier husbands have become distinct individuals, men who are tired of all restraints, apron strings, commands. The don’t want to be bossed, or even advised in many cases. Old occupations seem unbelievably dull and routine.
Take the case of Mrs. Bill who became a successful business woman while her husband was fighting. She liked it. She didn’t dream Bill would be anything but proud and delighted. He wasn’t at all. He wanted her to quit, and was horrified and hurt at her earning more than he had at his pre-war job.
Fortunately, both of them were willing to take advice and consulted Dr. Emily T. Burr, Director of the Vocational Adjustment Bureau of New York City. Dr. Burr suggested that Mrs. Bill continue on at her job but that Bill’s salary take care of all routine household expenses. Mrs. Bill could save for that baby they were planning to have as soon as they could afford it. This made sense to Bill and a quarrel that threatened to break Bill’s spirit and a splendid marriage was averted.
On a train recently Mrs. Sanger talked with a young girl who carried a fretful baby. Her husband will return at the war’s end, but not to the appreciation he no doubt feels he deserves. She wants that appreciation for herself. She wants to be told how noble she has been to bear his child in that overcrowded hospital during his absence, to stay home with the baby night after night, scrimping on her allotment pay. After all, she argued, Phil was having plenty of excitement mixed in with the danger. Unless both give a little, and the girl-wife stops nursing her growing resentment, this particular marriage will be among the doomed.
Frequently couples who have been married only a few weeks before they are separated tend to idealize each other during the period of separation, and are both completely disillusioned when faced with an average human being. When once they are made to realize this they are usually willing to let the other step down from the pedestal.
Marriage is both a concession and a demand; a living thing that is never static, even during long absences. If one partner has had a chance to develop and grow, it is up to him or her to wait for the other to catch up.
There are numerous organizations ready to serve the serviceman and to give expert advice. He should seek them out when problems seem too great to cope with. They may save a marriage!
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project