Margaret Sanger, "What Margaret Sanger Thinks About Marriage," Mar 1928.

Source: " Homecrofter, Mar-Apr. 1928, 10:5, pp. 4-5."

What Margaret Sanger Thinks About Marriage

Here is an enlightening and thought-evoking article that any man or woman can well afford to read.

Margaret Sanger in her book, "Happiness in Marriage," gives for its purpose the proper education of all those young people who are about to enter matrimony and of all thise who are married, but who, because of ignorance in the beginning of their matrimonial career, have done considerable mischief by almost destroying the happiness which should continue through the married state.

"And so they were married and lived happily ever afterwards," quotes the authoress. "Such is the conventional ending of most love stories. In life, however, the real love story does not end with marriage. It begins with it. Happiness is not the inevitable consequence of marriage. Marriage does not necessarily create happiness. Too often it destroys it. If husband and wife are to live joyously together, they must create their own happiness. Most people agree that happiness in marriage is often the exception rather than the rule. It is not a prize guaranteed with every marriage certificate. Even though the bride and bridegroom be romantically in love with each other they may find, after a few months of life together, that this mysterious reward has been withheld from them. They often discover that love is gradually fading. Marriage love died a long, lingering death. They awake to reality disillusioned, surprised to find themselves deprived of that abiding happiness they had expected."

"This tragedy of modern marriage is usually the outgrowth of ignorance and misunderstanding. Happiness in marriage is not a matter of chance. It is a growth. Like all living and growing organisms, it must first germinate, then strike root and then, after careful tending and cultivation, be brought to maturity. Only thus may it bloom and bear fruit. Sex attraction alone or the instinctive love of husband for wife and wife for husband is not enough. Romantic generosity is not enough. Fidelity is not enough. All these fine traits may enter into the marriage relationship, and yet, notwithstanding, martial happiness may be destroyed."

"Fear and ignorance are the greatest destroyers of love. Fear alone will often kill the happiness that is born of real love. Therefore, where marriage is bound by fear and ignorance, there can be no happiness. The first essential in the establishment of happiness in marriage is the uprooting of fear and the banishing of sex ignorance. When this is done the foundation of happiness is laid."

"Let us not forget that ignorance and fear often assume the form of shame. Married love is possible when men and women have acquired a clean, healthy conception of sex, and through it a clean, wholesome fund of knowledge. In modern life, particularly in this country, the reproductive and sexual functions have been fenced off as mysterious facts, separate and distinct from the other activities of every-day life. Modesty has defeated itself in prurience and prudery. For women to remain in ignorance concerning the most important phase of their nature was until a few years ago considered good taste. Even biologists of the past generation ignored the facts of reproduction and sex as not intricately and organically connected with the well-being of the individual and the race. Sex remained a deep, dark mystery, to be spoken of only in whispers, or not at all. This mystery was the cause of ignorance. Ignorance was the cause of disease and disease in its many forms was the cause of unhappiness and innumerable family tragedies."

"The cost of this shameful sentimentality is too great. We cannot afford to remain in ignorance. Our own personal health is at stake. The future well-being of the human race is at stake. We must learn to view sex life and sex love as sometimes other than physiological functions unrelated to the rest of our bodies and minds. Modern scientists are showing us that there is no part of our being that is not organically and intimately related to sex love and sex life."

"Romance based on ignorance cannot bear healthy fruit. In the past, when men and women were the victims of a huge conspiracy of silence concerning sex, experience was bought at a high cost. Young men were tacitly permitted to 'sow their wild oats'; venereal scourges resulted. Tragic and widespread and destructive as syphilis and gonorrhea are, spiritual destruction is even worse. Promiscuity, prostitution and disease destroy, sometimes forever, a clean and reverent attitude toward the physical sex relation. Pre-marital promiscuity has created in man an attitude of ruthless selfishness. More than any other single factor this has been destructive of mutual happiness in the lives of married people."

"But women have, in the past, been too willing victims of this conspiracy of silence. Even today, with all our education, with all our organizations for social uplift, girls are brought up in absolute and fatal ignorance of the true meaning of the sexual function. To their normal, healthy curiosity the only answer has been that the sex instinct is in some mysterious way a lewd, lascivious and unmentionable subject or too sacred and holy to mention."

"Marriage based on a young man's experience without knowledge and a girl's ignorance without experience is fore-doomed to inevitable failure. If love survives despite such an initial handicap it improves its greatness. As a matter of fact few marriages do. Divorces, separations, ruined lives, cynical husbands, hysterical wives, infidelities and all manner of family tragedies attest to the failure of the traditional approach to marriage. If they dared to give a frank answer, most men and women would tell you that love after marriage disappears and happiness is a gamble."

"For marriage built on the shifting sands of fear, shame and ignorance can never lead to happiness, yet if contracted with a frank recognition of the central importance of the beauty of sex in life, alike in its physiological, psychological and spiritual aspects, happiness becomes a glowing possibility. This is a buried treasure to be unearthed by true lovers. It may be imbedded in the rich soil of mutual respect and consideration. Carefully nurtured, it will strike deep roots in both lives, entwine and unite them together in ever-growing joy. It will grow mature, bear fruit."

"Few as they are, marriages of this type are nevertheless possible. To such unions we must look for guidance. Participants in happy relationships of this type are creators in the truest sense. Their intimate experience becomes a guide for all to follow. All the world loves such lovers. These are the creative artists pointing the way to the spiritual awakening, that is possible to all men and women of the next generation, affecting all generations to come."

"Sex educators today insist upon the so-called single standard of morality. The 'wild-oats' theory and its practice have proved ruinous. After years of effort, the educators have broken through the Chinese wall of silence erected by misguided prudery, and insist upon the necessity of purity and cleanliness of both parties in the marriage relation. This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but let us not delude ourselves into believing that the single standard is a cure-all and end-all of sexual difficulties."

"Such a practice may succeed in protecting our youth from the grosser evils of venereal infection and the dangers of promiscuity, but it does not touch the real problem of mating. No man or woman should leave to chance or the play of blind instinct, the most complex of all human ties. For even though young men and women bring to the marriage bed clean bodies and minds, they bring at the same time a lack of experience and understanding which may forever destroy the foundations of happiness. Even for those who believe the procreative act to be solely for the propagation of the race it would be necessary to master and guide and have knowledge of the powerful instinct of sex."

"Sex expression is not merely a propagative function, nor the satisfaction of an animal appetite. It should not be considered merely as a necessary evil preliminary to the production of a family. Sex expression, rightly understood, is the consummation of love, its completion and its consecration. Sex expression is an art. To become artists in love, men and women must learn to master and control the instruments by which the art is expressed."

"Until the husband and wife have come to a realization of the necessity of complete union of the body and spirit, happiness cannot grow out of the marriage relation. This union is possible only when both have acquired mastery of the physical instruments of expression. The body is not an enemy of the spirit. Our bodies are a visible expression of our inner selves. Every factor, every gesture, every organ and function of our bodies is given us for the expression of our impulses, thoughts and desires. More than any other bodily act, sex expression is a sacred gift which awakens men and women to the innate beauty of life. We must learn to use this gift instead of misusing it. We must learn how to master the instrument of bodily expression so that passion is transmuted into poetry, so that life itself becomes lyric. In his grotesque attitude and use of sex in life the average man today is truly said to be like an orang-outang trying to play the violin. Discord instead of harmony has resulted."

"Never be ashamed of passion. If you are strongly sexed, you are richly endowed. You possess the greatest and most valuable inheritance a human being can enjoy. To be strongly sexed means that the life force can suffuse and radiate through body and soul. It means radiant energy and force in every field of endeavor. It means driving power, ambition, attainment, but on condition that this great dynamic power be mastered and directed, stored and controlled, instead of dissipated and misspent. Without passion, love would be a flaccid, lifeless thing. Passion is the driving power of life. It cannot be denied, destroyed, or thrust aside. It must and it will find expression."

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Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project