LOVE IN MARRIAGE
The Social Justice Review, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A., says that the author's approach "can be readily appreciated by all classes of people."
"In this respect one of the finest chapters in the book is Love in Marriage.
"This should be reproduced in pamphlet form to become required reading for all who anticipated marriage."
Reviewing Dr. Leslie Hemingway's book, The Modern World and Self-Control, from which, as the review suggests, two chapters have been reproduced to form this pamphlet, the Social Justice Review, says that the author's approach "can be readily appreciated by all classes of people."
We are happy to publish this pamphlet, with thanks to the author, Dr Leslie Hemingway, and the publisher, Polding Press, 343 Elizabeth St., Melbourne.
The author, Dr. Leslie Hemingway, M.B., B.S., has been in general medical practice in Warrnambool, Victoria, for a number of years. Born the son of a Methodist minister, he was received into the Catholic Church in 1957. He married soon afterwards and his marriage has been blessed with ten children.
LOVE IN MARRIAGE
LESLIE HEMINGWAY, M.B., B.S.
Introduction by D. O'Connor, S.J.
ISBN 85826 113 8
A.C.T.S. No. 1671 (1985)
by D. O'Connor, S.J.
I think it was C. S. Lewis who said somewhere: "They begin with bad English and end up with bad theology." In any case there is no better example of this than in the misuse of the word "love". In fact it is so often misused these days that we might have to invent a new word for what "love" used to and should mean.
It is an unexpected prudery amongst the greatest offenders in this respect which impels them to speak of love when they mean to say "sex" or "making love" when they really mean "having sexual intercourse". In the end they begin to think that this is all "love" means. Then, having no word for what is truly love they lose its concept and its practice.
Frequently when they speak of a man or woman "falling in love" they mean the opposite. They are referring to people who are entering on a relationship which is the antithesis of love, wherein they are about to injure one another's lives and the lives of their respective spouses as well as the lives of their children. They are not "falling in love" but they might well be "falling out of love".
Love is active. It shows itself in giving rather than in taking. The fulness of its joy is experienced when love is reciprocated and there is a giving, and therefore a receiving, on both sides.
In popular literature and the entertainment media a "great lover" is usually a man who has left. a trail of broken hearts and broken lives along his way. There is scarcely a popular song in which the word "love" and its variations appear in which the sense would not be more correctly expressed if the word "sex" or one of its derivations had been used. The English is bad and from it follows a bad theology.
"If a man and wife have ceased to love one another they should get a divorce." This is an attitude towards marriage most commonly expressed. It expresses the philosophy and the theology behind the so called Family Law Bill which speaks of a complete breakdown of marriage. Marriages don't break down. If they are truly marriages they remain during the joint lives of the partners, whatever they may think about it. What has failed is love - if there ever was any.
"If a man and wife have ceased to love one another they should get a divorce." What is meant by such expressions is that when a couple are tired of making the sacrifices for one another which marriage demands and have ceased to love their children to the extent that they are prepared to subdue their own desires for the benefit of keeping their home together, then they ought to enter on a life of sin and deprive their children of a natural family birthright.
When we can cure people of thinking that becoming infatuated with someone else is "falling in love" we shall be well on the way to build up a better understanding of the theology of marriage.
The weaknesses of human nature are always with us. Irregular infatuations there will always be, and sin often follows from them. Because man is a sinner Christ came to redeem him. Jesus calls us to sanctity but he expects sin. He loves the sinner and is ever ready with his forgiveness. But this mercy does not extend to those who close its doors to themselves, sinning against the light of the Holy Spirit.
When man begins to call his sin by another name he is on the way to denying that his sin is there. He is not unlike the criminal who assumes an alias hoping he will not be discovered by the police.
When an informed Christian speaks of breaking up his married life and living in adultery as "getting a divorce and remarrying", he admits the need for marriage, while he denies its existence. He sins against the Holy Spirit.
No one could hope to hold up Louis XIV of France as a model of sexual morality. His series of mistresses as well as his more transient "affairs" are well known. But he was always very conscious of sin. Though not abundantly endowed with humility he did not have that final pride. He married two wives and though he was unfaithful to both he was faithful to the marriage bond. He never sought to break it. Such a thought would never enter his head. He never sought to escape from reality by pretence (at least not in this respect). Consequently he was ever open to contrition. But the man who pretends he is not sinning excludes the possibility of sincerely seeking forgiveness.
Such a man as this is living out a lie. He cannot follow Christ's instruction to "show himself to the priests" while he is living under the cover of a spiritual alias.
From a misuse of words a man can lead himself into many self deceits. He speaks of making love to his wife when the last thing he is considering are her wishes, her comfort or her good. It is often an act of unloving; and no man can be doing and not doing one and the same thing at the same time. He cannot be loving by an act of unloving.
Well, that is something the writer of this pamphlet is trying to impress on his readers. He is an experienced medical practitioner and a married man who has reared a family. He speaks from an experience of love to those who would wish to experience the joy of love.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
By Leslie Hemingway, M.B., B.S.
The Dignity of Human Marriage
Man (Homo sapiens) is the focal point of existence upon this planet. If the world contained no human persons there would be no one to control, direct and order other creatures, and there would be very little for them to subserve. Without men, women and children on the earth, there would be no tasks to be performed and no one to perform them. All occupations, all entertainment, all human activity and the entire resources of this planet are directed, ultimately, towards the human person. In man, all things upon the earth find their fulfilment and the purpose of their being; the very reason for their existence resides, at length, in him.
The world is obviously run by man, for the benefit of man. The central figure in the world, the star performer in the drama of existence, is man. This being so, the logical goal of human societies is to provide the best possible conditions for the development of human persons, to enable each person to establish right relationships with himself, with other persons, and with the world of nature which the human race subdues. The provision and formation of human persons is the basic endeavour of the human community, the primary task from which all others flow, and to which they are, in turn, directed.
Man is a social being. The powers of speech and language, which render community life and co-operation fully effective, are restricted to the human race, and are one of mankind's most distinctive features. There is, however, another feature which is even more important in the social life of man - the force of human love.
Love has occupied the attention of singers, playwrights and authors through the ages, but man's conception of this vital force is often very inadequate. Many people consider love to be either an emotional quality or a physical activity over which man has little control, and various other misconceptions are abroad. Love, therefore, must be defined before its extent and purpose can be fully understood.
Love, the most essential element in the human person's life, is a psychological or spiritual quality. Like many other attributes of the human person, it can be controlled by the individual himself. Human love is a product of man's intellect and will. It leads each person to desire the happiness, fulfilment and growth in stature of others, and it manifests itself in many ways. The love of a mother for a child, or of a husband for his wife, are obvious examples, and human society provides many other striking manifestations of the reality and strength of human love. A human person can actually love another, to the extent of working for his benefit, when, by all other standards, he should be utterly repelled by the person whose benefit he seeks. Doctors, nurses, priests and social workers who strive for the betterment of the mentally defective, the misshapen and diseased, or who work among the leper colonies of the world, provide examples of this love. Frequently, their only reward is the satisfaction obtained through doing good to someone else and the gratitude expressed by those they aid.
Human love, however, is not restricted to relationships such as these; it plays a part in every walk of life. Human love is the actual force which renders possible the inter-personal relationships on which all fruitful co-operative activity depends, as a simple example will illustrate.
Suppose a young lady asks for one of a group of boys to help her move some furniture, what happens? The boys almost fall over one another in their enthusiasm to oblige. They are attracted to the girl and wish to show it by doing her a favour. Does the boy who gets the job regard it as a burden? Surely not, or he would not be so eager to oblige.
The fact is that, when one person loves another, he enjoys doing things for that person and, in this way, demonstrates his love. Love is not a matter of rushing around, kissing and embracing everyone in sight. That would obviously be quite stupid and would interfere with work. No; it is through love that one person enjoys doing something for someone else, even though work or effort is involved. Love, therefore, provides a common bond of fellowship between all human persons, uniting the whole human family into a single team in pursuit of a common goal. That goal is the betterment of all mankind.
Love is not restrictive in its scope. The love of parents reaches from their children to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Family love includes not only direct descendants, but also in-laws, uncles, aunts and cousins. Love is not restricted even to relations. A doctor shows love for all humanity by working to improve his patients' health and by contributing knowledge to the common pool. A teacher, by increasing his own skill and experience, strives to promote the progress of his pupils, both present and to come. When disasters such as floods, fires, drought or famine cause distress, the human family rallies to the aid of those afflicted. Voluntary organizations of every kind exist to ease the burdens imposed by misfortunes such as these, and appeals for food, clothing and money are usually heeded. This, then, is human love - a love which can go out and beyond itself, desiring, if it were possible, to embrace the world.
When the person loved has imperfections or is unable to return the love, human love does not diminish. Husbands and wives, for instance, accept each other "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health", and new-born babies are unable to return the love their parents lavish on them. Doctors, nurses, priests and social workers often make their greatest efforts for the betterment of those unable or unwilling to respond. Human love does not require reciprocation before it can be exercised.
While primarily a spiritual quality or force, love has physical attributes as well. These physical expressions of love vary from the briefest handclasp to the full act of sexual union, and they must be controlled, according to the degree of relationship between the persons involved and the circumstances that exist. Quite obviously, some acts of love that are appropriate between a husband and wife could not be properly performed between a mother and her son; a loving act that is appropriate in the privacy of the home could be indecent in a public place; and a physical expression that a man might show his wife could be most improper if indulged in with the wife of someone else. These physical expressions of love must therefore remain always under the control of the will. If human persons are to be reasonable and if love's true nature is not to be impaired, they must be exercised only when the time, place and person are appropriate.
Love Between Two Persons
The aspect of human love which largely occupies the attention of composers, singers, authors, and playwrights is that between two persons, and this aspect of love is, of course, of great importance to the human race.
Love, as already stated, is a product of the human intellect and will, through which one person desires the happiness, fulfilment and growth in stature of another. It often happens that, when a man and a woman feel such a bond of love between them, they will desire marriage, as the state in which their love can be confirmed and consummated. If they are of appropriate background, maturity and ability and are prepared to accept the responsibilities involved, then the state of matrimony provides abundant opportunity for happiness, fulfilment and growth in stature, and it may be the ideal state for them.
Marriage derives its dignity from the dignity of the human person, and human marriage is important because the human person is the most important being on the earth.
Marriage is one of many forms of interpersonal relationship that exist, but it differs essentially from every other state in life. Marriage is an interpersonal relationship between one man and one woman. It is a state in which these two people grow in love and in which their personalities can develop to perfection. This development of the personality is achieved in two main ways. First, in seeking to please the spouse, each gradually eradicates his or her faults and becomes more tolerant of the faults of the other. Secondly, the various facets of married life provide happiness and fulfilment and allow both husband and wife to experience a growth in love, talents and resources, thereby enriching their entire lives.
The married state, however, does not exist only for the benefit of man and wife: it fulfils two other basic needs of the human race. Marriage is an essential element in the life of the human community, as it provides both the source of human persons and the means of their formation.
The minimum essential formation of a human person is a lengthy process, requiring some sixteen to twenty years of life. Each person begins life completely helpless, quite dependent upon others, and essentially self-centred. During the years from infancy to maturity, he must develop the talents and abilities which will permit independence, and he must acquire the ability to love. During this extended period of growth, development and maturation, loving assistance, guidance and support are constantly required, facilities ordinarily available only within a stable family unit. Therefore, stable and enduring families are an absolute necessity in the life of the human community. These families provide the basic human relationship, the foundation of society, and the unit on which the human family ultimately depends for its success.
Marriage and family life carry many obligations and responsibilities which are inseparable from the privileges and joys. However, many persons prefer not to enter such an exclusive relationship or to undertake the tasks imposed. Rather than concentrate upon a single family, they will share their talents with a greater number of their fellow men. Such persons are in no way inferior to others, and their lives need not be incomplete or unfulfilled. Human love does not have to be directed primarily towards one person or family, but can go out to all mankind.
The services single persons perform, through their occupations, charitable work, and in many other ways, are as essential to the community as those provided by the married state. The individual depends upon the community to an enormous extent, but the community also depends upon the individuals comprising it. Each person, regardless of whether his vocation is to the single or the married state, plays a part in the happiness of all.
Love in Marriage
Many modern treatises on love in marriage concentrate almost exclusively upon technical efficiency and satisfaction in the marriage act, giving scant consideration to the more essential elements of matrimony. Recently, for example, the writers of one such American treatise actually filmed couples performing the sexual act, hoping to determine thereby the most efficient means of ensuring that orgasm was produced. The false impression created by this biased approach has so thoroughly permeated modern life that unhappy married couples often attribute their difficulties to physical incompatibility, and they begin relating the history of their marriage with a remark to this effect.
Strangely, however, while the importance of the sexual act is emphasized ad nauseam, it is a very different story when the children who result from sexual union are concerned. Children, if mentioned at all in these "marriage guidance" works, tend to be regarded as expensive nuisances or even as something to be shunned. Couples are advised to defer the first pregnancy for several months or years, and, if difficulties arise in married life, the children frequently receive the blame. Home duties and the work involved in rearing children are regarded as a drudge, and married women without outside interests are considered as incomplete or unfulfilled.
This attitude towards children is partly due to the world-wide scare of over-population [a fear not based in reality or good science]. Too many people are seen as a real menace to the world, so that children, instead of being recognized as the very reason for which communities exist, are often regarded as a troublesome appendage to the marriage act. Worse still, children may even be regarded as a threat. Neighbours may look askance at each additional child conceived, regarding him (or her) as another mouth to feed or as one more contender for the [alleged] dwindling food resources of the world.
Persons infected with this false idea not only refuse to have large families of their own, they resent the children other couples have. Indeed, they may even suggest that limits be set to marital fertility and some persons have even proposed legislation to this effect. (E.g., W. S. Haynes, M.A., M.D., Medical Journal of Australia, February 19th. 1966. page 317-321.)
The result of this unbalanced approach to marriage and family life is not particularly happy. Despite the "new meaning and depth" discovered in human sexuality, modern marriage does not always produce the minimum degree of happiness required for success. It is true that instruction in sexual technique does enable some couples to achieve simultaneous satisfaction after years of frigidity, thereby providing them with temporary happiness, but these are only isolated cases. Modern marriage experience - the "existential" aspect, as it is often described - does not indicate to the serious student of matrimony that these endeavours meet with uniform or unqualified success.
In Australia, for instance, at the beginning of the present 20th century, less than 2% of marriages were ending in divorce. At the present time (1975) the divorce rate is approximately 10%. An even worse picture is presented in America, where much of this "sexual research" is done. In the U.S. between 1910 and 1930 approximately 14% of marriages ended in divorce. The current (1975) figure is over 30%. (Figures supplied by Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics.)
Happy marriages do not end in divorce, so these figures indicate that the happiness of modern marriage leaves much to be desired. This failure rate is far too high and would not be tolerated in any other walk of life. No financier would invest in a business with a 10-30% failure rate and passengers would not travel by aeroplane if 10-30% of flights were ending in a crash.
Divorce statistics, however, represent only the visible part of the iceberg - the marriages that have failed completely. They do not include that unknown proportion of marriages where "holy wedlock" has degenerated into unholy deadlock, or the many others where happiness is less than optimum. The growth of marriage guidance indicates that these lesser degrees of marital disharmony have also increased in recent years.
The unhappy state of modern marriage should not cause anyone surprise, for two very good and obvious reasons. In the first place, success in marriage cannot be achieved through sex alone, and any marriage that is based primarily on sexual attraction is almost bound to fail. Man is much more than a mere animal body, requiring satisfaction of basic instincts. If he is to obtain the maximum benefits from married life, his marriage must be broadly based. Spiritual love, or affection as it is more commonly and appropriately called, must also be considered, and it is, in fact, of far greater value to a marriage than any technical expertise in performance of the marriage act.
The second factor which contributes to the unhappiness of modern marriage is the community attitude to children. When and where children are recognized as important members of a community, then that community will be concerned with family life. When, however, as is common in the modern world, children are regarded as rather irksome little creatures, home and family life will not be happy. Parents who try to adopt the right approach to rearing children tend to be torn between conflicting desires, and the pressures on them are immense. Well-meaning workmates, friends and neighbours try to lure them away from family life, into a mad pursuit of passing pleasure or into the social whirl. Whether they choose to -follow the example of the crowd or not, they can become unsure of themselves and dissatisfied with their lot in life. Happiness is most elusive in a stressful situation such as this.
The Relationship Between Sex and Marriage
Another factor which contributes to the declining happiness of marriage is the confused state of marriage guidance and the false notions which nowadays surround the married state.
When a person experiences trouble with a task or state in life, he requires expert guidance. If he is unable to obtain such guidance, then he is unlikely to be able to reduce his trouble. Worse still, if the "experts" have wrong ideas, such "help" as he receives can only complicate matters and will not solve his problem. This is the sad state in which much of marriage guidance seems to be today.
This unsatisfactory state of marriage guidance is largely due to an inadequate separation made between things that are distinct. The inordinate emphasis placed on sexual compatibility has led to sex becoming equated with marriage, while other aspects of matrimony are virtually ignored. This error is widespread, and even philosophers and theologians, when discussing the ends and purposes of matrimony, have fallen victim to this fault.
In determining the ends and purposes of anything, it must be examined alone, apart from all related matters. Any other approach leads inevitably to confusion or to inadequate conclusions that are neither generally acceptable nor simple enough for the common man to understand. Confusion of things that are really distinct must therefore be avoided and all sophistry eliminated, if philosophy is to produce correct conclusions and if the marriage guidance based on these conclusions is to be of value to those who need it most.
Similar considerations apply in other fields. When a research-worker wishes to determine the action and effect of any particular drug, he experiments with that drug alone, excluding all related substances. Only when he has discovered the mode of action and effects of the drug and determined the disease processes influenced by it, can he ascertain its value when used with other drugs. If a research-worker attempted to evaluate two drugs simultaneously, without first determining their individual effects, then the conclusions drawn from his experiments could be both invalid and harmful.
As far as matrimony is concerned, two separate things are involved - the married state itself, and the sex act which is a part of marriage. These two are quite distinct. Sex acts can exist without marriage, and marriage can exist without the sexual act. These two facts must be examined separately, and, while their relationship to one another can be considered and explained, the distinction between them must be consistently and carefully maintained. This approach, which deals in absolute values and ultimate reality, is the true philosophical and only fruitful approach. It is only by reflecting on the absolute that relative values can be assigned; it is only by meditating on the abstract that the principles applicable to concrete situations can be defined.
Physical Love in Marriage
In a discussion of marriage the first thing to be considered is physical: the act of sexual intercourse. While spiritual love is more than sufficient for all other human relationships, it is ordinarily not sufficient for the married state. A couple who have experienced the desire to combine their separate natures into one in matrimony, will want their union to include physical as well as psychological or spiritual characteristics. They will desire to complement one another in the most complete union possible, and so they will want to experience the joys of sexual intercourse in marriage.
The act of sexual intercourse in marriage - the conjugal act - is an act of love. Through this act, the physical and psychological components of human love are unified into a harmonious and balanced whole. The conjugal act, however, like every other act of human love, is ordinarily directed outwardly to others besides the couple actually concerned; for its basic function is the generation of another human life. The value of the conjugal act is not confined to the couple actually performing it - it has a most important function in relation to the human race. Sexual intercourse in marriage is, in fact, the only natural means by which continuation of the human race can be satisfactorily assured. Its importance to the human family cannot be over-estimated.
The sexual union is one way in which the physical and psychological characteristics of human love combine; but there is another way in which this union is even more profound - the conception and development of a child within its mother's womb.
The conception of a child results from the fusion of a sperm and ovum, the zygote so formed being almost invisible to the naked eye. Nevertheless, the parents are often aware of the possibility of conception from the very moment of the sexual union which produces it. Then, within a few days, a missed menstrual period provides confirmatory evidence, even though the child is still too small for the mother to see or feel it.
The mother, already aware of the tremendous event taking place within her, begins to take additional care of herself. She avoids the use of drugs or the performance of activities which may be harmful to the child, and seeks appropriate medical attention. The father, aware of his forthcoming responsibility, demonstrates increasing tenderness towards his wife and is more considerate of her variable moods. In these ways, even though, at the beginning of pregnancy, the child's presence is not felt in any physical manner, the parents are aware of its existence and are already preparing for its birth. This, the psychological aspect of childbearing, is restricted to the human race, as no other species possesses the knowledge and reason on which this aspect can be based.
The physical aspect of childbearing consists of the way in which the mother, through her body, attends to all the baby's needs. The baby is almost completely dependent upon her, and his life is in her hands. Other physical aspects, of course, include the increasing size of her abdomen as the baby grows and the movements or quickening which becomes evident when development has proceeded for four months or so. After six months practised hands can palpate the foetal parts, and the baby's heartbeat can be heard by ear. Ultimately, after nine months, the physical process of labour causes delivery of the child, and the long period of loving anticipation is realized in fact. For several months following the baby's birth the physical aspect of maternal love is continued in breast-feeding and many other ways, but they gradually decrease in importance as the child gains increasing independence, and as psychological parental love assumes complete command.
These, then, are the two means by which the physical and psychological elements of human love are united into a harmonious and balanced whole. These two events are intimately related; for the sexual union precedes and produces the event which is the conception and development of a child. Consummated human love, the act of sexual intercourse in marriage, is of its nature fertile, and it reaches its culmination in the conception and development of a child within the mother's womb.
Companionship in Marriage
Because the conjugal or sexual act is directed primarily towards the child, its use must be restricted to conditions in which children can be reared. Because these conditions exist only in marriage, it is only in marriage that the human sexual act has any depth and meaning, and, if the order of reason is to be preserved, it is to marriage that this act must be confined.
A tremendous outpouring of pleasure, satisfaction and growth in love may be associated with each performance of the marital act. This "personalist" or interpersonal aspect contributes enormously to the nourishment, sustenance and support of the spouses' mutual love, and it is a valuable aid to the happiness and stability of marriage. Because of this value there is a modern tendency to regard sexual intercourse as the most important means available to married persons for the fostering of mutual love, and to regard this aspect of the sex act as possibly its most important function. These tendencies, however, are based upon a very inadequate concept of the human person and a shallow appraisal of the nature and dignity of human marriage.
It has been observed that in lower animal species the primary purpose of the sexual act is invariably the propagation of the species. Some pleasure must be associated with these sexual acts, to ensure that they are performed. The pleasure subserves the basic, propagative purpose of the act. If these sexual acts were not required for the propagation of life, they would not even exist.
The pleasure associated with the human conjugal act is far greater than that associated with sexual acts in lower species. Man has an intellect which gives him a far greater capacity for appreciation of pleasure than that possessed by any lower form of life. This, however, does not abrogate the basic propagative purpose of the act, and the human sexual act would not exist unless it were required to generate human life. Man has many other sources of pleasure in his life but no other natural means of ensuring the propagation of the human race.
As far as the fostering of conjugal love is concerned, while sexual intercourse is undoubtedly of immense value, it is not the only means available. The most important means of fostering mutual love, in marriage as in any other field of human life, is the ability to be of value to someone and to be appreciated, the capacity to forget oneself in the loving service of a fellow man. The reality of this can be demonstrated in several ways.
A man and a woman fall in love with each other as persons, that is, each is attracted by the whole personality of the other. Physiological sex is an integral part of that personality, but, of all the aspects of the human person, it is the one which varies least from person to person. There are only two sexes, men and women, but there are hundreds of variations in the personalities of different individuals. No happily married man would exchange his wife for someone of similar age and build, although, as far as physiological sex is concerned, there would be little to choose between them. He is not interested in exchanging his wife for other women, because it is her psychology and whole personality that matters most to him.
The full conjugal act is not absolutely essential for human married love. There are many happy marriages in which it plays no part at all. Some older persons enter matrimony simply for companionship, and in many long-standing marriages interest in intercourse has long since faded. Even in younger persons the love of a husband and wife does not disappear when one becomes incapacitated and unable to share the physical joys of marriage. Indeed, it is often in such circumstances that love attains its peak.
Companionship, upon the other hand, plays a part in every aspect of human life. To exercise the faculty of speech, a companion is required, and most persons prefer to work in pairs or groups. Work is easier, pleasures greater, and problems lighter, if they can be shared. There are myriads of tasks within a home that can and should be shared. A couple setting up house can find many things to do in common. Decisions on floor coverings, the colour of the paint on walls and ceilings, the layout of furniture, and on many other matters, can be made together. No budget is ever inexhaustible, and the problems of what should be purchased first and which must be deferred are more easily solved by common deliberation and discussion. Then there are always meals to be prepared and dishes to be washed. As a married couple do these many things together, they begin to grow together, to think alike and to appreciate one another's point of view.
When children arrive to bless the marriage the number of tasks that can be shared increases many fold. Babies must be bathed, clothed and fed, children's shoes have to be cleaned, their questions answered and their homework supervised. The work is repetitive, but the same applies to almost every occupation. Children at least differ from day to day. As their personalities are moulded they adopt a different approach to problems, as achievements increase they become more independent and secure. In addition, there is always something to be related and discussed between the parents - such as an amusing incident, a new word learnt, or a milestone passed. Then there is the pleasure of hearing a small voice say "Daddy", "Mummy", of helping a child repeat his own name, or of watching a baby take his first few faltering steps - pleasures which never grow stale. Finally, normal children are interested in everything. To them, the world is always fresh and wonderful. Parents who explain and demonstrate the workings of nature to children live over again the pleasure of their childhood days. Nature appears to them as it is witnessed by a child, as they experience the wonders and the beauty of the world through their children's eyes.
The rearing of children is not always easy: the most rewarding tasks are also the most demanding. Parents of young children are usually short of money, and there is often too much work to do. Sickness inevitably occurs, causing expense and distress to the parents. Children usually accept what life presents to them, adopting a philosophical attitude even to sickness. Nevertheless, no parent likes to witness suffering among his children, and sleep is often lost because of it. In addition, while the moulding of a child's personality is the most important task of parenthood, it is also the most difficult, demanding and prolonged. No child is perfect all the time, and episodes of temperament or disobedient behaviour will occur. These problems cause heartaches, and a satisfactory solution will often tax the combined resources of both parents to the full.
These difficulties are mixed inextricably with the joys of married life. A crying infant in the middle of the night can supply an opportunity for companionship and mutual support. The young mother does not fully understand her child and is uncertain of what to do. Her husband may not provide much effective assistance, but his presence and interest are a powerful consolation to her. He need not remain asleep in bed and let her bear the trial alone. When the problems and burdens of life are shared, they weigh less heavily upon the mind. When they have provided companionship and love, even the most harrowing of experiences can give great pleasure to a couple who recall them in years to come.
Companionship in marriage is not restricted to the work and joys within the home. Mutual outside interests add their share to the pleasures of married life. A wife can also take an interest in her husband's work and share his problems too. His day in the outside world may sometimes prove both hectic and frustrating, leaving him in need of love and rest at home. The wise and loving wife does not burden her husband with domestic matters upon these occasions, but listens to his problems and defers her own until some other time.
Happily married couples do not need the rule-book to explain how to meet these situations - their love for one another and common sense provide the necessary answers. In the happy home, husband, wife and children are loved absolutely and for themselves, regardless of their imperfections. Such a home provides a haven of rest and relaxation, where each is insulated from the outside world, where all are one, and happiness and peace abound.
Self-control in Marriage
That sexual intercourse is not absolutely essential for human conjugal love is shown by the intermittent frequency with which it is enjoyed and by the periods of abstinence which are a normal feature of almost every marriage. During late pregnancy and in the puerperium there is an interval of two or three months when intercourse, if not actually impossible, is rarely appreciated by a wife. During pregnancy her interest in intercourse gradually declines and the frequency with which the act is taken will usually decrease. During her menstrual flow a woman is rarely interested in the conjugal act, and there are many other occasions throughout marriage when conditions militate against its use. When babies are small and require feeding at night, when illness strikes the children and sleepless nights are had by all, or when either partner is off colour for any reason, the full act of intercourse may be impracticable, sometimes for days or weeks on end. These periods of abstinence perform a useful function for the happiness of marriage.
A man and a woman have a different psychology, so that in marriage they will complement one another, each providing particular and distinctive features which interlock to form a unified whole. This difference of psychology applies even to the sexual act. Generally speaking, men are more passionate, more easily roused, and desire the full act of sexual intercourse more frequently than their marriage partners, and they prefer to obtain it at the minimum cost in terms of time and effort. Women, on the other hand, are less passionate and more affectionate. They usually prefer an abundant show of affection, both as a prelude to intercourse and often as a substitute. Their response to affection and arousal of desire is much slower, but orgasm, when experienced, may be equally profound.
It is obvious, therefore, that on the part of both husband and wife adjustments are necessary in the approach to intercourse, for the sake of happiness in marriage. To achieve this adjustment, there must be sexual self-control. The sexual instinct can be controlled in essentially the same way as every other human instinct is controlled. For success in marriage it must be under the full control of the will of the individuals concerned.
Companionship and sexual intercourse provide two mechanisms for the fostering of mutual love in marriage; periods of abstinence from intercourse assist the spouses to perfect a third. A woman has a hunger for affection and will often prefer a loving embrace to the full act of intercourse, as an expression and means of nourishment of love. A loving embrace which does not proceed to intercourse may provide the maximum nourishment to her love, by proving that she is loved for herself, and not merely as an instrument of pleasure or a source of relief for her husband's passions. She will experience these desires frequently throughout marriage but there are some periods when her need for such expression is particularly great. Towards the end of pregnancy, as the size of her abdomen increases, a wife feels uncomfortable and can think she is ungainly and unloved. If her husband shows, by constant marks of affection, that his love is undimmed, she will realize that her feelings are unfounded. During the menstrual flow, similar feelings may be experienced, and again the husband can play his part. On the many other occasions when intercourse is impracticable for any reason, marks of affection and loving embraces can be of tremendous value as substitute means to foster mutual love.
It is therefore necessary for married couples to be able to enjoy embraces which may at times be quite prolonged. If the desire for intercourse should arise strongly during these embraces and prove difficult to suppress, then, instead of fostering mutual love, they will become a source of frustration and irritation and may have to be forgone. Therefore, an important aim of sexual self-control in marriage is to increase gradually the degree of companionship and physical contact possible without necessarily proceeding to intercourse. This degree of self-control is not easily acquired, but nothing worthwhile is ever obtained without the expenditure of effort. Time, patience and practice are required for its full development, and the ability to suppress the desire for intercourse is essential for success.
The need to avoid intercourse during fertile periods when pregnancy is not desired is a useful ally in the development of this self-control. There may be some such times when the desire for intercourse can only be suppressed by the couple sleeping apart, which may cause some irritation or temporary unhappiness. However, if these acts which must be forgone are considered in relation to the total married life of the couple concerned, it can be seen that, in this way, the greater good of the marriage is achieved. Numerically speaking, the number of occasions on which mutual love can be fostered by embraces will far exceed the number of occasions when intercourse is possible. Embraces can be used often throughout the day or night, intercourse at best is practicable only two or three times a week. Therefore, any irritation caused by avoiding intercourse on these occasions should be more than compensated for by the avoidance of irritation and the fostering of mutual love by embraces in the future.
The development and mastery of sexual self-control is not really difficult, provided the correct approach is chosen. Nevertheless, no person obtains anything for nothing. Everything worthwhile costs effort, and the effort must be expended before the benefits can be gained. The effort involved in developing sexual self-control begins at puberty (when sexual desire is likely to be first experienced) and continues throughout adolescence, courtship and the engagement period. Couples who preserve chastity before marriage commence with a tremendous advantage in the development and mastery of self-control, and this is one reason why masturbation should be avoided and premarital virginity should be preserved.
In marriage itself, two methods are available, and they should be balanced for the optimum result. During periods when intercourse is impracticable for any reason, embrace should be terminated immediately the passions become unduly aroused. It is, of course, advisable to retain clothing during these embraces, particularly while self-control is being developed. Control of bushfires is not achieved by careless use of matches, and the sexual passion can be like a bushfire - easily set aflame and difficult to extinguish. As long as the desire for intercourse is effectively suppressed on these occasions, there will be a gradual increase in the degree of physical contact possible without necessarily proceeding to the full conjugal act. The method used in combination is to increase the duration and extent of preliminary love-play on some of the occasions when intercourse is intended, and this will have the same effect.
An incidental and extremely valuable result of these endeavours will be the achievement of another purpose of sexual self-control, namely, the ability of husband and wife to tune their responses to one another. The husband becomes able to show ample affection to his wife, both before and after intercourse, and the wife becomes able to enjoy intercourse without having to prolong unduly the show of affection. The time taken to achieve orgasm comes fully under their control, and simultaneous satisfaction is easily achieved.
A third purpose of sexual self-control should be the easiest of all to achieve, provided correct methods are used. It is the ability to avoid intercourse at times when it is inconvenient, impossible, or not desired by one or other partner; or when pregnancy is undesirable and the occasion concerned is during the probable fertile period. Unmarried persons can be reasonably expected to avoid sexual acts completely, even during the engagement period when they are deeply in love. It is therefore equally reasonable for married couples to avoid the full act of sexual intercourse from time to time, in the interests of long-term happiness, if the need to do so is dictated by the circumstances.
Affection in Marriage
Periods of abstinence from intercourse convey a final, most important benefit. All persons must be able to love their fellow man. Parents, particularly, must be able to love their children, to demonstrate this love, and to teach the children to love them in return.
Physical parental love, demonstrated to the maximum in breast-feeding, is important in infancy but gradually declines as growth proceeds. Spiritual love (affection), however, is essential for all persons, at all ages, and for the whole of life. Similarly, while sexual love is of tremendous value to marriage and should not be under-estimated, spiritual love is an absolute necessity, in marriage as in any other state in life. Even the conjugal act itself cannot provide the maximum enjoyment when performed by couples who are not in love. In fact, if love is lacking, sexual intercourse can actually cause revulsion to one or other partner, resulting in further loss of love.
Therefore, if a husband and wife allow their love for one another to become purely physical, they are then greatly handicapped, both in demonstrating love to one another and to their children and in obtaining the maximum benefits from the sexual act.
Intelligent co-operation, with a period of abstinence, can overcome any tendency towards over-emphasis on physical at the expense of spiritual love, and it can regenerate a failing love, thereby saving a marriage from disaster or despair. The couple, by concentrating on the care and education of their children, and by "courting" one another as they did before marriage, can learn to love again. When intercourse is ultimately used again, the act often takes on a deeper meaning and resumes its rightful place in the scheme of married love.
Because the need for spiritual love is absolute and that for sexual love is relative, and because full satisfaction for both husband and wife is rarely experienced if the sex act is ill-controlled, the sexual instinct, like every other human instinct, must be fully controlled by each individual. Only in this way can happiness in marriage and the ultimate in sexual pleasure be ensured.
Sexual intercourse in marriage is the consummation and final expression of a true, abiding love, a freely willed, total self-offering of husband and wife to one another. Full sexual self-control enables these conditions to be satisfied every time the act is used. Husband or wife could interrupt the preliminaries at any stage, but neither wishes to do so. They wish to proceed, to give themselves utterly and completely to one another, merging hearts, minds and bodies in a loving surrender that is beyond comparison upon the earth. Such an act of sexual intercourse is truly human, a total and inviolable giving of one person to another, and its value to the marriage is immense.
If pregnancy results, the child is accepted as the seal of inviolability and the reward for married love. His birth and subsequent breast-feeding provide the mother with one of life's most satisfying pleasures. The companionship and love afforded to both parents by his continuing care and education provide an extension of their love in time, bringing it to completion as the child grows to manhood and perhaps has children of his own.
This is the full and true meaning of human married life, an inter-personal love relationship that has its basic purpose and fulfilment in the person of the child; a physical and psychological reality that reaches its culmination in the conception, development and ultimate formation of a human person, the most precious thing on earth and the obvious reason why the earth exists.
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