Married Love

Chapter V,
Mutual Adjustment

” Love worketh no ill to his neighbour.” — St. Paul.

IN the average man of our race desire knows no
season beyond the slight slackening of the winter
months and the heightening of spring. Some men
have observed in themselves a faintly-marked
monthly rhythm; but in the majority of men desire,
even if held in stern check, is merely slumbering. It
is always present, ever ready to wake at the lightest
call, and often so spontaneously insistent as to require
perpetual conscious repression.

It would go ill with the men of our race had
women retained the wild animals’ infrequent seasonal
rhythm, and with it her inviolable rights in her own
body save at the mating season. Woman, too, has
acquired a much more frequent rhythm; but, as it
does not equal man’s, he has tended to ignore and
over-ride it, coercing her at all times and seasons,
either by force, or by the even more compelling power
of ” divine ” authority and social tradition.

If man’s desire is perpetual and woman’s inter-
mittent; if man’s desire naturally wells up every day
or every few days, and woman’s only every fortnight
or every month, it may appear at first sight impos-
sible for the un warped needs of both natures simul-
taneously to be satisfied.

The sense that a satisfactory mutual adjustment
is not within the realms of possibility has, indeed, ob-
sessed our race for centuries. The result has been
that the supposed need of one of the partners has
tended to become paramount, and we have estab-
lished the social traditions of a husband’s ” rights ”
and wifely ” duty.” As one man quite frankly said
to me : ” As things are it is impossible for both sexes
CO get what they want. One must be sacrificed. And
it is better for society that it should be the woman.”

Nevertheless, the men who consciously sacrifice the
women are in a minority. Most men act in ignorance.
Our code, however, has blindly sacrificed not only the
woman, but with her the happiness of the majority
of men, who, in total ignorance of its meaning and
results, have grown up thinking that women should
submit to regularly frequent, or even nightly, inter-
course. For the sake of a few moments of physical
pleasure they lose realms of ever-expanding joy and
tenderness; and while men and women may not realise
the existence of an untrodden paradise, they both
suffer, if only half consciously, from being shut out
from it.

Before making some suggestions which may help
married people to find not only a via media of mutual
endurance, but a via perfecta of mutual joy, it is
necessary to consider a few points about the actual
nature of man’s ” desire.” In the innumerable books
addressed to the young which I have read, I have not
found one which gives certain points regarding the
meaning of the male sex-phenomena which must be
grasped before it is possible to give rational guidance
to intelligent young men. The general ground plan
of our physiology is told to us in youth because it
so obviously is right for us to know it accurately and
in a clean scientific way, rather than to be perpetually
perplexed by fantastic imaginings. But the physio-
logy of our most profoundly disturbing functions is
ignored — in my opinion, criminally ignored. To de-
scribe the essentials, simple, direct and scientific
language is necessary, though It may surprise those
who are accustomed only to the hazy vagueness which
has led to so much misapprehension of the truth.
Every mating man and woman should know the fol-
lowing : The sex organs of a man consist not only
of the tissues which give rise to the living, moving,
ciliated cells, the sperms, and of the penis through
which they pass and by means of which they are
directed into the proper place for their deposition, the
woman’s vagina. Associated with these primary and
essential structures there are other tissues and glands
which have numerous subsidiary but yet very im-
portant parts to play; some of which influence almost
every organ in the body. Man’s penis, when unstimu-
lated, is soft, small and drooping. But when stimu-
lated, either by physical touch which acts through
the nerves and muscles directly, or indirectly through
messages from the brain, it increases greatly in size,
and becomes stiff, turgid and erect. Many men
imagine that the turgid condition of an erection is
due to the local accumulation of sperms, and that
these can only be naturally got rid of by an ejacula-
tion. This is entirely wrong. The enlargement of
the penis is not at all due to the presence of actual
sperm, but is due to the effects of the nervous reaction
on the blood-vessels, leading to the filling, principally
of the veins, and much less of the arteries. As the
blood enters but does not leave the penis, the venous
cavities in it fill up with venous blood until the whole
is rigid. When rigid this organ is able to penetrate
the female entrance, and there the further stimulation
of contact calls out the sperms from their storehouses,
the seminal vesicles, and they pass down the
channel (the urethra) and are expelled. If this is
clear, it will be realised that the stiffening and erec-
tion does not necessarily call for relief in the ejacula-
tion of sperm. If the veins can empty themselves, as
they naturally do when the nervous excitement which
restricted them locally passes, the erection will sub-
side without any loss of sperms, by the mere passing
back of the locally excessive blood into the ordinary
circulatory system. This can happen quite naturally
and healthily when the nerves are soothed, either
physically or as a result of a sense of mental peace
and exaltation. When, on the other hand, the local ex-
citement culminates in the calling up and expulsion
of the sperms, after it has once started the ejaculation
becomes quite involuntary and the sperms and the
secretions associated with them pass out of the system
and are entirely lost.

Of what does this loss consist.? It is estimated
that there are somewhere between two and five
hundred million sperms in a single average ejacula-
tion.* Each single one of these (in healthy men) is
capable of fertilising a woman’s egg-cell and giving
rise to a new human being. (Thus by a single ejacula-
tion one man might fertilise nearly all the marriage-
able women in the world!) Each single one of those
minute sperms carries countless hereditary traits, and
each consists very largely of nuclear plasm — the most
highly-specialised and richest substance in our bodies.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the analysis
of the chemical nature of the ejaculated fluid reveals
among other things a remarkably high percentage of
calcium and phosphoric acid — both precious sub-
stances in our organisation.

It is therefore the greatest mistake to imagine that
the semen is something to be got rid of frequently —
all the vital energy and the precious chemical sub-
stances which go to its composition can be better
utilised by being transformed into other creative work
on most days of the month. And so mystic and
wonderful are the chemical transformations going on
in our bodies that the brain can often set this alchemy
in motion, particularly if the brain is helped hy know-
ledge. A strong will can often calm the nerves which
regulate the blood supply, and order the distended
veins of the penis to retract and subside without
wasting the semen in an ejaculation.

But while it is good that a man should be able to
do this often, it is not good to try to do it always.
The very restraint which adds to a man’s strength up
to a point, taxes his strength when carried beyond it.
It is my belief that just sufficient restraint to carry
him through the ebb-tides of his wife’s sex-rhythm is
usually the right amount to give the best strength,
vigour, and joy to a man if both are normal people.
If the wife has, as I think the majority of healthy,
well-fed young women will be found to have, a fort-
nightly consciousness or unconscious potentiality of
desire, then the two should find a perfect mutual ad-
justment in having fortnightly unions; for this need
not be confined to only a single union on such occa-
sion. Many men, who can well practise restraint for
twelve or fourteen days, will find that one union only
will not then thoroughly satisfy them; and if they
have the good fortune to have healthy wives, they will
find that the latter, too, have the desire for several
unions in the course of a day or two. If the wave-
crests facing page 32 are studied, it will be seen that
they spread over two or three days and show several
small minor crests. This is what happens when a
woman is thoroughly well and vital; her desire recurs
during a day or two, sometimes even every few hours
if It does not, and sometimes even when it does,
receive satisfaction.

Expressed in general terms (whiclj, of course, will
not fit everybody) my view may be formulated thus :
The mutually best regulation of intercourse in mar-
riage is to have three or four days of repeated unions,
tollowed by about ten days without any unions at
all, unless some strong external stimulus has stirred
a mutual desire.

I have been interested to discover that the people
known to me who have accidentally fixed upon this
arrangement of their lives are happy : and it should
be noted that it fits in with the charts I give which
represent the normal, spontaneous feeling of so many
women. ‘

There are many women, however, who do not feel,
or who may not at first recognise, a second, but have
only one time of natural pleasure in sex in each moon-
month. Many men of strong will and temperate lives
will be able so to control themselves that they can
adjust themselves to this more restrained sex-life, as
do some with whom I am acquainted. On the other
hand, there will be many who find this period too
long to hve through without using a larger amount
ot energy m restraining their impulse than is iustifi-
able It seems to me never justifiable to spend so
much energy and will power on restraining natural
impulses, that valuable work and intellectual power
and poise are made to suffer. If, then, a strongly-
sexed husband, who finds it a real loss to his powers
ot work to endure through twenty-six days of absti-
nence, should find himself married to a wife whose
vitality is so low that she can only take pleasure in
physical union once in her moon-month (in some it
will be before, in some a little time after, her men-
‘strual flow), he should note carefully the time she is
spontaneously happy in their union, and then at any
cost restrain himself through the days immediately
following, and about a fortnight after her time of
desire he should set himself ardently to woo her.
Unless she is actually out of health he is more likely
then than at any other time to succeed not only in
winning her compliance, but also in giving her the
proper feeling and attaining mutual ecstasy.

The husband who so restrains himself, even if it
is hard to do it, will generally find that he is a
thousand-fold repaid not only by the increasing
health and happiness of his wife, and the much in-
tenser pleasure he gains from their mutual intercourse,
but also by his own added vitality and sense of self-
command. A fortnight is not too long for a healthy
man to restrain himself with advantage.

Sir Thomas Clouston says (” Before I Wed,” 1913,
page 84) : ” Nature has so arranged matters that the
more constantly control is exercised the more easy
and effective it becomes. It becomes a habit. The less
control is exercised the greater tendency there is for
a desire to become a craving of an uncontrollable kind,
which is itself of the nature of disease, and means
death sooner or later.” This conclusion is not only the
result of the intellectual and moral experience of our
race, but is supported by physiological experiments.

While a knowledge of the fundamental laws of our
being should in the main regulate our lives, so com-
plex are we, so sensitive to a myriad impressions, that
clock-work regularity can never rule us.

Even where the woman is strongly sexed, with a
well-marked recurrence of desire, which is generally
satisfied by fortnightly unions, it may not infrequently
happen that, in between these periods, there may be
additional special occasions when there springs up a
mutual longing to unite. These will generally depend
on some event in the lovers’ lives which stirs their
emotions; some memory of past passion, such as an
anniversary of their wedding, or perhaps will be due
to a novel, poem, or picture which moves them
deeply. If the man she loves plays the part of tender
wooer, even at times when her passion would not
spontaneously arise, a woman can generally be stirred
so fundamentally as to give a passionate return. But
at the times of her ebb-tides the stimulus will have
to be stronger than at the high tides, and it will then
generally be found that the appeal must be made even
more through her emotional and spiritual nature and
less through the physical than usual.

The supreme law for husbands is : Remember that
each act of union must be tenderly wooed for and
won, and that no union should ever take place unless
the woman also desires it and is made physically ready
for it. (See page 47.)

While in most marriages the husband has to re-
strain himself to meet the wife’s less frequently re-
current rhythm, there are, on the other hand, mar-
riages in which the husband is so under-sexed that he
cannot have ordinary union save at very infrequent
intervals without a serious effect on his health. If
such a man is married to a woman who has inherited
an unusually strong and over-frequent desire, he may
suffer by union with her, or may cause her suffering
by refusing to unite. It is just possible that for such
people the method of Karezza (see Dr. A. Stockham’s
book ” Karezza “* on the subject) might bring them
both the health and peace they need; conserving the
man’s vital energy from the loss of which he suffers,
and giving the woman the sense of union and physical
nerve-soothing she requires. But the variations in the
sex-needs and the sex-ideas of different healthy people
are immense, far greater than can be suggested in this

Ellis states that the Queen of Aragon ordained that
six times a day was the proper rule in legitimate
marriage ! So abnormally sexed a woman would to-
day probably succeed in killing by exhaustion a suc-
cession of husbands, for the man who could rnatch
such a desire is rare, though perhaps less exceptional
than such a woman.

Though the timing and the frequency of union are
the points about which questions are oftenest asked
by the ignorant and well-meaning, and are most mis-
understood, yet there are other fundamental facts con-
cerning coitus about which even medical men seem
surprisingly ignorant. Regarding these, a simple
statement of the physiological facts is essential.

An impersonal and scientific knowledge of the
structure of our bodies is the surest safeguard against
prurient curiosity and lascivious gloating. This
knowledge at the back of the minds of the lovers,
though not perhaps remembered as such, may also
spare the unintentioned cruelty of behaviour which so
readily injures one whose lover is ignorant.

What actually happens in an act of union
should be known. After the preliminaries have
mutually roused the pair, the stimulated penis,
enlarged and stiffened, is pressed into the woman’s
vagina. Ordinarily when a woman is not stimulated,
the entrance to this canal, as well as the exterior lips of
soft tissue surrounding it, are dry and rather crinkled,
and the vaginal opening is smaller than the man’s
distended penis. But when the woman is what is
physiologically called tumescent (that is, when she is
ready for union and has been profoundly stirred) local
parts are flushed by the internal blood supply and to
some extent are turgid like those of the man, while a
secretion of mucus lubricates the opening of the
vagina. In an ardent woman the vaginal orifice may
even spontaneously contract and relax. (So powerful
is the influence of thought upon our bodily structure,
that in some people all these physical results may be
brought about by the thought of the loved one, by
the enjoyment of tender words and kisses, and the *

beautiful subtleties of wooing.) It can therefore be
readily imagined that when the man tries to enter a
woman whom he has not wooed to the point of stimu-
lating her natural physical reactions of preparation,
he is endeavouring to force his entry through a dry-
walled opening too small for it. He may thus cause
the woman actual pain, apart from the mental revolt
and loathing she is likely to feel for a man who so re-
gardlessly uses her. On the other hand, in the tumes-
cent woman the opening, already naturally prepared,
is lubricated by mucus, and all the nerves and
muscles are ready to react and easily accept the man’s
entering organ. This account is of the meeting of
two who have been already married. The first union
of a virgin girl differs, of course, from all others. For
on that occasion the hymen is broken. One would
think that every girl who was about to be married
would be told of this necessary rupturing of the mem-
brane and the temporary pain it would cause her; but
even still large numbers of girls are allowed to marry
in complete and cruel ignorance.

It should be realised that a man does not woo and
win a woman once for all when he marries her : he
must woo her before every separate act of coitus, for
each act corresponds to a marriage as other creatures
know it. Wild animals are not so foolish as man; a
,wild animal does not unite with his female without the
wooing characteristic of his race, whether by stirring
her by a display of his strength in fighting another
male, or by exhibiting his beautiful feathers or song.
And we must not forget that the wild animals are
assisted by nature; they generally only woo just at
the season when the female is beginning to feel natural
desire. But man, who wants his mate all out of season
as well as in it, has a double duty to perform, and must
himself rouse, charm, and stimulate her to the local
readiness which would have been to some extent
naturally prepared for him had he waited till her own
desire welled up.

To render a woman ready before uniting with her
is not only the merest act of humanity to save her
pain, but is of value from the man’s point of view,
for (unless he is one of those relatively few abnormal
and diseased variants who delight only in rape) the
man gains an immense increase of sensation from the
mutuality thus attained, and the health of both the
man and the woman is most beneficially affected.

Assuming now that the two are in the closest mental
and spiritual, as well as sensory harmony : in what
position should the act be consummated .” Men and
women, looking into each other’s eyes, kissing
tenderly on the mouth, with their arms round each
other, meet face to face. And that position is symbolic
of the coming together of the two who meet together

It seems incredible that to-day educated men should
be found who — apparently on theological grounds —
refuse to countenance any other position. Yet one wife
told me that she was crushed and nearly suffocated by
her husband, so that it took her hours to recover after
each union, but that ” on principle ” he refused to
attempt any other position than the one he chose to
consider normal. Mutual well-being should be the
guide for each pair.

It IS perhaps not generally realised how great are
the variations of size, shape, and position of all the sex
parts of the body in different individuals, yet they
differ mqre even than the size and characters of all the
features of the face and hands. It happens, therefore,
that the position which suits most people is unsatis-
factory for others. Some, for instance, can only
benefit by union when* both are lying on their sides.
Though medically this is generally considered un-
favourable or prohibitive for conception, yet I know
women who have had several children and whose
husbands always used this position. In this matter
every couple should find out for themselves which of
the many possible positions best suits them both.

When the two have met and united, the usual
result is that, after a longer or shorter interval, the
man’s mental and physical stimulation reaches a
climax in sensory intoxication and in the ejaculation
of semen. Where the two are perfectly adjusted, the
woman simultaneously reaches the crisis of nervous
and muscular reactions very similar to his. This
mutual orgasm is extremely important (see also p.
58), but in many cases the man’s climax comes so
swiftly that the -woman’s reactions are not nearly
ready, and she is left without it. Though in some
instances the woman may have one or more crises
before the man achieves his, it is, perhaps, hardly an
exaggeration to say that 70 or 80 per cent, of our
married women (in the middle classes) are deprived
of the full orgasm through the excessive speed of the
husband’s reactions, or through some mal-adjustment
of the relative shapes and positions of the organs. So
deep-seated, so profound, are woman’s complex sex-
instincts as well as her organs, that in rousing them
the man is rousing her whole body and soul. And
this takes time. More time, indeed, than the average,
uninstructed husband gives to it. Yet woman has at
the surface a small vestigial organ called the clitoris,
which corresponds morphologically to the man’s penis,
and which, like it, is extremely sensitive to touch-
sensations. This little crest, which lies anteriorly
between the inner lips round the vagina, enlarges
when the woman is really tumescent, and by the stirnu-
lation of movement it is intensely roused and trans-
mits this stimulus to every nerve in her body. But
even after a woman’s dormant sex-feeling is aroused
andall the complex reactions of her being have been
set in motion, it may even take as much as from ten
to twenty minutes of actual physical union to con-
summate her feeling, while two or three minutes often
completes the union for a man who is ignorant of
the need to control his reactions so that both may
experience the added benefit of a mutual crisis to

A number of well-meaning people demand from
men absolute ” continence ” save for procreation
only. They overlook the innumerable physiological
reactions concerned in the act, as well as the subtle
spiritual alchemy of it, and propound the view that
” the opposition to continence, save for procreation
only, has but one argument to put forward, and that
is appetite, selfishness.” (The Way of God in

I maintain, however, that it should be realised that
the complete act of union is a triple consummation.
It symbolises, and at the same time actually enhances,
the spiritual union; there are a myriad subtleties of
soul-structures which are compounded in this alchemy.
At the same time the act gives the most intense
physical pleasure and benefit which the body can ex-
perience, and it is a mutual, not a selfish, pleasure and
profit, more calculated than anything else to draw out
an unspeakable tenderness and understanding in both
partakers of this sacrament; while, thirdly, it is the
act which gives rise to a new life by rendering possible
the fusion of one. of the innumerable male sperms
with the female egg-cell.

It often happens nowadays that, dreading the ex-
pense and the physical strain of child-bearing for his
wife, the husband practises what is called coitus inter-
ruptus—thzt is, he withdraws just before the ejacu-
lation, but when he is already so stimulated that the
ejaculation has become involuntary. In this way the
semen is spent, but, as it does not enter the wife’s
body, fertilisation and, consequently, procreation can-
not take place. This practice, while it may have saved
the woman the anguish of bearing unwanted children
IS yet very harmful to her, and is to be deprecated. It
tends to leave the woman in ” mid-air ” as it were;
to leave her stimulated and unsatisfied, and therefore
it has a very bad effect on her nerves and general
health, particularly if it is done frequently. The
woman, too, loses the advantage (and I am convinced
that it is difficult to overstate the physiological advant-
age) of the partial absorption of the man’s secretions,
which must take place through the large tract of
internal epithelium with which they come in contact.
If, as physiology has already proved is th^ case, the
internal absorption of secretions from the sex organs
plays so large a part in determining the health and
character of remote parts of the body, it is extremely
likely that the highly stimulating secretion of man’s
semen can and does penetrate and affect the woman’s
whole organism. Actual experiment has shown that
iodine placed in the vagina in solution is so quickly
absorbed by the epithelial walls that in an hour it has
penetrated the system and is even being excreted. It
still remains, however, for scientific experiments to
be devised which will enable us to study the effects of
the absorption of substances from the semen. On
the other hand, coitus interruptus is not always harm-
ful for the man, for he has the complete sex-act, though
a good many men think its effects on them are unde-
sirable, and it may lead to lack of desire or even
impotence toward his wife in a man who practises it
with her, or, on the other hand, to a too swift fresh
desire from the lack of complete resolution of nervous
tension. It is certainly bad when its safety from con-
sequences induces him to frequent indulgence, for
thus wastefully to scatter what should be creative
power is to reduce his own vitality and power of work
(see also page 41). By those who have a high appre-
ciation ot the value of their creative impulse, and who
wish to know the mutual pleasure and enhancement of
‘ sex-union without wasting it, this method should not
be practised.

It should never be forgotten that without the dis-
cipline of control there is no lasting delight in erotic
feeling. The fullest delight, even in a purely physical
sense, can only be attained by those who curb and
direct their natural impulses.

Dr. Saleeby’s words are appropriate in this connec-
tion (Introduction to Forel’s “Sexual Ethics,” 1908) :
¦” Professor Forel speaks of subduing the sexual
instinct. I would rather speak of transmuting it. The
direct method of attack is often futile, always neces-
sitous of effort, but it is possible for us to transmute
our sex-energy into higher forms in our individual
lives, thus justifying the evolutionary and physio-
logical contention that it is the source of the higher
activities of man, of moral indignation, and of the
‘ restless energy ‘ which has changed the surface of
the earth.”

Forel says (‘^’ The Sexual Question,” 1908):
” Before engaging in a life-long union, a man and
woman ought to explain to each other their sexual feel-
ings so as to avoid deception and incompatibility later
on.” This would be admirable advice were it possible
for a virgin girl to know much about the reactions and
effects upon her mind and body of the act of coitus,
but she does not. Actually it often takes several years
for eager and intelligent couples fially to probe them-
selves and to discover the extent and meaning of the
immensely profound physiological and spiritual re-
sults of marriage. Yet it is true that a noble frank-
ness would save much misery when, as happens not
infrequently, one or other of the pair marry with the
secret determination to have no children.

So various are we all as individuals, so complex all
the reactions and inter-actions of sex relations, that
no hard-and-fast rule can be laid down. Each couple,
after marriage, must study themselves, and the lover
and the beloved mus’t do what best serves them both
and gives them the highest degree of mutual joy and
power. There arc, however, some laws which should
be inviolable. Their details can be gathered from the
preceding pages, and they are summed up in the
words : ” Love worketh no ill to the beloved.”