MORE than ever to-day are happy homes needed. It is my hope that this book may serve the State by adding to their numbers. Its object is to increase the joys of marriage, and to show how much sorrow may be avoided.
I’ve only secure basis for a present-day State is the weld- ing of its units in marriage; but there is rottenness and danger at the foundations of the State if many of the iTiarriages are unhappy. To-day, particularly in the middle classes in this country, marriage is far less really happy than its surface appears. Too many who marry expecting joy are bitterly disappointed; and the demand for ” freedom ” grows; while those who cry aloud are generally unaware that it is more likely to have been their own ignorance than the ” marriage-bond ” which was the origin of their unhappi- ncss.
It is never easy to make marriage a lovely thing; and it is an achievement beyond the powers of the selfish, or the mentally cowardly. Knowledge is needed and, as things arc at present, knowledge is almost unobtainable by those who arc most in want of it.
The problems of the sex-life are infinitely complex, and for their solution urgently demand both sympathy and scien- tific research.
I have some things to say about sex, which, so far as I am aware, have not yet been said, things which seem to be of pro- found importance to men and women who hope to make their marriages beautiful.
This little book is less a record of a research than an attempt to present in easily understandable form the clarified and crystallised results of long and complex investigations. Its simple statements are based on a very large number of first-hand observations, on confidences from men and women of all classes and types, and on facts gleaned from wide reading.
My original contributions to the age-long problems of marriage will principally be found in Chapters IV., V., and VIII. The other chapters fill in what I hope is an undis- tortcd picture of the potential beauties and realities of marriage.
The whole is written simply, and for the ordinary un- trained reader, though it embodies some observations which will be new even to those who have made scientific researches on the subjects of sex and human physiology. These observations I intend to supplement and publish at greater length and in more scientific language in another place.
I do not now touch upon the many human variations and abnormalities which bulk so largely in most books on sex, nor do I deal with the many problems raised by incurably unhappy marriages.
In the following pages I speak to those — and in spite of all our neurotic literature and plays they are in the great majority — who are nearly normal, and who are married or about to be married, and hope, but do not know how, to make their marriages beautiful and happy.
To the reticent, as to the conventional, it may seem a presumption or a superfluity to speak of the details of the most complex of all our functions. They ask : Is not instinct enough? The answer is No. Instinct is not enough. In every other human activity it has been realised tliat training, the handing on of tradition are essential. As Dr. Saleeby once wisely pointed out : A cat knows how to manage her new-born kittens, how to bring them up and teach them; a human mother does not know how to manage her baby unless she is trained, either directly or by her own quick observation of other mothers. A cat performs her simple duties by instinct; a human mother has to be trained to fulfil her very complex ones.
The same is true in the subtle realm of sex. In this country, in modern times, the old traditions, the profound primitive knowledge of the needs of both sexes, have been lost, and nothing but a muffled confusion of individual gossip disturbs a silence, shamefaced or foul. Here and there, in a family of fine tradition, a youth or maiden may learn some of the mysteries of marriage, but the great majority of people in our country have no glimmering of the supreme human art, the art of love; while in books on advanced Physiology and Medicine the gaps, the omissions, and even the misstate- ments of bare fact are amazing.
In my first marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex- ignorance that I feel that knowledge gained at such a cost should be placed at the service of humanity. In this little book average, healthy, mating creatures will find the key to the happiness which should be the portion of each. It has already guided some to happiness, and I hope it may save some others years of heartache and blind questioning in the dark.
MARIE CARMICHAEL STOPES.