EXAMPLES SHOWING IMPROVEMENT.
Mrs. Florence W., thirty-two years old, an attractive, feminine type of woman, had first to be assured that her visit would remain entirely confidential as her husband did not
know that she was consulting me. She had been married for six years. It was a love marriage. For four years all had gone well. They had many things in common. But during the last two years he had neglected her more and more, spending most evenings away from home and, as she found out, with a young woman who was employed as his secretary. She was considering a divorce. But her two children were very close to their father, and her mother was also dependent on him. She asked my advice: Should she go to the secretary and ask her to give her husband up, or should she present him with the alternative - either dismiss his secretary or get a divorce? Or was that running too big a risk? Must she accept an intolerable situation merely for economic reasons? She thought not. For even if it came to a divorce, he would have to support them. Any judge, she asserted, would be on her side. Furthermore, she had worked before her marriage and believed that she could easily get another job.
I asked if she had been married before.
"Thank God, no!" she replied. Certain experiences she had had before marriage had taught her how easily men can deceive their wives.
Inquiring into the nature of her sex life with her husband, I learned that, while it had formerly been satisfactory, she had refused her husband's advances during the past six weeks because the idea that he came to her from the arms of "that girl" made her sick.
I told her I could give her no advice until I had spoken with her husband. I thought it might be possible to persuade him to give up his secretary and reconcile his marriage.
This did not suit her as it would oblige her to reveal the fact that she had consulted me. Eventually she agreed to send him to me, saying, "Tell him whatever you want. Things couldn't be any worse."
A few days later Gordon W., forty years old, tall, vigorous,
good-natured, entered the office and opened the conversation by saying that Florence had given him to understand that I was entirely on her side.
I assured him that he was misinformed, and that I never judge a case until I have heard both sides.
This won him over but when I asked him to tell me his side of the story he did not know where to begin.
"Give me an outline of your childhood and the history of your marriage," I suggested. Finally he brought it out, slowly and dispassionately, in these words:
"Father left us when I was fifteen years old. I was the oldest of six children. My mother suffered from tuberculosis and died when I was twenty. My brother and I had to support the family. I worked hard for a good many years and had no time for marriage. Then, when I was thirty-four, I fell in love with Florence. I was in the advertising business and she was my secretary. Soon afterwards we married. In the beginning every thing seemed fine. She was not a good housekeeper, but there was an excuse for that as she was still working with me at the office. We had a lot of things in common, we traveled together, and enjoyed reading aloud, with discussions afterwards. Friction arose only when we played bridge. But it did not endanger our marriage as it does with some couples.
"After three years the children began to come, one after the other. Florence had to give up the office. Trouble commenced when my mother-in-law moved in with us. I rebelled. I wanted to have my own family life, undisturbed by this strong minded lady who has dominated Florence all her life. There were scenes. Finally my mother-in-law left, but unfortunately she found an apartment in the same block, which means she comes over every day, whenever I'm not at home. By this time she had become resentful toward me, or perhaps I should say hostile. But not openly. There were no more scenes between
us but I felt, increasingly, from day to day, that she was influencing my wife against me. She tried constantly to arouse her suspicions. But I assure you, doctor, I have never had the slightest wish to be unfaithful. Then came an accusation, out of the blue, that I have affairs with the help in my office.
"One evening, when I had just finished work, my mother in-law suddenly stormed into the office. She did not even try to excuse her presence. I was just helping my secretary into her coat - a mere gesture of politeness, nothing else. But that was sufficient reason for my wife, persuaded by her mother, to insist that I dismiss the young woman.
"To make a long story short, in the past year, I have been obliged to change my secretary three times, on account of my wife's jealousy. Now I'm through. I refuse to dismiss this last one. She is no beauty, I assure you, but it's not easy to break in a new girl, and I've had enough.
"Doctor, my wife is a goodhearted, attractive, intelligent woman. But these constant scenes and groundless suspicions have made my home unbearable. In the end she really will drive me into the arms of another woman. Whenever I can, I escape to my various clubs. That only makes things worse, of course, but I have no other choice. I still love my wife, I love my children; but if she wants a divorce I won't object."
I asked him to go back to the statement: "After three years the children began coming," and enquired what they had done before to prevent conception. The reply was that his wife had used a diaphragm but that, as she did not trust its efficacy, he had to withdraw before ejaculation.
Enquiry brought forth the fact that intercourse usually lasted "quite long; at least from five to ten minutes."
"Your wife," I then told him, "says that she considered her sex life perfect in the beginning. But I think neither of you knows what a perfect sex life is." I said that I knew what a disastrous influence such a domineering person as his mother-
in-law could have, but gave it as my opinion that his wife's jealousy might also spring from another source.
Gordon could think of no other possible source.
As a rule, I explained, jealous persons feel, unconsciously, that they cannot entirely satisfy their mates in their sex life and are therefore inclined to believe that he or she can find a better response from some other person. It is a kind of inferiority complex in matters of sex which arouses a desperate hate against an imaginary competitor.
I suggested two lines of action in their case. First, that I teach them both how to make their sex life so successful that no other companion could possibly give greater satisfaction. Then feelings of jealousy would lose ground and, with them, reasons for divorce.
Second, the influence of the mother-in-law must be broken. We would try to persuade her, for her daughter's sake, to move away.
Outcome: After several interviews the couple learned the six rules. They then went on a second honeymoon and re ported, on their return, that they were happy and more in love than before. Part I of the prescription was fulfilled, but we were not able to carry out Part II. The mother-in-law insisted stubbornly on remaining in the neighborhood and continued to disturb the harmony of this marriage, which, solely on her account, cannot be regarded as ideal.
This case was presented to me by the judge of the Superior Court with his usual preamble:
"Doctor, I have a couple here who want a divorce. Will you see them? I think something can be done."
Talking to this couple, I ascertained that their marriage
had originally been based on real love and not on a frivolous, immature or neurotic choice. The next step was to find out why, in spite of its sound foundation, their love for each other had not endured. I dealt first with the wife, letting her pour out all her grievances undisturbed:
"When my husband comes home in the evening he has barely a word for me. He bolts his dinner, turns on the radio, reads the newspaper and dozes in his chair until bedtime. And then I have to listen to him snore all night! That is no marriage. I've had enough! I want a divorce."
The husband, a handsome man, about fifty years old, told his side of the story. "I am a civil engineer employed on the railroad. Partly on account of the war, my work is extremely exhausting. I have to be on the job at eight in the morning and I often do not get home until long after dark; during the day I walk miles along the rails in the broiling sun. My wife has no one to talk to all day. She wants to tell me her little, household troubles. I can see her point. I am sorry! But I'm too tired to listen. I'm too tired even to think. What can I do?"
Before attempting to answer I reviewed for him a case I had recently dealt with, in my practice, of a father who had complained to me about his daughter: "If I ask her to help her mother with the dishes in the evening, she collapses on the couch and declares that she cannot; she is so tired she can scarcely move. But half an hour later, if a young man calls and asks her to go out and dance, her weariness vanishes. She jumps up gaily, gets dressed in no time, dances till two in the morning, chatters all the way home and goes off to her work next day as fresh as a daisy. So I'm obliged to conclude that my daughter is both lazy and a liar; she tells me she is too exhausted to move, but in reality she only wants to get out of doing the dishes." That was the father's observation, but his conclusion was wrong. The girl really felt exhausted, I explained; her muscles could do no more work unless they were re-animated.
She was like a machine in need of oil. The young man stimulated her.
With this example I wanted to indicate that a similar possibility might be open to the engineer as a means of overcoming his fatigue. "When a machine no longer works, it needs oil; and for the human machine the best oil is love," I told him.
The man said he understood and agreed. During the first year of his marriage, he said, his experience was similar. No matter how exhausted he was when he quit work, he would forget all about it as soon as he reached home. But at that time his wife had played her part. The house was orderly, she was neatly dressed, she was happy to see him, and showed it. The half-hour they spent together, before dinner, was wonderfully reviving. But she had grown negligent; the house was untidy; she did not bother to dress for him; she grew moody and sullen; the old charm was gone. Only when she wanted something was she as nice as before.
"The picture of your marriage follows a very familiar pattern," I told him. "But before attributing all the blame to your wife, I would need to be assured that you were in no way responsible for the change in her. Did you never neglect her? Did you always take pains to try to understand her peculiarities?"
I asked if he was sure it was not partly his fault that her "radiation" dwindled. Was he perhaps so accustomed to being spoiled by her love that it never entered his head to make love to her, to recharge her batteries? Yet it was in his own interest to do so. For if her radiations had been strong he would have responded and been filled with energy and delight. I told him that I hazarded these conjectures in the hope that they might, to some extent, fit his case.
The man looked at me and said with conviction, "Not 'might' or 'to some extent.' They fit exactly. I see where I
made my mistake. Perhaps we can try again. I shall give more time to my wife, even if my work has to suffer."
I assured him that his work need not suffer, because a happy home life and a healthy sex life create such co-ordinated energy in a person, man or woman, that one is able to do a better day's work in less time.
He asked what I would consider a healthy sex life. That was the question I had been waiting for. He listened attentively to my instructions.
Some months later I learned that the man had changed entirely, but his wife had failed to meet him half way. She had agreed to a reconciliation, it is true, and had found course more satisfactory than before, and she and her husband had become much closer to each other. But now, with the onset of the menopause, she had begun to lose interest in sex life, and in many respects failed to cooperate fully with her husband.
An owner of a small grocery store, Stanley L., thirty-five years old, tall, strong and handsome, called with his twenty-six year old wife, Laura, blonde and frail. The woman was extremely well-dressed but the man was dirty, having just come from work.
The man stated his case in a straightforward manner. They had been married for two years but their marriage had turned out a failure. Could I help them?
I asked what the trouble was. He replied that there were complaints on both sides and he wanted me to decide who was right. Both were Catholics, married in the church, and did not believe in divorce.
When I asked for details, Stanley drew a piece of paper out of his pocket and read off his list: (1) Laura is extravagant,
I cannot earn enough money for her. I cannot afford her style of living. All this has developed within the past year. When we married her tastes were more modest; she had not been brought up in luxury. I think her friend, Frances, has changed her. (2) She neglects the house. Quite often she is not in when I get home for dinner, so I have to cook and wash the dishes. She goes out with Frances to the movies, dances and concerts, and when she gets back, late at night, she wants to have intercourse, perhaps to console me. I am angry then and refuse. (3) She becomes annoyed about nothing. It is true I some times get rough with her. What else can I do? Sometimes I hit her, not because I lose my temper, but because it seems the only way to enjoy intercourse with her. Our sex relations are more satisfactory after these scenes. It revolts me that her desire for intercourse seems to have its roots in anger and not in love. (4) If I show her any affection she immediately turns cruel and mean. Then, if I tell her to go back to her mother or I take off and spend a weekend without her, her love returns. But is it love? It looks to me like mere vanity; she can not bear not being wanted.
Folding the paper, he put it back in his pocket and added, "Yes Doctor! Vanity is her greatest vice. If somebody says to her, 'What a handsome man you have!' or if another woman is interested in me, you should see how she changes! For a few days she seems to be madly in love with me. It is all a mess."
During all this Laura sat silent and motionless, looking straight in front of her with a sullen expression. I asked her what she had to say.
"Nothing!" she replied.
"But you have complaints against him?" I urged.
"None!" she insisted.
"Would you rather speak with me alone?" I suggested.
"No. Why should I? He has told you he hits me. That is all I have to say against him," she stated.
"All right," I said. "But if you agree with his complaints, it shows that you are not happy in your marriage and not satisfied with yourself."
I then asked her if she had been forced into marriage, possibly because she needed security? She said no, that her mother was a music teacher, and she had been well on the way to surpass her as a pianist. They had enough to live on. She married Stanley because she was in love with him.
I asked what had changed her love.
She said she did not know. She thought perhaps she had expected too much of marriage.
I asked what she had expected and she did not reply. "More sex satisfaction?" I suggested.
"Maybe!" she said, "but I do not think sex is so important."
"Perhaps you did not find enough satisfaction because your sex life was not of the right kind?" I hazarded.
"I don't think so," she answered. "I have no complaints against him in that respect. He was considerate toward me. It was not his fault that I could not respond sexually, as I had hoped to and wanted to."
I asked what response she had wanted and her reply revealed that before she had married Stanley she had enjoyed his kisses and holding hands; sometimes she was so aroused that, had he tried to go further, she would not have resisted him. Stanley was her first lover, at the age of twenty-four.
"When you finally married him and found you could not respond sexually, then you were disappointed in your sex relations with him?" I asked.
They were not what she had expected, she said. She had enjoyed love-making and kisses before her marriage much more than "mere intercourse." She thought she knew the reasons for this. It was because she had not been raised to be a housewife. Her mother had done all the housework and cooking while she did her school work or practiced. After her
marriage Laura had all the housework to do and had also to help Stanley with his bookkeeping. This left her no time for the piano. With a view to becoming a concert pianist, she wanted to practice at least six hours a day. She thought that sex desire had driven her to marry but afterwards, when she began to miss her music, she doubted if sex could compensate for neglecting a talent which she enjoyed so much. Therefore, when she found out that she had overestimated sex life, she became resentful toward it.
At this point Stanley interrupted to say that he had been ignorant of all this. Had he known what his wife had just confessed he would not have bothered me but would have let her go back to her mother and go on with her music.
I begged him to be patient and listen to what I had to say. I then summed up the situation for them in these words:
"Mr. L., you tell me that your wife's sex desire is stirred only after exciting scenes between you, when you hit her, or after she has been to a concert or a dance; she tells me that she enjoyed your fondness and kisses before marriage more than she did 'mere intercourse' afterwards. Do you know what she reveals by this statement? The word 'mere' gives the key to the whole trouble. Before your marriage, you spent all your time preparing her for intercourse; after marriage, you spent more time on intercourse than on preparation. She needed to be aroused, to be stimulated for the sex act. Without animation she cannot respond. This animation can be produced by love-making, by dancing or, in her case, by music. This explains her willingness for intercourse after a concert. Everything that brings radiation out from the bodily cells is stimulating; even, I am sorry to say, quarrels and fist fights.
"If you had given more time and thought to proper preparation for the sex act, her craving for music would not have been so strongly awakened. She would have been relaxed and satisfied. But, as it was, she could not respond properly and
she remained tensed. This tension made her resentful toward you and, as happens in so many cases, she became extravagant. Wasting your money was the unconscious means she took to get even with you, to punish you.
"When you say that her love for you arises only when you want to separate from her, and that you consider this a sign of vanity rather than of love, I disagree with you. It is more probable that, at least unconsciously, she still loves you and does not want to lose you.
"Be that as it may, I would like to teach you the fundamental rules for a satisfactory sex life, the basis of a happy marriage, and ask you to apply them and observe the results."
Outcome: This couple learned and obeyed the six rules. They became relaxed and happy in their sex relations. Once her husband had come to understand her need for being sufficiently prepared for the sex act, Laura no longer felt the need for other kinds of stimulation. However, she is still convinced that she missed a great opportunity in not becoming a famous concert pianist. This fixed idea has, so far, hindered her from making her marriage as ideal as it could be. But I am still working with her and hope that, in time, she may come to agree with her level-headed and able mother who regards her daughter's talent as considerable but not as really outstanding.
OUTSTANDING CASES WITH EXCELLENT RESULTS.
Betty and Ralph were a couple sent to me by the court. After five years of marriage, Betty had become so nervous, irritable and hostile toward her husband that they had agreed
to seek a divorce. But the judge thought that a reconciliation might be possible.
The first interview brought out these facts: Betty neglected her home duties and frequently made long out-of-town visits, leaving her husband to deal with the housekeeping unaided. Ralph used rubber or fishskin contraceptives.
Before I would consent to recommend a divorce, I insisted that they resume sex relations for three weeks according to my six rules.
At the end of this period Ralph called at my office to report that things were no better. Betty again refused to have anything to do with him.
I enquired if his wife had followed directions as she had agreed to do. He said that she had tried to do so, and that the first time she had enjoyed intercourse and seemed relaxed afterwards. The second time was not so successful, and the third time it was as bad as ever. She could not bear to have him touch her or even to be in the same room with him.
"Are you sure you followed all the six rules?" I inquired. He reflected. "Well, not quite," he admitted. "I didn't use rubbers. I tried to be kind and considerate. But the part of the prescription I couldn't follow was the duration." He went on to explain that he couldn't hold back his orgasm, it came of itself, and he gave it as the opinion of his brother-in-law, Dr. K. L., that he suffered from a well known disease called ejaculatio praecox. He stated that some doctors recommended several drinks to induce relaxation and help combat this difficulty. But he found them of no benefit.
I replied that in my opinion his brother-in-law was mistaken in considering ejaculatio praecox a disease. It is only a weakness, a sign of immaturity. I went on to explain that, just as a small child has to exercise the sphincter muscles of his bladder until they are strong enough to resist the pressure of the urine, so the adult must exercise the muscles of his sexual
ducts until they are able to resist the urgent desire for orgasm. "Ejaculation can be controlled" I stated, categorically. I then went on to tell him that he was a spoiled, sensual man, who had never learned to control his emotions.
He took this very well, saying that he realized that, as an only son, he supposed he had been pretty badly spoiled by his mother. But he could not see what that had to do with it, since the sperm cells flow out automatically. He had always believed that orgasm was involuntary. This was the first time he had ever heard that it was possible to control those muscles. He did not think he could do it but he would like to try. How was he to set about it?
"In much the same way that a small boy sets out to control the pressure in his bladder," I explained. "Don't give in. Exercise self-control." I advised proceeding by easy stages, learning first to control the semen for one minute, then two, then five, then ten.
"It takes time to strengthen the muscles of the duct through which the semen flows until they are strong enough to obey your commands," I told him. "Do not be too concerned if, in the beginning, the ejaculation comes too soon; that does not matter as long as you do not withdraw the penis from the vagina until at least a half hour has elapsed. This will help your wife to be relaxed and happy instead of nervous and tense."
Ralph agreed to try, although he said he doubted his ability to hold back the semen for even ten seconds, as he had no idea which muscles to use.
"To control this action successfully is not only a matter of increasing muscular strength but also a matter of will power," I warned him, "that requires strength of character, the power to resist an urgent desire. If you can learn to control the anticipated pleasure of ejaculation you will also have learned to control your other emotions."
He was cooperative. He earnestly tried to learn, and finally did achieve self-control. It took him nearly three months.
During this time I had to have many talks with Betty and try to teach her patience. Ralph's first, unsuccessful attempts to bring his ejaculatio praecox under control served only to increase her tension and nervousness. During this painful period I advised her to become relaxed through the prolonged vaginal douches I have already described. Finally, when her husband had learned his difficult lesson in self control, she experienced the complete and life renewing relaxation of a successful sex union.
Since then three and a half years have passed. It has not been necessary for them to consult me again. The wife's lawyer informed me that they no longer think of a divorce.