MANY MEN believe that they know how to satisfy their sex instincts and do not need to be told what to do or what to avoid. In their opinion, most of the failures in their sex relations are due to the unsatisfactory sex response of their mates. "Whenever I have told a man holding this belief, "It is your task and your duty to cope with this situation and to break down the possibly neurotic resistance in your wife," he has usually left my office in indignation, never to return; for nothing so offends an immature adult as not to be regarded as an expert in sex. To him, possessing great potency-which he may have-is synonymous with being a good lover. Feeling humiliated in the eyes of his wife, he is in search of a psychologist who will place the entire blame for their lack of sexual satisfaction on her frigidity. Usually a man of this sort does not even know what he is missing. With the pleasure of his ejaculation he reaches his desired goal, forfeiting that part of the sex experience which produces the greatest rapture and happiness.
"But what can I do when my wife does not respond, in spite of all my efforts?" This is a question I am asked again and again.
How can a man overcome a woman's frigidity when he does not obey even one of the six rules essential to perfect sex union, of which the reader will learn in a later chapter?
A wife has the right to be inexperienced in sex matters. Or
she may be wrongly experienced. She may be inhibited by a hostile attitude toward sex, instilled in her by her education. But if the man approaches her in the right way from the beginning, and if she is in love with him, the door to happiness can be opened in an incredibly short time. But to achieve this a man needs to be emotionally mature. An emotionally immature man will only increase his wife's frigidity with every sex union; many women thus come to shrink from all sexual experience and cannot bring themselves to discuss, or even to read about, sex without a feeling of disgust. Their attitude toward sex as something unpleasant, dirty, repulsive, is not without reason. Unrelaxed and tense after every sex act, they pass sleepless nights. In time this breeds a longing for revenge or even hatred. The couple becomes alienated; the next steps are separation and divorce.
Unable to enjoy sex and love in all its beauty, such parents pass on to their children their own hostile or bitter attitude toward sex and thus thrust the same unhappy experiences upon the next generation, and, in endangering their children's marriages, endanger also the happiness of their grandchildren.
To influence children to harbor suspicion and hatred toward sex is a very serious matter. So vital and powerful an instinct as the sex instinct cannot be repressed without tragic consequences. Without the sex instinct, life on this earth would cease. Therefore nature has put an immense force behind its demand for fulfillment - a force which can revolutionize a child's nature, especially at puberty. Unfortunately it is just at this time that children are usually left without help in their unbearable conflicts with their sex impulse. A mother who succeeds in her efforts to repress the sex instinct in her children by instilling in them fears of pregnancy, of disease, of social and moral conflicts, may drive them into neuroses, perversions or impotence. These three are enemies to happiness in marriage.
But let us say that the sex-thwarted mother has been unable to repress the sex impulse in her children, and that, disobediently, they have gone their own way. What happens then? Such children are not likely to find the right way either, in spite of all their salacious reading, experimentation and open or secretive gossip about sex. Their knowledge is gained in a distorted and frivolous way. Sex becomes the subject of dirty jokes, a lewd, forbidden topic surrounded by secrecy and hypocrisy.
Such children, as adults, embark on marriages as unhappy as those of their parents who are made to pay again for their failure in the resentment of their unhappy children. For an unconscious1 resentment festers within the children; they are not grateful, for it was a misdirected love that their parents lavished upon them; they feel that they have received no help in the most important moments of their lives, and have been hindered from attaining happiness.
Therefore, for the sake of their children, mothers must change their hostile attitude toward sex and help to break down the stubborn sex taboos which they have built up. Those women who consider sex a curse of God are mistaken: it is His blessing. They argue that they have not found it so. I believe them. Similarly, a violin in the hands of a person who does
not know how to play it will produce an unbearable noise; but let a great master play on the same instrument and the result is quite different. It is not the instrument that is at fault but the player.
It is indeed true that present-day society produces very few masters of the art of love. Only an insignificant proportion of men have taken the trouble, or even thought it worth while, to cultivate love and sex as an art. But a great art it is, capable, if rightly understood, developed and practiced, of revealing realms of unsurpassed beauty.
The principles of the art of love and sexual happiness cover a complex scientific field. To attain perfection in this art is no easier than it is in any other art. Strict observance of the principles which can perfect sex life requires the security provided by a satisfactory, healthy marriage; this, in turn, furnishes the security which children need as members of a harmonious household.
Therefore it is worth while to learn thoroughly the rules for achieving sex perfection. It is easier for young people to learn them from the start than to be obliged, in later life, to break long-ingrained, faulty habits, to abandon a well-worn road in order to find a new way - the only way that leads to fulfillment and happiness.
In my reconciliation work in the divorce court, I have frequently heard the remark, "But doctor, you overestimate the sex factor. There are other factors in marriage more important and on a higher level than sex. If, for instance, my husband and I could have had more in common, enjoyed more of the same interests, we might have remained friends and not be seeking a divorce."
I reject the view that matters relating to sex are on a lower level than any other experience the world has to offer us. Admittedly, sex treated in a frivolous way can become more repulsive and ugly than any other kind of distorted art; but have
you ever seen a couple who have reached the goal of sex perfection? Look into the face of a woman who is entirely satisfied in her sex relations; she is completely relaxed. Such a woman is in love with her husband. Not only does this love cause her to become more attractive, but it also tends to develop her good qualities and repress the bad ones. In her, happiness and goodness are twins; for how can trickery, deceitfulness or meanness exist in the soul of a person who loves? Such a woman radiates happiness and wants to make others happy. Now look into the face of a sexually frustrated woman. Bitterness, hatred and irritability have hardened her features. She has hell inside her and she produces a hell around her. Can you doubt then that a satisfactory sex life is the first essential to harmony in marriage?
That this is something more than a personal opinion can be seen in the reports of institutions dealing with marital problems. These show that in more than 90 per cent of ail divorce suits the real reason for the break-up of the home is maladjustment in the couple's sexual relationship, despite other complaints, such as brutality, drunkenness, unfaithfulness, avarice or selfishness, which prove to be no more than the symptoms or the consequences of an uneducated sex life.
In 1936, the divorce rate in Europe averaged 5 per cent, exceeding that of Australia, Canada, South Africa and China. But in America the rate was over 10 per cent.2 Ten years later, in 1946, the divorce rate in this country had reached the alarming figure of 37 per cent. Yet this represents only a fraction of the couples who want a divorce. One out of every two or three of the remaining married couples desires divorce but refrains out of moral compunctions, consideration for the children or financial difficulties. This brings us to the startling conclusion
that out of every hundred marriages in this country, perhaps ninety are unsatisfactory.
We have to try to comprehend the full extent of the catastrophe which the consequences of this failure of the marriage relationship will produce during the next two decades. We have to bear in mind that children from broken homes incline toward juvenile delinquency, psychosomatic diseases, mental disturbances, perversion, and, later, impotence, frigidity, alcoholism, crime and prostitution. Therefore it is clear that every effort to build up a better marital life means not only saving the government billions of dollars for hospitals, detention homes, reformatories, and prisons but, what is even more important, procuring for America a more mature, happy and healthy population whose energies are not wasted in domestic conflicts that are exhausting.
It is true that sexual maladjustment is not the one and only cause of domestic conflict. Differences in character and differences in habits of life also play their part. But I disagree with Amram Scheinfeld when he states: "Sexual adjustment is generally dependent on all other adjustments." It may be the other way around; or, better, both ways lead to the same goal, inasmuch as differences in character are subsidiary causes which unfailingly cease to produce disharmony once a couple has reached the goal of sex perfection.
This may seem an over-simplification, but let me explain.
As I have said before, sex perfection is an art in which it is as difficult to achieve perfection as in any other art. Moreover, no one can attain the goal of sex perfection unless he possesses or acquires certain qualities of character. Chief among these are unselfishness, honesty, reliability and emotional maturity, which means development from the state of taking to the state of giving.
I do not advance this doctrine on religious or ethical grounds but purely from the psychological point of view. A
person whose character has developed in this way is at peace with himself; his energies are not dissipated in battles with his more or less unconscious feelings of guilt; he does not waste time on self-reproach. How necessary the state of relaxation is to the achievement of sex perfection I hope to make clear later on in this book.
Often I have heard this complaint from some woman whom the judge has sent to me in the hope that she might be reconciled with her husband:
"We have nothing in common. I love good music, books, society; all he likes is fishing and hunting. I am through with him; I don't love him any more."
I have said that love and understanding can change character. But this woman no longer loves her husband, and he has no wish to change the habits which have brought him the only pleasure he has been able to wring from life. Is there any hope of reconciling such a couple?
If they were ever sexually attractive to each other, if their marriage was based on love and not merely on practical considerations, and if neither has meanwhile fallen in love with another person, the alienation is most likely due to mistakes in their sex relations which can be corrected. But, if these mistakes are not corrected, the couple will become increasingly dissatisfied sexually, and more and more inconsiderate toward and resentful of each other, until their relationship reaches the point where neither has any regard for the desires or wishes of the other; they then begin to go separate ways and soon have no interests in common.
But it is wrong to believe that a love which seems dead can never be revived. In setting about the delicate process of rekindling love in estranged couples, I try to teach them six rules for achieving sex perfection. I work with the wife to persuade her to resume sex relations with her husband, but in a more satisfactory way than before; to teach her to overcome
her resistance toward him and toward his sexual habits. I work with the husband, advising him how to approach his wife. The couple is obliged to give my methods a trial whether they want to or not, for until they have done so they will not be granted a divorce.
If both partners are cooperative - it is my business to see that they are - and if no outsider interferes, the miracle happens, their love is re-born.
Before they can achieve sex perfection they have first, however, to develop certain qualities of character. When this is done, and full sex satisfaction is attained, their old love for each other returns in full force; indeed it is often an even deeper and truer love than before. Then, feeling grateful toward one another, they wish to please each other, and, by making efforts to do so, they develop more and more interests in common. During my forty-five years of practice I have become convinced of the important part which sex satisfaction plays in molding the marriage relationship. Real sex satisfaction leads inevitably to a deep feeling of love; and, with love and patience, faulty traits of character can be corrected.
One of the most important changes which usually needs to be effected in the characters of estranged couples is the abandonment of resentment. This resentment is often hidden deep in the realm of the unconscious. Real sex satisfaction cannot be attained by a resentful person, because resentment or bitterness stands in the way of sex preparation and, by so doing, blocks the capacity for love. Resentment can only be overcome by kindness and understanding.
True, it would have been better if some of the individuals who have come to me demanding a divorce had married a more developed person, one less spoiled, one better prepared to face the hardships of life; and, certainly, it is always advisable to marry someone with whom one has at least a few
interests in common. But the fact that certain qualities are undeveloped does not mean that they are non-existent. A selfish person can be taught to appreciate and desire the blessed feeling that comes with unselfish acts. In my experience, It is never too late to undertake the transformation of character. And, the more closely the goal of sex perfection can be achieved, the more certain we can be of success. This arises from the fact that sex perfection demands self control, mutual consideration and unselfish love.
The harmony of marriage is mainly based on a happy sex life. A harmonious home is of outstanding importance in the task that faces us all - that of meeting the inevitable ups and downs of life with inner calmness and courage. To the men and women who want to create such a home for themselves and their children this book tries to point the way.
True, the science of sex cannot be grasped in a day, but anyone who wants to, and who will persist, can attain this goal. Such mastery will not only bring incalculable benefits to the lives of the next generation, but will also add immeasurably to the happiness of adults today.
- 1. The Unconscious as used here is not identical with the subconscious. The latter is what Freud called the "pre-conscious," i.e. not conscious at the moment but more or less readily made conscious. By contrast, the "unconscious" part of the mind, or the unconscious system, contains contents that either never were conscious or have been repressed from consciousness. The barrier of repression tends to keep that which has been repressed from coming to conscious recognition.
It is now generally conceded by scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists the world over that one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our day was Freud's discovery of the Unconscious. There is no other word for it in the language of the experts. One can disagree and say there is no such thing as the Unconscious, but to call it subconscious only adds to the confusion and settles nothing.
- 2. Certain considerations may partly explain this difference: for instance, the easy manner in which a divorce is obtained, the advance of industrialism. which has freed women from dependence upon their husbands, etc.