The Husband as Lover

keep on wooingThis was originally posted as the wedding of my baby sister approached, with thoughts of love and marriage obviously been on my mind. This excerpt is from the 1940 edition of the ever-informative and open-minded Happiness in Marriage, by none other than the founder of the birth control movement, Margaret Sanger.

1940: The Husband as Lover

Happiness in marriage must be endlessly recaptured and renewed. It cannot be gained once and held forever in the possession of the husband. Therefore to husbands of all ages ~ young, middle-aged and even old ~ these directions are indispensable:

Keep on wooing.

Make the love you have found and which means so much to both of you your religion. For it can be the noblest of religions.

Keep your wife eternally youthful. This may seem an impossible task, but it is not and will more than repay you. Happiness is essential for the health and growth of love. Love must keep on growing. It cannot stand still. It grows or it dies. Love cannot thrive in silence. Therefore assure her, reassure her of your deep and growing affection. Good tidings invigorate the flagging energies of a band of explorers; a deep joy enables men and women to transcend the frailties of human weakness. Disappointment, sorrow, depress and disturb the vital functions. Therefore, husband and wife as well, tell your love at all times to each other.

Some men only do this occasionally, or when desire is at high tide. They make a grave mistake. Acts may express this love more eloquently than words. But do not, on this account, conclude that words are not necessary also. They are. Love needs constant reassurance. Your wife is in all probability not a mind reader. Unless you tell her, break through the reticence and embarrassment of expessing your thoughts, she may never know what you are thinking and feeling.

This is a greater problem among men who are naturally taciturn and silent, among men who are born and brought up in a tradition which encourages a suppression of stirred emotions. But do not make the mistake of supposing that women do not like to be told over and over again of the love she inspires. This is a story women never tire of hearing. This is a thought all husbands should keep constantly in mind. This is the tonic that rejuvenates and keeps both young.

This next section is from later in the book…

In homes where there are no servants, the household duties such as washing and clearing away the dishes are often shared equally, and the slight burdens become an easily and pleasurably accomplished task.

What were formerly considered exclusively feminine duties seem today to be voluntarily taken on by the husband. Surely there is no loss in manliness or dignity in sharing the heavier and more disagreeable household tasks. In my estimation this mutual acceptance of household duties by the husband as well as the wife does more than any other single thing toward the creation of that splendid comradeship and companionship which are the solidest foundations of permanent homes and happy marriages.

The husband who balks at such tasks and looks upon such duties as essentially feminine, who considers himself henpecked when asked to help in them, is indeed a pathetic creature. He is, moreover, exhibiting an ungenerous and thoughtless side of his nature which will be apprehensively watched by his wife. He cannot know the real joys of true companionship in his married life, and he has himself only to blame when his own action brings out similar traits in his wife. This has been the traditional and unfortunate attitude of many foreign born men toward their wives. Women were not made merely to serve the physical and sexual needs of husbands, with no obligation on the part of the latter except to provide a house and to pay the bills. Fortunately for all of us this type of husband is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Source: Sanger, Margaret . Happiness in Marriage. Garden City, New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1940.
~ pp. 221-222, 225-26 ~