( Originally Published 1918 )
AS unfortunate as the impotent husband is the wife who feels no response within her own being to the relationship of marriage. She then becomes a martyr to what she feels to be her husband's demands, although what he asks of her may not, from the normal standpoint, be excessive. Nor is she the only one to be pitied. The husband also is deprived of the magnetic return which should come to him from his wife when they enter into this relationship. Both, therefore, are in a constantly unsatisfied condition, which will be very likely to lead to quarrels and more or less permanent in harmony. It is quite apropos, therefore, for us to ask the question as to where the cause of this condition may lie.
We may, in the first place, consider it in connection with the previous chapter. If the husband is troubled with prematurity, he may conclude the act without having aroused the passionate side of his wife's nature. She has submitted, but she has not responded, to his approach.
Without doubt, there are many cases of frigidity in wives which could be overcome if the husband knew a little more of the physical and men tal make-up of women. With many men the marriage relationship is a purely physical thing. They have learned to look to it for nothing but physical satisfaction, and it has not entered their thought that the case might be entirely different with their wives. To many women, however, the physical relationship of marriage has no attraction save as the expression of an emotional and spiritual condition. If the wife's emotions are not aroused, so that she feels the intensity of her love for her husband to such a degree that she desires above all else to give herself to him, their relationship becomes thoroughly distasteful to her. Not realizing this fact, however, a husband often enters into the sex relationship in too business-like a manner. He spends almost no time in expressions of love embodied in the more tender forms of endearment. His sex nature is already aroused. He does not realize that he needs to woo his wife into acquiescence with his mood. Many times she herself does not know what is the cause of her reluctance and her failure to respond properly, and so they go on in a state of mutual dissatisfaction. If she did know, it might be very easy for her to make him under-stand the delicate feelings of a woman's heart, so that eventually he would be able to express his love in such ways as to bring her to a full reciprocation of the ardor of his feelings.
Sometimes the obstacle is in the wife's mind, due to mistaken early teaching, which has given her the feeling that this relationship is something degrading, and, therefore, causes her to shrink from it with all her finer sensibilities. If this is the case, she needs to make a more thorough study of the subject of sex until she comes into a comprehension of the wonderful part it has played in the development of the human race, and so come out of her morbid state of mind into one that is more natural.
By thus working together to their mutual benefit, the frigidity of the wife may be overcome.
It may be discovered, also, that this condition is the result of the use of tea and coffee, or other nerve stimulants, or depressives. Too many women allow themselves to seek refuge from headaches in bromides and other depressing drugs. All of these things will have a deleterious effect upon the reproductive system, and may be partly responsible for her unresponsive state.
Many women in the past seem to have prided themselves upon their lack of all sexual desire. This probably was a reflex from their abnormal attitude toward sex as something unworthy of the human race. It may also have been the result of the unnatural lives led by so many women of a generation or two ago. The young women of today, who frankly rejoice in their physical powers and find their pleasure in many forms of outdoor sports, will find themselves much more normal in this respect also.
Where there is a persistent condition of frigidity, it would be well for the wife to enter upon a thorough course of training, knowing that this will restore normality through every part of her being. Plenty of outdoor exercise, loose clothing which permits of bodily activity, simple food and plenty of sleep, form the best regimen for her to follow. Sun baths would be particularly heathful for her, and also, possibly, cold sitz baths.
In the majority of instances, however, the obstacle will generally be found to be mental rather than physical, and if the woman really desires to overcome her condition, it will be necessary only for her to bring about a more normal state of mind in herself. She will find then that the right condition of body will ultimately follow.
It will not be amiss for us here to call attention to the fact that her unnatural state may be the result of the same physical habit which causes impotence in men. We do not like to think that our young women may be in danger of forming the habit of masturbation, yet the number of letters which are received from young women asking for help in throwing off the bondage of this habit convinces us that the danger is very real.
Where the habit of masturbation has held long-continued sway over both mind and body, up to the time of marriage, it is quite likely that the condition called frigidity might result. There is no reason, however, why the condition should continue. As has been said, it is more the result of a mental than a physical state, and, with persistent efforts, can easily be overcome.