So far this chapter has concerned itself with erroneous ideas which can badly dispose a young wife for success in marriage. Some of these false ideas are simple misconceptions, which once recognized as such by the wife, cease to exist and cause trouble. Now consideration must be given to something more serious. It is the phobia or fear of conception and having children. A phobia is a much more dangerous obstacle to good and proper living than a simple misconception. It is built up over the years and may spring from several sources. It is much more than just a matter of ignorance or misinformation. The will is involved as well as the intellect. So often the victim of a phobia supinely watches it grow and does not really desire to be rid of the mental disease. A young husband comes to my mind who had a fear of darkness. He could not sleep without the light on. He was wholly a mama's little boy, brought up carefully by his possessive mother to be ever in need of her. As a child she was his comfort in the dark. When she left him alone in his room at night, she left a light to reassure him. Should he wake up at night without the light on, he would scream and bring mama running to his side. You can imagine the run for her money which he gave his wife on this score. Why did he not snap out of it and act his age? I do not know. There were possibly a number of reasons. I suspect one reason was that he could punish his wife by retaining his phobia. At long last he felt that he was living with one over whom he could assert himself. She would have to adapt herself to him and his phobia. The little mama's boy was trying hard at playing the strong man. No young wife will be cured of her phobia of child bearing just by reading the following pages. Perhaps some might prevent the psychosis from getting a hold on their lives by recognizing how it can jeopardize the happiness of their marriage. The victims of the phobia will be healed only by the effort of their own wills. They must want to get over their mental sickness. They must be willing to sacrifice the small comforts and imagined security of living within the confines of their phobia. They must learn by mental hygiene to concentrate upon the real joys of married life, joys which lie beyond the prison walls of their fear. Some young ladies enter marriage with a fear of childbirth. Death from childbirth has become so rare that it merits no concern. The rare and abnormal cases are dwelt on. The average and normal births are ignored as of little news and gossip value. Whatever be the devious ways these girls build up the fear, they have a full- blown phobia of childbirth by the time they are physically and emotionally ready for marriage. They have about as much chance of happiness in marriage as a glassful of cement has of holding any water. They are not disposed for marriage. Their poor husbands are in for a rough ride. Life is beset with uncertainties and dangers. Even breathing is dangerous. If you do it enough, long enough, it will kill you. Nothing is certain except death, and we know not how or when it will come. If these girls wish to nurse a phobia of death, let them concern themselves with the tens of thousands killed yearly in automobiles. Other thousands drown or are struck with lightning. If a person concentrates on all the possible ways she might be killed accidentally, she might easily end up cowering in the corner of her bedroom afraid to move. Think of all the fun she would miss hiding from life. It would be her dismal lot never to see from an airplane the wild, blue yonder or the jeweled cities by night: never to experience the exhilaration of the open road: never to feel the salt spray in her face as the sail stiffens to the wind: never to know the joy of its inception and the mystery of its growth within her and the victory of motherhood as she cuddles the new little life to her breast. What does she know of life? Actually she is hardly alive. All that remains are the obsequies and the floral wreaths of disappointed friends. Conception, childbirth, and young motherhood and all that goes with these experiences are the full life for a young woman. For these God has well prepared her by nature. It is as normal for her to have children as it is to breathe, and, from general observation, as healthful physically, psychologically, and spiritually. For this reason the young mother becomes more beautiful as she has children. Contrariwise, the light seems to fade out of her face as she prolongs the frustration of marriage without the normal consequence of children. I am so sure that this observation is founded on fact and is not wishful thinking, because in my youth, I confess, I expected the opposite; I was genuinely surprised to observe the real facts. Nature does not look upon pregnancy as a disease. The idea of pregnancy as a disease is the result of gyrations of a mind warped by the mental sickness of a phobia of childbirth. In order to live well and enjoy life we must be casual about keeping it. The mountain climber who went about his activities biting his finger nails in fear would not be a very happy mountain climber. In fact he would not be a live mountain climber at all very long. The mountain climber knows that there is an element of risk in his life. Any woman knows that there is an element of risk in her life. She accepts the obvious and then goes about her business of accepting life, not denying it. Few wives will admit that they have a phobia against childbirth. Instinctively they seem to realize that they would be comparable to a doctor or a nurse, who was nauseated by the sight of blood, to an electrician afraid of electricity. Thus most of these misfits in married life hide behind various smoke screens. Poor health is a common one. Various mysterious aches and pains are advanced as an excuse for not playing the role of the normal wife. Husbands are kept at a distance or are degraded into sinful birth controllers. As a matter of fact, of course, many of these women are the healthiest characters in their neighborhood. Admittedly, some of these wives will develop some neurosis or other as the penalty for outraging nature and its normal demands on married people. But these conditions are the after affect of the phobia and not an excuse for it. Few of us go through life without aches and pains, some of which may even be of a partially disabling nature. These nuisances are taken in stride by people of character. Indeed, frequently marriage and child bearing bring to a young woman a glow of health which she has never experienced previously. Another attitude toward life which poorly disposes a young woman for happiness in marriage and for being an ideal wife is the selfish and worldly concern not to become too tied down by her family. She will measure out just so much of herself and no more. So after one or two children her husband notices a decided change. The old spontaneity of affection is gone. In its place there is a calculated aloofness, which has nothing of the saving qualities of coquettishness. She does not want any more children. With eyes tilted toward heaven she gives out frequent evidence of being a modern day pelican. She is careful to make her husband realize what a slave she is. She has no time now at all to receive from or to give him any affection. Little Buster gets all the attention now. If Buster's father becomes, as well he might, a little apprehensive about this excessive care for his solitary offspring, and feels that she is developing a sissy and mama's boy, he is told that he is unreasonably jealous. He should be happy and grateful that she is such a wonderful mother. But the blackguard is not. He is quite confused by all this, but at times he has a suspicion that she does not become the all-American mother simply because she has ceased to be his wife. These little ladies fool nobody, even though half their waking hours are an effort to do so. They are pitiful failures as wives.
Fear of Childbirth – The Wife Desired, Fr. Leo Kinsella, 1950’s
17 Sunday Nov 2013
Posted Loving Wifein