Paper by Margaret Sanger on Happiness in Marriage

The paper by Margaret Sanger on ‘Happiness in Marriage’ addresses the current parenthood issues surrounding newly married couples as studied in the early 20th century. The author addresses the challenges of early and unplanned pregnancies to both the bride and groom and society in general. To the parents, she claims that societal pressure may force the newlywed into having babies without prior psychological and spiritual growth. In that era, society gave women the responsibility to bring forth life despite their consent to do so in a way that would allow them to enjoy their love life. The community saw women as ready to bear children as soon as they started their menstruation cycle, and failure to do so would make her seem irresponsible. Therefore, most young women find themselves giving birth at the early stages of their lives and deny themselves the liberty to enjoy their teenage years. The consequences include producing a bitter society made up of unhappy marriages and unhealthy children resulting from poor parental care. Therefore, the author connects these societal expectations and results to conclude that family planning is essential to give young married couples ample time to enjoy their courtship.

According to the document, women are presented as a weaker gender that is not given the freedom to exercise their heart desires concerning marriage and parenthood. Thus, society in the 20th century took advantage of the weakness and forced girls to believe that parenthood had to start early. Besides, most of the responsibility of parenthood lay on women as they were expected to give up their life to take care of the pregnancy and the newborn baby. Therefore, most women who got pregnant at the early stages of their life neglected the love they felt for their husbands as their bodies changed to accommodate the new life forming inside their bellies. On the other hand, young husbands are also subjected to stress as they are not given enough time to learn and understand their wives before taking on the family responsibilities. Most of the time utilized for courtship and making merry is now concentrated on the new family member, who requires undivided attention.

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Therefore, the document paints women as more responsible for family issues than their male counterparts because men are only expected to provide financially. The author claims that most working women have to give up their work to take care of washing, feeding, and generally ensuring the safety of their babies. Therefore, the women become financially insecure, and they have to rely on their husbands to provide for basic needs. The dependence makes men seem superior to women despite the hard parenting work carried out by mothers. Thus, gender inequality is not only seen through parenthood but also in empowerment, where women are bound to take care of children when men are free to enjoy their lives. At some point, the author relates early motherhood to enslavement as a young mother is denied the chance to do anything else apart from taking care of their newly born children.

From these observations, Sanger gave women family planning advice to help them decide when to have babies and start motherhood. Besides, family planning was meant to be an empowerment tool for women who would wish to control their young bodies and lives. Therefore, Sanger advocates for spiritual and physical growth for couples before they can think of parenthood. Therefore, she introduced birth control measures to encourage young couples to a private time without babies to enjoy love and intimacy as they learn about each other. Besides, she advised to allow women a chance to discover their passions in life before diving into parenthood and thus, be independent and empowered as they start motherhood. To the working women, Sanger proposed family planning to allow them to have children in an economically favorable manner. Therefore, children should not bring a financial strain on their parents in the name of family formation.

Furthermore, she advocated family planning to the middle-income earning mothers to postpone childbirth and give themselves enough time to enjoy intimate relationships with their partners. Family planning allows a newly married couple to make plans and prepare themselves psychologically and materially to receive a child. Therefore, they share their love without distraction at the initial stages and are happy to welcome the baby when the right time comes. Besides, birth control allows a mother time to check on her health before deciding to carry a pregnancy. Sanger claims that a mother’s body and health are greatly affected by pregnancy due to alteration of the normal and natural body functioning.

Society assumes the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood to a young couple immediately after the wedding certificate is issued. However, marriage requires much more than the mere connection of two people assumed to have known each other well. According to Sanger, the first days in marriage should be dedicated to knowing the faults and weaknesses of the married partners and working on them. The period should be for spiritual development for both the bride and groom and thus, they should be guided accordingly and made aware of the difficulties expected in their marriage. Marriage is a divine relation in life that is meant for childbearing and individual growth through the help of their partners. However, society expects the couple to enjoy the few days set aside for honeymoon and after that start baby making almost immediately. Therefore, the couple is denied a chance to grow before they start the solemn responsibility of parenthood.

The audience for this document is mainly the young people that feel pressured by the community to start families. I think people should be allowed to make decisions about parenthood only when they feel psychologically ready to do so. Besides, society is also addressed by Sanger in an attempt to create awareness of the dangers involved in young and unplanned parenthood. Sanger attempts to outline the dangers to society leading from an angry generation brought about by unhappy parents. When women are forced to get married in their teen years, they do not enjoy their beautiful girl-bodies long before pregnancies make them women. Thus, they might always be bitter at their firstborns and see them as the cause for their problems. However, the opposite would include pride and gratitude for their babies if they were given a chance to explore life and make decisions about pregnancies at the right time. Therefore, this document was meant to address the larger community in the 20th century to educate them on the importance of women being allowed to make their own decisions regarding family and motherhood.

In the 21st century, parenthood has slightly changed as most people have grown out of the societal belief of early motherhood. Women have become more empowered to chose their partners and decided on the right time to start a family. Besides, more people have embraced the family planning idea to ensure economic independence and a healthy future for their babies. Also, the restrictive gender roles in the 20th century have slowly started to be relaxed as men take on the responsibility of bringing up their children and the mothers. The financial responsibility is shared by both parents, and thus, men are allowed to spend time with their babies and understand them better.

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