‘Sex Life in Marriage’ 1948

A friend recently gave me a second hand book she knew I’d find interesting:

Sex Life in Marriage by Dr G Richard, a swiss academic, published in 1948, selling at the time for the princely sum of  2 and 6 ( could some one please tell me what that means in real money?)

Having written my own book on the subject of sex (Who Stole your Sex Life?  Kingsway 2007 £8.99, whoops, probably alot more than 2 and 6) I was fascinated to read what advice the good doctor gave all those years ago.

The subtitle is ‘An Aid to the Solution and Adjustment of Fundamental Problems of Married Life’. So sex is fundamental. Good, at least we are agreed on that. It is an unspoken assumption of the book that sex does NOT happen outside of marriage so he spends alot of time talking about the first experience. (His view is that it’s a father’s job to tell their sons how to get through their wedding night. Like that ever happened!*)

In the 84 pages much space is given to the issue of ‘frigidity’ in women and very little space to the problem of ‘impotence’ in men.  Frigidity is a wonderfully old fashioned word, the connotations of which would be lost on my husband. For him the word would be an explanation for the fact that my feet are always cold in bed, the idea of metaphorical ‘cold feet’ would be completely lost on him! Personally I find that in order to talk successfully about sex you do need to spell things out a little more clearly which does require the use of technical terms.

Dr Richard clearly struggled with technical terms.  He couldn’t quite bring himself to ‘name the parts’ (you know the parts I mean, if I name them the chances are this blog post will get blocked) He didn’t have any such problem but he still couldn’t use one single proper noun in the whole 8 pages given over to ‘technique’.  In other words he doesn’t  tell you which bit does what, why or how. Bit of a problem that, given that in 1948 ignorance about body parts was endemic.  So in terms of a manual, it’s not that helpful. Everything is suggested by allusion,  the word o***** (fill the the blank in your head please) is allowed but how you acheive it is slightly mysterious, it has something do with reaching a state of complete relaxation (which bodes well for sitting out in the sun later this afternoon!!!). And as for what ‘it’ is – he resorts to six lines of poetry from a dead Roman poet. Hmm, like that’ll help!

All of which makes me grateful for the freedom we have to speak/learn/write (filters permitting) about something that is so fundamental to being human. In my book I postulated that ‘for all the freedom of information, all the educational material…even given the non-judgemental attitudes, there is no evidence to suggest that people are any more secure about themselves as sexual beings’. Now I’ve read Sex in Marriage, 1948, I may need to revise that view.

*Whilst researching my book I did ask women for the best advice passed on to them by their mothers – the best one I uncovered was  ‘keep a glass of water by your bed – it’s thirsty work’. Goodness, it sounds worse than being ‘sent down pit!’

4 thoughts on “‘Sex Life in Marriage’ 1948

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  1. 2 and 6 was two shillings and six pence (6d) worth 12 and a half pence (p) in today’s money.

    When I passed the 11+ I was given a shilling (5p or 12d) and a transistor radio!

  2. 2 and 6 is real money – it’s what followed that isn’t.

    OK 2 and 6 = 12.5p and I can remember the change over in 1971 as I was in the lower sixth at the time and the first thing I bought with decimal money was a current bun in the sixth form common room.

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