Marriage was not founded on sex relations; they were incidental thereto. Marriage was not needed by primitive man, who indulged his sex appetite freely without encumbering himself with the responsibilities of wife, children, and home.
Woman, because of physical and emotional attachment to her offspring, is dependent on co-operation with the male, and this urges her into the sheltering protection of marriage. But no direct biologic urge led man into marriage—much less held him in. It was not love that made marriage attractive to man, but food hunger which first attracted savage man to woman and the primitive shelter shared by her children.
Marriage was not even brought about by the conscious realization of the obligations of sex relations. Primitive man comprehended no connection between sex indulgence and the subsequent birth of a child. It was once universally believed that a virgin could become pregnant. The savage early conceived the idea that babies were made in spiritland; pregnancy was believed to be the result of a woman’s being entered by a spirit, an evolving ghost. Both diet and the evil eye were also believed to be capable of causing pregnancy in a virgin or unmarried woman, while later beliefs connected the beginnings of life with the breath and with sunlight.
Many early peoples associated ghosts with the sea; hence virgins were greatly restricted in their bathing practices; young women were far more afraid of bathing in the sea at high tide than of having sex relations. Deformed or premature babies were regarded as the young of animals which had found their way into a woman’s body as a result of careless bathing or through malevolent spirit activity. Savages, of course, thought nothing of strangling such offspring at birth.
The first step in enlightenment came with the belief that sex relations opened up the way for the impregnating ghost to enter the female. Man has since discovered that father and mother are equal contributors of the living inheritance factors which initiate offspring. But even in the twentieth century many parents still endeavor to keep their children in more or less ignorance as to the origin of human life.
A family of some simple sort was insured by the fact that the reproductive function entails the mother-child relationship. Mother love is instinctive; it did not originate in the mores as did marriage. All mammalian mother love is the inherent endowment of the adjutant mind-spirits of the local universe and is in strength and devotion always directly proportional to the length of the helpless infancy of the species.
The mother and child relation is natural, strong, and instinctive, and one which, therefore, constrained primitive women to submit to many strange conditions and to endure untold hardships. This compelling mother love is the handicapping emotion which has always placed woman at such a tremendous disadvantage in all her struggles with man. Even at that, maternal instinct in the human species is not overpowering; it may be thwarted by ambition, selfishness, and religious conviction.
While the mother-child association is neither marriage nor home, it was the nucleus from which both sprang. The great advance in the evolution of mating came when these temporary partnerships lasted long enough to rear the resultant offspring, for that was homemaking.
Regardless of the antagonisms of these early pairs, notwithstanding the looseness of the association, the chances for survival were greatly improved by these male-female partnerships. A man and a woman, co-operating, even aside from family and offspring, are vastly superior in most ways to either two men or two women. This pairing of the sexes enhanced survival and was the very beginning of human society. The sex division of labor also made for comfort and increased happiness.