Published Date

November 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 30: Can War Marriages Be Made to Work? (1944)


How to Use This Pamphlet

Type of discussion. The subject of war marriages as presented in this pamphlet may be handled effectively in one of three types of discussion: (1) informal discussion, (2) panel discussion, (3) debate. For the techniques of organizing and conducting these forms of discussion, refer to Guide for Discussion Leaders in the series of Education Manuals of which the present pamphlet is one.

Charts. Whichever form of discussion you select, reproduce the charts given in the text for use with your group. It does not matter if the reproductions are rough, but they should be of sufficiently large size to be legible to the person who sits farthest from them. Put them up around the room or fasten them to a blackboard or other stand that may be available. Your purpose is to furnish basic facts quickly and effectively.

Mixed group. Making a success of marriage in wartime is especially suitable for discussion by a group of both men and women. The points of view of both will increase the value of the thought given this problem by members of the group.

Reading by group members. Although this pamphlet appears to be directed primarily to the leader, it is also written for the general reader. You may find it both stimulating to discussion and practical to place one or more copies in the library or other reading room for preliminary or follow-up reading by group members. If you do this, make appropriate announcements about it. Another suggestion is that you ask the librarian to set aside a shelf for any available books on the subject of marriage. Draw attention to this shelf with a placard, perhaps worded as follows: Discussion Group Reading—Can War Marriages Be Made To Work?

Informal discussion. Your five-minute introduction should sketch quickly the reasons for the timeliness of the subject: the rapid increase in marriage rate in wartime; many hasty and ill-considered marriages leading to unhappiness; the frankly puzzling questions of whether it is right to marry in the face of anticipated long separation or to postpone marriage until after the war. (See pp. 3–8.) Somewhere in your introduction you should also define war marriage. (See pp. 1–5.) Your opening question should be one that points to an important and challenging issue: Should marriage be postponed in wartime? On what basis can a man reasonably expect a girl to wait for him until after the war?

Below are given a number of questions that may be helpful, in stimulating discussion if it lags. They are grouped in the order in which they might well be raised, under three main lines of inquiry: (1) the reasons why men and women decide on a hurried marriage or on postponing marriage in the face of long separation afterward; (2) predicting success in marriage; and (3) making a success of marriage in wartime. If you ask each of four or five individuals in advance of the meeting to ask one of these questions, you will have their assistance in getting the discussion off to a good start.

Factors in war marriage. What is a war marriage? Is it simply marriage in wartime? What are the human motives that cause hasty marriages in wartime? By what special dangers may the success of marriage in wartime be threatened? Should marriage be postponed because of the war? To what extent has the United States marriage rate increased since adoption of the Selective Service Act? (See pp. 3–14.)

Predicting success. How can the success of the marriage of a specific couple be predicted? What are the chances of married happiness after short acquaintance? Is there a science of mate selection? If not, why not? What suggestions have been made on how to select a life companion wisely? What qualifications appear to offer a sound basis for predicting success in marriage? Are marriages contracted overseas with foreign-born individuals subject to special dangers? (See pp. 15–23.)

Making a success. Once contracted how can marriage be made successful? Are there suggestions that apply particularly to married couples living under wartime conditions? What about children—do they help or hinder? Do the personalities of marriage partners change during long separations? Should a wife who is separated from her husband live with her parents or her in-laws? Can any two people make a success of marriage if they try hard enough? (See pp. 5–8 and 23–28.)

Panel discussion. The material suggested for informal discussion is just as appropriate for panel discussion. You can ask the panel to plan their discussion around the same three main lines of inquiry, using the same questions. Your five-minute introduction would be the same.

An ingenious and effective variant of panel discussion is a dramatization of a G. 1. argument of which the chief actors are Pvts. Hasty and Wait. (See pp. 8–15.) The other members of the panel contribute their share of the discussion as friends and supporters of Hasty and Wait. At the conclusion of the dramatization, the “cast” serves as a board of experts to answer questions from the floor.

Debate. If the debate form is used, one good phrasing for the subject is: Resolved that young people should postpone marriage until after the war. Be sure to arrange for a question period following the debate itself. (See Guide for Discussion Leaders, section IV, 6.)

Guide for Discussion Leaders. This guide, which has been referred to above, should be in your hands. It has been distributed with this and other pamphlets of this series. It describes the objectives of voluntary off-duty discussion, suggests ways of interesting personnel in this phase of education, and tells how to conduct informal discussions, panel discussions, forums, symposiums, and debates.


Suggestions for Further Reading

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if it so happens that you have access to them. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.

Modern Marriage: A Handbook for Men. By Paul Popenoe. Published by Macmillan and Company, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, N. Y. (1940). Includes an extensive list of references on marriage.

War, Babies and the Future. By William Fielding Ogburn. No. 63 of Public Affairs Pamphlets, published by Public Affairs Committee, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N. Y. (1943).

Will War Marriages Work? Published in Reader’s Digest, volume 41, no. 247, pp. 14-18 (November 1942). Condensed from “America’s Town Meeting of the Air.”

Family Relationships. By Ada Arlitt. Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, 330 West, 42nd Street, New York, N. Y. (1942) .

Boy Meets Girl in Wartime. Edited by Janet F. Nelson. Published by American Social Hygiene Association, 1790 Broadway, New York, N. Y. (1943).