Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sex, Lies, and You - part II of III

This series of posts is in direct response to this blog post and the related discussion below.  As much fun as comment whack-a-mole is, it does get time-consuming and exhausting.  So I decided to organize my thoughts and put them all in one place. 

“If you have sex before marriage, your marriage will be forever cheapened and your bond will be forever lessened.”

See also: “If you have sex before marriage, you will forever be comparing your spouse to previous lovers.”

Really?  Based on what?  How do you know?

Part of the problem with discussing this type of issue is that people have generally walked one path or another, and they have no genuine concept of what it’s like to walk the other path.  Plus, for some reason, people feel the need to degrade anyone who has chosen differently than they have.  I think that must be where we’ve gotten all these myths and lies about sex; I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to slut-shame.

I don’t know anyone who compares their spouse / significant other to previous partners.  I don’t do it, my husband doesn’t do it, none of my friends do it.  What the pro-abstinence group fails to understand is that each relationship is unique such that there’s really no such thing as a comparison; it’s a non sequitur.  Now, that doesn’t stop SOME people from trying; except they’re not really comparing – they’re purposely trying to make their current partner feel bad about themselves.  Again, the issue is not the sex; the issue is the abusive person trying to emotionally bludgeon their partner.

“If you have sex before marriage, you will forever struggle with infidelity.”

It boggles my mind that people seriously think that there’s no difference between having sex with someone while single (i.e. not committed to anyone), and cheating on your spouse (whom you have committed to).

I chalk this up to (again) people with no understanding of interpersonal relationships spouting baseless universals.  Here’s a clue: if you waited for sex until your wedding night, you have no basis from which to tell the rest of us what we are or will be experiencing.

“After the sexual revolution, marriage as a whole went down the toilet.  Therefore sexual permissiveness leads to bad marriages.”

What kind of permissiveness?  The kind of permissiveness where you think it’s okay to break a vow of fidelity you made to your spouse?  Yep, that’ll do it.  But that’s not usually the kind of permissiveness people are talking about.

So, a few other things were happening simultaneously around that time.  Recall that from about 1945 on, we would send large groups of PTSD-afflicted men home to their families and act like nothing had happened.  Mental health support for returning soldiers was even more nonexistent than it is now.  So what happened?  Abuse.  Lots and lots of abuse.(*)  These were very sick men and we released them on our most vulnerable people – women (pre-feminism) and children.  PatrickStewart discusses his particular experience with great wisdom.  Suddenly there’s a lot fewer people teaching their children about love and healthy relationships.  Suddenly a lot more children grow up without an example of what a healthy relationship is.  And we blame the decline in marriage on sexual permissiveness?  One has nothing to do with the other.

(*) This is the closest thing I could find on my assertion, and here is the post it came from.  Notice the spikes that kinda sorta coincide with when PTSD men would be coming back from combat.  I am actually having  a really hard time finding support either way for my assertion – I dunno, maybe I fail at Google?  I would genuinely appreciate anything that you could direct me toward, because I want to know if I am right or wrong.  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that if the rate of homicide peaked, the rate of domestic violence peaked, because both result from mentally ill people.

“Married sex is the best sex.”

This is mostly true.  Except when it’s not.

See also: “Sex outside of marriage is inherently abusive.”

Marriage is not a magic wand, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the Cult of Virginity folks.  Again, see my earlier point about symmetry in relationships.  Sex within marriage can be plenty demeaning and abusive, as I experienced in my first marriage.  All of the sex I had outside marriage (even the casual sex) was far more healthy, both emotionally and spiritually than ANY of the sex I had in my first marriage.  After I finally got divorced (and I thank God every day for the existence of no-fault divorce), all the sex I had afterward brought me joy and healing and made me ready to be a good wife to my second husband.  Sex with my husband now is by far and away the best sex ever, because of the love we share and because of the marriage we have built.  Everything I did before my husband just pales in comparison and fades into the background.  Not sure how my experience before is "cheapening" my relationship with my husband if it occupies exactly zero space in my mind.

“If you have sex before marriage the relationship will become all about the sex.”

Tell me, what’s to stop a relationship from becoming all about the sex after marriage, hmm? 

If I may submit for your consideration, couple A and couple B.

Couple A – Has sex on the first date (or third, or twelfth – doesn’t matter).  Lives together for about a year, goes through some really formative experiences together, and decide to get married because they are right for each other.

Couple B – Decides to wait for sex until marriage.  Spends their days counting down to the wedding date, unable to think or talk about anything except how they can’t wait to have sex with each other.  Sure they talk about their compatibility, but it’s all theoretical since their various assertions of “oh we’re so perfect together!” are never really put to the test.  Plus they have a bad case of “saying what they think the other person wants to hear” since they can’t stand the thought of starting all over in the dating pool and waiting even LONGER to have sex.

Which one of these relationships is “all about sex” again?  That’s what I thought.

Far too frequently, people that are waiting until marriage rush down the aisle far too quickly so that they can have sex, only to find out, after the sexual tension is gone, that they are horribly wrong for each other.

“But Athena,” I hear, “your example couples don’t really exist.  The male in couple A wouldn’t even ask for a second date because he doesn’t respect the female.  That’s just how guys work.  And couple B would never happen because people who are waiting until marriage are very careful about who they marry and wouldn’t make that mistake.”

Oh really?  Would it blow your mind to know that couple A is my husband and me?  Lived together for 9 months, married for 5 years (so far).  He loves my daughters like his own and we just had a baby boy in May.

Couple A is also a couple in our group of friends.  Lived together for 5 years, married for 2 years (so far).

As for couple B, how else do you explain the significantly higher divorce rate in populations where people are religious and get marriedyoung?  Hmmmm?  (Not perfect congruence, obviously, because there are other factors at work.  But you can’t ignore this factor.)

“Just because everybody’s doing it doesn’t make it okay.”

Maybe not.  But you can’t go around claiming that sex outside of marriage will lead to the utmost of disasters and the end of the world when almost everybody is doing it and civilization has yet to collapse.  In fact, most people seem to do just fine, with no ill effects.

Well, you can claim that the sky is falling, simply because no one is stopping you, but no one will take you seriously.  And you have no one to blame but yourself and your hyperbole.

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