Adrienne's first question: You made mention in the past of having a pride in "waiting" for Laura. Things appear to be taking a different path in your new relationship - do you have guilt from that and how do you deal with it?
I want to make a note right here at the beginning that I am fully aware my Mom reads ELEVEN. I also want to make sure it is clear that even though I may disagree with certain things my parents did when raising me and my sisters, I do not doubt they tried their best and did so out of a genuine concern for us to turn out alright. So despite any embarrassment or discomfort that could come from discussing this in view of my Mom, I will not be dishonest or hold anything back. I think this is a great question that took guts to ask and I want to give it the respect it deserves. Here goes…
My upbringing was a bit sheltered in that my parents were not very open about sexuality. There was never a doubt my parents loved each other evidenced by their flirting and innuendo, but for whatever reason, their opinion of the sexual process was, less is better. Some examples:
· My Dad used Miracle Whip (yes, the sandwich spread) to define a certain part of sexual intercourse when giving me the sex talk. (I think you can figure it out even if you haven’t heard the story.)
· I spent an entire semester in the hallway during my seventh grade Junior High Sexual Education classes because my parents didn’t trust the public school system to share the same ethics as themselves when it came to talking about sex.
· I was a teenager before I learned it was called a, “vagina” and not a, “private-area”.
· And only with the patient understanding of my high school girlfriend did I come to learn that a vagina is not the same thing as a urethra and that women do not use their urethra for sex like guys do. Apparently there's another hole for that which was that new thing, the vagina. (Why that girl stayed with me still boggles the mind.)We read a lot of books together and I learned a lot from her and those books.
Obviously, my parents left out some important details about anatomy and function they probably should have mentioned. But at the same time, my parents also instilled in me the importance of saving your virginity for marriage. I just wish they carried that out using respect as the guiding force instead of fear. Some examples:
· “When you have sex with a person you are having sex with every person they’ve ever had sex with.”
· “Every time you have sex you have flashbacks of your first time, so make sure your first time is meaningful.”
· “If you have sex before marriage, the sex you have during marriage will never be fulfilling.”
· “Most marriages fail if there is sexual intercourse before the wedding.”
· “A woman judges all future emotional relationships based on her first sexual partner.”
Those quotes aren’t entirely ugly in-and-of themselves, but lumped together and then combined with all the incorrect physical information, it’s a wonder I made it out of adolescence. I grew up seeing sexual intercourse as a sinful act along with the fear I would never be able to satisfy a woman. Now that I’m an adult, it’s obvious my parents did all of that because they wanted me to respect sex and leave it sacred unto marriage. But the constant negative view of the act did not have a healthy outcome. Again, that was never my parents intent, I know that, but I just wish my upbringing and instruction/guidance could have been a little more balanced. I think (only my best guesstimate, really) that my parents were afraid that healthy, honest conversation would make me too curious and would make me want to experience it before the right time.
A lot of talking and no answering the question so far, huh?
First let me say to you Adrienne, I appreciate the language you used in the question. So many people, the majority even, assume certain things based on what the world says a situation should look like. Fat people are lazy. People who wear suits are rich. Certain parts of town mean certain types of people live there. Two guys that show lots of love for each other are gay. People that live together are having sex. I could go on and on; stereotypes are everywhere but they aren’t always accurate.
The question of guilt… A conversation with me around guilt and sex needs to start fifteen years ago and start with Ell. Because of the way I was raised, there were many times I felt guilt about sex even within the allowable confines of our marriage. Ell’s reaction to sex didn’t help either. (She never allowed herself –or maybe wasn’t able to allow herself based on her own issues passed down from her parent’s dysfunctional sexual relationship —to completely lose herself in the act.) I never felt connected to her during sex and we never called it, “making love.” That wasn’t a secret either; we told people that all the time. We saw it as an act not as an expression. And in the last couple years of our marriage when our relationship was slipping away, she even went so far as to tell me she was having sex with me because it was her duty as a biblical wife. What a great way to build up the male ego, right?!
I’ve shared the story about sitting with those three ladies last summer talking about sex before marriage. There was no guilt at that table, and an almost refreshing air that God had blessed their marriages even though sex predated the ceremony. That was completely foreign to me since I had previously seen pre-marital sex as an unforgivable sin. But as I reflected on that conversation, continued on in my single life, enjoyed that crazy night with the sexy blond, dated some more, and then met Alli, I started to see my life and my opinion of sex in a much deeper, more realistic light.
The one thing about my relationship with Alli that I have never experienced with any other person is the feeling of rightness. I couple months ago I mentioned a simple life lesson Alli has taught me. That life lesson is very similar to the phrase, “It is because it is.” Alli is so matter-of-fact about life. Not in a blasé sort of way where she doesn’t care, but instead she doesn’t see a need to question. Which, as anyone reading here knows, is exactly opposite from me. Whether it’s as simple as opposites attract or more intense than that, I just know it works. She is fascinated at my intellect and turned on by my writing. She finds comfort in my voice and strength in my arms. And she knows she loves me, because she knows she loves me. It’s just that simple for her.
When I am with Alli (feel free to use “with” any way you want to) it is right. There is no guilt, there is no regret, there is no other feeling except that I am where I am supposed to be. I am fully convinced God created and crafted her to be my partner and my mate, and I am encouraged that our closeness runs across all areas of the relationship spectrum: mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, and friendship.
I started this by talking about my parents because that’s where I see guilt starting in the area of sex. But as we grow up and become our own individuals, I don’t see guilt as the over-riding emotion or reaction anymore. Alli had sex with other guys before me. Does she feel guilt over that? No. But there is regret she wasn’t able to give more of herself to me. And I think that’s where conversations like this need to go. I don’t think my parents should have steered with fear at the helm, but instead tried to instill in me respect for myself and for the ladies that would come in my life. Would it have worked? I have no idea, but if I am fortunate enough to have my own children I will definitely push respect over fear.
To end this long-winded post, I want to address the pride part of the question. I think the pride I had at being a virgin when I got married was an attempt on my part to hold up the relationship. As I see it now it was more pride in my willpower, much like twelve years without pop or 6 years without McDonalds. And to be completely transparent, I’m not sure how “pure” I actually was when I got married, so I doubt I’ll be holding up that proud flag in the future.
Thanks for the great question, Adrienne. I feel like there are other facets to this conversation such as the government's role in marriage, biblical references to marriage, etc., but this is already too long. I’ll hit the other two questions in a different post.