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Old 07-21-2011, 04:43 PM   #16
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The one thing that I have wondered for a while is why abstinence until marriage is even supposed to be a good thing. It is commonly cited that sexual incompatibility is a top three reason for divorce - is it not then in the interest of a good marriage to be sexually compatible? I am not saying you need to go out there and sleep with a hundred people, but if you are in an adult and committed relationship and you plan on marrying this individual, why NOT have a sexual relationship with them? Just seems sort of strange to me.
For the Bible tells me so.
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Old 07-21-2011, 04:52 PM   #17
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I think it has to do with the fact that most women that I am friends with are professionals who stayed in school anywhere for 6-10 years post-high school and so that skews the anecdotal results.

...The one thing that I have wondered for a while is why abstinence until marriage is even supposed to be a good thing. It is commonly cited that sexual incompatibility is a top three reason for divorce - is it not then in the interest of a good marriage to be sexually compatible? I am not saying you need to go out there and sleep with a hundred people, but if you are in an adult and committed relationship and you plan on marrying this individual, why NOT have a sexual relationship with them?
Well, yeah, I didn't personally know anyone who got unexpectedly pregnant in college or grad school either. Nor, so far as I recall, did any girls get pregnant at the second high school I attended (prep-schoolish Orthodox yeshiva populated almost exclusively by wealthy Brooklynites who'd spent their entire lives in such environments, as opposed to my former high school in Mississippi, which was 100% free-lunch eligible and though the best school in the area, definitely not an everyone's-headed-for-6-10-years-more-study kind of place). Educational aspirations and socioeconomic background definitely matter; in fact I'd be tempted to say more than any other variables involved.

Abstinence before marriage is a good thing insofar as one wishes to get married, engages in committed relationships with the general hope that this person may turn out to be the right lifetime partner (which is not to say casual dating is ruled out), and views the sexual self as a deeply intimate thing to be shared only in the most deeply committed relationship. If like me one also happens to be an observant Jew who wishes to always live in an observant household, then a factor of even more importance is that Jewish law requires abstinence--we observe what the law stipulates, see following that discipline as an end in itself, and don't usually spend a lot of time creatively rationalizing it, save for rare exceptions such as if it becomes clear that following some particular law as interpreted is doing serious damage to its adherents (e.g. proscribing homosexuality). I can't relate at all to precious-wecious 'purity pledges,' flowery teen lit presenting sexual desire as epic 'trial' or 'challenge' from God/Satan, or tearful testimonies from drug-addicted nymphomanic pornstars who've had 50 abortions about how if they'd only not had sex with that needy pimply-faced boyfriend back in high school and stayed 'pure,' then their lives would've been sooo much better.

I really don't get the "compatibility" argument, and honestly have never understood what people are on about who cite it as a reason why it's supposedly bad for you to wait until marriage to have sex (we did). We've been married for more than 15 years, have three kids, and without getting TMI, personally I would rate that aspect of our marriage as very active and very satisfactory. In the meantime, many other married couples we knew (ones who hadn't had sex beforehand, AND ones who'd had numerous partners beforehand) have gotten divorced, with, yes, complaints that sex had become dull through to nonexistent ("incompatibility") being a major factor. As far as I know all these couples were initially quite pleased with their sex lives, so I can only conclude that "compatibility" more or less turns out to be vague and sloppy shorthand for "This relationship just doesn't work for me anymore, and that comes out in the bedroom among other places." Sexual relationships are dynamic, anyway; no one wants the same things the same way year in and year out, bodies change with age, some relevant emotional states will be more predominant and intense one decade and others the next, etc., etc. Like with anything else in a healthy marriage, experiencing change and occasionally frustration together just comes with the territory.
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:21 PM   #18
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Honestly when I read that he got married I thought she was pregnant. They aren't role models for anything.

And Bristol with that whole Levi stole my virginity when I was drunk on wine coolers but I didn't realize they were liquor. I just don't get it.

I think abstinence can work for some people. And I agree with what yolland said about compatibility.
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:27 PM   #19
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??????
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:45 PM   #20
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The one thing that I have wondered for a while is why abstinence until marriage is even supposed to be a good thing. It is commonly cited that sexual incompatibility is a top three reason for divorce - is it not then in the interest of a good marriage to be sexually compatible?
Generally speaking, the top reasons for divorce tend to be:
- money
- infidelity/lack of commitment
- poor communication
- change in priorities
- sexual problems
- addictions
- failed expectations
- physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- inability to manage or resolve conflict
- intellectual incompatibility and inflexibility
- religious beliefs, cultural and lifestyle differences

I don't disagree that sexual compatibility in marriage is important. But anyone who's been married or involved in a long-term relationship knows that, generally speaking, sexual compatibility is a learned thing. It takes time, trust, and vulnerability to learn how to satisfy each other's needs. This sort of thing can be learned in a healthy marriage after the fact -- and, in fact, will have to be re-learned, since the sexual relationship changes once kids enter the picture.

By contrast, different beliefs/values, intellectual incompatibility, abusive behavior, addictions, communication style, financial values etc. can all be learned ahead of getting married. I'm not convinced sexual compatibility is as high a priority as some of these other things. And, generally speaking, sexual chemistry can complicate the picture (I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard some variation of, "Sure, we fight like cats and dogs, s/he's an emotional mess, and I hate her/his family, but the sex is amazing!").
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:48 PM   #21
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sexual problems are usually cited as the #1 reason for divorce within a marriage that dissolves after 5 years or less.

marriages that last the longest are usually between people who are older and more educated. it's entirely logical to assume that someone who gets married at 28, 30, 32, etc., likely has prior sexual experience, and more importantly, knows much more about their own sexual needs and expectations, what they can live with and live without, than do younger couples, who divorce at higher rates.
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Old 07-22-2011, 03:22 PM   #22
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I really don't get the "compatibility" argument, and honestly have never understood what people are on about who cite it as a reason why it's supposedly bad for you to wait until marriage to have sex (we did). We've been married for more than 15 years, have three kids, and without getting TMI, personally I would rate that aspect of our marriage as very active and very satisfactory. In the meantime, many other married couples we knew (ones who hadn't had sex beforehand, AND ones who'd had numerous partners beforehand) have gotten divorced, with, yes, complaints that sex had become dull through to nonexistent ("incompatibility") being a major factor. As far as I know all these couples were initially quite pleased with their sex lives, so I can only conclude that "compatibility" more or less turns out to be vague and sloppy shorthand for "This relationship just doesn't work for me anymore, and that comes out in the bedroom among other places." Sexual relationships are dynamic, anyway; no one wants the same things the same way year in and year out, bodies change with age, some relevant emotional states will be more predominant and intense one decade and others the next, etc., etc. Like with anything else in a healthy marriage, experiencing change and occasionally frustration together just comes with the territory.
This.

Sometimes I'll read a post and be thinking. . .hmm, how do I construct a response, how do I explain this adequately, and then Yolland swoops in and says exactly what I wanted to say perfectly.

Thanks, Yolland!

BTW has anyone read "Passionate Marriage" by David Schnark (sp?)? It doesn't have anything to do with "waiting till marriage" for sex and the author is not religous as far as I can tell, but it has a really interesting point of view on sexuality and marriage (and just marriage in general). Reading it had a profound impact on me and on my attitude towards marriage.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:01 AM   #23
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I see sex ed and abstinence as two totally different things. IMO sex ed is a basic responsibility of parents and school. Abstinence is a personal choice, not sex ed. To me, parents and schools only pushing abstinence is just plain irresponsible. I have no problem if this is encouraged, but I don't think it should be so at the expense of actual sex ed.

I went to private schools, fairly traditional, somewhat conservative (very conservative to me personally but I'm not that conservative). We had sex ed multiple times at different ages. I remember in 7th grade the sex ed was geared more towards helping us think things through and develop personal boundaries (not necessarily abstinence, but how far we personally wanted to "go", plus we did these mock scenarios where we practiced saying "no" to each other). At the time I thought it was dumb and boring but looking back, I never wavered once from the boundaries that I decided on at that age. I don't regret anything with regard to my relationships and sex and don't feel like I missed out on anything either. I have no qualms about pre-marrital sex but I personally wouldn't do it just get it out of the way because I was worried about it being bad.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:42 AM   #24
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sexual problems are usually cited as the #1 reason for divorce within a marriage that dissolves after 5 years or less.
Unless there are physical problems what are the underlying causes of the sexual problems? Other relationship issues. Maybe I've just been watching too many episodes of that Dr. Laura Berman show but I don't think so.

All of the other issues that Nathan mentioned can and do cause sexual problems. Relationships aren't static so just marriage can change expectations and relationships. I don't see how thinking that you are sexually compatible is going to be any kind of insurance policy.

In some cases maybe the relationship is based so much upon sex and physical attraction that there isn't enough of everything else to sustain a healthy marriage.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:25 AM   #25
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i'm just pointing out the fact -- which i've researched for a project -- is that the the #1 reason cited by couples who break up within 5 years of marriage is sexual.

in said project, i interviewed a couple who would have absolutely benefited from having sexual experience before they were married. there are enormous sexual problems that can result from placing a primacy on virginity (almost always female virginity) and viewing the hymen as something that must be defended at all costs (i.e., girls are told to stop riding horses or bikes once they begin puberty for fear of possibly rupturing their hymens, and there's such a thing as a hymenoplasty).

here's one example: Vaginismus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:40 PM   #26
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^ Vaginismus is quite common and not even remotely limited to women with little sexual experience, conscious sexual anxieties, and/or very short partner histories. Maybe you'd be surprised how many women--including very self-confident, sexually experienced women--have never in their lives had an orgasm from vaginal intercourse (I know I was surprised the first time a very sexually experienced female friend nonchalantly revealed that--now I wouldn't even bat an eye, I've heard so many women say it). A big difference between men and women in general is the far, far larger number of women (again, of all levels of sexual experience) who see whether they'll have an orgasm in any given sexual encounter as very much a hit-or-miss proposition, and consider that normal and not something to be concerned about as far as it goes. I'm certainly not questioning that a woman raised with extremely mixed messages about sex, fetishization of "intact" hymens etc. could indeed experience physical problems directly related to that, but linking premarital abstinence, period, to recurrent painful intercourse in this way strikes me as the equivalent of suggesting girls whose mothers encourage them to go on the Pill in high school are doomed to wind up exploited, depressed and plagued by cripplingly low self-esteem, because look, here's a few horror stories from women who declare that's exactly the effect it had on them.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:54 PM   #27
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I don't think it is mutually exclusive. Yes, I believe that perhaps some couples "enormously benefit" from having sex before marriage but that doesn't mean couples that don't are in for trouble or that their choice to abstain can only be explained by extreme conditions or views about sex which will cause major problems later on. Besides, I think any couple engaging in a sexual relationship has to deal with these issues regardless of whether the state/church says they are married or not. Which gets back to the point - IMO comprehensive sex ed is just as valuable to people who choose to abstain until marriage than it is to those who don't.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:05 PM   #28
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^ Definitely agree on that.

In most cases, I would not be inclined to question what someone believes made all the difference for them in overcoming some specific sexual problem. I might doubt their analysis of what 'caused' it (particularly if they're trying to generalize from their experience about what other people should and shouldn't do) but not what ultimately was helpful to them.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:29 PM   #29
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^ Vaginismus is quite common and not even remotely limited to women with little sexual experience, conscious sexual anxieties, and/or very short partner histories.


the doctors i have interviewed on the subject said that most of their patients come from very religious backgrounds, often Muslim or Orthodox, and it happens at much higher rates in more traditional societies. it also goes hand in hand with what some term the "princess syndrome" -- they've been treated like little dolls their entire lives and constantly told "don't touch." there is no freedom for any type of sexual exploration and enormous anxiety builds over the years. these women are often not allowed to even insert tampons or have a pap smear.


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Maybe you'd be surprised how many women--including very self-confident, sexually experienced women--have never in their lives had an orgasm from vaginal intercourse (I know I was surprised the first time a very sexually experienced female friend nonchalantly revealed that--now I wouldn't even bat an eye, I've heard so many women say it).

no, i'm not at all surprised. my female friends feel quite comfortable speaking to me about their sex lives in graphic detail, and i've done extensive work on a wide variety of sexual issues in my work.

what you're describing is not vaginismus, though. you may be confusing it with vulvodynia.

and from the women and doctors i've interviewed, they all mentioned strict religious upbringing and an enormous focus on virginity as being the biggest contributors to vaginismus.

i do know that most female orgasms come from clitoral stimulation, which is something the penis isn't terribly good at and often requires other types of stimulation in addition to intercourse. again, the willingness and ability to explore and find out whatever combination may work for a woman requires some sexual exploration with a partner, and it might be frustrating (or maybe not) to spend the first few months of a marriage trying to figure it out.

men should learn more about a woman's body, and at the same time, women should speak up more freely about what works for them. again, all this requires sexual experience and comfort with sexuality.



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I'm certainly not questioning that a woman raised with extremely mixed messages about sex, fetishization of "intact" hymens etc. could indeed experience physical problems directly related to that, but linking premarital abstinence, period, to recurrent painful intercourse in this way strikes me as the equivalent of suggesting girls whose mothers encourage them to go on the Pill in high school are doomed to wind up exploited, depressed and plagued by cripplingly low self-esteem, because look, here's a few horror stories from women who declare that's exactly the effect it had on them.

i'm not linking premarital abstinence, period, to a condition like vaginismus -- something distinct from just painful intercourse -- but that attitudes surrounding the importance of abstinence and the importance of preserving the hymen until the wedding night absolutely contribute to a condition like vaginismus which is primarily psychological. healthy, pragmatic attitudes towards sexuality -- which may or may not include abstinence -- are the best antidote to many sexual issues. most people who suffer from something like vaginismus wish they had been raised with healthier attitudes towards female sexuality in general, and also without fear of the consequences of any expression of female sexuality outside of the context of marriage (as well as the male privilege to "take" that women for the first time on her wedding night).
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:16 PM   #30
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the doctors i have interviewed on the subject said that most of their patients come from very religious backgrounds, often Muslim or Orthodox, and it happens at much higher rates in more traditional societies. it also goes hand in hand with what some term the "princess syndrome" -- they've been treated like little dolls their entire lives and constantly told "don't touch." these women are often not allowed to even insert tampons or have a pap smear.
Well, one thing very traditional Muslims and haredi Jews do have in common is that arranged marriages remain the norm in many of those communities--even dating is typically forbidden or frowned upon--and that can definitely encourage a climate where both men and women enter marriage feeling severely inhibited in talking freely to each other about sex and sexuality. And FWIW, at least regarding haredim I think there's usually less an extreme idealization of being "pure" or "untainted" than an extreme view of the relationship between sexual desire and "modesty" (tzniuth--really a much broader term than the English, but no need to get into it here): that if you allow yourself to indulge in or even talk about any eroticized pleasures or capacities whatsoever, your modesty will rapidly erode, as opposed to an idea more like what Lies was saying about setting boundaries and sticking to them, which respects individual autonomy. (A friend who used to run an independent bookstore near a haredi neighborhood in NYC had a funny story about how frequently recently married haredi men would come in, nervously sidle over to the sex manuals, and start furtively skimming, then turn beet-red and shoot up in the air if any staff came up to inquire whether they needed help finding anything. The sad thing is probably most of them were there because they were concerned their wives didn't seem to enjoy sex that much and badly wanted some tips, but were too embarrassed to acknowledge it.)

The tampon thing, the only time I've ever heard of that was from an older Catholic coworker who once mentioned the nuns at her former school told them not to use tampons because they "might learn to enjoy touching themselves." I still giggle picturing what these women must've envisioned unfolding when a girl tries using a tampon for the first time...
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what you're describing is not vaginismus, though. you may be confusing it with vulvodynia.
....
men should learn more about a woman's body, and at the same time, women should speak up more freely about what works for them. again, all this requires sexual experience and comfort with sexuality.
Oh, I know not having an orgasm is different from vaginismus; I was more generally making the point that various kinds of real or perceived dysfunctions are quite common and don't seem to be "fixed" by experience (as in quantity) per se.

And of course, speaking openly about how your experiences are working out for you is important, but if you can't manage it with someone you're (hopefully) in love with, comfortable with, and know very well, then I'm skeptical how good the chances are you'll be able to do it with anyone else. Especially for women unfortunately, just because you've had a lot of partners doesn't mean you've learned a lot about what works for you and how to speak up about it. That's probably a lot less true than it was 40 years ago, more frankness is typical almost across the board 'values'-wise nowadays, but it's still much more of an issue for women, who often prioritize being desirable well above getting what they themselves desire.
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healthy, pragmatic attitudes towards sexuality -- which may or may not include abstinence -- are the best antidote to many sexual issues.
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