"I speak on the topic of Romantic Love, of which I am an authority of"
That was the words of the revered, yet whithered and old "Founder of Physician Assistants" as he spoke at the commencement of my sister's graduation from medical school. With all the talk on this article, I thought stories would be a cool way to contribute. I happen to be in a group that has lived and practiced this "courtship" described above, and its interesting to see how its worked real peoples lives.
That talk, by the way, was honestly one of the best discourses I've heard on the matter. Among my mental notes of the speech are the impressions that romantic love works on entirely different guidelines and, funny enough, produces an entirely different kind of "intimacy", he even said it produces a different kind of sex.
I was single at the time I heard that, and had been eligible for 8 years. Naturaly I recieved it with great interest and importance to my dating life. This is as I was checking out the girls graduating with my sister. What did I do with those eight years? Two was spent in religious service, and the other six had amounted to three proposals to women I dated for 9 months of which all had ended bitterly.
To say the least, having a strong desire for that entire time to not have sex until I was married had made me rather anxious. There were times I admitted that I wished I had sex with those women since we never got married, and now I missed the opportunity. But looking back that was a very rash comment from an understandably scared and lonely person who figured he was missing out. Now that I have a fulfilling love life, I'm glad I don't have any additional spechters and baggage from old dead and gone relationships.
I do still sometimes look back and wonder what it would have been like with them, but from as far as I did go back then in my single dating life I gained very peculiar and vulgar opinions. Like, breasts look better in their packaging, everything after taking the shirt off was anti-climatic, etc... It was just a way to express that intimacy seamed so enticing up to a point, then after that I always felt more let down and trapped into staying around because of social pressure then actually enjoying anything. This wasn't an isolated case, it was what happened every single time. Every time until I got married that is.
To my friends I would explain it with the comment I heard a long time ago from someone who said "the best part of sex was holding my son for the first time." He's since amended that to include the births of his daughter and other sons, going fishing with them, attending certain milestones in their lives, and other family events. He never said it was the only good part, but it was the best part. I didn't have a child at the time, but it described something inside of me that was telling me there had to be more to sex than a performance, and you can't get it outside of marraige. Now with a beautiful smiling daughter and wonderful wife of my own I know what he meant, and testify of it even more.
Its probably the form follows function engineer part of me, but I had the opinion that if you need to turn on flashing lights, wear costumes(1), or otherwise augment the "event" then your doing something wrong. Its like a movie, if you need to distract my attention with overplayed drama, marketing hype or special effects you must just be trying to keep me from realizing it was a bad movie.
As this may or may not make sense, so I'd like to illustrate with the stories I promised. As I said before, I had a number friends that got married within a few months, and we've all stayed friends, and we've all had wildly different experiences but similar conclusions. Oddly enough I had attempted to form a comedy troupe in the last days of my single-hood. I wound up marrying one of the directors, two of the actors got married to each other, and the other director and one of the actresses got married to someone from outside the troupe. One of our recurring guests also got married to someone outside of the group. We have only one lone man remaining in singletude.
The recurring guest in particular had an interesting journey. The guy had done it all and had interludes with more women than is useful to count. He married a virgin, so you could imagine that the topic raised by some of the people posting here was heavily on their minds, as they both wanted to be "adventurous" but pondered how sex before and after marriage would be strange. He was the kind of guy that came off like the old alt.sex.wizards with all sorts of tips and tricks. (Some of which I have used and can verify they work. ;) ) He is somewhat machismo, and had more play then anyone else I knew at the time.
Just to illustrate this, the week before he started dating his future wife was not unlike any other week of his life. He had "action(2)" with an ex-girlfriend and then some more with his ex-girlfriend's best friend. After that first date with is future wife however, we all noticed that he had gone mysteriously manogomous. Still flirty with any woman he met, but never dated or kissed anyone else (turning down more women then I've kissed in my lifetime in the following months).
We were close friends, and when the time came for him to put money down on the deal, I was also anxious to bring my relationship with my future wife to the next level. We went ring shopping together and bought nearly identical small but clear and perfect diamonds from the same jeweler since our girlfriends were similarly Bohemian and didn't want big rocks getting in the way. It was such a curious event that we had even been asked by one particular proprietor if we were getting married to each other. When we told him "No", just presumed that we were just embarrassed to admit it and went on with his false presumptions.
At that point in time I had only known my future wife for three months, and he had known his for almost two years. He proposed immediately to her at Disney land while I continued to date for four more months. He continued to propose weekly and monthly for the next year.
In the mean time, I had kept my ring secret from my future wife. We had decided in a cloaked way that we weren't going to discuss marriage until I proposed. I hated how some guys would ask "lets get married", she would say yes, they would announce it to all their friends but would retort "but we haven't proposed yet".
Even worse in my mind are the mealy people that probe in ineffectively obscured ways "um, what do you think if we got married." I told my wife I would never do anything "half asked." So even though she told me at the beginning of our relationship "I'm not looking for a relationship" we had pretty much known that we were going to marry each other for a number of months before I proposed, but we never talked about it.
I took her to the temple grounds (which oddly enough were closed every time I tried to propose to anyone else), proposed on both knees, and she said yes. We got married, and three months later my friends girlfriend finnaly said yes.
Which brings me back to their worry about the topic of sex. He being schooled in various techniques and technologies in performance based sex, he was worried that marriage would take all the fun out of it. Our bishop had counciled us both that "movie sex, I think you will find, is tawdry and dull." Only, he explained it to my friend in much greater detail and emphasis than me and my wife.
My friend had balked at my believe that "holding your child for the first time is the best part of sex," and rightfully so. Sex is really between you and your spouse and the child is not a part of it. Only as a product of the union is it important. He said it sounded to much like when one "buys a T.V. and every thing they watch on it makes them appreciate that moment of sale with the store clerk even more." In retrospect, its kind of funny how something about the marriage union makes it much different than a relationship with a salesperson.
But as he told me after the marriage it was funny how the marriage union produced a different sex altogether than anything he experienced. He said it felt much more like something friends would do together then what "lovers" would do together. And by lovers, I think he meant in the temporary and sex dominated kind of relationships.
They are now expecting their first baby, and already for all the fun he's had in his life, he marks the time he watched the first sonogram of his child as one of the most important moments of his life. He said "you know what? what you said about having sex and then children makes sex better is kind of true."
Another set of friends got married at the same time. She was one of the actresses in the Comedy Troupe (we called ourselves the "Uncanned Upstarts") and was someone I dated a few times. She had confided in me once that she was afraid of "scaring [whoever her husband would be] off on their wedding night". She was probably the wildest child of the group.
Within a weak of dating one man who I consider a giant among men, they knew they were going to get married and secretly conspired to do so. As an interesting aside I had a dream where they told me they were getting married, and when I asked her about it she replied with a shocked look on her face "yeah we are, that is a strange dream."
Their marriage was scheduled for some date in the next two months. Planning such an event turned out to be much too demanding, and they postponed it indefinitely. Then about six months later, they announced they had gotten married by a Justice of the Peace.
They have had a happy marriage. Now, our good friends have been sealed in the temple and have had no complaints, and he never ran away scared. Although he is a very private individual, she has mentioned on a few occasions that "married sex is the best there is," and that "you don't have to try as hard either".
My wife shares the sentiment. She had probably seen more than her share of the dark side of sex. In some ways we both still deal with it as part of our marraige. But ever since we've gotten married she has mentioned how more comfortable, natural, and satisfying everything is. We have a great friendship, and a wonderful daughter. And although marriage has had its share of problems, and I've turned out to be a less than optimal companion she's never wanted to trade it in for what she had before.
I'll be the first to admit that intercourse rarely runs the course I want it to. Often I have to deal with a wife with headaches, mood swings, and worries of my own lackluster performance. Nothing about a marriage cures these things. But as I read questions from people about monogamous sex in marriage and no sex outside of marriage I'm reminded of an old joke.
Whats the difference between a puritan and Las Vegas wedding?
The Las Vegas couple asks "how can you get married to them until you find out how they are in bed" and the puritan couple says "if you knew, why would you get married to them?"
In my "extra" years of singleness I studied marriage with a keen interest. I'm very appreciative of the extra time to learn what it is really about, I have a much better marriage now, I think, because of it. And in all my study of marriage I've found that there aren't really two definitions of the word. People may have come up with different definitions, but they aren't really marriage. There isn't a "two people live together and have sex" definition and a "two people legally get to share health benefits and child rearing responsibilities" definition.
I've found that the definition that makes the most since is true for ideas as well as people. A marriage is the union of two elements where they become a single entity capable of doing more than the sum of the parts. It does not mean that you need marriage to become a complete individual, it means you need a two complete and whole individuals. The stated doesn't make a marriage, it recognizes it. A man and a woman's wedding doesn't make a marriage, but it starts one.
People can marry ideas, they can unite for common causes, but only when a man and a woman live a life together doing what only man and woman can do together is made. Unfortunately I lack the skill with English to make this sound anything more than a platitude.
Just to round up the stories, the other two couples had interesting relationships. One couple married the very comedic and sometimes vulgar style of our best comedian, with a puritan style of a very no-nonsense straight laced stoic woman. They perhaps have the best relationship out of all of us, but they are also the most remote.
The other couple is a happy twosome of entrepreneurs. They are the ones that were both in the group. Having known them for a while (she dating the comedic person mentioned above) I can tell you they are the sleepers of the group. We all know there are people out there that pretend to be all pure, but inside are caging very active and passionate feelings. Ever wonder what happens when two of them get together? Apparently they have a happy marriage.
Another friend of mine got married recently. What makes this one interesting is that it is his second marraige to the same woman. He was my roomate when he was getting the divorce. Between smashed phones, yelling and crying at night, and the sorrows of having to dispute custody of a child they both loved, I gained a perspective on the dark side of marraige. He said something very insightful to me once, "Sex is a theatre where you play out what is already going on in the relationship." He explained that when they were happy and cooperating already in their marraige that the sex was that way. When they were going through power struggles and angry times their sex was dominated by that dimension.
He and his wife now have a much happier marraige now, and he's directly attributed that to their re-prioritiezed outlook. Sex is now not the icing on the cake, its the sugar that is in all things and through all things that make up the cake. But the sugar isn't anything really spectacular on its own.
1) My sister the PA, worked in a hospital serving perhaps the very same Midwest university the writer of the article goes to. She tells the embarrassing tale of an adventurous couple who wound up in the emergency room one night. Aperently she was tied to the bed in a playful bit of role-playing. He, dawning a cape (and only a cape) had climbed onto the night-stand to jump and rescue his wife. Only when he jumped, his head was hit by the whirring ceiling fan and he fell unconscious onto his immobilized wife. After an hour of calling for help, the embarrassed wife finally coaxed her neighbor to come in and get her husband off her and untie her. Still unconscious, he was taken to the emergency room.
2) In the world of double-entendres, it is difficult to know the scale of the delicate meaning. I married as a virgin, and all of our friends saved sex for their wedding nights. You can be assured that as in this case, make-out or other play on the innocent side of the spectrum is usually what is meant by my vague colloquial references.