14 February 2008

First Times

Once upon a time there was a young Muslim woman who, being a good Muslim, allowed no man to touch her, not even to hold her hand. Then one day she found a suitor and started planning a wedding. And realized that very soon there would come a time where she had to go from entering the batting cage all the way to home base, all in one night.

Lo! the stressing and freaking out and wailing and gnashing of teeth! The bargaining for doing it completely in the dark with all clothes on! The obsessing with lingerie she keeps buying but would die before wearing in front of him! And surely there must be a way to bear children (whom she loves) without a few intermediate steps! (But it better be romantic and perfect and just like in the movies! What do you mean it'll be fumbly and awkward and wet?)

The wedding is still months away.

I think this whole no sex before marriage thing is way overrated. As are "first times."


Random Michelle K said...

Now I'm very confused.

Anonymous said...

Michelle - I think MWT either was a Muslim bride or married one. };> Doesn't matter which.

Seriously, a similar although not-quite-so-extreme argument applied to any religious pre-marital abstinence. One fundamentalist author actually points out, in his book for teens on why, that premarital abstinence from sex - and total abstinence from masturbation - 'helps you not to set your standards unrealistically high'.

Gag me. OK, in context, well, don't. LOL

MWT said...

Heh, neither. I've got an online acquaintance who keeps me updated on every single mood swing she's been having as her wedding approaches.

I guess I left too much unsaid (yay cryptic?). Basically, at least from my view of her, she's the perfect example of why teens should just do what teens would naturally do and get it over with already (and then move on to discovering what a sex life is actually like as opposed to all the hype), instead of angsting over it for months on end and then being disappointed because it'll be anticlimactic. It's the epitomy of mountains out of molehills.

Random Michelle K said...

OK, more clear now.

Also, I would think that not having sex would set your expectations unreasonably high--then all you'd have was what you saw on TV and perhaps read in books, that the first time should be perfect and... nevermind. You know what I mean.

And so I totally agree with MWT's closing statement. I think we get things so built up in our heads that the actuality can be a tremendous letdown.

At least it was for me. (shrug)

Anne C. said...

The first time really is overrated, except that it's a kind of benchmark. I guess I'm saying the event itself is dependent on the experience of each partner, while the real significance is in how it affects how you think of yourself and the gender you find attractive. I lost mine quite a bit later than most and this was my experience.

This specific case, however, sounds pretty much locked in (unless the couple managed to have a sneaky pre-wedding night). If the groom is experienced and kind, he will lead her into it, perhaps stage by stage, not necessarily all at once. It's not like they have to show the sheets to everyone the next morning. [double take] Do they?

MWT said...

The groom is also a virgin. Muslim men stay virgins until marriage too.

Actually I'm not sure if these particular ones have the show-the-sheets custom. She says they're from Senegal, so it's possible.

Anonymous said...

Well, there are (or should be) a number of steps between no touching and making love. But I don't think sex between young teenagers (or even pre-teens these days) is any better introduction than the example you give; in fact most kids seem to have sex with no more 'working up to it' than this bride will have, but also without the commitment that she and her new husband will have made to one another. I don't suppose there's ever been an ideal way, given human nature, but IMO it should involve fairly gradual steps, starting with holding hands, and what we, in my day, called necking, before things get to that hot and heavy stage. I also do agree that 'waiting for the wedding night' is a difficult and artificial obstacle, usually after a long and tiring day, maybe a trip to the honeymoon location; however, the current norm of having lived together has some pitfalls too, IMO. But that would be a new topic. *grin*

MWT said...

Hi Brianna. :)

Yeah, lemme amend that to mean "mid to late" teens (at least; 16+ in my opinion). The bride-to-be of my post is in her early 20s.

I'm sure Rebelcat will have some thoughts on the topic of first-living-together when she's back online. ;)

Anonymous said...

LOL Yes, I know Reb's views on living together but I also think the social atmosphere in Sweden is still different than the one in North America. And I've known too many couples who took living together as an extension of 'dating', but still thought it was a 'rehearsal' for marriage, only to find it wasn't. (for instance the guy who did his share of housework before marriage, but after considered it was 'her job'. Of course by then they didn't have the excitement of 'new sex' to get them through all the adjustments of married life. ;-)

John the Scientist said...

It'll still be wet even when you're more experienced... ;-)

Anne C. said...

Tsk John. Behave yourself.

In the case of two virgins, a wedding night, and a bedsheet, they should probably just expect something awkward, painful, and quick and focus on learning about each other gradually during the subsequent 50 years or so.

I'm surprised that living together doesn't give a good picture of what married life looks like, but Brianna's example is a perfect one. I can SO see that happening. Mental note: ask about division of labor *before* getting married! Amend that, ask lots of questions before getting married.

Anonymous said...

I heard someone calling my name...or nick rather.

I agree with MWT on this, no sex before marriage is overrated and can actually damage the marriage if the couple find out that the sexlife doesn't work.

I'm glad I didn't wait. Because I have had relationships that I know would have turned out to be really bad marriages if I hadn't discovered that we just didn't fit as lovers.

I'm also glad that I waited with the first time until it felt right. And right means when you are mature enough and feel comfortable with the partner. This can happen when you are 16 or when you are 20.

And when it comes to living together before marriage;
As Anne said, I don't understand how things can change so drastically after the marriage that it would turn into a bad relationship and even divorce.
If you have lived together for years and even have a couple of kids, how on earth would you be able to not know each other well enough? If the man turns out to be a chauvinist after the wedding night, he has obviously lied all the years about who he is. And if I was the wife, that would be reason enough for a divorce. because then he wouldn't be the man I wanted to marry.

Most couples here move in together when the relationship has deepened. They live together for a couple of years before they decide to get married. Some have kids before they marry and some wait. Some never marry but stay together anyway.

I think living together before marriage is an excellent way of getting to know your partner before getting kids and marry. It's easier to break up if the partner didn't turn out to be Mr or Miss Right, than to have to get a divorce.

MWT said...

For those unfamiliar with the way things work in Scandinavia, the natural order of things there is:

a) meet
b) date
c) move in together
d) have kids
e) (maybe) marry

Marriage isn't quite as big a deal there as it is here. Some people see it as a religious thing - and if they're not of those types of religions, there's no reason to get married.

Anonymous said...

Actually it is some reasons even if you are an atheist or not really religious.

We married to show that we have decided that we fit together. We also married to gather friends and families to celebrate our love. And also to be able to have the same last name all three of us ;).

Anonymous said...

anne: I think that attitude is part of the problem with living together, that it's not as 'permanent' as marriage, and then there's a change with the ceremony. So maybe people are still on their best (or at least better) behaviour? I don't know, but I've known couples who were together for years, but who broke up within a year of being married.

And maybe I'm seriously old-fashioned, but I do think people should get married before they have kids (unless they live in Sweden *grin*) But seriously, isn't having kids together an even more permanent connection than marriage? If a couple can't commit to marriage, how can they commit to raising children together?

Oh, yeah, I think I see where I put my name in, instead of being anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it would matter if the parents are married or not. But then again, if you cohabit here in Sweden, you have pretty much the same rights according to the law and the custody of the kids as if you were married. There are some extra favors if you are married but I'm not really sure what that is.

We weren't married when we had our first child. But my husband had the same right as any other dad to take his paternal leave.
So yea, I guess it's different here to not be married. No one demands a couple that they should get married. It's up to the couple when or if. It's not seen as a sin or anything to have kids when unmarried.

It is a commitment greater than getting married to have kids. What you seem to forget, Bri, is that most people that have kids have planned it, talked it through with each other and lived together for years, and therefore know that they will stick together. Marriage doesn't make such a relationship any stronger than it already is.
Some married couple can't manage the strain of raising kids even if they are married.

My experience is also that people, even if they aren't married, really try to save the relationship. It's not like people just walk away after the first fight. But they don't have to go through the whole process of getting a divorce if they split up.

Anne C. said...

Brianna, my thought on couples that break up soon after marriage but after years of being together is that pre-marriage they have the freedom to define the relationship in a way that works for them. Accepting the label of marriage suddenly applies (for some! Not all people do this) societal labels/roles to each. Just like the guy who thinks cleaning the house is the wife's job. Until you apply the label "wife" or "husband," roles were self-defined. Knowing about this possibility is one reason I am cautious about whether or not I will ever get married. Funny thing is, knowing about this possibility probably means I would be able to successfully avoid it.

My uncle is well known in his community for marrying people (he is a minister who specializes in it). One of the best things I ever heard him say was: marriage is not the beginning of a union, it is the confirmation of it. Similar to what rebelcat said "Marriage doesn't make such a relationship any stronger than it already is." Thus, marriage does not create commitment, it is a way of formalizing it.