Whew. I am tired.
The Farmer’s Daughter and I just finished packing the last box between our two houses. On Monday she, and I, and Noah all move into our own place together.
I’ve never been to this point with any other girl since my divorce. In fact, I’ve never been to this point with any girl, ever.
Before marriage, I mean.
Once upon a time, I was a Mormon, remember. And I actually tried to live the Mormon mandated lifestyle even though I never actually believed in it. That meant no sleeping together before marriage and it also meant no living together before marriage.
My first wife and I got married in the Mormon temple. I don’t want to brag or anything. It’s kind of an elite thing. Only the best of the best get married there. You have to have interviews with different dudes up the church chain and when you’re done and you’ve passed the tests, they give you a card saying you’re worthy to go inside. We never had sex, but we certainly weren’t squeaky clean. We were just good at lying about it (at least I was. I don’t know if she did or not, she had her own interviews), so we got our worthiness-cards and got hitched beneath those famous Mormon spires.
I also waited to do the deed with wife #2 even though we weren’t allowed to get married in the temple. The church wouldn’t let us. She was a widow and had been officially attached to her first husband (they call it being sealed) and women aren’t allowed to be eternally attached to more than one man at a time in that church. I could have been attached to as many women as I wanted, though, so it was a bit of a bummer for me. It was the only way we’d be together in the next life, after all.
It all seems so silly to me now, but dang. It was important stuff that was taken very seriously, and Mormons do believe that it is very sacred so I won’t say much more about it.
But for me, it was after marriage (and divorce #2) that I came to believe that not having sex before marriage is one of the most dangerous things couples can do. At least it is for people like me.
Because, you see, waiting tends to make you think you’re really in love when you’re actually just horny. Yes, I just said that.
Phrased another way, it makes you promise your entire life, your entire future, and your entire eternity to another person in exchange for sex.
I know, I know. That will sound horrible to people who advocate abstinence before marriage. It will also sound horrible to people who chose to wait and have great marriages. But hear me out first and then call me the devil. I won’t be offended.
You meet someone.
You like that person.
You date that person.
You like that person even more.
You kiss that person.
You make out with that person.
You pull away from each other and stop. Oh, crap. We aren’t allowed to touch each other’s no-nos.
Then you kiss again the next time you see each other.
And you make out again. And this time you go a little further with the thumbs or the pinkies on the outside of the clothes or whatever, and you pull back and stop. Oh, crap. We aren’t allowed to touch each other’s no-nos.
And you repeat this cycle. Over. And over. And over.
And the more you’re together, the more you crave each other physically. The more you’re not allowed to have each other, the more you want each other. It’s basic human psychology and physiology.
And as that’s happening, you slip (almost everyone does). Just a little. Nothing too bad. And you stop. And you pray. And you make promises to each other and to God and to the men who are in charge of enforcing that kind of thing in the church. Because, you see, you’re not allowed to touch each other’s no-nos. To do so is the biggest no-no of all. The church teaches that sex outside of marriage is the sin right up there next to murder.
So you do everything you can to not give into temptation. You make rules about hours you can see each other, and times you shouldn’t see each other, and limits you won’t cross. And because of those limits and rules, you just want each other more. You have to have each other more.
And so the cycle goes. And the days turn into weeks.
And you are horny the entire time.
And you think, for some reason, that you are in love. Or at least you think you’re in love enough to know some big things that usually take people years to know.
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
I was raised very religious, waited to have sex with my husband until our wedding night. Your description of our reasons for waiting to have sex and how that caused us to (elope, actually) marry was 100% accurate.
6 years later we are still married, thankfully sexual compatibility has not been an issue. However, being virgins on our wedding night certainly did NOT spare us from any relationship issues (cuz you know, I thought god would bless our marriage for saving sex for our wedding night and all).
We love each other very much, but there have been some rough times. As is true for any relationship.
But what we both have learned is that we will raise our children to know that it's OK to have sex before marriage. That we wish we HAD spent time getting to know each other outside of "superhornyquickgetmarriedbecausewe'reinlove" relationship we had.
We're lucky, very lucky. Like you said- it's a crap shoot. And that's why I absolutely do NOT recommend getting married young and saving sex for marriage.
I was brought up very religious. My mother taught Sunday School when I was little and for a while, my sister and I attended a private Christian school. I'm not very religious anymore and go back and forth to where I stand when it comes to my spiritual beliefs. That being said, having lived as an adult for ten years, I think I have some life experience (not much, but some) when it comes to this. If I could have a do-over, I would have sex before getting engaged and get engaged before moving in together. I think cohabiting too soon can ruin your chances of getting engaged but I think not cohabiting at all before living together can also bring its own disasters as well. I'd also prefer to break off an engagement than dissolve a marriage. They're both hard to do but divorce is definitely harder of the two. I'm not saying that's right for everyone but just what's right for me. If I get serious about anyone new in my life, I will sleep with them, probably around the three to six month mark after we become exclusive. We won't be living together though unless he puts a ring on it.
My parents got engaged before they lived together for religious reasons after being in a long distance relationship for about 6 months. They had not discussed future plans at all, such as my mum wanting to be a housewife and my dad expecting a financially contributing wife. 23 years later, my mum is a housewife, and they argue about this at least once a month as neither are prepared to budge on their expectations. Had they lived together before they would have seen how incompatible they were.
You know, I am going to have to agree with most of this post. I am in my mid 20's and have been in a few longer relationships and I have grown up on the abstinence route (which I still keep to), but I agree with what you say. The problem is that, in my opinion, most of the people I have dated have been exactly what you have said. They don't care about a whole lot more than just having sex, which is part of the reason why there is such a high divorce rate in our society I think. The main problem is that people see relationships as expendable and that they can be given and taken away without any consequences.
It is not just the Mormon culture that does this and has people marry far too soon and for the wrong reasons. I have two sets of friends that just this summer got married within a year of meeting each other and dating. They are both from the Christian culture and I see so many problems and flaws in their relationships. The thing is that you have to get to know the person in all sorts of situations and I think the main thing is just being able to talk to the person. Sex will only last a short amount of time and you can't do it constantly. The rest of the time, you are going to be with that person, enjoying their company, talking with them, hanging out, etc. That is what really matters and what everyone forgets about.
Thanks for this post. It was great. I really appreciate your honesty and saying it like it is without worrying about what others think. I respect that.
@Treyceritops Sex will only last a short amount of time and you can't do it constantly. The rest of the time, you are going to be with that person.....
Sex is not a pastime, like jogging or reading. That kind of sex is SELFISH because you are focusing on your own pleasure. Most men need sex every three days on average and once they have had their sex, they lose all interest in their partner.
There has to be a shift in mindset. Marriage is actually all about sex. Sex is when you are the most intimate and most vulnerable in your RELATIONSHIP. Relationship does not happen when you put on your jogging shoes or take your clothes off. Relationship is about emotional bonding. Tough for men as they do not wear their emotions on their sleeves and women can be a tad TOO emotional. Good relationships come from open communication and even exasperation, until both partners can understand the other and love unconditionally, never deriding or mocking or criticising or judging. I say never because both partners have to learn to practice this. There has to be mutual respect, 24/7 even when we do not understand the other. Love esteems one another.
When we understand what it is to love and how to love and we understand sexual intimacy is a fulfillment of emotional intimacy, then we will not make statements like sex will only last a short time and you can't do it constantly. Those words are but a display of ignorance. Sexual intimacy is VITALLY important to a relationship. It is the glue that holds you together.
I am not going to lie. I definitely disagree with you. Being Mormon myself. I understand not all marriages last even in the Mormon world, but I think that "not getting along in the bedroom" is a terrible excuse for people to end relationships. Once you get married, you have an eternity to learn each others bodies, strengths, weaknesses in the bedroom (and outside) and if you truly love someone, you won't overlook them not being everything you hoped for in bed. That's why you talk to your spouse about your intimacy. Now if you are suppppper miserable with someone, even if you have tried your hardest, I understand that, that might not be a good relationship for you. Sadly a lot of Mormon's get married too young, or too fast, and yes sometimes it's because they really want to get it on. But they should realize marriage is more than just sex, because at the end of the day there is laundry to do, dishes to do, homework to do, diapers to change or whatever. A marriage is so much more than sex. I am sorry you didn't have a good experience with your Mormon marriages I truly do, and if you are happy now than that's great. I just want to put it out there that even though it was very hard, and I wasn't always perfect, my husband and I waiting for each other and holdng off until until after we got married was such a blessing, and I love him very much and know that we are meant to be together. It definitely does work out with some people. I wouldn't have it any other way.
@Sarah D44 Should, should, should. Should solves nothing! Should prevents nothing.
Marriage is all about sex. A relationship will always end in the bedroom, or the kitchen floor or the dining room table or..... Your sexual relationship is the glue that holds your marriage together because it is where you are the most intimate and the most vulnerable and it is where you need to treasure and be treasured.
If people are not able to connect sexually then it is probably because they do not connect emotionally and if they do not connect emotionally they should not be in a relationship. Rather no relationship than a bad relationship lived by self-sacrificing, long-suffering, miserable people. There is nothing noble in suffering through a disastrous relationship. Just asinine stubbornness or insecure fear.
Can I just say...I think that I love you. I respect you so much for all that you share with your readers and how you just put it all out there. I have read many posts and have maybe commented on one. But I just had to say that this is awesome and I love it. You are helping people in ways that you do not even know...or maybe you do. Either way. Bless you!
I have to agree with you pretty much totally I think. I know for a fact that if I hadnt lived with my ex we would have gotten married and I would have been extremely miserable. Before we moved in together everything was peaches and cream, he was sweet, attentive, kind, always looking out for me and for us. Within a month of me moving in, he turned into a demanding, verbally abusive, extremely chauvinistic man. 3 months later I moved out and moved on and now 3 years later I am living with my boyfriend, we have had our struggles but I will be forever grateful that I have lived through some hard times before we get married. The longer I live with him the more I am convinced he is the one I am going to marry and I will never regret living with him.
My family doesnt approve of my living arrangement due to religious reasons but ultimately we have to decide at some point what we need to do for ourselves- pretty much like you did. I wont try to convince others that my way is the best but I feel that it is the best for me.
I love you and your blog, but I have to disagree with you on this one. You make some great valid points, but there is one thing missing. I was brought up similarly to you, only as a United Methodist preacher's kid. There was a lot of pressure on me from an early age to live a very moral life including no sex before marriage. Unlike you though, I caved. I was in a relationship with a boy right out of high school, my first relationship. Because I had no sense of who I was or what I really believed for myself I gave into the extreme pressure he put on me. I never questioned my belief in God, but it was all those little things around it that all went up in flames the second I made that decision. I didn't know it then, but I needed that. I needed to not know who I was on my own so that eventually I could find myself. An independent from my parents thinker. Seven years, two failed relationships and a few thousand mistakes later I finally was able to get a grasp on who I was, and what I believed separate from my parents. And based on my own convictions, I have chosen to abstain from sex until marriage, and so has my boyfriend of two and a half years. However, I have no qualms about your choices. I make no judgments about the lives others live because it is not my job. The part I disagree with is that one thing missing from your story. Conviction. I don't believe your story proves that you should have sex and live together before getting married. I think it proves that no big decision you make or don't make should be made out of guilt or pressure or because that's what you were taught by your parents. It should be made because that's what you're convicted about. That's what you believe. Every decision you make should reflect your decision to be a better person. If living with your girlfriend does that, then I am glad you feel strongly about it. But please remember that those of us who are choosing something may have come to that conclusion based on their strong desire to reflect their decision to be a better person. I don't think this post says that. However, I believe that on all counts you an awesome person and a great dad.
@MandyJones I LOVE your response. I agree whole heartedly. Thank you for this post!!
I wish you guys all the best! I have lived with a lot of my past boyfriends and it was almost always a mistake (actually just dating a lot of the guys I've dated was the first mistake o_O). Now I'm with someone, we live about a half an hour apart from one another and our schedules are very off from one another as well. We still make time to see one another usually a couple of times a week and this has worked out very well for us. We're both very independent people and need our own time and space for our own activities (he's an introvert and I'm an extrovert, so you know, I can go out dancing while he stays home and watches Netflix ;)) I could potentially see us living together someday far in the future, since he actually encompasses all that I have been looking for (and failing to find) for a long time, and it's a little bit amazing. But for now I like that we have to make time for each other, it makes everything so sexy when we finally do see each other! ;)
As for abstinence before marriage, I think it's a terrible idea haha (I'm an ex-Mormon as well, btw). But you know, that's just my opinion ;)
Holy crap I feel like we could talk on this one for decades and still not delve into every corner of it's boundless little nooks. I am LDS and have done all of the above inside and out. First husband joined the church, civil marriage. Divorce. Ugly, abuse, neglect for our daughter and myself, over done out. Second husband married in the temple. Divorce. Ugly *repeat above * plus add a few more varied forms of awful. Both cheated on me by the way. It is what it is. Third guy we lived together. Opposite in every way from the above mentioned boys in men's clothing. Good man... such a good man. Obviously things were "tried before they were buyed" and he did join the church because I knew I needed it back in my life and he, at the time, felt he needed it as well. Married, but not in the temple. Ex-2 stands in the way...still. But now we're stagnant. I want what he doesn't feel, but I take good care of him and he needs me and I'm a born caretaker. Now, the church isn't that important to him but it is to me. But I love him.
I think what you refer to is true but I feel it's a matter of infatuation. My third time I took infatuation out of the game on my end because I knew to look for it. I knew what I was doing, I was aware of the difference between lust and love. He on the other hand, bless his sweet heart, didn't.
Marriage is hard even the good ones and truly I probably have a better marriage than most. But with agency comes their choices not just your own. If you desire it enough (both of you) you can make it work. I had 6 kids by the time husband number 3 came along and no, none of them are his. I had also taken in 2 teenage girls that weren't biologically mine so the count was 8. An now yes, just like you said, the kids see it. They see the good but they see the distance.
You have to just float your own boat and bring extra paddles regardless of the little stream you take. (Yes, I did just throw in a Primary song reference for you Ha!)
Or maybe... just maybe some people don't meet their "compatible one". Just be happy. Love strong. You have to try harder if you really want to go to hell that much you should remember. Good luck to both of you!
@PidgI don't understand the second-to-last sentence - I think the grammar is off on that. But just in case it references going to hell if you don't try hard enough (because that's what it sounds like to me and I know it's a big deal in the Mormon church; and btw completely unbiblical), I wanted to throw this one out there:
Ephesians 2, 8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— NOT BY YOUR WORKS, so that no one can boast." (Emphasis my own)
Isn't it beautiful to know that true Christians are safe in the arms of God, that he loves us so much as his own children, he gives us everlasting life, no matter what we do and no matter how often we mess up or have sex before marriage. This is exactly the reason why Christ died for us on the cross (again, I know a Mormon controversy... so stop calling yourself a Christian if you can't believe it): So that we, as wretched sinners with a heart evil beyond understanding (Jeremiah 17,9), would be forgiven and could be with the Father forever.
@anne_pelczar @Pidg So Anne... that was exactly my point. "You have to try harder if you really want to go to hell" (in a slightly laughing tone) While I believe it's best to wait to have sex before marriage and just so we're clear; yes my church teaches us this but I, having been on both sides of this battle, believe that for myself - and from my "own experience". It's not enough to send you to the depths of outer darkness. Yes, I understand the atonement of Christ. Yes, I believe deeply in repentance. And yes, I am a Christian and wouldn't think of calling myself otherwise. I have been the recipient many times of the blessings that come from the light of forgiveness that one receives after their slate is wiped clean.
In the end however; it's not my place to judge, thank goodness. I wouldn't want that responsibility. To each his own. That would be why I wished them both good luck. It's sincere. Christ and Heavenly Father are love and charity and hope and all that is good. They are not condemning they are merciful. We are meant to take different roads, fall off and get back up again... make our own choices.
Jump back Mama, it was a comment for Dan not a comment to set afire a "not so tolerant to Mormons" individual. You know what's funny? I know a great deal about the Mormon church as well. We don't take going to hell lightly. Nor do we offer it up as easily as you might think. People tend to take our "strict" standards of living and assume we are condemning as a church. And just so we're clear, my eldest daughter who is getting married in October is living with her fiance as we speak. Is my baby going to hell? Absolutely not. Yes, a Mormon just said that.
It's nice, I think, that we have free agency to make our own choices in life. I respect other's choices even if it might not be what works for me. Diversity of any kind, is to me, what makes the world so wonderful to be in. We tend to grow more when we open our eyes to another's point of view.
I was raised similar to you, only not Mormon but Baptist. I dated my husband seven years and two days before we got married, but we never had sex...we did other stuff that made us feel guilty, but not sex. Yes, I realize 7 years is a long time to date and we should have gotten to know each other pretty good by then...but we knew if we moved in together we'd feel guilty, and our parents would never shut up about it so we waited til we were married to move in together.
Now four years later (today is our 4th wedding anniversary) we've been planning a future divorce. He's going to help me get on my feet financially, and then we're going to end it. We realized pretty quickly that sex was not going to work the way we thought it was going to (for personal reasons not divulged here). Simply speaking, we are not sexually compatible. We got married for the wrong reasons, so we could live together and have sex, and because i wanted to leave my awful job and go back to school (which didn't work out anyway for financial reasons).
Anyway, I just want to say I support you in all things, and the next time around I'm gonna do it hopefully like you're doing it; date, move in together, and then possibly get married hehe. With sex before marriage, preferably. My parents are just gonna have to suck it up.
Your post illustrates just how complicated the issues of sex, abstinence, and marriage are, and how difficult a "one size fits all" approach can be. I am a LDS convert, having dated and lived with an inactive member for seven years before she decided to be active again and for us to get married, with me converting a couple years later. Believe me, we had plenty of sex during those seven years. Should we have waited? Probably. Would it have made a difference in our relationship? Maybe. Maybe not. Should I be judgmental about other people's choices about what works best in their lives? Absolutely not. These are not simple or simplistic choices to make and abide by, and I appreciate, Dan, you being perfectly honest about just how difficult those choices and the consequences can be. I also appreciate how respectful you are of the church despite your differences.
Very true and I am with you. This has been my argument for taking relationships for a full test drive before marriage! You don't spend your life with a car, but you research it and drive it and agonize over which one and all that. You don't just pet one and look at it and yearn for it and sign a contract; then you get in and it doesn't drive how you like and go where you want to go.....Test drive you ENTIRE life before committing! What if they are super messy or leave the cap off the tooth paste or hate to travel and you need those things...Life can be a long time in misery and you both deserve more than that. Good luck on your mature relationship and new family!!! The third time might be the charm!
Great letter, I hope more kids read this and see the light. Good Luck In Your New Life..You And Your Son deserve it
Love your life, I am happy for your new family! Love is hard to come by....nice you are taking it in easy steps
It's like I told my teenage boys,... Not having sex before marriage is like buying a car without having EVER sat in its plush leather seats or at least driving it around the parking lot a time or two.
Personally I think you should get the sex out of the way early on that way you can concentrate on learning about each other or end it if it sucks. Like anything though, you have to give it at least two tries. Everyone is nervous the first time, unless you're a porn actor. I'm glad you two are doing what you feel is right for the two of you.
Not being facetious...just curious what your thoughts are because I love your opinion even though a lot of times I believe differently. How is "playing the part" different from getting married from a young childs perspective? If "playing the part" doesn't work out it could cause confusion and pain just like loosing his step mom and step sister before right? Sad things and disapointment are part of life and all kids need to/will learn that but I don't see the logic behind thinking living together is better for your son than getting married
@neslonerb - I actually am in agreement with Dan and have a very similar situation. I guess the best answer for me would be that there is not right or wrong answer when you're dating. There is no right or wrong move. As a parent, you have to be extremely careful about who you introduce your kids to, who you move in with, re-marry (if that's what you choose), etc. I dated the person I'm with for over a year before he knew my kids. We were together for almost two before we decided to move in together and now we're coming up on 5 years and I don't regret the decision for us to live together at all. I think you have to go with your gut and take chances and you have to be prepared to deal with your child's heartache along with your own should things go south. Otherwise you risk being alone and in the long run, I don't think anyone would want that for themselves or their parent. As selfish as I was as a teenager when my parents dated and remarried, I know that I don't want them to be alone because quite frankly, I'm not always around. I know my kids won't always be around and I would hope they wouldn't want loneliness for me either. The best we can do as parents is hope against hope that things go the way that we want them to and that we give them the best in every decision we make.
My boyfriend (soon to be fiancee -- rings bought) and I have been together nearly three years and living together for two of them. I was raised with the same belief of abstinence and no living together before marriage. But while I was in college, I realized how fluffy my expectations were about relationships. I figured out that being together outside the puppy love (and what my friends call new-relationship-high) was more important for a long term relationship. Living together really has worked for us finding out if we are compatible when someone isn't happy, when someone is stressed, when someone needs their alone time when you're both in the space. I'm glad I did it this way. And I wish you luck for you and Sarah as you grow together with this new stage. I'm happy for you!
I agree with all of this. My Husband and I lived together for 3 years before getting married. We were engaged within the first 6 months of living together. That was kind of the "Deal" moving in together. It wasn't just for convenience, to save money, etc. It was because we knew we wanted to get married and we wanted to be together prior to marriage. I had known him since I was 12 and he was 13, but I didn't really KNOW him until we lived together (I was 24 when we moved in together). We learned how to fight, how to make up, how to work with each others routines and make new routines together. We learned so much in that time we were living together and there were times I wanted to kick him out and times he wanted to leave, but we were able to work through it and it made us even stronger. I don't think anyone should get married without living with their partner first.
As a woman, I have heard that moving in with someone is a big mistake because it means they get everything they want - sex, companionship, someone to cook and pick up after them, everything a wife can contribute to a relationship without having to actually tie the knot. I lived with my boyfriend for 10 years before he finally proposed and now after one year of marriage I'm leaving him. Getting married did not dissolve the resentment I felt toward him. It was probably my mistake for living with him before we got married. I completely applaud you having sex before marriage and really getting to know your girlfriend and I also think that you are NOT the type of guy to take advantage of a woman by getting a free wife and not committing, so I would say in your case it's probably going to work out OK and you will make an honest woman out of her someday if things continue to go well.
try to remember this down the road when Noah does something he grew up thinking was 'wrong' but now resonates with his heart...
Glad to know you're figuring out what makes you happy. I feel weird being the happy Mormon wife who did everything "right" and I've been married for over eight years and I don't regret our decisions. Is that strange? Because, by reading your post and some responses, it seems that my decisions are not based on what others perceive as "normal" and "logical". I'm okay with that, I guess, but it feels weird to be judged like that, you know?
Congratulations on y'all's momentous decision and may you enjoy the new digs together for many moons!!
Hilarious! I posted this on my FB as a good Christian woman. I am prepared for evil stares! lol
Thanks for the honesty! :)
Both my husband and I are devout Christians, so I understand those sexual boundaries......And only after we were both 100% sure and planning the wedding did we have sex. Whether or not that was wrong, I don't know. All I knew was that he was the one God set aside for me. Now, we haven't been married long, but we've already been through so much, with my own health, dealing with each other's pet peeves, even intimacy issues, that we've learned to work through everything. This whole thing has been a big learning experience. I'm not sure that having sex before we got married made anything easier or harder. but I can say this. It did take some of the pressure away. We knew how compatible we were sexually, so that wasn't going to be an issue in our marriage. And we knew we weren't dedicated to the marriage just for the sex, but because we knew we genuinely wanted to be together for the rest of our lives.
Excited for you! :) I completely agree. I think it's crazy not to live with someone before marrying them. Personally I know several couples who were completely in love while dating and seemed like the "perfect" couple - until they moved in together. That's when they realized they drove each other nuts in little ways that would never work out in the long run. What if they had gotten married before living together? Those marriages would have ended in divorce for sure. The divorce rate in this country is absurdly high, and I definitely think this issue can be a factor in that!
It's a personal choice - don't let anyone make you feel bad for it. Some people would rather practice abstinence, and that's fine too. To each his own!