SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE
I remember my mother telling me in a low, somewhat sheepish voice, that she and my father “sort of” had sex before they were married. Well not technically. My father was American. It was the 1960s. There was a draft and during the gap between his graduation and their planned wedding, he was at risk of being called up. So these two young pacifists in love had a city hall wedding a couple of months before their religious one. And sometime between wedding #1 and wedding #2 I guess they did the deed.
With deepest respect to the exception of my Ace friends, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the vast majority of people I marry have already had the sex by the time they get to me. Well over 90% are already living together at the time of their marriage. The wedding night doesn’t mean what in once did.
Given what I hear in a lot of vows, most of the people I marry also seem to be monogamous.✲ Part of what sets their marriage apart from the other significant relationships in their lives, is that this is the person they have sex with. And, again, the person they seem to be promising will be the only person they have sex with, till death do they part.
Let’s leave aside for the moment what a very tall order this is, and the fact that most of us don’t grow up seeing that there are other options. Let’s assume that folks who are getting married have considered how important sex is to them. Let’s assume that they’ve determined that their sexual compatibility is sufficient for a lifetime commitment.
Then here’s my question:
Why does no one talk about it?!
When I meet with people I’m going to marry, I ask them all sorts of getting-to-know-you questions so that I can create a ceremony that reflects who they are, both individually and in their relationship. I want to know why they like each other, what marriage means to them, and what the foundations are that make their relationship work.
And I get all sorts of answers. And they’re beautiful. I hear about shared values and interests and humour. I hear about admiration and balance. I hear about culture, about similarities and differences. But you know what I don’t hear about? Physical connection.
Sexuality is everywhere and yet is still taboo. Sex Ed for us Boomers consisted of now to not get pregnant and not get an STI (or, as we called it then, VD). Sex ed for Gen Z offered an entire internet’s worth of porn. And neither extreme has ever managed to offer the importance of knowing ones own desires and pleasure. Neither presents sexuality as our birthright. Neither places importance on sex as a valuable and rich means of connection.
I have performed hundreds of weddings. And only once has anyone ever even come close to talking with me about the importance of their sexual dynamic. And this makes me very curious. When people are talking to me about what binds them together, why does no one ever mention sex?
I have some theories, but I’m honestly not sure which are most accurate:
I’m older than most of the people I marry and older people are considered to be not sexual or sexually conservative (not true!)
I’m seen as clergy, and therefore also conserved to be not sexual or sexually conservative (also not true!)
We are taught that the physical is superficial, and therefore sex is not an important component of connection.
I would love to hear your theories! And I’d love to talk with you about all the things that bind you to each other. And I promise I wont talk explicitly about what turns you on while your great-aunt Gertrude is sitting in the front row. Unless you want me to!
✲ I am still waiting for the honour of celebrating the marriage of a polycule ~ reach out if this is something you’re considering!