It's that time in a single man's life where he finds it increasingly difficult to be grateful for another wedding invitation. You see, as chance would have it, many of my friends in their early twenties are preparing to get married in the next six months. It's not that I dislike weddings, but I dislike a lot of the fuss that goes on around them
Like most young Australians, they dream of one day owning their own house and raising a family in it, but this is certainly not cheap – trying to follow this dream will leave a young couple working with little disposable income for 15 or 20 years to pay off a hefty mortgage (it's hard to get a house around here for less than eight times the average annual pre-tax salary).
I plan to talk more about newlywed culture in upcoming posts, but for now I just wanted to mention a discussion that my friends and I had recently. I can't remember exactly how it started, but I think one of my friends was complaining about the cost of the house they had just bought, and I suggested something along the lines of
“Why not find a housemate or something to help pay the bills?”To which my friends immediately objected
“No way! You've got to have a few years on your own first to get to know each other.”
I understand that this is the standard way of thinking in a nuclear family culture, but I've really started to question the wisdom behind this. Leaving aside my other musings (especially about the selfishness of this assumption) until a later post, I thought it was fascinating that the primary reason my friends gave for their objection was:
“But, if you had a housemate, they might hear you... you know...” *laughs nervously*
What? You mean someone might realise that you, a married couple, have sex sometimes? Lord forbid it. I couldn't believe I was hearing this from a couple that was going to be married in little more than two months at the time. There are two inherent issues with their objection. One is that, at some level, they are uncomfortable enough about the idea of sex that they can't speak about it directly – I understand that Christians are not usually brought up discussing these things over breakfast, but by the time people are in their early twenties (and especially when they are about to be married) they should at least be able to say the word ‘sex’ without looking really awkward.
The second issue here is that my friends apparently seem to find the idea of sex “icky”. On an intellectual level, they know that sex was created by God and that it's normal for married couples and all that, but on another level, they seem uncomfortable about it. Certainly, sex is not meant to be a public affair, but I would think that any housemate living with a married couple would reasonably assume that the couple are going to have sex regularly and if they had a problem with that then it's their own fault.
What do you think causes this attitude? Do we shelter adolescents too much in the church? It's not as though they won't hear about sex from any other sources (they certainly will). If this is a tactic to somehow curb the rate of premarital sex, then the statistics indicate it really doesn't work. Some churches run mens meetings and womens meetings, but these are typically for older people who are already married, so it doesn't help the teenagers to develop more healthy attitudes themselves. I know that my pastor spends a lot of time talking about sex in pre-marriage counselling of young couples, but I wonder if even waiting for them to be engaged is too late.
Is this something you see as an issue too? If you are married, do you remember whether you felt squeamish about sex as a newlywed? How did that affect your early marriage and how long did it take before you could discuss it comfortably?