Sex, Love, and Marriage

Some light topics to discuss at your next dinner party, eh?

Or never. Never at all. We tend to shy away from topics like these (in general small-talk conversations, at least) because they’re personal. Sex, love, and marriage are all major, life changing subjects: they reflect the most intimate parts of your life. So it makes perfect sense that we hesitate to share our thoughts on the matter, much less our own personal experiences. I did exactly that. Until I signed up for Honors Seminar 370: Becoming Sexually Healthy.

There were great reviews about the professor on ratemyprofessor.com, students said it was a good class, and I needed those three honors credits. So, indeed, I signed up for a sex class at Towson University. Right now, you’re probably doing what I did before class started– reducing it to that tiny box of “physical sex.” The class has been so much more than just that (thank goodness…it can be preeetty uncomfortable talking about some of the topics we discussed– I won’t even go there.)

We’ve talked about sex, love, and marriage, along with parenting, body image, gender roles, and more. It’s been enlightening, to put it in a broad term. Luckily, I’ve had a wonderful counterpart for more than 4 years now, so the lessons I’m learning about relationships and, most importantly, marriage, are not falling on deaf ears.

In my “Am I Ready to be a Wife?” blog, I addressed the title question, and the answer was no. (Sorry to ruin it if you hadn’t read it! I recommend you still do. There’s a great Justin Bieber gif) This class, more amusingly referred to all other times as “my sex class,” has made me even more sure that I’m not ready to be a wife, but it’s definitely helped me get closer to that point.

Do you want kids? How do you want to balance housework? Where will you live? How will you have difficult conversations? What are the most important aspects of a good marriage?

Holy crap. Sometimes I walk out of that class thinking about how much of my life I need to get together. And sometimes I walk out of that class feeling grateful and thankful that I already have a relationship that is developed and strong and makes me happy. The biggest reward I’ve gotten from my sex class so far is realizing how blessed I truly am to have Rick in my life. Aww, how sweet. But really, it’s true.

After spending multiple class periods discussing the hookup culture that we live in, (and writing a paper on it, nonetheless) I have never been more grateful for an honest and genuine boyfriend that provides me with stability at all times. Maybe drinking at parties and hooking up with random creepers works for some people, but I can tell you that it certainly would not work for me– even with my belief of sex in the context of marriage set aside.

I’ve been asking questions that I didn’t think about before, (Rick really didn’t expect “what love language do you speak?” to come out of my mouth, I promise you that.) I’ve learned how to keep it exciting and new, (we ended up in Connecticut one weekend as the result of some spontaneity) I’ve learned to really shut up and listen (he might debate that, but I’ve been trying, okay?!) and I’ve been let into the
We decided we wanted to see Yale. So we went! And it does NOT disappoint. Stunning.

We decided we wanted to see Yale. So we went! And it does NOT disappoint. Stunning.

secrets of happy and long-lasting relationships (aka I have some really bad habits that I need to break).

We do a lot of interactive activities and thought provoking assignments, so I always try to include Rick in anything that I can. I can’t be the only one who knows the secrets to happy and long-lasting relationships! We’ve taken the love languages test, discussed things from the book I had to read, completed the “what’s your love style” test, tried new activities, and done even more quizzes. None of them have been from Seventeen Magazine, though, don’t worry.

My favorite activity so far ended up having the funniest end results. The assignment was to write down 10 things that are important to you in the character of a spouse or in a lasting marriage. So it could be that you need an honest husband, or it could be that you need love to sustain a 50 year marriage. The answers could be a mix of those two categories. We then had to number the importance of each thing from 1 to 10. And to make it even more difficult, we then had to put them into two categories: those that were necessary, and those that we really wanted but could probably live without getting.

My teacher said we can’t get them all. I tend to disagree, because I see all 10 of my items in my relationship with Rick and in him as a person, but maybe he’s an anomaly. I was surprised when other girls in my class (yes, 17 girls, and only 1 guy) struggled to come up with 10– I could have gone on for days. Granted, a lot of mine are synonymous in practice, but I feel like 10 things you want in a man and marriage isn’t that crazy. Maybe it was easier for me because I had someone to think of and draw qualities from him. ANYWAY.

After I did it in class, I asked Rick to do the same to see how our wants and needs compared. Our answers were…different. And I can laugh about it because, well, because it’s funny, and also because I know that if I had explained it better, he would have written similar things. (Probably. Hopefully. Maybe. Probably.)

My answers were:

IMG_8009

1. Marriage led by God 2. Respect 3. Honesty 4. Love 5. Humor 6. Support 7. Physical relationship 8. Loyalty 9. Perseverance 10. Understanding

I, of course, didn’t let Rick see my answers beforehand, so when we flipped over our #1’s at the same time, the look on his face was priceless. Let’s just say that Rick and I have minds that work in very different ways.

His answers were:

IMG_8008

1. Honesty 2. Physical attractiveness 3. Consistent, clear, mutual communication 4. Intellectual 5. Clean 6. Similar interests without being exactly the same 7. Fun 8. Not lazy but has no problem relaxing 9. Willingness to eat unhealthy sometimes 10. Organized spontaneity

I’ll give you a minute to laugh to yourselves, and when you’re ready, just come back and finish reading.

I’m glad that our values match up…I put physical attraction as number 7, and I took it out as the only one that wasn’t necessary. He put it as number 2- TWO! and left it in the must-have pile. My life sometimes, I swear. He felt horrible and was so upset, but I found it incredibly funny.

So over the course of this semester, I’ve learned a lot. Most importantly, that my boyfriend and I have basically no marital values in common. Just kidding! Rick, I am not angry and people are not judging you! Well, they might be, but they shouldn’t be. They should only be laughing with you. I’ve also learned that I don’t listen when I’m looking at my phone or computer or television. I think that I am, but I’m not engaged in the conversation.

I’ve learned that people cheat on their spouses because of the thrill of someone new and exciting, and I’ve also learned how to keep things in your relationship feel new and exciting. You can never re-create the feelings of a new relationship with someone old, but you can have something even better– a stable, comfortable, lasting relationship that feels exciting because you’re trying a new restaurant, visiting a new city, or attempting a new activity.

The (seriously) most important thing I’ve learned is that relationships take work. After 4 years, it’s something that I already knew, but it’s a good reminder for those days where I feel like nothing could go wrong.

Being in love is great and wonderful, and some days, it’s perfect. But life is so much more than being in love. Being in a committed relationship is also great and wonderful, and some days, yes, it can be perfect. But some days it can be ugly and make-up-less and mood swinging. Some days it can be running low on money, some days it can be hangry, some days it can be jealous. On those days, you have to work for it.

My teacher says that lust and love can fade, but really, I don’t believe that to be true. I know that love lasts forever. You have to work on it, absolutely. But whether you’ve been married for 25 years, 5 years, or you’re not even married, (like me–so why am I dishing out relationship advice?) think about this: “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.”

Fill your relationship with faith, hope, and most importantly, love, and who can stop you?

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