Tuesday, March 23, 2010

All he learned, he learned wrong..........

I have a lot of respect for my in-laws. They've been married almost 40 years. They seem to have a good marriage and a good life. They have done wonders with my autistic brother-in-law and have adapted well to having a challenged child. My husband never got arrested, drunk, did drugs, slept around - a good kid. However, I am beginning to see that despite their good intentions, there was a lot of harm done to my Husband. I'm learning that harm can occur from lack of contact and lack of knowledge, through inadvertance and even with the best of intentions.

In my house and childhood there was way too much knowledge and physical touch. There were no boundaries whatsoever. RoOmance novels, porn magazines, porn movies and cable television were easily accessible. In my husband's family the boundaries were tall and thick and covered in barbed wire.

My in-laws do not kiss or hug. Husband says there used to be a quick peck on the cheek when leaving for work, but even that has ended. I've never seen them embrace or hold hands, not even at my MIL's mom's funeral. Maybe it is because my BIL, who is autistic, doesn't tolerate touch? In any event, they forgot to touch my Husband too - no embraces, pecks on the cheeks, slaps on the back for jobs well done. Nothing.

All my Husband learned about puberty and sex he learned from magazines, porn, tv shows, movies, and the perfunctory sex-ed classes in school. It is no wonder he is so totally skewed in his thinking.

I was the first very serious relationship Husband had. He had never really kissed a girl before dating me, let alone slept with anyone. His parents knew this. When his father became concerned that Husband (pre-marriage) would occasionally crash on my apartment couch after a late-night out, Husband reassured his father that we were waiting to the wedding night to consummate our relationship. Despite that conversation, FIL never once discussed the wedding night with Husband. There was no sit-down, here is what to expect, talk.

My Husband learned about procreation from watching farm animals. Between porn magazines and watching horses breed, it is no wonder he has misconceptions about male sizes.

A dear friend of mine sent me a book that she had been given just prior to her marriage. It is similar to this -

but written by Christian authors. The book detailed reproduction and how to have sex - think tab A into slot B type stuff. It was detailed without being gross. per my friend's suggestion, Husband and I read a chapter out loud at a time. It forced us to say certain words to each other, that before had only been whispered or giggled. The book did a great job of discussing the "myths of sex," such as the honeymoon night is going to be full of fireworks. It dealt with reality and the differences between men and women. (the book was written in the 70s so we had lots of laughs at some of the language and pictures)

That was the extent of my Husband's education about the world of sex and marriage. Thank goodness for that book. However, even though it was a great book, it missed a lot.

So here I am, left to deal with these huge barriers my Husband has, as well as all his misconceptions. He has learned to be appropriately affectionate with our children. He enjoys their kisses and hugs and snuggles. He still gets uncomfortable holding hands or embracing in front of his parents, but I don't see that ever changing. The biggest problem is the lessons he learned from movies and porn --- that all men are huge, that every encounter causes fireworks, that men and women ravish each other 3 times a day every day, and that women want sex all the time just like men. Given that men tend to joke in a fashion that only encourages those myths, it is hard for any man to accept reality.

Discerning what is real and accepting it is the task my Husband needs to accomplish, and I know it will not be easy. For him...or me.


lawyerchik said...

That explains a lot, Enola. My grandparents were never very affectionate with each other or with their kids.

It took their grandkids to get them to a point where they would accept hugs and kisses - and once they got genuine (appropriate) affection, it was like food to a starving person. Not in a bad way - they just blossomed.

It was a different generation - for better or worse. My mom said that my grandmother's wedding night advice to my aunt was, "a greased pig doesn't get caught," referring to avoiding pregnancy....

I hope that you and your husband are able to work through this and get to a new and positive place in your relationship.

It sounds like you both bring things to the table that the other needs - balance, maybe, or just a mutual recognition of "neither of us knows the rules, so let's decide what we want and what we don't want." :)

mssc54 said...

Here's how my dad's speach about the "Birds and the Bees" went.

On my thirteenth birthday, sitting on my bed, dad standing in front of me.

"Son, there's going to come a time when you get the chance to get a girl. You better get her 'cause that's just one more piece you can get. Now I don't know everything about sex but I can find out. So if you ever have any questions ask me. Any questions?"

Ummm, no sir; dad exits room.

lawyerchik said...

@ mssc54: Wow. I learned about the "birds and the bees" when I was about 7, and it was because I started reading my mom's nursing school anatomy book. At that age, and given that it theoretical at that point, I was kind of like, "OK, big deal, what else can I find to read?" What I learned about dating, I learned from Grace Livingston Hill and Zane Grey - neither of which was very helpful..... (Sigh!) In light of how most people learn about these matters, it's a wonder there are any human beings left in the world at all!! :)

Ethereal Highway said...

Enola, this just goes to prove something that I have always believed - It does not always take ill intent or outright abuse to twist or impair some aspect of the healthy development of a child. Sometimes just a shortage of the feeling of genuine closeness, communication and/ or safety can leave a mark. I think it is good that you understand intellectually where your husband came from. It does an important service to children anytime any parent reads something like this.

MSSC's comment reminded me of the birds and the bees lecture that my husband received from his father and it was prompted by my husband blasting the song 'blinded by the light' in his bedroom. There is a part in the song that says 'revved up like a deuce'. Well, apparently the hubs' father thought it said 'douche' instead of deuce. And the lecture began with my husband's father asking him if he knew what a douche was. My poor husband. He really, really did not want his father to offer to show him his mother's douche bag. That poor kid. I did better, but not by much. I started to read the instructions out loud off of a box of condoms I found in my son's room, but they were too embarrassing, so I simply told him that if he did not fully understand the instructions, then he should call his father right away because sex outside of a committed long term relationship can create disease and might impoverished his children should they be born before he is ready for them. I even made an ass out of myself years later when he came over and left from our house to go on a date with a woman he seemed very excited about. I said, "Son, make sure you cover your pee pee." Yeah, that was my parting comment as he left that night. I remember my son gave me this 'look' and just patted me on the top of my head. I still can't believe I said that out loud. At least only my husband heard me say that to my grown son.

Rising Rainbow said...

Unfortunately, I'm sure he's not alone in this. Too many men have no idea what "normal" really is when it comes to sexuality.