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.