The other day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who is a devout Christian and strongly believes that sex should wait until marriage. This is person is almost twenty-two, and yet has never gone further than second base, not because of a lack of opportunity but because he is adamant about keeping his decision. We both believe that sex should be saved for strong commitment, but this is where our ideas diverge: he believes that you can’t truly know if you are committed to someone unless you are willing to marry them, whereas I think that, especially when you’re in your late teens/early 20’s respectively, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Whether or not he keeps this commitment until marriage is yet to be seen and frankly none of my business, but it got me thinking: can you know if you are committed to someone if you aren’t willing to marry them? I would argue yes, and here’s why:
1) Marriage is about so much more than just being in love with someone. It is quite literally merging your life with another person’s. Sometimes young adults aren’t ready to do this until maybe their late 20’s or early 30’s, but don’t want to waste their youth unable to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures
2) Going along with this idea, studies have shown that having sex even once a week is equivalent to having several hundred extra dollars in a bank account. Although this may seem like a nebulous claim, the fact remains that sex has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits that are not necessarily (with that being the key word as it is a highly personal choice that will differ for everyone) worth postponing in your youth.
3) Marriage requires a certain level of compromise in terms of housing arrangements, finances, and career goals that simply being in a serious relationship doesn’t because the cultural expectation (particularly for women) is that we will put our significant other’s needs before our own. For example, if you want to work in New York but your husband gets into grad school in say, Iowa, what do you do? It involves a certain level of professional sacrifice that people just starting their careers aren’t always ready for.
4) The old adage said to young women to convince them that their self-worth is somehow intrinsically based on their sexual purity is always “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.” First of all, I think it is horribly degrading to both parties to refer to women as “cows” and men as their “buyers” in the twenty-first century, but secondly if I’m going to make a lifetime investment in this metaphorical milk that’s in discussion, you bet I wanna know that it’s quality stuff. (Forgive the poor euphemism)
5) This will often lead people to get married before they’re ready or know their partner for very long because let’s face it, who wants wants to wait for years and years to have sex with the person they’re in love with? Many of a person’s key personality traits take years to be fully revealed, which is why it’s better to wait more than say, eight months, before committing to someone for life.
6) This last one is more of a personal opinion, but setting ultimatums rarely results in a positive outcome because it can often lead to a life of living in fear; of “don’ts” rather than “do’s.” The extremes of life tend to not be the best place to live, not conducive to happiness or well-being.
7) For gay couples, in many parts of the world getting married is illegal, so saying “wait until marriage” just seems flat out unfair.