My parents, both Catholics and medical professionals, advocated abstinence until marriage as both a means of birth control and as a means of not catching STIs (as AIDS/HIV was a super-scary thing back when I was a teenager). Amusingly, I missed out on three sex ed lessons in public school not because of my parents saying “no” but because each year they fell on the day when the high school band I was in had overnight trips to march in parades or do field shows. My parents approach to sex ed was to place one of my mother’s old, giant nursing college textbooks on anatomy and physiology on the back of the toilet, providing us with cutaway drawings of sex organs and describing only the clinical aspects of reproduction and diseases. This ultimately manifested as a “sex is dirty/unclean/diseased” mentality. I was 33 when I finally lost my virginity, have had only two sexual partners, and eventually married at 42. I have to wash after sex and have great difficulty with oral sex–giving or receiving–because I think of it as being a dirty/shameful/degrading act. I’m still struggling with this, knowing that my wife enjoys oral sex and me wanting to make her happy, but she knows I don’t enjoy oral sex and so I don’t have opportunities to try and work through my issues. As a result, our sex life is almost non-existent (about 6-12 times/year, although she’s also on anti-depressants that greatly lessen her sex drive), and I worry that this is hurting our marriage–or that we’re headed toward a platonic marriage, which I don’t think either of us wants.
Writing this down has been helpful. I’m going to broach the “do we want a platonic marriage?” question with my wife. I suspect she’ll say no. (At least I hope so!) I’ll say I don’t want a platonic marriage either, and we can start talking about what we can do to prevent that from happening.