Why I Regret Being My Husband's First

I was the first girl my ex-husband ever kissed, and looking back, I'm not sure that's such a good thing. (I did mention the "ex" part, right?)

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Growing up in the purity culture of the evangelical Christian teen movement of the '90s, we were taught that ultimate sexual purity and chastity was a virtue to end all other virtues, so it wasn't unusual for many guys and girls to remain totally chaste until much older than some of our peers. Which is how my intended made it to 22 without having ever kissed a girl, gone a date, or basically learned anything about the fairer sex.

This was okay by me, because gosh darnit -- I could teach him! Heck, I was a teenager myself, so I figured we could grow and learn together.

The problem with purity culture combined with stay-married-no-matter-what Christian culture is that it often sets couples up for failure.

My ex-husband never had a girlfriend before me, and within days of our first kiss, we were engaged. That's called courting, ladies and gents, and even though I had dated through my teen years, I somehow wound up in a courtship.

Anyway. I'm blaming this all on kissing, but it really goes so much deeper than that. (That's what she said!) To avoid kissing, my ex avoided ALL romantic entanglements with girls before he thought he was ready to take a wife ... which means he never learned a very valuable skill set: how to communicate with females.

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A 16-year-old boy who doesn't call a girl back is a bonehead, and the teen girl who dumps him over it is a brat. A 26-year-old man who doesn't call back is being a jerk, and the adult woman who breaks up with him over a phone call is a bitch.

Because my husband never dealt with the "bratty teen girls," he never learned the importance of how his own behaviors and shortcomings could affect a woman. A man who has kissed and dated and been at the target end of a ragey teen girl learns that consistency, respect, and follow through are important to women, even if they eventually outgrow their hormone-fueled tantrums.

So, all of a sudden, I was married to this man with the dating skill set of a high school freshman, along with the attitude that I should act like a grownup wife and give him a pass on the small things, even if my inner teenager was shrieking.

It was a setup for total failure. If I got upset with him, all of a sudden I was a harpy, no matter how calmly I expressed my concerns. He had never had a romantic interest express displeasure in him before, because he had never had one. He didn't know how to deal with it, and honestly, I didn't know how to deal with him not being able to have constructive talks about making our marriage work.

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Instead of confronting it, I learned to stop telling him when he hurt my feelings. Because I stopped doing that, he never modified his behavior. Because he never experienced romantic loss, he never believed that if he didn't get his act together, I would eventually walk away.

A girl can only say, "You're upsetting me, please stop," so many times before she throws in the towel. Maybe if my ex had kissed a few girls and learned that we really do mean it when we express our needs, he would have cared more about mine.

Do you think that saving your first kiss for your husband or wife is a good idea?

 

Image via © Adam Hester/Corbis

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