SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – Men who vow to remain virgins until marriage get lots of support from their churches and friends, but after they get married that social support disappears.
Because of that, those men can become lost and confused when it comes to having sex with their wives.
“They spend the first 20-something years of their lives being told that sex is wrong,” said Sarah Diefendorf, a sociology doctoral candidate at the University of Washington in Seattle. “They’re expected to make this transition from the beastly to the sacred, but they don’t really have the tools to be able to do that effectively,” she told Live Science.
Diefendorf says it’s easier to remain pure because of support groups for teens and young adults. And while much of the media attention has been on the girls and young women who take chastity pledges, Christian evangelical men take virginity pledges, too.
To hemp the men keep their vows, churches will set up small support groups where men can help each other as they struggle to stay away from pornography, masturbation and premarital sex.
In 2008, Diefendorf interviewed men in one such small group, called The River, which was formed at the Message of Truth, a nondenominational mega-church in the Southwest. 15 men met regularly to support each other and many became close friends.
But once those men got married, there was no support group to help them explore sexuality with their new wives.
“The church teaches, before marriage, keep it in the light, they want these men to be talking about these issues so that they maintain their pledges,” Diefendorf said. “But post-marriage, the church teaches: keep it in the dark.”
In fact, most of the men told Diefendorf they believed discussing their sex lives was inappropriate and disrespectful to their wives.
But they also said they were uncomfortable talking to their wives about sex, and with no outlet to discuss their issues and concerns the men can become confused.
The upshot was that, though their marriages may be happy and healthy overall, “when it comes to their sex lives, that’s where they are struggling,” Diefendorf said.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
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