You cannot truly know your partner without discussing beliefs about gender and sex. Even in our modern society, these topics are not easy to talk about, but are very important.
Our attitudes towards gender and sex stem from our childhoods. Sometimes it is because of something we hated and sometimes it is the opposite, something we liked or never really questioned.
I grew up in a house where my mom thought boys were worth more than girls. I, of course, am a girl and I had three sisters and one brother. For my mom, my brother was the "prince" and we were supposed to serve him. My dad on the other hand, was the opposite. He taught me a lot about gender equality. He cooked, he cleaned, he helped us with homework, he did artistic things. He would even force my brother to be part of the dish washing roster. I did not like my mother's attitude and chose to follow in my dad’s footsteps where my own life was concerned. When I was looking for a partner, this was one of my "musts", I was not willing to live with a guy who thought girls were supposed to serve boys. When Gal and I started going out, I was happy to discover he was on the same page as me.
Statistics reveal that the three main reasons for divorce are related to money, sex and household maintenance. If you sort out your musts in relation to these topics before you get married, you increase your chance of having a loving and fulfilling relationship for a much longer time.
Unfortunately, many of my relationship coaching clients indicate that many of their conflicts is stem from a lack of open discussion about sex and beliefs about gender roles. Most of them grew up in a house where talking about sex was taboo and they do not feel comfortable talking about it even to their partners.
Well, it may be uncomfortable, but we all have to do it eventually. It is better to talk about these things when you are calm, in love, and have the motivation to make it work. Otherwise, you end up in court years later trying to prove to each other that the other person did not fulfill the items on the agreement. Why should you end up in such a tough place? Because there never was an agreement about any of it in the first place! Talk to your partners!
- Who took care of the house when you were a child? The garden? The inside? Cleaning? What are your thoughts about this arrangement?
- Which of your parents worked?
- Which of your parents read stories to you as a kid? Helped you with homework? Why? What do you think about this?
- Who drove the family car? Why? What do you think about that?
- How did your family view the roles of girls and boys, men and women? Why? How do you feel about this?
- Are there household responsibilities you believe to be the sole domain of a man or a woman? If so, what are they and why do you believe this?
- Who do you think needs to earn more money, the woman or the man?
- If you are a man, how would you feel if your wife earned more money than you?
- Who, in your opinion needs to control the money in a shared household (the person earning it, the person using it, the person who is good with money management, equally…)?
- When you have kids, who do you think should stay at home with the child?
- What does equality mean to you?
- Do you believe that roles in your family should be filled by the person best equipped for the job, even if it is an unconventional arrangement?
- Share 10 beliefs about women/man. You can start with "Women are…" or "Man are.." and complete the sentence.
Remember not to judge your partner's answers. Forewarned is forearmed. It is better to know the answer ahead of time than feel cheated later.
- What were the attitudes towards sex in your family? Were they talked about? Who taught you about sex?
- Do you have any religious beliefs related to sex?
- When did you start being sexually active?
- How many sexual partners have you had?
- Would you and your new partner have a medical test before commencing a sexual relationship?
- What sexual activities do you enjoy the most?
- Who is responsible for birth control?
- Do you feel comfortable initiating sex? If yes, why? If not, why not?
- What do you need in order to be "in the mood" for sex?
- Have you ever been sexually abused or assaulted?
- Have you ever had a sexual relationship with a person of the same gender? If so, how was it?
- Would you rather have sex in a bed or in the back of a car?
- Do you like to take a shower before sex? After sex? Before and after?
- What do you think about watching pornography? If so, what do you like watching? What is out of the question?
- How often do you need or expect sex?
- Have you ever felt pressured to have sex?
- Have you ever pressured someone else to have sex?
- Do you have sex to feel good?
- Are there specific sexual acts that turn you on?
- Are there specific sexual acts that make you feel uncomfortable?
- Do you like having sex in the evening or the morning?
- What are your thoughts about sexy clothes?
- What are your thoughts about fidelity?
- What are your thoughts about having 'threesome' or sex swap?
- Have you ever been sexually dissatisfied? What were the circumstances that led to it?
- What would you do if your partner could not have sex with you for a long period due to a medical reason?
These sorts of questions are not easy but very important. I would recommend having this conversation when you are both in a good mood and willing to share your thoughts and beliefs. It is also important to be willing to listen and accept your partner's thoughts and beliefs.
Join me next week for the last chapter of the Know Your Partner series. The next lot of questions will be about having children and how you parent them. These are important questions to ask both your partner and yourself, long before you have kids.
The agreements between couples that involve children are much more difficult to break. No matter how well we come into a new agreement, the kids will suffer. Then you will be forced by circumstances into a different agreement with your partner that one of you or both of you may not like.
Relationships that involve children also include compromise, and lots of it. Simply because you cannot split your children in half and each take a piece. They came as a whole. Because of this, it is imperative that you discuss these topics with your partner. Make sure they have the same values. For as long as you live, you will have to be in some kind of a relationship with your now partner, because children are forever.
Until next time, have a good and happy relationship!
This post is part of the series Know Your Partner:
- Know Your Partner: Musts
- Know Your Partner: Questions to Ask
- Know Your Partner: Appearance, Work, Money and Health
- Know Your Partner: Education, Leisure, Holidays and Birthdays
- Know Your Partner: Home, Food, Telecommunication & Pets
- Know Your Partner: Beliefs & Attitudes
- Know Your Partner: Attitudes About Gender and Sex
- Know Your Partner: Parenting