By Hara Estroff Marano, published on September 1, 2008 - last reviewed on September 29, 2008
I am an 18-year-old high school graduate and still a virgin. I'm proud of myself for making it this far and not being pressured into sex, but I don't want to be the Virgin Mary of college. I'm really tired of being a virgin, and I want to have sex. But every time it comes down to it, I talk myself out of it. I don't want to have sex I'll later regret. I don't have a boyfriend or any love interest at all. I just want to get losing my virginity out of the way.
Virginity may well be vastly overrated but you don't need to get it "out of the way"—because it isn't in the way of anything. Your hymen isn't keeping you from finding someone you like enough to take your clothes off with. It isn't blocking your entrance to college. It just isn't impeding your life in any way. Sexual intercourse is extremely physically exciting in ways you likely haven't experienced, and it is also emotionally exciting as it helps create a strong bond of attachment. Besides, you don't want to "lose" your virginity; you want to know exactly what you do with it. And you're likely to be highly disappointed if you hand it off to the first passerby, who may not even appreciate it. You'll feel best about yourself and enjoy your first sexual encounter the most if you hang onto your virginity until you meet someone you enjoy being with and feel close to, and who returns those feelings. In the meantime, stop focusing on your virginity and start focusing on building friendships with people you like and with whom you have interests in common.
My husband of two years and I are compatible 95 percent of the time. However, he doesn't include me in decision-making when guests want to stay in our home. Recently, his son and family were scheduled for a long weekend, and I was fine with that. But his daughter-in-law invited her two sisters and their families to stay, too. Nobody asked me; I was told they were coming by my husband. I spent a long weekend of cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and entertaining all nine visitors (with a smile). I asked my husband to please say "Let me run it by my wife" in the future. But he exploded and flatly refused. He shouts me down, and says I am not the woman he married. I am hurt and frustrated that I am not valued as half the partnership. If I approach him to resolve issues, he blasts me and storms out. I have to do all the resolving. Am I doomed to life with a noncommunicative spouse?
Perhaps your husband could do whatever he wanted before he remarried, but that's not how today's relationships work. Even if explosions happen only 1 percent of the time, the sting of being discounted as a full partner in your own marriage has a way of suffusing 100 percent of the time. No matter how much you love entertaining, it's hard to enjoy washing other people's underwear if you are allowed no say in who gets to deposit theirs in your laundry bin. It's even harder to resolve problems fairly with someone who, by exploding or storming out of the house or deploying other pyrotechnics, puts on a display of power by which he avoids discussing things that affect the two of you. Too bad you didn't see all sides of Mr. Vesuvius before you married. In any case, you need to employ a form of communication that captures your husband's attention and gives you back some of the power he wrests from you. Do not raise the issue of guests, but the next time your husband informs you that he has invited a houseful of people, tell him kindly that you are happy he feels comfortable inviting folks to your joint home. Assure him he will make an excellent host—but unfortunately, you will not be there to share the pleasures of everyone's company; you have made prior plans. (And be sure to be away that day—at a friend's or doing things you always wanted to do.)
Do not explain where you are going or with whom. If Mr. Vesuvius threatens violence or scares you in any way, leave the house immediately, with your pocketbook and cellphone. If he yells, tell him gently that he may not talk to you that way anymore, and you will be happy to talk to him when he can speak reasonably.
Then—and this is extremely important—no matter how uncomfortable you feel, walk away to another part of the house and get busy doing something there. If he insists on talking, tell him that you will talk only if there are ground rules for discussion and both of you abide by them. Rule Number One: Any time either of you wants to make plans that affect the other, such as having houseguests, there has to be a discussion. Number Two: No screaming or storming out during discussions; you can call a 10-minute "time-out" for cooling off, but the conversation must resume. Number Three: You both have to agree on who can be accommodated at the house and who must sleep elsewhere. Number Four: Mr. Vesuvius and you must agree on a fair division of responsibilities so you can share equally the burden guests place on a household. No ground rules, no discussion; you will then quietly make it a point to be away when guests arrive. Having to cope by himself could force your husband to realize how important your consent is.
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