Despite the recent ads on TV and the age old saying, what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas. If you know that your partner would be upset to hear that you had strippers at your bachelor/bachelorette party, this decision will affect your marriage.
I’m not speaking from any personal pain on this issue but from the distress of many a newlywed I’ve counseled who gets wind of his or her partner’s “totally wild” last night of freedom. Witnessing this time after time in my role as a marital counselor, I've often wondered whether there could be any wedding-related tradition more stupid than a bachelor or bachelorette night filled with strippers.
Where in the world did we get this tradition, and how has it persisted for so long?
If your goal is to kick off your marriage in a veil of secrecy and suspicion, a night of carnal pleasure with strangers would be a wonderful way to achieve it.
If your goal is to undermine your partner’s sense that you only have eyes for him or her when he or she most wants to bond with you, then a trip to a few strip clubs ought to do the trick nicely.
If you’d like your future spouse to see that after all that practice in high school, you still haven’t figured out how to stand up to peer pressure, then by all means, get wrangled into going to a strip club, and deflect your partner’s pain by blaming it on one of your friends (“My best man sprung that lap dancer on me unexpectedly, and she was grinding on me before I even realized what was happening”). (Really?!)
If you want to send your beloved a message that you are entering the marriage with mixed feelings and a sense of loss, then by all means, you should participate in a custom that suggests you need to have one last go at sexual intimacy with a stranger because you'll be deprived of such opportunities in the future. What a beautiful way to herald the sacred vows between yourself and the self-professed love of your life!
I know that some people are more philosophical than I am about this whole stripper thing, so I'll even take that into account. Overlooking the possibility that you could be one of the rare people who is not at all bothered by the thought of some random human potentially pressing his or her naked sexual parts against your future spouse, one question you still may want to ask is “If I told you that I have a problem with strippers at your bachelor or bachelorette party, how would you respond?”
This very telling question allows you to learn some very important things about a potential future spouse, things like...
Will you hear me and understand my concerns even if you don't feel the same way?
Do you agree that, within reason, when one of us has a problem, it's a problem we both need to address?
Can I depend on you to stand up for us even if you get ragged on by some of your friends sometimes?
Can I depend on you to protect what we have and to treat me with respect whether I'm in the room or 3,000 miles away?
Am I, and are we, now your top priority?
Are you open to influence when I tell you about something that causes me pain?
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea of a Bachelor or Bachelorette party. In fact, my husband and I like it so much that we both took a long weekend away with our friends before we got married. When his friends have gotten married, he’s joined them for camping trips, weekends in cabins on various lakes, or time spent exploring a new city. Bachelor and Bachelorette events for us are an opportunity to spend quality time with our closest friends before the biggest transition in our lives to that point. They are a time to reflect on and get excited about what we are both about to do - a wonderful part of a uniquely memorable rite of passage.
Would there be any downside to eliminating the sex-games-with-random-strangers part of this tradition? Not for us, and not for any other couples who want to start off strong by honoring the spirit of their commitment to the one they love.