Question: Hello Hunter - I am a 62-year-old Hispanic male, recently retired and have come upon a lot of time for reflection. My mother lost two children at birth before I was born. She tried to have a natural birth both times but ran into complications during birth and lost them trying. When I was born she had a C-section so she had a better chance to conceive.
My mother gave birth to
a daughter five years later the same way. My mother was in her 30s when she had
us, in an era where a woman’s worth and value was measured in how many
children she could have. She grew up in northern New Mexico in times when
people lived off the land, and when children were born, they were put to work
when old enough. That’s just a little background. Now my question, when I have
sex, I love to please my partner with extended foreplay and wait until she has
had her orgasm before I can let myself enjoy mine. I have come across theories
that tell about over-nurturing mothers and the effect it has on us as adults in
all areas of our life. Do you think over-nurturing mothers and Catholic
upbringing affect ones sexual behavior?
Answer: This is a very interesting question that has many answers, unfortunately there isn’t enough room in this column to get into the different ways upbringing and parenting, and religion can affect sexual behavior.
Let’s start with the religious upbringing. For many people,
reconciling their religious teachings and sexuality can be a challenge. Many
religions, including Catholicism, can sometimes impart the message (not always
on purpose) that sex outside of procreation is wrong. This can cause many
people to feel shame around their sexual desires and practices, which in turn
makes people feel ashamed and guilty when they have sex that doesn’t result in
babies. That shame can frequently spread over to other areas of a person’s
life, including masturbation, partnered sex and anything outside of the ‘norm’
(pro-tip: there is no normal, we're all just a different shade of weird.) But don't worry, there are
resources out there for folks who want to be
religious and explore sexuality free from shame. That means religious folk can have their faith and get laid too!
Now, for the part about over-nurturing mothers. Parents can implicitly and explicitly pass on many ideas about sexuality to their children, which can in turn play out later on in one’s sexual adventures. All of that being said, what is most crucial to your sexual well-being is what you actually do during sex. Your parents and religious teachings might play a role in that, but it isn’t worth getting into too much theorizing about how they impact you now, because everyone’s experience with sex, religion and upbringing are different and manifest themselves in different ways.
While there is some amazing sexuality research out there, I think it’s always smart to take any theories about sexuality with a grain of salt because of the immense diversity in human sexuality. People don’t experience sex, masturbation and orgasm in the same ways. So to say ‘if x happened when you were a child, y will inevitably happen as an adult’ is just not true. That being said, there are lots of great researchers out there doing amazing work on sexuality, but theorizing about "why we do the things in bed that we do" is a hard order to fill.
It sounds like you are doing very nice things in the bedroom with your partners. I will often recommend people, especially men that sleep with women, to help their partner have an orgasm before the male partner even takes his pants off. Because women are capable of multiple orgasms, it’s a really nice way to make sure everyone gets off. Not to mention, if the male partner comes before the female partner during intercourse, it’s not as big a deal because the woman has already had one orgasm. That method can help take the pressure of the male partner in that situation, and as many men know, pressure and performance anxiety can be quite the boner killer.
My advice to you is to not spend too much time worrying about how your
upbringing has impacted your sexuality. If it’s something you want to know more
about, you might consider talking to a counselor or therapist about your
thoughts around this topic. But it sounds like you’re already leading a sex
life that is satisfying to you and your partners, which is a great place to be.
Have sex questions? I’ll answer them! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the second installment of SEXEd: Q and A. Hunter Riley is a Santa Fe native living and working in
Albuquerque. She is the store manager of Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center. She writes a column in the Santa Fe Reporter on the first Wednesday of the month. Read past columns here.