Personal Response on Sexual Identity

Sexual Identity

Sexuality is part of human nature but unlike other species in the world, we are able to deliberate as to whether a sexual decision is proper or improper. To determine if a sexual choice is proper, people compare that choice to a value system that develops over time. Our value systems, gender identity, and romantic relationships have a variety of historical and environmental influences.

Critically Thinking Over Value Systems

            Upon starting this class, I initially explained that I most closely related to the rationalism value system, but now realize that I maintain a combination of situational ethics, ethical relativism, utilitarianism, and rationalism value systems. My belief on sexual behavior is that it should not be confined to an expression of love for one person only; genuine love in the primary relationship should warrant trust to provide enough emotional security to experience sexual behavior with a few genuinely loving friends. However, both individuals in the primary relationship must genuinely agree to this behavior, otherwise the relationship may suffer hardship by one simply trying to satisfy the other’s desire. I believe that sex with someone besides my wife is acceptable as long as she knows about it and does not have any reservations as to the possible outcomes of the sexual situation. Contemporary American Society does not advocate this type, and many other types, of sexual activity due to its foundation of values and beliefs being based on the early Christian belief that sex without procreation is a sin, even within marriage (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). From this early Christian belief it is not hard to understand why an open-marriage is not generally accepted amongst society. This is a rigid moral foundation that, in my opinion, prevents developing genuine love for others by restricting genuine love to only one person; leaving intimate relationships exclusively for marriage.

Situational ethics argues that sexual “decision making should be guided by genuine love for others rather than by rigid moral rules” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 5). As is apparent, my belief that the Christian belief prevents genuine love for others from developing is based on situational ethics. The contradiction of past Christian belief with my belief and my stipulation of full-disclosure and comfort ability that I use to justify my view is indicative of an ethical relativism value system, which states that “the essence of human morality is to derive one’s own principles and apply them according to one’s own conscience” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 6). In stating that early Christian beliefs restrict intimate relationships to marriage, my assertion is that it prevents “the greatest good for the greatest number” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 6), exposing a utilitarianism value system. The development of my belief in open-marriage was deduced rationally and therefore still bares the rationalism value system that I related to the most at the beginning of the course. My critical thinking ability was well-developed before the start of this class but now find that when I am critically thinking about various behaviors my thoughts automatically develop with human sexuality in mind, such as looking to the effects of gender role stereotypes in explaining my best friend’s behavior influencing his child’s behavioral development.

Understanding and Developing Gender Identity

I have become aware that one’s gender identity, the sense of awareness that one is either male or female (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005), encompasses the idea of what it is to be male or female as well. According to Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus (2005), identifying ourselves anatomically as either female or male, or sex assignment does not decide the behaviors and roles considered masculine or feminine in our culture. This raised awareness that released any remaining gender stereotypes I maintained through the understanding that being male or female does not indicate tendencies to experience different emotions. In fact, the personalities and behaviors of men and women are more affected by extensive gender expectations within our society called gender roles (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Men are expected to be aggressive and dominating while women are expected to be passive and nurturing. By observing their parents and other people, a child acquires which behaviors are appropriate for his or her sex through the process of gender typing (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005).

Upon the realization that I exhibited many qualities of the feminine gender-stereotype, gender typing helped me to understand why I possessed these qualities. Being raised by a single mother left me to observe and identify with my mother’s qualities due to the lack of consistent male gender typing. Along with greater female gender typing, my disability caused a lack in experiences outside of my home that contributed to the development of “a cluster of mental representations about masculine and feminine physical qualities, behaviors, and personality traits” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 197), or gender schema. Gender schemas determine how much importance is placed on gender-typed traits and provide a child the basis with which to judge their own physical qualities, behaviors, and personality traits (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Fortunately, my gender schema prevented me from placing too much emphasis on gender-typed behaviors and allowed me to exhibit both masculine and feminine behaviors, or exhibit psychological androgyny (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005).

Obstacles and Developing a Romantic Relationship

In high school, my disability provided an attitude of acceptance, which, along with trust and caring, characterizes the many past intimate relationships I maintained. I had several female friends that would call me to discuss life’s issues and once I even received a phone call from a friend that was in the process of a miscarriage of a baby that was not planned. Each one of my female friends knew that I cared enough that they could trust and call me anytime about anything.

Upon meeting my wife, I quickly realized how her family relationships lacked the trust, caring, and acceptance that are indicative of intimate relationships (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005); making note that she likely did not have love expressed to her. A week or two later I happened to be at her house when a guy pulled up and walked over to my driver side door where my wife was standing talking to me. I had recently caused bruise-like marks from passionately sucking on her neck and the guy began to express his aggravation by asking “what is all over your neck, did you invite me over here so I could look at all these marks on your neck from some guy?” I suddenly became aware that her relationship with this guy may be romantic in nature and she had not told him that we were dating; I became furious from betrayal and sped off. As I drove down the road in tears, I began to think about how dysfunctional her family life seemed to be. I had always felt that people treated me nicely due to my disability and, in fact, I had recently broken off a relationship with a girl that did everything I wanted to do without opposition. I began to realize that her dysfunctional lifestyle was likely the cause of her deception, lack of care for my feelings, and infidelity which I came to accept later by becoming enlightened to the fact that just because I was in a wheelchair she did not feel that was a good enough reason to treat me with extra care, as if I was fragile. It is quite weird but I found true acceptance in the pain she did not hesitate to cause me when we first got together.

Currently, I have been feeling that there are many obstacles that we must overcome to lead a productive life, which she does not seem to care enough to talk about. I love my wife very much and I do not want our relationship to deteriorate from the low self-esteem her father and brother instilled in her. It was a regular occurrence for her father and brother to call her a “bitch,” “slut,” and/or “whore.” Fist fights between her and her brother were also frequent, such as on our first Christmas Eve night together when he split her eye open and put her in the hospital. Not to mention that if someone ever got in trouble for these fights, it was mostly my wife who always received the consequences, even if her brother was the cause. My wife has actually told me that she thinks she is stupid and does not talk in groups because she feels that she does not have anything intelligent to add to the conversation; it is apparent that she tries to prevent, at all costs, being made fun of due to her self-doubt and low self-esteem. This is an obstacle we must overcome since “research suggests that partners with low self-esteem are more likely to harbor self-doubts that can interfere with the development and maintenance of romantic relationships” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 237).

Another obstacle is the negative influence my wife’s family has on her, such as how recently her father lied to get her mad at her brother which caused her to storm over to her family’s house to get in a fight, only for her father to take her brother’s side and abuse her. Much of her family interactions resembles my example and involves anger, abuse, and regret. Passively coping with the stress her family has been causing for 10 years is beginning to wear thin. I was raised in an intimate environment and had never been initially exposed to such dysfunction; however, I coped as a sacrifice for my love for her. “Research … shows that people come to trust their partners when they see that their partners have made sincere investments in the relationship, as evidenced, for example, by making sacrifices to be with them, such as incurring the disapproval of their family” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 238). For some reason, my wife takes responsibility for the divorce of her parents and feels obligated to be readily available in their times of need, although she is not usually there for mine. In the past, she became aware that her responsibility to her family seemed to take priority over our relationship. According to Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus (2005), people with disabilities require a positive, productive relationship and usually demand distance from parents in order to establish a mature sexual relationship. My wife’s family is without a doubt some of the most negative and unproductive people I have ever known, and their influence reinforces my wife’s childhood behaviors and emotions that are immediately apparent when she returns from visiting them. Is it wrong for me to want her to distance herself from her family to make sure we develop a positive and productive relationship?

The final obstacle is her lack of honesty and commitment in agreeing to relieve my distress by being more persistent in accepting our responsibilities. This exposes lack of care for my distress and makes it difficult for me to trust that she is going to do what she says she is going to do; “feelings of trust increase the partners’ willingness to depend on the relationship” (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005, p. 238). Although she is unaware of how her unreliable behavior affects me, she is decreasing my willingness to rely on our relationship. For example, we live in my mother’s house bill free and I have had conversations to let her know that I worry when my mother comes home to find a sink full of dishes and a pile of dirty clothes; I explained that it is the least that we could do to make up for my mother supporting our living arrangements. She expresses understanding for my distress and agrees to stay on top of these things, yet we always find ourselves back in the same situation; neglecting my distress by leaving a sink full of dishes and a pile of dirty clothes that may cause my mother to express aggravation toward me. In this way, my wife maintains a lack of intimacy for our relationship; she does not sincerely accept that I am distressed, care enough to prevent my distress, and cannot be trusted to continue preventing my distress even if at first she seems to.

Also, there is a lack of honesty and commitment considering our financial situation. According to Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus (2005), “planning for the future in both little ways (What will I do this weekend?) and big ways (What will I do about my education and my career?) comes to include consideration of the needs and desires of one’s partner” (p. 235). Since I only receive Social Security Income, my money goes quickly after paying some of the bills; therefore, my wife holds the majority of our income in her control. In the past few months, there have been several times when we have had no groceries or money because she does not simply feel like dealing with the stress of the finances; and she has promised me that she will not let it happen again, yet it usually does. I repeatedly initiate a conversation by expressing my concern for our lack of planning, though she usually avoids it and shuts down communication about our responsibilities. Attempting and having repeated conversations about our responsibilities makes me fear that she will never care about my emotional distress as much as she cares about her family’s distress. I do not feel that it is fair to ask her to distance her family which she apparently feels frequent obligation to. Even if she agrees, I suspect that she might hold resentment towards me for pulling her away from her family. I sincerely love my wife and do not see us apart, but I fear I will remain in distress until it wears me down if something does not change soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

Rathus, S. A., Nevid, J.S., and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (6th ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Axia College’s Writing Style    Handbook

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