This morning a fellow BCC perma brought this Meridian article to my attention: “Discussing Pornography with Your Future Son-in-Law” by Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founding director of a treatment program for those impacted by pornography and sexual addiction. With those credentials, one might imagine that Brother Steurer would know what he was talking about. However, without even looking at the article, my visceral response was, “Ew! Ew ew ew ew ew ew EW!”
But I knew I should be fair, so I clicked on link and read the whole thing. Then my response was…well, do you remember that old Saturday Night Live commercial for Bad Idea Jeans? In it a group of men are hanging around a basketball court, shooting the breeze and saying stuff like the following:
“Now that I have kids, I feel a lot better having a gun in the house.”
“I’ve thought about it, and even though it’s over, I’m gonna tell my wife about the affair.”
“I don’t know the guy, but I’ve got two kidneys and he’s got one, so…”
Brethren, you can add to this list “I’ve decided to ask my future son-in-law if he has a porn problem.”
Briefly, Bro. Steurer’s argument is that 1) pornography is such a prevalent problem and has the potential to do so much harm to families, and 2) it’s a father’s sacred responsibility to protect his daughter, so 3) he owes it to her to question her fiance about his pornography use, past and present.
Now, I must admit that I’ve never been a big fan of men asking fathers’ permission to marry their daughters. I know some people find this tradition sweet, but I’ve always felt that unless there are cows involved in this transaction, there isn’t much point to it. My father loves me very much, but I’m 100% confident that if my future husband had walked up to him and asked, “May I marry your daughter, sir?” my father would have responded, “What are you asking me for?” It’s one of the things I appreciate about my dad. But other people have different preferences, I understand. So if you’re the type who likes to interview your daughter’s fiances, be my guest, it’s no skin off my nose–but please, I implore you, do NOT ask your future son-in-law if he has a porn problem or has ever had a porn problem because it is none of your business.
I assure you, this isn’t some misguided feminist rant about how females don’t need special protection. Personally, I enjoy being protected. But if your daughter is old enough and mature enough to get married in the first place, then she is a grown-ass woman, pardon my French. If anyone is going to talk to her future husband about pornography, it should be HER.
Bro. Steurer is correct about the prevalence of porn use and how destructive pornography addiction can be to a marriage. There are many things that a couple should discuss before getting married, and pornography may be one of them. But getting married means you leave your parents to cleave unto each other. And while one may argue that in the engagement stage, pre-cleavage, the child still falls under the protection of the parents, there is such a thing as going too far.
Hopefully, you’ve taught your child how to pick a good spouse and to prepare for marriage, so that when marriage time comes, you can trust their judgment. If you don’t, there’s not much point in discussing anything, much less something as personal and private as sexual proclivities. But in any case, prying into intimate matters is not the way to endear yourself to either your child or their chosen companion. It sets a bad precedent. It suggests that you have difficulty minding your own business. Also, that you’re kind of a kook. In other words, there’s a fine line between protective and creepy and you just kuh-rossed it.
In his article, Bro. Steurer warns that if your prospective son-in-law seems defensive or is unwilling to offer details about how he manages to keep himself porn-free, that is a “red flag.” I prefer to think of it as “normal” and “healthy.” If I were your future son-in-law, I would run, not walk, away from this alliance. This is a family that will not respect my boundaries.
If you think I’m full of crap, you may consider adding some of the following questions to your pre-marriage interview:
1. Are you planning to use contraceptives? If so, what kind?
2. How much masturbation do you think is too much?
3. A good sex life is important for strengthening marriage. What do you know about pleasuring a woman?
Remember, if he seems defensive or won’t offer specifics, that’s a red flag!