This straight out of Times Online. For real. I gotta tell you, I never knew sex could be so ....uh, complicated.
Sex advice: I'm a 35 year-old Muslim virgin hat tip ejo
Q I’m a 35-year-old Muslim man whose arranged marriage ended quickly (our families fell out). I’m still a virgin and haven’t met anyone else. Any advice?
DR THOMAS STUTTAFORD
A A genitourinary medical clinic in an area of London with a large Muslim population once saw so many patients with problems such as yours that the diagnosis was described as the Bangladeshi syndrome. Such a term might now be considered pejorative, but at the time it merely drew the attention of other doctors to the sexual difficulties that some young men were having with their sex lives.
Your letter says that your marriage wasn’t consummated. In an arranged marriage, the woman may have a horror of penile insertion that leads to vaginal dryness, pain and vaginismus – spasm of the muscles of the pelvis so that the vagina is involuntarily but effectively clamped off.
The man may have to compete with two potentially overwhelming difficulties. The most common is premature ejaculation so that he climaxes either as soon as he penetrates his new and little-known wife or sometimes even before penetration. Some bridegrooms, including a few who are not virgins, find that they are impotent once confronted by a hopeful bride with great expectations.
The symptoms of both husband and wife have the same origins. With premature ejaculation, a man suffers orgasmic-type muscle contractions and so ejaculates prematurely; similarly, a woman with vaginismus endures strong involuntary contractions of the same pelvic muscles that are involved with an orgasm at the first hint of penetration. Impotence and vaginal dryness are also signs of a lack of sexual arousal.
Talk to your GP about sexual counselling when you remarry. Many causes of marital disharmony are better treated by seeing partners separately. However, joint consultations are helpful, sometimes essential, when dealing with premature ejaculation or vaginismus. Similarly, there are benefits from some joint meetings when focusing on impotence with psychological origins.
The counsellor you consult should not be someone who might disparage your adherence to the Islamic code. Betrothal and marriage customs have varied according to race and religion for thousands of years.
Strict Muslims follow a Mediterranean code that demands virginity for both sexes before marriage. Christianity, because of its Judaic links with the Middle East, also accepts the Mediterranean ethic.
As the Christian Church spread, its marriage customs replaced those of the Nordic pattern in which marriage didn’t celebrate the start of sexual congress but of breeding. Even before the marriage service, those who were formally or informally betrothed were permitted considerable licence in or out of bed.
In the Mediterranean cultures, the formal marriage ceremony was essential before sexual intercourse could be sanctioned.
Within my own lifetime, “bundling” – the practice of lovers going to bed together even if theoretically remaining chaste – was still practised in some areas of Britain. Often young couples didn’t marry until the woman became pregnant. This proved that theirs was a fertile relationship, a factor of importance when considering future inheritance of land.
Dr Thomas Stuttaford, The Times doctor, spent many years working in a genitourinary clinic
A Finding a new partner can be difficult for any 35-year-old divorcé, but since practising Muslims advocate arranged marriage, and do not believe in dating, finding Mr or Mrs Right can be even more difficult.
In the past, parents expected to find their son or daughter a suitable partner from back home in Bangladesh or Pakistan but, understandably, young Muslim men and women who have been born in the UK are increasingly less interested in an arranged marriage with those who have lived all their life in another country. Second and third-generation British Muslims want partners who share their beliefs, but who come from similar backgrounds and are equally compatible in terms of education and interests.
Seven years ago, Adeem Younis founded Single Muslim (www.singlemuslim.com), an online introduction agency, which has more than 100,000 registered users, 90 per cent of whom live in the UK. The site has been set up so that guardians and parents can search for prospective partners, too, and a guardian or wali is expected to attend any meeting to avoid impropriety and pose difficult questions about expectations for the future. To join the site, applicants fill in a detailed profile, with lots of faith-based questions such as “Do you wear a hijab?” or “Do you have a beard?”And a man who prays five times a day can specify, for instance, that he wants a wife who prays as frequently.
Joining Single Muslim is simple. Membership costs £28 a month for men and is free for women. According to Younis, the fact that you are a 35-year-old virgin will make you a very good catch as, from an Islamic perspective, it is a sign that you have stayed on the right path.
When I ask Younis if it is common for arranged marriages not to be consummated immediately, he explains that if your bride is living in, say, Pakistan, and you are working in London, you might have had only a week off to go back and get married. You would then have had to return to London to sort out your wife’s visa and, if the family relationship has broken down in that time, you might never have had the opportunity to spend any time together. He laughs when I then ask if couples wait until they get to know each other before they have sex. “Nature tends to take over on the wedding night, but what we say in arranged marriages is that you learn to love each other,” he says.
With websites such as Single Muslim around to help, finding yourself a new wife has probably never been easier, but keeping her remains as big a challenge as ever. In the true interpretation of Islam, women have equal rights, although different cultural interpretations have led to the oppression of women in many areas. Muslim women in Britain are increasingly aware of what they’re entitled to and are breaking away from the cultural restrictions that might have been imposed on their parents.
As the Single Muslim website advises: “In Islam, although the husband takes the lead in a marriage, a leader is one who serves, manages, provides and nourishes, and does so with humbleness and humility. The husband is expected to consult his wife, especially in relation to family matters, and to respect and value her opinion.” Good advice for any prospective husband, if you ask me.
Suzi Godson is author of The Sex Book (Cassell, £16.99) and The Body Bible (Penguin, £16.99)