I remember hearing a story many years ago of a father who gave his teen age daughter a special dime she was to carry with her at all times, one that in the days before cell phones could still be used for a phone call.
"That’s just in case some guy you're with on a date propositions you or tries to seduce you," her father explained. "You can use it to call me anytime, day or night, and I’ll come and get you!"
She carried this 10¢ piece with her in a special case everywhere she went, simply as a reminder of all of the good values her father stood for, someone she deeply loved and respected.
Years later she did actually call him late one night and said breathlessly, "Dad, do you remember that dime you gave me? Well, for the first time in my life, I’m needing to use it!"
They both enjoyed a good laugh. It was the first night of her honeymoon, a special night she and her newlywed husband had looked forward to, and waited for, during all of their dating and engagement.
I know that to many people these days that story sounds as quaint and as old fashioned as the idea of calling someone on a pay phone. But it reflects a timeless wisdom based on the familiar text about "leaving father and mother", "cleaving to one's spouse" and then "becoming one flesh". It's a well-proven recipe for couples living "happily ever after."
And I'm also old enough to remember that when the monumental 1996 University of Chicago study on Sexuality in America was published, it contained what was for many a surprise finding, that people in faithful, monogamous relationships reported having sex more often, and enjoying it more, than those involved in so-called “casual sex.”
Writer Mary Roach, in a article entitled “Much ‘I Do’ Over Mr. Right” writes about her decision to finally get married after a painful "emotional divorce" with someone she’d lived with for 13 years.
“I used to balk at the idea of lifelong fidelity,” she said, “But what did I get for my decade and a half of relative freedom? ... Heart pulp. Guilt and regret. The knowledge that by refusing to commit myself fully to a relationship, I destroyed it.” She adds, “To share a house with someone but not marry sends a message--to him, our families, to everyone. It says, I love this man, but I’m not sure he’s it..."
"I used to think that the people who wanted me to marry simply wanted me to be yoked. Stop having adventures, they were saying, be bored and predictable like us. Now I think they wanted to see me married because they wished me well. They wanted me to have a reason to stay home. .....Now marriage no longer feels like a sacrifice. It feels like the winning lottery ticket. Nothing more perfect, I am certain, is going to appear on the mis-folded, coffee-stained road map of my life. I know what Johnny Cash was all about: 'I find it very, very easy to be true'.”