This episode of Cultural Differences is going to have a lot less to do with differences I have observed between countries, but rather more to do with differences between those who were raised with a strong Christian heritage (though I am sure that it will apply to other religions as well), and those who were not.
In my family, I am by far the oldest of my generation. I have a good 6 years on my cousin, who is the second oldest. Although we are a small family, most of us only children and the sons/daughters of parents with few or no siblings, this year is proving to be a year of big changes.
Although I am the oldest at 29 years of age, I am soon to be the only unmarried person over 18 in my immediate family. While this does not bother me in the slightest, as I have lived with my boyfriend for nearly 10 years and we are perfectly happy, it did get me thinking about what motivates some people to get married as young as 19. There is one stark difference between me and most of those who are tying the knot this year: I am the only atheist on my mother’s side of the family, and most of my cousins do not believe in sex before marriage.
In the run up to the big day, I have seen my cousins posting several articles about not wanting to wait to spend the rest of their lives with their best friend. I cannot disagree with the sentiment of getting into a serious relationship when you are young, as I myself met my boyfriend when I was 19 and do not regret not being single in my 20s, but the articles they kept posting seemed to reduce their decision to a false dichotomy: either get married, or be single. What I did, have a serious relationship and live together without putting it down on paper, is never even proposed as a potential third option, I assume because it goes against their upbringing as good Christian girls.
I realized all of a sudden that, if you were to ask both myself and one of my cousins the question “is sex important?” we might both sincerely answer “Yes, very important” or “No, it is not important at all”, depending on the context of the conversation before the question is asked, and despite the fact that we have very different attitudes towards the importance of sex.