of America (1-800-735-0329) for support group information and many
books on all phases of divorce and remarriage.
Living together is not easy under any circumstances, but being a
step-parent and/or having a blended family are special challenges. Yet,
it can be a very gratifying and enriching experience. Many step-
parents and step-children are loved deeply and relate warmly. The
alternative--living alone--is not easy either. It's about a tie, i.e. people
who remarry are no happier (nor less) than those who do not remarry
(Spanier & Fustenberg, 1982). We can find lots of ways to be happy.
Sex and Cultural Taboos
Sex is an important part of life. It gives us physical pleasure and
babies. It sometimes expresses love beautifully. Sex leading to
children is the only way for the species to survive and for most of us to
achieve a form of immortality--of living beyond our death. Although
simple, fun, and necessary, sex is restricted by a complex set of
morals, social customs, and taboos. Any drive that is so strong and
valued, yet so controlled and prohibited, is going to generate stressful,
ambivalent, confusing feelings.
Part of the confusion about sex comes from the church. It may
surprise you, but for centuries until the 1800's, the church fathers
thought and taught that women were over-sexed and had poor
impulse control, i.e. were easily seduced and prone to act out (wow, is
that projection or what?). As women gained more power in the church,
an implicit agreement evolved: women would be viewed more
favorably by the church if women would deny their sexual interests
and become the moral caretakers of the flock (Baumeister, 1991).
That is still our "understanding" of gender roles today, but we must
remember that women in our Western culture were seen as very
sexual (and inferior) creatures only 150 years ago. It was men's
fantasies about women having sex with Satan that lead to witch hunts
(in the 17th and 18th centuries 500, 000 women were burned at the
stake, not just a few). We are still sorting out sexual myth from
reality. For example, to what degree are current women's sexual "gate
keeping" and insisting on love before sex a reaction to centuries of life-
threatening sexual accusations by religious males? Or, are women's
sexual inhibitions based on practical interpersonal politics (males say
"why buy the cow if you are already getting the milk?")? Or, have
women learned and/or evolved over eons to be more interested in
love, intimacy, and security than in carnal sex?