marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Game Of Life, Love and Marriage



Marriage itself is like a game. It has rules, and if you choose not to play by the rules, no one has any fun.[i]

My wife and two of my children recently joined in a stake activity called ‘The Game of Life’, based upon the board game of the same name. Some of you may have had a similar opportunity in your area. 

The floor of the gym in the stake center transformed into a living version of the board game ‘Life’ and the kids in the stake got the chance to do a dry run of what their future could possibly look like, and see how they felt about it.

Three Rules for the Adults

My wife reported that the first thing she and the other volunteers found was there were rules for them as well – three rules to remember:
*No changing the existing rules,
*no helicoptering over the kids, and
*have fun!

These rules required great amounts of self-control on the part of the adults.
My wife and the other volunteers naturally wanted kids to have the benefit of their wisdom and experience, but that would change the outcome of the game, the stake explained, and strip them of much of the benefit of learning from their own experiences.

The volunteers agreed, bit their tongues, and did their best to let it all happen naturally. They watched the kids make decisions from a temporal point of view, forget to pay tithing on payday, and experience shocks the adults could see coming across the room; sometimes things the adults had personally experienced in real life themselves.

So What Does “The Game of Life” Have to Do With Marriage?

Most of the kids married. There were more girls than boys at the game, so some of the girls drew widow cards, or got ‘married’ to a serviceman who was off on assignment, mostly raising children themselves. None of the arrangements happened on a ‘romantic’ basis. All of the marriages and the couples were randomly pre-arranged.

My wife observed the subsequent behavior choices of the kids with great interest. Some couples reacted with sarcasm or biting comments when under stress. Others responded with kindness and cooperation; they were going to make the best of whatever the game threw at them. 

Those who reacted with humor and good grace to every test and setback did better and seemed to enjoy the game more than those who succumbed to the temptation to speak harshly to each other.

My Daughter’s Experience

The marriage surprised her greatly (all the kids were surprised to find their spouses were chosen for them), but she and her ‘husband’ got going right away. They as a couple chose to cooperate and work together and roll with the changes. 

As the game continued, they got to know each other’s names, and talked to each other about what was happening. They took turns carrying the dice and the paperwork and everything else they needed to carry. They made up stories about their children along the way.

Halfway through the game, my daughter rolled the dice and learned that she had ‘died’ – her husband was now a widower. Instead of going over to the waiting area for dead people who are waiting for judgment, she continued to follow her spouse through the rest of the game, encouraging him from the ‘beyond’, even though she could not directly participate anymore. 

Through the process of them working together, she felt very connected to him, and even after her character died, she wanted to be there to encourage him and cheer him on. In the end, when his life was over, she greeted him and they happily sat together with the bishop to review their ‘life’.

My Son’s Experience

Our youngest son also ‘married’ a young girl from the stake he had never met before, and by the time they got to my wife’s station, they clearly struggled to get along. Despite his efforts to get along and be pleasant, his spouse’s attitude about him and the game didn’t seem optimistic. 

Later, he told us they did not talk much, and his ‘wife’ took it upon herself to make many of the decisions for the couple, often without asking him for his input. She would walk in front of him, and he would walk behind, carrying all their required paperwork. In addition, rather than be frugal, she insisted on having the most expensive of everything. (My wife saw this happening to many of the couples.)

When he asked her questions to try to get to know her better, she would not answer his questions. They got through the whole game and ‘died’ of old age together. After the game was over and they were waiting for Judgement (the part where the kids talked to the bishop about the experience), they did not sit together until they had to, and at one-point lost track of each other.

No one was shamed, but in the interview, they were asked to reflect on their experience. The Bishop asked each couple to think about how living the gospel did or would have helped their life (in retrospect) and eternal life in the future.

Our son said he tried his best to have a good experience, and even though his wife largely rejected his efforts, he felt that the scenario taught him some useful lessons about thrift and cooperation. We appreciated his efforts to do his best in a difficult situation.

And the winner was…?

The game was not exactly like the board game. Some actions during the game, although no points happened for them right away, brought reward after death – actions like paying tithing, accepting the burden and expense of children, paying off debt, and cooperation.
The couple who won the game had paid tithing on every payday, had 12 children and no debt, and calmly handled every challenge and setback together.

As an anecdote, my wife's favorite part was when the kids came to roll for how many children they would have. She couldn't tell them anything - unless they asked. Many of this kids didn't ask and just rolled. The number they landed on was the number of kids they would have. She was to ask them "would you like to roll again" and keep asking until they told her to stop. What the kids didn't know (or ask to find out) was that it wasn't a "re-roll". It was a "roll the dice as many times as you want to see how many -total- kids you end up with." Some of the kids just kept rolling. So one of the lessons was "ask" and investigate before you leap. 

…Love? Yes! (Sort of…)

Even though none of the pairings were romantically based as we prefer to do in our culture, those couples that did the best in the game followed the rules of marriage – the rules laid down by the Lord – and got through life with confidence that their hard work would pay off, sooner or later. 

“When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden.”[ii]

The Game of Life wasn’t a perfect simulation of adulthood and marriage. Intimacy and sexuality is a balm that soothes the bumps of life, as well as being the sacred vehicle for procreation, and the children in this game had none of the balm – only the bumps. If they had anything, it was the example they were raised with and remembered, to be kind to each other, and to compromise.

Many of them openly wished to ‘die’ because the game felt so hard – a life of struggle and adversity, with no relief.  Some reinforcing thoughts about marriage that came to me from this social experiment was that a good sexual relationship can be part of that relief, when we have worked to create it and compromise together as a couple.

As well as the gift of sexuality, the Lord also gave us the rules of marriage. These rules come from living the gospel, and when they become part of you, everything is easier, including marriage. Some of the kids in our stake knew what to do from having lived the gospel and from watching the examples of their parents and others, while others struggled and revealed more selfish and temporal attitudes. 

Hopefully, preparatory experiences such as these can help us all reflect, and try to do a little bit better to practice the gospel and receive the blessings of doing so in our own marriages.



[i] The rules to make a great marriage are rules anyone can use, in or out of the Church. A quick list of them lives in The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities….”

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Best Possible Sex - Gender Divisiveness

I hope this doesn't sound too lame, but I am still working on this next post. It wouldn't be fair to you to just post something that is unedited and missing vital documentation.

So I could keep my posts in sequence, I guess you might say I'm saving this space so I can put the article here when it's done.

In the meantime, I've written a couple more articles I been wanting to get out, but this one is just taking longer than I had hoped.

When this last one in the series is posted, you'll be notified at the LDS Marriage Bed Facebook page, so you can keep an eye out for it there.

In the meantime, love each other, be kind to each other, and follow the Prophet and Holy Ghost - they know the way.

~ Sam Zaragoza
LDS Marital Intimacy Coach

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Best Possible Sex – Jealousy



 In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4 , Part 5 Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8
 
What is Jealousy?

“Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. Jealousy strikes both men and women, and is most typically aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party. The threat may be real or perceived.”[i]

How Can Jealousy Interfere with the Best Possible Sex?

Dr. Noam Shpancer, Ph.D. in his article “Jealousy Hurts Love or Does it?”  said:
“It is no surprise that research has often linked romantic jealousy with strife and dissatisfaction in a relationship.”[ii]
An emotion that brings with it fear and rage and humiliation will clog up the finer emotional channels, so that love and affection cannot be felt nor expressed with any sincerity. Unless they’re into “hate sex”, attempting to arouse your spouse while they experience such emotions, or trying to get turned on yourself, can be near-impossible under this kind of emotional turmoil.

If sex happens at all, it might happen on the wave of an intense emotion such as rage, which is not an emotion that edifies nor uplifts or emotionally unifies either spouse. Good sex and healthy progression is unsustainable under such conditions.


When your child is the catalyst of your fear of losing your spouse.

Jealousy isn’t always about a romantic rival. A particularly toxic situation that can sometimes happen is when one spouse feels competition with a child for the affections of the other spouse.

In case you new mothers out there are wondering why your spouse doesn’t seem as into the baby as you are, this is normal. Men (in general) only produce about 10% of the oxytocin (the bonding hormone) that women do.

You could hear the audible exhale of relief when I told my male friends and clients this. They thought something was wrong with them because they didn’t have the rush of feelings of love and bonding at seeing their new born baby – that the movies promised they would feel. Men don’t always feel that, and that is normal. 

Because of this, a husband may find himself jealous over his wife’s attention to the new baby if she neglects her spouse’s feelings and needs, or a wife might find herself jealous of her child’s relationship with her husband.
 
How to Overcome Jealousy in an LDS Marriage

*It may sound simplistic, but sometimes the simplest answer is best; continue dating each other.

“It's completely normal to be jealous of your wife's relationship with your new baby — especially if she's bonding with him through breastfeeding. But it's important to ask yourself who's really making you jealous: your wife, for being so close with your baby? Or your baby, for coming between you and your wife? My guess is probably both.
Whatever the cause of your jealousy, it's best to get your feelings out in the open. Start by talking to your partner as clearly and honestly as possible.
As important as talking is, it probably won't be enough. Create a date night or go for a walk with your wife.”[iii]

*After the children come, there is no such thing as “spontaneous” anymore

Time together must be planned and scheduled to keep the relationship balanced. But, if you think about it, regularly scheduling time for your spouse can be very romantic. It shows your spouse that you care enough about them to make and keep time for them in your busy and demanding life.

*Be conscious of your spouse’s feelings. Usually you can gauge when something is not right or the spirit of harmony has left. Communication is 80% of a relationship, so make yourself a safe place to express what the other is experiencing and to come up with ideas for resolution.


Jealousy doesn’t have to get in the way of the best possible sex if you’re both willing to put the other first.
“There is a never-failing formula which will guarantee to every couple a happy and eternal marriage; but like all formulas, the principal ingredients must not be left out or limited. The selection before courting and the continued courting after the marriage ceremony are equally important. But they are not more important than the marriage itself. Its success depends upon both partners.”[iv]

Join us next time as we discuss how gynocentrism and androcentrism affect the best possible sex.








[i] Psychology Today – Jealousy Basics. https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/jealousy
[ii] Shpancer, Noam Ph.D., Jealousy Hurts Love, or Does It?, Psychology Today, Apr 01, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201504/jealousy-hurts-love-or-does-it 
[iii] Brott, Armin, Babycenter.com, 2017, As a new dad, how can I get over my jealousy toward my new baby?https://www.babycenter.com/404_as-a-new-dad-how-can-i-get-over-my-jealousy-toward-my-new-ba_3568.bc
[iv] Kimball, Spencer W., Oneness In Marriage, June, 1978, LDS.org, https://www.lds.org/liahona/1978/06/oneness-in-marriage?lang=eng

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Best Possible Sex – Loss of the Spirit

In case you missed it, here are the first 7 articles in this series:Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4 , Part 5 Part 6 , and Part 7

How can a loss of the Spirit disrupt the formula for the best possible sex?

Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, in her talk Love and Marriage[i] , shared this insight about the role the Spirit plays in marital sex:

“Marital intimacy is ordained by God. It is commanded and commended by Him, because it draws a husband and wife closer together AND closer to the Lord.

True marital intimacy involves the whole soul of each spouse. It is the uniting of the body AND the spirit of the husband with the body AND the spirit of his wife.

Just imagine…He can purify your feelings! Therefore, ANYTHING that invites the Spirit into your life and into the life of your spouse and your marriage will increase your ability to experience marital intimacy. It really is as simple, and as profound, as that.

On the other hand, anything that offends the Spirit will decrease your ability to be one with your spouse. Things such as anger, lust, unforgiveness, contention, immorality and unrepented sin will reduce your attempt for marital intimacy to be something that’s nothing more than a sexual experience.

While worldly sex is under the influence of the world and the Adversary, and involves carnal, sensual, and devilish passions, God ordained marital intimacy as under the influence of the Spirit and involves Spirit-enhanced and purified passions.
The truth is, the more pure you are, the more marvelous your marital intimacy will be.

With worldly sex, anything goes. With marital intimacy, exquisite care is taken to avoid anything and everything, from language to music to movies, that offends the Spirit, your spirit, or your spouse’s.

While worldly sex is lustful, and kills love, marital intimacy generates more love.
Worldly sex degrades men and women, and their bodies, degrades the body as a plaything, while marital intimacy honors men and women, and celebrates the body as one of the great prizes of mortal life.

With worldly sex, individuals can feel used, abused, and ultimately, more lonely. With marital intimacy, spouses feel more united, loved, nurtured, and understood.

Worldly sex ravages and eventually ruins relationships. Marital intimacy strengthens marriages. It supports, heals, and hallows the lives of spouses and their marriage.

Worldly sex has been likened to the toot of a flute, while marital intimacy has been likened to the grandeur of an entire orchestra.”

Repent…for the best possible sex…?

The best possible sex is not just intercourse.

It includes sex, but it’s not just sex.

It’s all the functional forms of love, operating together as part of that full symphony of intimacy. Marital intimacy is the coming together of a man and woman, sexually, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Two people united in purpose and heart and mind and spirit.

We can literally be sanctified and worthier to have the Holy Ghost with us by having sex with our spouse – if we do it the right way.

World Cannot Teach Sexuality with the Spirit

This turns the world’s reasoning on its head, where the worldly peak of experience involves having the best, most involved, ‘non-vanilla’ physical experience possible.

The secular world doesn’t consider the spiritual aspect of our lives at all. They do try to use the physical to access the spiritual, but to them, it’s in a temporal perspective – using the tantric energy flows in the body, which is still using the body. The Holy Spirit cannot be accessed that way. Using chemical means or harder, more physically punishing experiences to help drown out the pain of life is not the same thing as accessing the Spirit.

But this is what the gospel promises (and delivers on)[ii]. Those who trade this promise away for mere physical experience in the wrong context are getting only a fraction of what’s available to mortals sexually.

Those who focus strictly on the physical in marriage, or seek worldly sources for learning without incorporating spiritual improvement, often find themselves equally frustrated, and are unable to truly find the sweet, liberating peace that comes from the Holy Ghost.

No Shortcuts

A loss of the Spirit shuts us out from having the best possible sex. Only repentance, humility and obedience will open that door and keep it open. There’s no cheating the Holy Ghost. We either do what is required of it or we don’t get to have the “full orchestra” promised from having it with us in our married sexual relationship.[iii]

**

Join us next time as we discuss how not scheduling time for marital intimacy affects the formula for the best possible sex.



[i] Watson Nelson, Wendy. Love and Marriage. From a young adult devotional given in January 2017. https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2017/01/love-and-marriage?lang=eng

[ii] John 14:26-27 – No one but the Savior controls who gets the Holy Ghost and how they get it. No one can legislate that, no one can create laws to change how we access it, or cheat or protest or steal their way into it. There’s no equivalent counterfeit of the Spirit. We either do what Christ requires, or we don’t get it.
[iii] D&C 121