marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Best Possible Sex – Lack of Intimacy



It would be nice if intimacy were a more straightforward concept. It is instead very complex and deserves care and respect, as each individual defines it differently.

A lack of sexual intercourse killed no one ever. Lack of intimacy, however, can be detrimental to mental and (sometimes) physical health. It affects the health of the marriage and when intimacy is lacking, the recipe for the best possible sex is seriously disrupted.

What is Intimacy?

“As we Brethren travel about the world, sometimes we see worrisome scenes. On a recent flight, I sat behind a husband and wife. She obviously loved her husband. As she stroked the back of his neck I could see her wedding ring. She would nestle close to him and rest her head upon his shoulder, seeking his companionship.
In contrast, he seemed totally oblivious to her presence. He was focused solely upon an electronic game player. During the entire flight, his attention was riveted upon that device. Not once did he look at her, speak to her, or acknowledge her yearning for affection.His inattention made me feel like shouting: “Open your eyes, man! Can’t you see? Pay attention! Your wife loves you! She needs you!”[i] ~ Russell M. Nelson

Intimacy is more than intercourse; in fact, sometimes sexual intercourse can be anything but intimate.

It’s found in a smile, a caress of the hand, a kind word, an encouraging note. Intimacy allows everyone around you to be more themselves, and know they’ll be accepted and loved through the good moments, as well as the less-than-our-best moments. Intimacy approaches a Christ-like kind of love. When mixed into a special, exclusive relationship such as marriage, sex brings an added dimension of great joy and satisfaction to intimacy.

Can a Lack of Intimacy Affect Your Health or the Health of Your Spouse?

“Intimacy, I have come to believe, is not just a psychological fad,
a rallying cry of contemporary couples. It is based on a deep biological
need. … It is only in the last 20 years that we recognize that infants need
to be held and touched.
We know that they cannot grow--they literally
fail to thrive--unless they experience physical and emotional closeness
with another human being.
What we often don't realize is that that need
for connection never goes away. It goes on throughout life. And in its
absence, symptoms develop--from the angry acting out… to depression, addiction, and illness. In fact, researchers are just at the very beginning of understanding the relationship of widespread depression among women to problems in their marriages.”[ii] ~ Lori H. Gordon

Human beings need intimacy like they need food and water. All relationships need it, and particularly marriage and sexuality suffers when it is lacking.

Can a Lack of Intimacy Affect the Health of Our Marriage?

“…a sex-starved marriage is more about the fallout that occurs when one spouse is deeply unhappy with his or her sexual relationship and this unhappiness is ignored, minimized, or dismissed. The resulting disintegration of the relationship encapsulates the real meaning of a sex-starved marriage.”[iii]
~ Michele Weiner-Davis

We have a lot of activities calling for our attention in this life. Our work is demanding and takes long hours. Church callings are a heavy responsibility. The temptation to renew ourselves in outside interests and special projects that seem all-important can be strong.

Anyway, we’ve been sealed in the temple, so that part of our lives we don’t have to worry about anymore, right? The love that we feel, and our temple marriages will always be there for us, no matter what happens, right? 

This belief couldn’t be more wrong.  

“If her husband places other things first and is unable to find time to develop intimacy in other parts of his relationship with his wife, she will probably not be very interested in sexual intimacy.” ~ Brent Barlow [iv]

Wives, however, can also do themselves a great disservice by demanding their form of intimacy, but disregarding – even denying – their husband’s definition of intimacy. A husband can only give so much of his wife’s form of intimacy alone before his intimacy tank runs dry. Actively keep each other’s intimacy tanks full and overflowing.

Because men and women are not cookie-cutters of every one of their gender, these typical intimacy roles could be flipped and many times are. Even through the course of your marriage and life, these roles can change, so keep an open mind and stay flexible.

So how do we know what our spouse’s definition of intimacy is?

Your Definition Vs. Your Spouse’s Definition of Intimacy

Our spouse is not us, nor is our spouse the same as every man or every woman. What makes us feel loved does not necessarily translate to our spouse, so it’s important to discuss and observe them to find out what makes them melt.

Dr. Harley has a couple’s test for their “affection/intimacy” definition.

On two separate pieces of paper, write down the following. Each of you take a copy into a separate room and (numbering them from 1 – 10), each of you prioritize these terms. No peeking.

When you’re both done, come together and exchange pages. Observe and acknowledge what each spouse put at a priority.

Each of these are forms of affection or intimacy. What your spouse puts as the top three is what they most closely associate with comfort, affection and intimacy. Don’t be shocked if they are different from yours. For most couples, they are different. By acknowledging and putting aside your feelings about what they consider to be “intimacy”, we allow marriage to teach us to be selfless.  

1.      Affection
2.      Sexual fulfillment
3.      Conversation
4.      Recreational companionship
5.      Honesty and openness
6.      Physical attractiveness
7.      Family Commitment
8.      Domestic support
9.      Financial support
10.  Admiration[v]


Another great tool for helping you both learn your spouse’s definition of intimacy is Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages.[vi]

Taking the time to encourage intimacy in our marriages is a small investment that pays huge dividends in the bedroom, and across the eternities. If you want your spouse to be passionate about your intimacy, feed their intimacy need.

**

Join us next time as we consider how the loss of the Spirit affects the formula for the best possible sex.



[i] Nelson, Russell M. Nurturing Marriage. Ensign. April 2016: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/nurturing-marriage?lang=eng

[ii] Gordon, Lori H., Family Therapist, Intimacy: The Art of Relationships, Psychology Today (2016,1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/196912/intimacy-the-art-relationships

[iii] Weiner-Davis, Michele, The Sex Starved Marriage, Simon & Schuster, NY (2004,8)
[iv] Bar low, Brent. They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage. Ensign. September 1986. (I highly recommend this entire article – lots of good information here): https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/they-twain-shall-be-one-thoughts-on-intimacy-in-marriage?lang=eng
[v] Harley, Dr. W.F., Ph.D. His Needs Vs. Her Needs. 21 July 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGjriUcN39Q

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Best Possible Sex - Infidelity


In case you missed it, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4 , Part 5, and Part 6

 It may come as no surprise to many of you that infidelity places a huge damper on achieving the best possible sex. How turned-on could a spouse be, knowing that their husband or wife were ‘unfaithful’ to them?

What many couples don’t realize is that ‘infidelity’ is so much more than just adultery or fornication. There is also emotional infidelity, confidentiality infidelity and even financial infidelity.

This may be “captain obvious” to some, but for others it’s not so obvious. The gospel can feel repetitive as well, but we still need to hear it and take stock of our lives periodically.

There Are Different Levels of Infidelity

Adultery is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband.”[i]

In contrast, “Adultery is only used when at least one of the parties involved (either male or female) is married, whereas fornication may be used to describe two people who are unmarried (to each other or anyone else) engaging in consensual sexual intercourse.”[ii] Those who commit adultery are automatically fornicators, while those who are unmarried can only fornicate.

Whether one sin is greater than the other is irrelevant. Both are morally wrong, in violation of the law of chastity, will void any temple covenants made, and possibly lead to excommunication.

Knowing your spouse is unworthy to be sealed to you any longer is most likely to be a major turn-off, from the sheer sadness and tragedy of such a fall.

The Fruits of Adultery

Culturally and historically, the taboo placed on adultery or fornication has mostly been applied to women. An unfaithful wife could bear the children of another man that her husband is now unknowingly raising, thinking they are his own heirs.  It’s like the cuckoo bird in a nest. The cuckoo lays its eggs in another type of bird’s nest. When the cuckoo hatches, it pushes the parents’ baby birds out of the nest while the parent birds continue feeding and raising the cuckoo’s spawn as its own.

This is where the term “cuckold” originates from – and means another man has supplanted the seed of the husband through adultery or fornication.  Despite the romancing of it by the media and romance novels, cuckolding doesn’t engender the love and trust necessary for the best possible sex to exist in a marriage.

Spiritually, we know there is no difference whether the offense is committed by a man or a woman. A man breaking his temple covenants and offending his wife and children also comes under the Lord’s condemnation, regardless of how the world or cultural tradition regard it.[iii]

Also, breaking covenants and pregnancy are not the only consequences with adultery or fornication.  There are also sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to consider.

In today’s world, one in every four people now carry an STI and statistically (with some of the STIs out there – such as gonorrhea) you have a 50% chance of becoming infected from one unprotected sexual encounter.[iv] 

If you were raised LDS, like I was, some learn (sometimes by painful experience) that Mormons make terrible non-Mormons. It’s assumed in our Church teachings that we will be chaste and prepare to marry in the temple and stay faithful to our spouses.

Beyond “repenting”, we’re not trained what to do should we choose not to be chaste as people in the world are. Activities such as wearing a condom, checking the sexual history of the person we are getting involved with, or getting checked for an STI after fornication is not part of the Sunday School or even the youth curriculum. Truthfully, many people in the world are also inadequately trained in this topic as well.[v]

Tragically, an LDS husband or wife who has been unfaithful these days are very likely to have transmitted an STI to their faithful spouse, which doesn’t create the best possible sex. In fact, it may end intercourse entirely for that person or persons. Obedience maintains our ability to have the best possible sex throughout our lives (and eternity).

Emotional Infidelity

Another kind of infidelity is emotional infidelity. This is an affair of the heart and not necessarily the body. It is the confiding in another - our wants, desires, fears, needs, likes and dislikes - those things that should first be shared with the spouse, or even kept confidential between spouses. It can be done online or offline, in any format. The other person need not be physically present for infidelity to occur.

This is serious in that it can betray trust, and can also lead to limerance[vi]. Limerance then propels individuals towards each other, and makes them more likely to physically commit adultery.  Even if limerance doesn’t lead to physical intimacy, this action disconnects us emotionally from our spouses, and our marriages and sex lives suffer as a result.

Emotional infidelity is a separating activity. Infidelity does not bring a couple closer together. Just the opposite. It pushes a couple apart and destroys any hope for the best possible sex recipe. That is, unless repentance is humbly accepted.

Emotional infidelity can result from neglectful habits. Not dating in marriage, or taking time to have heart-to-heart talks or physical intimacy can leave a spouse feeling emotionally starved. Living like roommates or ignoring each other leaves one spouse without someone to confide in or work through problems with. We should not marry and continue to act as if we are single.

Confidentiality Infidelity

Infidelity is not limited to actions with the opposite sex, or even sexuality at all. It can also include our actions with friends or family members.

“The Lord said: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” (D&C 42:22.)This means just as completely that “thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else.”
Despite the commandment, we sometimes continue to consider our mothers and fathers and our friends’ thoughts and desires over our spouses’.

Sometimes mothers will not relinquish the hold they have had over their children. [Meaning that some parents will not respect their children’s marriage as a separate self-governing institution and try to maintain control over their married children’s decisions.] Husbands as well as wives return to their mothers and fathers to obtain advice and counsel and to confide, whereas cleaving should be to the wife in most things, and all intimacies should be kept in great secrecy and privacy from others.

Your married life should become independent of her folks and his folks. We love them more than ever; you cherish their counsel; you appreciate their association; but you live your own lives, being governed by your decisions, by your own prayerful considerations after you have received the counsel from those who should give it.

To cleave does not mean merely to occupy the same home; it means to adhere closely, to stick together…” ~ Pres. Spencer W. Kimball[vii]

Financial Infidelity  
Believe it or not, even if your sex life is otherwise great, and no matter what the world might say that money isn’t as important as good sex, this one will put a serious damper on how you feel towards your spouse, and might even threaten your entire marriage:

“How important are money management and finances in marriage and family affairs? May I respond, ‘Tremendously.’ The American Bar Association has indicated that 89 percent of all divorces can be traced [in at least some measure] to quarrels and accusations over money. Others have estimated that 75 percent of all divorces result from clashes over finances. Some professional counselors indicate that four out of five families are strapped with serious money problems.”[viii]

Financial infidelity includes activities like hiding funds from each other (secrets), spending money the way we want over considering what our spouse wants or needs (selfishness), working so much that you’re never together long enough to renew the relationship (separation), or not discussing or regularly reviewing how the money is spent (silence). All the known marriage killers are here.[ix]
To keep full financial fidelity with each other:
*have the difficult conversations, and know that sometimes, talking about money is even more sensitive than talking about sex, so tread carefully and kindly with each other. Don’t use ‘honesty’ as an excuse for cruelty.
*Be open and forthright about what you both need and want, and about what you’ve done, even mistakes. Forgive mistakes when they happen to your spouse, and work with them to do better in the future.
*The temptation to try to make ever more money can become a hindrance to relationship-building after a certain point. The best possible sex in marriage doesn’t come from making more money; it comes from proper money management. Try to keep a good balance between maintaining your finances and your marriage.[x]
*Financial lack and poverty is something many, many couples struggle with, and poverty and unemployment are grinding trials for any relationship. Financial worries do not tend to help create great sex, especially if a couple is out of sync emotionally or spiritually. Get whatever assistance you can, and work together to not only pull yourselves out of poverty, but to live the gospel as fully as you can. Make those regular deposits of intimacy that will strengthen your love for each other and resolve to succeed together.

Turn Towards Each Other For the Best Possible Sex
When we endeavor to ensure the marriage rule of full fidelity is not broken or cheated (even just a little), this can create a level of trust and unity that swells in the heart of both the husband and wife, no matter what outside circumstances we might struggle against.

It is only natural then that this deep emotional trust will follow you both into the marriage bed. It allows you both to relax emotionally with each other, merging heart, body, mind and soul and truly becoming “one flesh”. Arousal under these conditions comes much easier for both spouses, leading to the best possible sex.

**

Next time we’ll discuss how lack of intimacy disrupts the best possible sex.


[i] Merriam Webster Dictionary Online. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adultery

[iii] 2 Nephi 26:33
[v] It’s my feeling that providing this medical information to our children, as well as gospel teachings, helps them to make informed choices regarding their own sexuality, and can be a sobering argument for remaining chaste until marriage. There’s more information here in this WebMD article on how schools teach sex education: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/abstinence-vs-sex-ed#1
Pam Stenzel’s videos on YouTube also do a marvelous job of talking about sex education from a nurse’s and a Christian’s point of view for both kids and adults, and are generally very compatible with gospel principles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfF64EWd_RA

[vi] Beam, Joe, PhD, http://joebeam.com/blog/limerence (2015,1)
[vii] Kimball, Spencer W., Oneness In Marriage (1978), https://www.lds.org/liahona/1978/06/oneness-in-marriage?lang=eng (italics added)
[viii] Ashton, Marvin J. Eternal Marriage Student Manual. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 2001. Pg. 116
[ix] For more on the marriage killers, read my main article here: http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/04/four-marriage-killers.html?zx=1c848730d44caa0e


[x] Ashton, Marvin J. One for the Money. Ensign, Sept. 2007. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/09/one-for-the-money?lang=eng