In case you missed it, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 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).
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.
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]
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
[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