marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Guidelines for Healthy Sexual Communication in Marriage – Part Two

 Nonverbal Communication

Even when we’re not speaking, we’re communicating, and our spouses are trying to read the messages sent, but it can be difficult.

Nonverbal communication can make up as much as 93% of message meaning, and sometimes this kind of communication can seem to contradict.

For example, returning to John and Mary, what if John one night says he’s open to sex, but is then unresponsive in bed? Without direct verbal communication, Mary might think that John isn’t really into it.

When there’s a conflict between verbal and nonverbal communication, we are more likely to believe the nonverbal cues rather than the words of the other person.

We might be tempted to stop talking altogether, and communicate strictly by body language, but there is some risk in this. While we don’t always want to speak what’s on our minds, depending on body language alone to express what we want or need sexually means we might be misunderstood.

Without Mary checking in verbally by saying, “John, I’m confused. Do you really want to have sex tonight? You don’t seem to want to’, John might assume that he is letting Mary know what he wants.

So, we should keep talking, especially when talking is hard to do.

The following are again some excerpts (edited for an LDS audience) from Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality that seemed helpful in this regard. [i]

“There are many forms of nonverbal communication. Segal (2008) listed eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, touch, intensity, timing and pace, and sounds that convey understanding (such as “ahhh,” “ummm,” and “ohhh”) as the most important nonverbal clues.

Probably, three of the most important forms of nonverbal communication are proximity, eye contact, and touching.

proximity is nearness…leaning in the direction of the speaker if…interested. Most often…proximity refers to face to face distances between people…moving closer indicates increased interest or intimacy and moving farther away indicates the opposite.

Making eye contact…shows interest. This can be true when one is simply listening with another person; however, making eye contact with another person for a little longer than usual can also be a signal of interest…

Touching can be very important in a relationship, and it can show interest, intimacy, and emotional closeness. It can range from a slight touch to show concern or connection to the intimacy touching associated with sexual relationships…

Van Wagner (2009) provides some nonverbal communication tips…

1 Pay attention to nonverbal signals.

2. Look for incongruent behaviors. When words don’t match up with nonverbal signals…people tend to ignore what is said and focus instead on nonverbal expressions of moods, thoughts and emotions.

3. Use good eye contact.

4. Ask questions about nonverbal signals.

5. Be aware that signals can be misread.

“Marriage requires adjustment, as do all relationships. Skills and attitudes that can aid adjustment include a loving relationship, communication, common goals, sacrifice, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and confidentiality.”[ii]

Join us next time as we discuss techniques to improve sexual communication

[i] Greenberg, et al. Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Fifth Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA. 2014, pg. 70-71. (Emphasis added.)

[ii] Eternal Marriage Student Manual, 2015, pg. 10

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Guidelines for Healthy Sexual Communication in Marriage - Part One

Marriage relationships can be enriched by better communication…We communicate in a thousand ways, such as a smile, a brush of the hair, a gentle touch, and remembering each day to say “I love you” and the husband to say “You’re beautiful.” Some other important words to say, when appropriate, are “I’m sorry.” Listening is excellent communication.” ~ James E. Faust[i]

I wanted to share with you these marvelous excerpts from Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality on communication, as 80% of obtaining the best possible sex in marriage comes down to skilled communication.

“Effective communication begins with an understanding of how communication works…Let us consider how the basic communication model might work in a relationship in which [spouses] are participating in some sexual activity.

First: The sender has an idea.

[John] (the sender) does not want to have sexual intercourse with [his wife Amanda]. The nature of the idea is influenced by many factors, such as …[John’s] mood, background, culture, and frame of reference.

For example: John may be too tired or upset, perhaps it’s already too late at night, or perhaps [John is feeling insecure about his ability to please Amanda sexually.] Whatever the reason, [John] does not want to participate.

Second: [John] “encodes” the idea in a message.

Encoding means converting the idea into words or gestures to convey meaning.

[In this case, John] says “I do not want to have sexual intercourse.”

A potential problem is that words have different meanings for different people. If misunderstandings result from missed meanings, that process is called “bypassing.”

For example: [Amanda] may think all forms of sexual behavior are acceptable to [John]. It may also be possible that [Amanda] thinks [John] is just saying this and does not really mean it.

Third: The message travels over a channel.

Channels include speech,  telephones, fax machines, computers, and written correspondence. In this case, the channel contains speech and gestures. [John’s] voice tones, inflections and gestures are part of the channel.

Fourth: the receiver, [Amanda], decodes the message.

Decoding means translating the message from its symbol form into meaning.

Communication can be successful only when decoding is accurate. Various forms of “noise,” however can distort the message.

In its simplest sense, the noise of a crowded room makes hearing difficult. Noise can also be represented by misinterpretation of words, voice tones, or gestures; emotional reactions; or [being under the influence of medications].

In our example, after [previous enthusiastic encounters with John, Amanda] decodes John’s message to mean “Come and convince me.”

Fifth: the receiver [Amanda] responds verbally or nonverbally – this is called feedback.

Feedback helps the sender know whether the message was received and understood.

In view of what [Amanda] heard, feedback is sent in the form of further sexual advances, because “noise” disturbed the transmission of [John’s] message.”

…[This] model provides continual sending, receiving and feedback. In our example, it is likely that the feedback provided by [Amanda] will result in additional communication from [John], and so the process continues.”[ii]

In a nutshell: The sender has an idea – the sender encodes the message – a channel carries the message – the receiver decodes the message – feedback is given.

Join us next time for Part Two as we discuss non-verbal communication.

[i] Faust, James E., The Enriching of Marriage, General Conference, Oct. 1977, LDS.ORG,
[ii] Greenberg, et al. Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Fifth Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA. 2014, pg. 70-71. (Emphasis added.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

CTC Night (At Home!) - Picnic

The kids are finishing up school and Summer is approaching. This means one of the prettiest times of the year and great time to be outdoors.

So, if you're stuck at home, have small kids, broke, on a tight budget, or having trouble getting a sitter, have a picnic in your back yard! or front yard, or some place close you can find a small patch of grass.

Set up the baby monitor and spend an hour or two of quality time together.

Lay out a picnic blanket, break out the cooler or that wicker picnic basket you got for your wedding.

Some food ideas could be the classic fried chicken, corn and mashed potatoes or how about a soft cheese, baguette, olives, hard cured meats, some watermelon slices and a bottle of sparkling cider or grape juice.

To add to the fun, (even if you're terrible at it and can only draw stick figures) get a couple sketch pads and pencils or pieces of paper and some of the kids crayons and do your best sketch of each other.

Happy Dating!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Becoming A "Second Spouse"

I found this one in Achieving A Celestial Marriage" (1992,209-210). The book is out of print, which is why I wanted to share it here. It's kind of an old-fashioned idea, but I believe the principle is still there.

I found it important, especially when we consider that in today's cultural climate, women (and men) are waiting longer (even until their 40s) to get married and start a family. It appears Mormons are one of the last few that still recognize the value of marrying young. My wife and I were married at 21 and (now in our 40s) are seeing the fruits of that decision.

My wife says that she would totally re-write this from the opposite perspective. Perhaps I will, but the payoff is at the end of the quote. Please, before passing judgement, please read all the way to the end. Even better, brethren, how well do you know your wife?

"The day she reaches forty - the beginning of the middle years - a woman ought to consider seriously becoming her husband's "second wife".

By that age her job as mother is less demanding than in earlier years. Homaking should be easier for her; she should have some leisure time on her hands. She ought to use some of that leisure to take stock of her marriage.

The first question to ask herself is this: If I were to die and my husband were free tomorrow to marry again, what kind of wife would he choose? What would his second wife be like?

Any wife who understands her husband as well as a wife should, can figure out the answer to that question.

She will know, for instance, whether the next wife would be more glamorous than she, more sociable, more companionable, more light-hearted, more independent or more clinging.

So once a wife figures out what kind of woman her husband would choose as a second wife - if he had a chance to choose again in middle-age - there's nothing to prevent her from quietly setting out to be as near like his reconsidered choice as possible.

If she has never paid much attention to clothes and he as always admired well-dressed women, she can concentrate on looking her best.

If he loves the outdoors ans she has never cared for going along on fishing and hunting trips, she can give up a little comfort for the sake of being more companionable.

If she has been less socially inclined than her husband, she can make a real effort to make their home a more hospitable place.

Nothing would perk up a middle-aged marriage more than for a wife to try to be as much as possible like the woman she is pretty sure her husband would choose to succeed her - if he had to choose again.

The day he reaches forty - the beginning of the middle years - a man ought to seriously consider becoming...does more need to be said?"

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ten (Plus One) Tips To Help LDS Couples Find Trustworthy Sex Information Online

There is so much information on the Internet about sexuality that it can be hard to know where to start, and who to trust. There are even those claiming to teach sexuality from an LDS perspective, but are they really? It can be difficult to know what sites are credible.

These suggestions (mostly) come from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011).[i]

1.      Who runs the site? Any good website related to sexuality should make it easy for you to learn who is responsible for the site and its information.

2.      Who pays for the site? The source of the site’s funding should be clear. The funding source can affect what content is presented, how the content is presented, and what the site owners want to accomplish on the site.

3.      What is the purpose of the site? An “About This Site” link appears on many sites; if it’s there, use it. The purpose of the site should be clearly stated and help you evaluated the trustworthiness of the information.

4.      Where does the information come from? If the person or organization in charge of the site did not create the information, the original source should be clearly labeled. This identification allows others to easily find original sources of information.

Never trust an article that doesn’t cite its sources. This is especially true if the author claims to have a degree. The degree doesn’t excuse them from stating their sources; it makes the responsibility to cite their sources greater.

5.      What is the basis of the information? The site should describe the evidence on which the material is based. Facts and figures from valid research should have references. Also, opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from information that is based on research results.

6.      How is the information selected? Is there an editorial board? Do people with excellent professional and scientific qualifications review the material before it is posted?

7.      How current is the information? Websites should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, and the most recent update or review date should be clearly posted. Even if the information is still accurate, you want to know whether the site owners have reviewed it recently to ensure that it is still valid.

8.      How does the site choose links to other sites? What is the policy of the website owner about how links to other sites are established? What are the criteria for the sites that are linked to the website?

9.      What information about you does the site collect, and why? Any credible website should tell you exactly what it will and will not do with personal data gathered about you. Many commercial sites sell data about their users to other companies. Don’t sign up for anything you don’t fully understand.

10.  How does the site manage interactions with visitors? There should be a way for you to contact the site owners with problems, feedback, and questions. Information about the terms for using any site services should be readily available as well.

11.  (Bonus) Is their information and advice in harmony with the gospel? I’m adding this suggestion because of concerns I’ve had and concerns that have been expressed to me. Be wary of anyone who claims to be an LDS sex educator, including me. Putting “LDS” in front of your title carries the added responsibility of not only teaching about sexuality from an LDS perspective, but also that those teachings should be in harmony with the gospel and doctrine of the Church.

I am wary of anyone who openly refutes the teachings of General Authorities and/or attacks their character, words or actions. I am also wary about anyone who condones ideas that are in direct conflict with the law of chastity and the guidelines in the For The Strength of Youth.

Some examples of this that I’ve seen are teachings that modesty should never be expected from teenagers, that parents should condone their youth masturbating[ii], the idea that profane erotica is a healthy and acceptable for married LDS couples to engage in, or that we should expect the General Authorities’ teachings will eventually catch up to modern scientific discoveries and current social trends.

Such teachings are not in harmony with the gospel, and the Spirit can help us to know that, if we will listen.[iii] If we feel confused or conflicted when listening to or reading someone’s information, you may want to find another source.

[i] Greenbert, Jerrold S.; Bruess, Clint E.; Oswalt, Sara B., Exploring the Dimensions of Human Seuxality 5 Ed., Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2014, 39 -40
[ii] Kimball, Spencer W., President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality, Ensign, Nov. 1980, “The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins that were reprehensible to them. Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking.”
[iii] Moroni 10: 3-5