marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Best Possible Sex - Unkind Words or Actions


When it comes to what can turn off a man or turn off a woman and therefore disrupt the formula for the best possible sex, this one may seem obvious.  But for some, what constitutes an unkind word or action isn’t always so obvious.

In the quest for the best possible sex we can enjoy as spouses, another issue that can and does interfere with that quest is our words and actions that are less than Christlike.

How can that be, some may say? It is not like I’m beating my spouse. We just tease each other sometimes. We play around with each other. It is all in good fun. 

Just Playing Around…or Verbal Abuse?
Definitions can help us get our bearings if we’re not sure of how to interpret behavior. To better illustrate, Nancy Darling, a professor of psychology at Oberlin College, gives this example:

“The meaning of teasing depends on how the person being teased responds.  If the teased laughs, it’s a joke.  If they take it seriously, it’s serious.  If they take it as an insult, it is and the next interaction proceeds accordingly.”[i]

So, if our spouse does not receive our teasing well, the key is to adjust until we get the results we’re looking for.

J. Thomas Cerley, the Director of LDS Social Services in the Louisiana area, wrote an article where he defined verbal abuse in much more concrete terms:

“Verbal abuse can include blaming (“If you would [listen to me], I wouldn’t have to yell”),
threatening (“You’d better stop that or else”),
name-calling (“You’re stupid”; “You’re an embarrassment”),
belittling (“Anyone could do better than that”; “You’re so clumsy”),
rejecting (“Leave me alone!”),
shaming (“You’re no good”),
or comparing (“Why can’t you be as smart or attractive as that person?”).
Or a [spouse] may communicate to [spouse] in ways that indicate the [situation] is hopeless (“You never …”; “You always …”).
The home should be a safe, sacred place of refuge for [the family]. But this is not the case when [spouses] are verbally abusive.[ii]


Some other ways to differentiate abuse from miscommunication can be found in my article "What's The Difference? Abuse vs. Miscommunication

Hurtful Actions
As we grow and relax into our marriage, for many of us, the bad manners can also creep in. Bad manners can also lead to a turned off spouse.
Dr. Guy Winch, Ph.D. in his Psychology Today article “How To Survive 50 Common Marital Pet Peeves” [iii]said,
“Relationships are fertile breeding grounds for pet peeves to develop. While we learn to tolerate some of our partners’ annoying habits, others can become even more irritating over time. Once pet peeves begin to accumulate, they can be highly damaging to a couples’ emotional bond. In some cases, pet peeves can make one member of the couple feel emotionally allergic to the other, hastening the demise of the entire relationship.”
He lists many common actions that can hurt, but he also offers this advice for countering:
1. Don’t sweat the mildly annoying pet peeves—prioritize the highly annoying ones.
2. Discuss no more than two pet peeves at a time and preferably one.
3. Try to be delicate in how you address the issue. Make sure to frame it as something minor (e.g., “This is not a huge deal but I do want to discuss it”).
4. Discuss only the specific behavior and not their personality or intention (e.g., “I wish you wouldn’t leave empty cups in the bedroom,” as opposed to “You’re lazy”).
5. Use the complaint sandwich to present the problem (see tutorial here).
6. Ask if they are willing to work on the issue, don’t demand they do.
7. Use ‘I’ statements to explain why the issue annoys you (e.g., when I find toenail clippings on the living room table, I feel a little disgusted).
8. Be prepared for them to bring up their own pet peeves about you and be open to addressing them (even if you don’t think they’re as big a deal as the one you brought up).
9. Thank them for listening and for their willingness to make efforts (if they agree to do so).
10. If and when they improve, thank them and let them know you appreciate their efforts.”

No Good Results from It
Angry words and actions meant to wound seldom result in arousal in either party. It also destroys trust.  So the best possible sex isn’t likely to happen under these conditions. On top of that, the hurts sustained can last a long time, and ruin future potential for satisfying sexual encounters with your spouse.

 If your spouse leaves you for consistent abuse, that leads to “no possible sex”.  Keep up the habit, and any future relationships won’t result in the best possible sex either. You can leave your relationship, but you can’t leave yourself.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said,
“Who can calculate the wounds inflicted, their depth and pain, by harsh and mean words spoken in anger? How pitiful a sight is a man [or woman] who is strong in many ways but who loses all control of [themselves] when some little thing, usually of no significant consequence, disturbs [their] equanimity. In every marriage there are, of course, occasional differences. But I find no justification for tempers that explode on the slightest provocation.
Said the writer of Proverbs, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous” (Proverbs 27:4).
A violent temper is such a terrible, corrosive thing. And the tragedy is that it accomplishes no good; it only feeds evil with resentment and rebellion and pain.”[iv]
Some Quick Tips to Remedy Hurtful Words or Actions Where They Exist
Awareness. Find ways to bring awareness to what you say or what you do. Have your spouse tape-record you when you’re not paying attention, and then play back the recording and discuss what could have been done better in future. This takes a measure of humility, and if it does, then the institution of marriage is doing its job - to make us more Christlike.

Repentance. Remember that repentance is not something evil people have to do; it’s something good people choose to do when they’re heading in the wrong direction.[v]
 
Assistance. If the problem seems too intractable for you to handle as a couple, get some professional support in making changes. I can help you come up with a plan of action, or recommend a qualified therapist with an LDS perspective if you’re not sure who to contact.

Scriptures. Remember that reading from the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, is a fantastic way to bring a spirit of peace into your home on a regular basis. Don’t discount it because it may seem irrelevant to your issues; the Lord can speak to your mind through the scriptures and instruct you in how to better live as Church members should.  It can also help you be more kind by inviting the Spirit into your life.

Our words can shut sex down entirely, or be a soothing balm and a way to have the best possible sex. The good news is, we choose how we wield them.

Next week, we’ll consider how appreciation creates the best possible sex.




[i] Darling, Nancy, Ph.D. “Teasing and Bullying – Boys and Girls”. Psychology Today. 27 Oct 2010. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thinking-about-kids/201010/teasing-and-bullying-boys-and-girls
[ii] Cerley, J. Thomas. “Stop Using Words That Hurt”. Ensign. March 2006. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/03/stop-using-words-that-hurt?lang=eng
[iii] Winch, Guy, PhD., Psychology Today, How To Survive 50 Common Marital Pet Peeves, Feb. 20,2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201302/how-survive-50-common-marital-pet-peeves
[iv] Hinckley, Gordon B. Eternal Marriage Student Manual. Pg. 21-30; https://www.lds.org/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual/commitment?lang=eng

[v] D&C Sections 19 and 121

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Best Possible Sex – Anger




In case you missed them, here is the link for Part 1 and Part 2

Few people would be surprised to find that anger breaks the pattern to the best possible sex, but for some of us it may not feel “normal” unless anger is involved. Perhaps you take your anger out through sex with your spouse.  If this doesn’t turn your spouse on, the formula for the best possible sex is broken.

Anger creeps into our lives very easily for most of us. We don’t want to be taken advantage of, or we may have struggled through a day filled with an abusive boss.

Our parents may have been angry people, and that is our default emotional setting to any given situation.

Some of us may have obsessive compulsive tendencies, and when things aren’t done just so it irritates every nerve in our body.

Perhaps we’ve been abused before, and fear having someone take advantage of us again.

Anger can be a sign of a lack of trust, but chances are, no one is more on your side than the Lord and your spouse. If we’re deliberately getting angry with our spouse because it gives us habitual pleasure or emotional payoff, then repentance and counseling should be sought for this type of marital sadism.

If you want the best possible sex, that needs to stop today.

Intellectually, we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints well understand the spiritual consequences of anger. Anger even causes the loss of our rights to the priesthood. Gone. Kaput![i] Which, consequently, also results in a loss of the best possible sex. If you lose your priesthood, you lose your right for the Holy Spirit of Promise to seal to your spouse, which could mean the loss of the best possible sex for all eternity.[ii] 

It’s just not worth indulging our anger. The eternal consequences of indulgence are sobering.

What I want to focus on here is, if we struggle with anger, how to come back from that.


Rethinking Anger

Anger is too deep a construct to go into the depth I’d like to here. Some of the causes of anger can be the result of depression, bottled up feelings that explode, or fear of showing emotion or sharing feelings, or even hunger and fatigue.

Be mindful here that just because there’s conflict doesn’t mean there has to be contention and anger. If there’s no conflict in a long-term relationship, there’s no intimacy either, and the couple is interacting only on a very shallow level. Deep intimacy and the best possible sex comes when a couple work toward and overcome a conflict together.

So how do we keep anger and contention out of our conversation when we have a conflict?

For that, I recommend two books for further study – The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman, and The Sex-Starved Marriage, by Michele Weiner-Davis.

The principles and tools there are too big for me to do them justice here, but they both are a very easy read, and very useful.

Join us next time as we address unkind words or actions.






[i] D&C 121
[ii] D&C 132:7; the Holy Spirit of Promise is another name for the Holy Ghost.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Best Possible Sex – Profane Erotica

 In case you missed it, click on the link to read part 1

As mentioned in the first article, Mark Gungor illustrates what ruins the best possible sex by using profane erotica as an example.

He explained that one of the ways profane erotic interferes with the best possible sex is that it causes us to not only think of other people, but also can lead to a dependency where we can’t make love to our spouse unless we have a fresh person to fantasize about.

After explaining how profane erotica takes away our focus on our spouse, to demonstrate how this interferes with a wife being turned on, Mark Gungor asked for audience participation. He asked for the women in the audience to raise their hands if they find it a turn-on to know their husband is thinking about another woman while making love to her.

Not one raised their hand.

He then asked for a show of hands of those women who find it a turn-on if their husband is focused on and paying attention to them while making love.

All raised their hands.

This led him to conclude that profane erotica does not lead to the best possible sex.[i]

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach concurs with this insight in his seminar, “Kosher Sex”, by speaking about what we lose by a focus on pornography:
“Do you know that 84% of American husbands admit to regularly thinking of other women while making love to their wives? Here you are, flesh pressed against flesh, the closest physical proximity you can be with the woman that you love, and in your brain, you’re doing a guest appearance on ‘Baywatch’…

Nakedness implies the ability to get emotionally naked, to build up the whole day to be so raw that sex becomes the culmination of an erotic emotional journey, rather than the destination of two vacuous and empty bodies.”[ii]
Porn Actresses Won’t Even Do It

Relationship and lovemaking etiquette isn’t the only reason profane erotica doesn’t lead to the best possible sex.

The film’s images and vocals are edited in such a way as to convince the viewer that what is being viewed is pleasurable to the participants. For many profane films produced, nothing they produce could be farther from the truth, but since our inexperience or subconscious can’t tell the difference, we can be influenced to experiment on what we’ve seen – even though the act may be awkward, uncomfortable, or even painful.

Should our spouse not find it pleasurable, it can lead both spouses to worry that something is wrong with them. This can cause couples to become disillusioned, embarrassed and even shy away from each other sexually.

In an interview with several profane erotica actresses, many claimed that what they do is “fake sex” and would never do any of these in their own real-life lovemaking. Here are quotes from several prominent porn actresses below:[iii]

“Sex on camera is uncomfortable and many times painful. I’m very boring when I have sex in real life…”

“Our sex life at home is very different than in the movies…I get really weird and say ‘We’re not shooting a porno, let’s just enjoy it…”

“When my husband and I have sex, he asks if [he] can turn on porn…Porn irritates me.”

“I don’t consider having sex on film as ‘having sex’”

“Girls shouldn’t get into this industry. A lot of them are beautiful girls; they just made the wrong decision. They regret it…a lot of them.”

If a porn actress would admit the sex in these films is awful, how could profane erotica lead to the best possible sex?

Instead, it would promise pleasure, but in the end pushes a couple apart instead.

The Spiritual Divide

Let us not forget the spiritual aspect of obtaining the best possible sex.

Let us not forget the spiritual aspect of obtaining the best possible sex.
In my previous series, “Wendy Watson-Nelson’s Four Tips forGreat Marriage – Commentary”, we discussed how Sis. Nelson shared how important it is to ensure the Holy Ghost is present when making love. We need to do this to be able to experience the full symphony that sexual intimacy in marriage has to offer us.
 

Without the Holy Ghost, sex can happen, sex can even be good, but we cannot experience the best possible sex. Surely, a loss of the Spirit, even a pricking of the Spirit telling us that what is being done or viewed is wrong; prevents a man or woman from being fully turned on, therefore negating the full experience.

To have the best possible sex, the peaceful feelings of the Holy Ghost must be able to flow freely and unrestrained before and after we have sex.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains that the use of profane erotica not only keeps out the Holy Ghost, but also robs us of being worthy to have Him with us.
“The immediate spiritual consequences of such hypocrisy are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: “When we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man [or woman]” (D&C 121:37).
Patrons of pornography…lose the companionship of the Spirit. Pornography produces fantasies that destroy spirituality.”[iv]
We can choose to go beyond the point of feeling those spiritual directives to change, or we can seek out repentance. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is still available to all in this circumstance.

As a husband or wife or both, we can repent and again be worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us. My hope is that everyone will want not just the best possible sex, but also the full symphony of marital intimacy, not just the strains of a solo violin. A violin is pleasant, but if that’s all we ever get, we’re missing out.

Next time join me as I discuss how anger robs us of the best possible sex.


[i] Gungor, Mark, Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage, (DVD) Crown Comedy, 2009
[ii] Boteach, Rabbi Schmuley. Kosher Sex. Fisher Brothers Media. 2006
[iii] Quotes from Aidea, Shaw, Seinfeld, Tara, Lynn, Gina, et al. Sanders, Timothy Greenfield. Thinking XXX. HBO Studios. 13 Jun 2006.
[iv] Oaks, Dallin H., Pornography, Gen. Conf. Apr. 2005, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/04/pornography?lang=eng