marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Therapist Tips on How To Improve The Quality Of The Sex In Your Marriage

  WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married readers only. Those who are currently unmarried are advised to keep to the standards of the Church and refrain from reading the married sexual instruction that follows.
 
...The Carnegie Mellon results suggest that [sacred] erotic quality is more important than [sacred] erotic quantity. No matter how often you have sex."

See below for some tips therapists recommend for increasing its quality:

*SCHEDULE IT. The myth is that sex “just happens” when spouses are “in the mood.” The problem is that after the hot-and-heavy period, one spouse is usually in the mood a good deal more than the other, and conflict ensues. To reach mutual accommodation, sex therapists urge couples to negotiate a mutually acceptable monthly frequency, and then pull out their calendars and schedule sex lovemaking dates.
 
 Scheduling may feel artificial at first, but it goes a long way toward eliminating conflicts over frequency. The husband or wife with less libido usually objects to scheduling—
What if we have a sex date scheduled and I’m not in the mood? That’s possible, of course, but once relieved of the stress of saying “no” to constant pleas, the vast majority of lower-libido lovers feel so relieved that they have little difficulty psyching themselves when sex is scheduled.

*WARM UP OUT OF BED. Before you undress, cuddle on the sofa, chat about your day, trade foot massages, or do other little things together that bring you closer.
 
Shower, together or separately. Sex is best when spouses feel relaxed. Showering is relaxing. It also eases hygiene concerns.
 
Create an erotic mood. Put out clean sheets. Light candles or keep curtains slightly open. Play music. And begin dressed.
 
Do the opposite of profane erotica. In profane erotica, sex is 95 percent genital, and only 5 percent kissing, embracing, and caressing. Flip this, because the best sex involves leisurely, playful, whole-body mutual massage.

Many women say it takes them a good 30 minutes of sensual play to warm up. Postponing intercourse also helps men maintain erections.

*TAKE TURNS GIVING AND RECEIVING PLEASURE. Simultaneous orgasms are as common as solar eclipses. Don't expect it or strive for it. Only 25 percent of women are reliably orgasmic during intercourse, no matter now long it lasts; most gentle, extended, direct caresses with fingers, tongue, or vibrator. Take turns helping each other to orgasm.

*COACH EACH OTHER ON WHAT YOU ENJOY.
You can simply say “yes” or “ahhh” when you enjoy what you’re receiving. Most lovers very quickly provide more of what elicits “ahhhs.”

*SAVOR THE AFTERGLOW. Don’t immediately jump out of bed. Hold each other. Perhaps whisper endearments.

~Michael Castleman, M.A., (2016, 1) Psychology Today,  with edits by Sam Zaragoza
 
For the full original article, click here: 

Would More Sex Really Make You and Your Partner Happier?

 

References
  • Blanchflower, D.G. and A.J. Oswald. “Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study,” Scandinavian Journal of Economics (2004) 106:393.
  • Kahneman, D. et al. “Toward National Well-Being Accounts,” American Economic Review (2004) 94:429.
  • Loewenstein, G. et al. “Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (2015) 116:206.
  • Meston, CM and DM Buss. “Why Humans Have Sex,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2007) 36:477.

 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cultural Myth or Gospel Truth: Trying to Convince a Spouse to Have Sex is Coercion



Cultural Myth or Gospel Truth: If my wife/husband isn’t in the mood to have sex, then trying to convince them otherwise is coercion and/or unrighteous dominion.

What is coercion when it comes to sex?

Definitions are important, even for terms we’re very familiar with. The term ‘coercion’ means ‘use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance’.[i]

So how does this apply to sexuality in an LDS marriage?

Does our spouse physically force us to have sex? This is marital rape, one of the more obvious forms of coercion.

Does our spouse use threats, bullying or terrorization to compel us to engage in intimacy? This counts as coercion.

What if a spouse tries to talk about their desire, or persuade the other to change their mind about not having sex? Would it seem strange to know that this doesn’t fall under the banner of ‘coercion’? What if guilt is sometimes the proper emotion for the reluctant spouse to have?


“If you have little to no appetite for sex, you might be thinking, ‘This is my spouse’s problem. Why should I put energy into our sexual relationship if I don’t really desire sex?’…I’ve been a marriage therapist for a very long time, and I can tell you without hesitation that if you continue to look at the differences in your levels of sexual desire as your spouse’s problem rather than as a couple’s problem, you are courting disaster…

I also urge you to consider the unfairness of the tacit agreement you have had with your spouse…it goes something like this: ‘I know you’re sexually unhappy. Although I don’t plan on doing anything about it, I still expect you to remain faithful.’ Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?”[ii]


What is unrighteous dominion in the bedroom?

Expecting your spouse to live up to your expectations, whatever they are, with no regard for their feelings in the matter, is unrighteous dominion. It boils down to pride and selfishness – the universal sins.[iii]

Unrighteous dominion can be committed by the spouse who wants sex. It can also be committed by the spouse that doesn’t want sex. Unrighteous dominion has no gender limitations. When the Lord mentions ‘men’ in D&C 121 in this context, he is referring to us as humans, not just to males. Women also hold priesthood authority, which includes the authority to exercise their procreative powers in marriage.[iv]

As an example, should a member ask, does a worthy priesthood holder have the right to repeatedly refuse to give a priesthood blessing on the basis of not being “in the mood”? Can we not see something of a correlation here?

What if my spouse doesn’t want to have sex, and I do? Or vice versa?

Something that each spouse should consider is whether or not the person they’re blaming for all their problems isn’t actually the problem.


“And why beholdest thou the amote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”[v]

The spouse who wants sex can’t imagine why the other doesn’t want sex. The spouse who doesn’t want sex can’t imagine why the other wants it so much.

A good first step to address this is taking the time to see things the way the other spouse does. Understanding is the first step to finding an acceptable compromise, or even a resolution of the issue.

Consider how expectations may play into how we feel. Are we trying to live up to an ideal we learned in church, or in our family, or in the movies, or from a book? Could it be possible that that ‘ideal’ is incorrect for our specific situation in your marriage? No two marriages are alike, and this is normal.

Consider that we should both seek help. If you’re satisfied with your sex life, but your spouse is not, you both collectively have a problem that needs resolving. Each spouse is part of a team, and if one has a problem, both have a problem. Find a trusted counselor to help you work things out. Also, consider that a bishop or a stake president are spiritual counselors, not sexual or marriage counselors. There is a time and a place for seeking professional help.[vi]

If only one spouse is willing to work on themselves, that is enough to start.[vii]

Sometimes, sex should be had, even when we’re not in ‘the mood’. Sometimes ‘the mood’ doesn’t happen UNTIL the reluctant spouse starts to have sex.

The accepted cultural model usually goes like this: A person has desire, then feels arousal to have sex, and then initiates sex and experiences orgasm and resolution. Hollywood portrays this as the “norm”. 

The reality is that, for many, a spouse first needs to make the decision to have sex, then they feel arousal as they are stimulated, and then the desire comes.

A spouse should never be made to feel that they are “abnormal” for not feeling desire first, but instead should be shown gratitude for being willing to participate – even if arousal doesn’t come that time.[viii]

The idea that a spouse who tries to convince and encourage the other spouse to have sex is coercing them or exercising unrighteous dominion is not necessarily true – or in other words, a myth.


[ii] Weiner-Davis, Michele. The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido, A Couple’s Guide. Simon & Shuster: New York. 2003. Pg. 10-11.
[iii] See both ‘Beware of Pride’ by Ezra Taft Benson (April 1989 Conference): https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1989/04/beware-of-pride?lang=eng
 and ‘Pride and the Priesthood’ by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 2010 Conference): https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/pride-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

[iv] Elder Oaks in his talk, ‘The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood’ talks about how women figure into the priesthood. If we consider sexuality as a priesthood-authorized function (we are authorized to exercise sexuality with each other when we are sealed in the temple as husband and wife), this talk is very relevant  to sexuality as well: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

[v] Luke 6:41-42
[vi] “If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional [or sexual] disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.” – Holland, Jeffrey R. “Like a Broken Vessel”. October 2013 Conference: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng&_r=1

[vii] Even though the book contains some language, Dr. David Schnarch’s book, ‘Passionate Marriage’ talks at length about the need for working on your weaknesses before trying to work on your spouse. Doing so is extremely difficult, but ultimately the only way out of a stagnant, gridlocked relationship. “When you work on yourself, you’re working on your marriage – because when you change, your relationship changes.”
[viii] “Among other things, it appears that some people, particularly women in long-term marriages, do not experience spontaneous or out-of-the-blue thoughts or fantasies. However, when they decide to be receptive to their [spouse’s] advances or initiate sexual contact themselves, not to quell a sexual hunger but for other, equally valid reasons such as the desire for intimate connection, being touched in stimulating ways often leads to arousal. Arousal triggers a strong desire to continue being sexual. Hence, desire follows arousal.” – Michele Weiner-Davis, ‘The Sex-Starved Marriage’. Pg. 29.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

LDS Doctrine or Cultural Myth: Men and Women Can Never Understand Each Other

This statement can seem very true, especially if you’re in the middle of an intractable difference, whether it comes to sexuality or some other aspect of marriage. Books such as ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ capitalized on this general feeling in our culture. 

Don’t get me wrong, Dr. John Gray has done wonders for helping couples communicate. However, while it is true that men and women often have very different methods of reasoning, reacting, defining or experiencing life based on their unique gender and sub-cultural viewpoints, this statement is ultimately a myth when it comes to the gospel and our marriages.

Sheri Dew, a former Relief Society General Presidency member, said:
 “Lucifer is determined to devour marriages and families, because their demise threatens the salvation of all involved and the vitality of the Lord’s kingdom itself. Thus, Satan seeks to confuse us about our stewardships and distinctive natures as men and women.
He bombards us with bizarre messages about gender, marriage, family, and all male-female relationships. He would have us believe men and women are so alike that our unique gifts are not necessary, or so different we can never hope to understand each other. Neither is true.”[i]
Believing this myth can tempt us to give up; to say that we’re never going to understand each other, so why try? It can become a wedge between a married couple that can limit their happiness and sexual fulfillment with each other. It can lead a marriage partner to seek out others with whom he or she feels more of a kinship, and then perhaps avoid the work that needs to be done to make their relationship a success.

Abandoning all hope that, as husband and wife you will never understand each other, can also lead to a never-ending cycle of dependence on your spouse for your happiness. The trap here is, you can never actually find happiness, because you either cannot fill your own void or feel you are just too different to every truly understand each other.

In his book “Passionate Marriage” Dr. David Schnarch taught
 “When poorly differentiated people (differentiated means to be independent emotionally. To be able to emotionally validate yourself and not be dependent on others to “make you happy”) feel the tug of their fusion, (fusion means to seek emotional validation from another person and to be dependent on another person’s ability to “make you happy” or your happiness is dependent on your ability to “make him/her happy”) they start trying to increase physical or emotional distance to make themselves feel better.

Differentiation involved the ability to maintain who you are while you’re close to people important to you. ‘I-got-to-be-me-by-getting-away-from-you’ isn’t differentiation because the person is unable to choose to get closer.”(1997,59)
Learning to get along with a person who thinks and reasons differently that you do and successfully bear and raise a family together presents undeniable challenges. Sometimes those challenges may seem never-ending.

However, using the gospel tools we’re given to take on those challenges tends to lead to a sweetness of life over time. Our eternal marriages, and our sexual relationships, are not meant to end at death. Indeed, any work we do in this life to learn to communicate with and understand our spouse will only give us that much more of an advantage in the eternities. (D&C 130:19)

Richard G. Scott said:
“Our Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan.
To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different, but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics.
“Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed.
 Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan.”[ii]
Some of the ways a husband and wife can learn to understand each other can be found here in my blog by learning about our cultural, biological, mental and sexual differences. Other ways include having regular date nights together, learning each other’s love languages,[iii]watching Mark Gungor’s “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage[iv], and listening to the wonderful podcasts by LDS sex therapist Laura M Brotherson at Strengtheningmarriage.com, just to name a few.

What books, videos or websites do you feel have helped you better understand (not become exactly alike) your spouse?





[i] Dew, Sheri L. “It is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”. Ensign. Nov. 2001. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/11/it-is-not-good-for-man-or-woman-to-be-alone.p1?lang=eng

[ii] Scott, Richard G. “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness”. Ensign, Nov. 1996. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/10/the-joy-of-living-the-great-plan-of-happiness?lang=eng
 [iii] Chapman, Gary, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Northfield Publishing; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 2015)
 [iv]Gungor, Mark: Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Studio: Crown Comedy ,  DVD Release Date: January 12, 2009