Sister Wendy Watson-Nelson, a marriage and family educator for 25 years, recently gave a rare and frank talk to LDS young adults about love and marriage in a worldwide devotional for the Church. The link for that I am posting below, and it can also be found at the Church website. It was given for consideration of their future marriages. However, there was much in her talk that’s also adaptable to those who are already married.
This was particularly exciting because, with a General Authority present (her husband, President Nelson), she spoke about sexuality in a very appropriate way to single members, yet was still able to be clear and frank about this very sacred topic. She presented a very good model of how to discuss sexuality with single members of the Church.
Many years ago, I studied her writings on marriage. At the time, she was single herself, and as a married person, I found her ideas to be professionally and spiritually sound, but a bit on the idealistic side. They came across as a woman’s spiritually romantic fantasy of what she imagined sex in marriage would be like, not what it really was.
It was so far from my and my wife’s own reality that it reinforced my own feeling that the most useful marriage and family professionals also have successful marriages themselves. Being married (having a lab partner, if you will) truly is a prerequisite to obtaining a full and clear understanding of what sex in marriage is like and what is required to create a successful one. Just as a science class requires an experiential lab to get a fuller picture and understanding of any science, sexuality requires study and hands-on experience to truly understand what it’s like, what works and what doesn’t.
When I learned that she married President Nelson and was giving this talk, I was excited to see if her ideas had shifted at all. To me, this presentation (while maintaining her spiritual perspective on sexual intimacy) was refreshing and very relatable. I felt that her remarks were worthy of further commentary on my blog.
I’m excited to add my insights (and perhaps some helpful additional information in spots) on what she presented at this young adult devotional, to assist married couples as well. What I wrote in green below are my comments.
I’d like to share four truths I believe will not only save you unnecessary heartache, but what will help you be able to choose a righteous spouse, and then to create a happy marriage and a productive family.
…four truths about love and marriage.
Truth #1: The truths about love and marriage are brought to you by the Holy Ghost from our Heavenly Father.
He decreed marriage to be an irreplaceable component of his plan of happiness. The Spirit is the messenger of these truths. I urge you to seek to understand them.
I thought this statement here could be a little confusing to some. The Holy Ghost can bring things back to our remembrance, help us make connections between information we have already received, help the things we’ve learned to make sense, and testify to us whether what we have learned is truth. [i]
However, the Holy Ghost does not teach us things by osmosis. We can’t just enter marriage, pray for knowledge, sit back and wait and think that knowledge about communication and sexuality is just going to be poured into our heads. We do have a responsibility to study and learn all we can first about our anatomies, relationships, communication, sexuality, and sexual techniques - then the Holy Ghost teaches us by confirming what is truth and what is good. [ii]
In this context, I wholeheartedly agree with Sis. Watson-Nelson. When desiring to know the truths about love and sex in marriage, the Holy Ghost is our best tool for finding what works best in our situation.
She talks about preparing yourself before marriage, and then continuing to keep your covenants after marriage. There may be some who think to themselves, “What if I wasn’t a member growing up? What if I didn’t keep myself pure? Did I miss the boat on being able to have great sex in marriage?”
The answer to that is, no, we’re not lost if this is the case. Repentance is still there for us, and the Atonement. If we desire a great marriage relationship that can last into the eternities, we can still make that choice by repenting and changing our lives, and enjoy the blessings Wendy Watson-Nelson mentions here. We can start where we are, and still have the kind of marital intimacy she talks about here.
By contrast, lies about love and marriage originate with and are perpetuated by Satan, and his servants. The Adversary rejoices every time he persuades a victim to embrace anything that defiles and degrades love in marriage.
However, truth is truth. Lies are lies. And no amount of clever marketing, campaigning or advocacy can ever change that.
In addition to knowing the truth about sex, the Holy Ghost is also our best guide in marriage for knowing what we should keep in or out of our marriage.
My rule of thumb is: If you can do it (no matter what it is) as a couple, and both can feel the Spirit – keep doing it! You’re fine.
If one or the other is feeling like something is wrong or feeling coerced, then you know you as a couple need to stop that practice and gently determine why you’re feeling that way.
For additional helps, see my article on “Do Your Sexual Practices Defile Something Sacred?”
Come back next week for my review on Truth #2.
[i] Anderson, Neil L. “A Gift Worthy of Added Care”. December 2010 Ensign. https://www.lds.org/liahona/2010/12/a-gift-worthy-of-added-care?lang=eng
[ii] D&C 9:7-9 - Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.