In his seminar “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage”, marriage counselor Mark Gungor gave his formula for the best possible sex.[i]
His formula is that (A turned on man) + (A turned on woman) = the best possible sex. He goes on to explain that in order for the best possible sex to take place, anything that interferes with a man being turned on or a woman being turned on logically and consistently thwarts the best possible sex.
In other words (A turned on man) + (A turned off woman) ≠ (the best possible sex)
It just won’t happen, unless something is done to remedy the turn-off.
The example he gave (which we won’t go into depth in this installment) was the use of profane erotica and how that negatively affects the best possible sex according to this formula.
Today, as I was pondering other counsel given on marriage, it occurred to me that there are other factors that also affect the best possible sex. Factors that our General Authorities warn us about in our interactions with our spouse.
This is worthy of discussion here on the LDS Marriage Bed since ultimately our goal is for every marriage to have the best possible sex. Not just for now, but for eternity.
Factors that I found that interfere with the best possible sex are contention, profane erotica, anger, unkind words or actions, lack of appreciation, how we handle physical or mental illness, infidelity, lack of intimacy, loss of the Spirit, jealousy of your children or not scheduling time for marital intimacy, covenant breaking/loss of eternal promise, and male/female divisiveness.
Contention is often rooted in a spirit of selfishness, which is a known relationship killer.[ii] The Book of Mormon gives us this definition:
“He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me [saith the Lord], but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”[iii]
This scriptural admonition, combined with the following strong counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley advises us that this is not behavior that is conducive to creating strong bonds and intimate feelings in a relationship.
President Hinckley said:
“Unfortunately, a few of you may be married to men who are abusive. Some of them put on a fine face before the world during the day and come home in the evening, set aside their self-discipline, and on the slightest provocation fly into outbursts of anger.
“No man who engages in such evil and unbecoming behavior is worthy of the priesthood of God. No man who so conducts himself is worthy of the privileges of the house of the Lord. I regret that there are some men undeserving of the love of their wives and children.
There are children who fear their fathers, and wives who fear their husbands. If there be any such men within the hearing of my voice, as a servant of the Lord I rebuke you and call you to repentance.
Discipline yourselves. Master your temper. Most of the things that make you angry are of very small consequence. And what a terrible price you are paying for your anger. Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask your wife to forgive you. Apologize to your children”[iv]
To this counsel, I would also add that this applies equally to wives as well as husbands.
I don’t really like to share such a harsh rebuke in an article, but I felt it was necessary to emphasize how badly this kind of behavior can interfere with the best possible sex formula.
If a wife is being contentious, a husband won’t be turned on. If a husband is being contentious, his wife won’t be turned on. Therefore, (A turned off man) + (A turned off woman) ≠ (the best possible sex)
We Can Be Individuals and Still United Without Contention
This doesn’t mean we should never have conflict, or avoid even differences of opinion. Conflict is not the same as contention.
While conflict is necessary for intimacy to exist [v], intimacy is only created when both spouses work together to overcome conflict.
Disagreements happen, but when does a disagreement cross the line into contention and how do we adjust?In an April 1978 conference, O. Leslie Stone offered this advice.
“Be kind and considerate of each other. When problems arise, talk things over calmly and resolve differences promptly. On one occasion, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said that quiet speech in the home is the language of peace.[vi] President McKay used to say that we should never yell at each other in the home. And then, facetiously, he would add that maybe on one occasion it would be all right and that would be if the house were on fire.[vii]Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand why our mates don’t see things the same and arrive at the same conclusions as we do. People are different in their thinking and their understanding, and opinions often vary. Differences must be reconciled promptly if husbands and wives are to be happy and work as a team together.”[viii]
As for eliminating contention to bring the best possible sex equation back into the positive, Elder Russell M. Nelson offered this advice:
“What can we do to combat this canker of contention? What steps may each of us take to supplant the spirit of contention with a spirit of personal peace?
To begin, show compassionate concern for others. Control the tongue, the pen, and the word processor. Whenever tempted to dispute, remember this proverb: “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”[ix]
Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul thus counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”[x]Such high mutual regard would then let us respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.But the ultimate step lies beyond beginning control of expression. Personal peace is reached when one, in humble submissiveness, truly loves God. Heed carefully this scripture:
“There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”[xi]
Thus, love of God should be our ultimate focus. It is the first commandment—the foundation of faith. As we develop love of God and Christ and cultivate love for ourselves, love of family and neighbor will naturally follow. Then will we eagerly emulate Jesus. He healed. He comforted. He taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”[xii]
Through love of God, the pain caused by the fiery canker of contention gets extinguished from the soul. This healing begins with a personal vow: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”[xiii] This commitment will then spread to family and friends and will bring peace to neighborhoods and nations.
With this,we have a much better chance of achieving the best possible sex.
Next time: Profane Erotica ≠ the best possible sex.
For more on how disagreements cross the line into abuse, please see my article “What's the difference? Abuse vs Miscommunication”
[i] Gungor, Mark, Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage, (DVD) Crown Comedy, 2009
[ii] Thornock, A. Levar. Contention – And How to Eliminate It. Ensign. Aug 1980. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/08/contention-and-how-to-eliminate-it?lang=eng; also reference my article on selfishness as a marriage killer: http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/10/four-marriage-killers-selfishness.html
[iii] 3 Nephi 11: 29-30
[iv] Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 91–92; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 68; student manual, 358
[v] Schnarch, David PhD, Passionate Marriage, 1997, 103
[vi] See Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 82.
[vii] See Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971, p. 294.
[viii] Stone, O. Leslie, Making Your Marriage Successful, Apr. 1978, LDS.Org, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/04/making-your-marriage-successful?lang=eng
[xiii] “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” Sy Miller and Jill Jackson, © Jan-Lee Music, Beverly Hills, Calif., 1972
[xiv] Nelson, Russel M., The Canker of Contention, Apr. 1989, LDS.Org, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1989/04/the-canker-of-contention?lang=eng