marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Monday, December 27, 2010

Improve Your Sex Life with a Single Word

A key element to a healthy and happy sexuality in marriage is a woman’s self-esteem. I am concerned that there are some parents who are under the belief that, for their daughters to wear makeup, earrings, or having a desire to dress in pretty clothes is sinful, prideful, or vain. Some men may feel that the expense of clothes and beauty products is enough justification to discourage women and girls from pursuing the enhancement of their natural beauty.

I feel that this is a terrible mistake.

Granted, there are extremes…clothes that may be immodest or sexually revealing in public, excessive daytime makeup, a single item of clothing that costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, unnecessary plastic surgery, etc. Yet, I feel it’s important to nurture a girl’s desire to be as pretty as she can be…meaning pleasant and attractive in appearance.

As husbands, we have a duty to encourage our wives and daughters to be beautiful, and to compliment them often and to let them know that they are beautiful to you as often as you can.

To discourage our wives and/or our daughters from seeking beauty could negatively affect their self-esteem, may create lifelong body issues, and worse yet, may affect our wives’ ability to be intimate with us, and our daughters’ ability to be intimate with their husbands.

“Let the sisters take care of themselves, and make themselves beautiful, and if any of you are so superstitious and ignorant as to say that this is pride, I can say that you are not informed as to the pride which is sinful before the Lord, you are also ignorant as to the excellency of the heavens, and of the beauty which dwells in the society of the Gods. Were you to see an angel, you would see a beautiful and lovely creature. Make yourselves like angels in goodness and beauty.” [i]

Don’t think that beauty is only possible for a select few that fit the typical Hollywood standard of beauty either. To those who would say that there are just some women who will never be attractive, so why encourage them, I would suggest reading this quote from Jeffrey R. Holland:

“A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[ii]

If you are not doing this already, I’d like to suggest an experiment to do this week or month or coming year. Even if you think your wife is the most homely creature on the planet, always tell her that she is pretty. It is more important for a woman to be “pretty” when you’re just starting out complimenting her. “Beautiful” and “gorgeous” may make her think you’re up to something and disregard what you say, but “pretty” is a good starting word. Work up to “beautiful” and “gorgeous”.

Be as honest as you can, even if your honesty involves a little creativity on your part. If your wife has one particular feature that is truly pretty, start by complimenting that feature. Look for other ways where your wife expresses beauty in her person.

You will find that, as you tell her this, she will become more and more beautiful in appearance, both to you and eventually to others. You will allow her inner angel to come out.

In addition, you may notice a difference in your sex life as well, as her body image improves. Husbands have a great power in this regard to improve their own sex lives, yet neglect or even sabotage themselves with critical comments towards their wives’ appearance.

Husbands, do yourselves a favor. Find your wife’s inner beauty and create an environment in your relationship where it is free to blossom, free of withering criticism and sarcastic comments.

You can reap all the amazing benefits of such tactics, both in and out of the bedroom.

[i] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, pg 134
[ii] “To Young Women”, Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, October 2005

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sexless Marriage and the Sacrament

“Sexless marriage” is defined as married couples who, for one reason or another, do not have frequent or even any sexual activity in their marriage. As Mark Gungor pointed out in a recent blog, a married couple that have sex ten times a year or less (or less than once a month), falls under the definition of a sexless marriage.[i]

Such a situation is actually estimated to happen often.  Elena Donovan Mauer claims that as many as 20% of all marriages become “sexless” – as many as one in five.[ii]

I’ve heard some argue that it’s really no big deal. They tell me it’s a lifestyle choice, and if it works for a couple, then there’s certainly nothing that anyone can say about it. Some couples tell me “It’s harmless and it’s natural, and it happens to a lot of people.”

Our youth are able to go without sex and stay chaste. At an age when many young adults are sexually active outside of marriage, our missionaries manage to stay abstinent for two years. The apostle Paul in the New Testament seemed to prefer celibacy to marriage. [iii]

So it’s okay for married couples to remain celibate if that’s what they choose…right?

What the Scriptures and Apostles Say about Sexless Marriage

When we turn to the scriptures for an answer to this subject, there are no headings I have found in the Topical Guide about “sexless marriage” that we can refer to, so I had to dig a little deeper. We must instead look at what marriage actually is. What is marriage in the Lord’s eyes?

Modern day scripture tells us that God wants us, not only to be married, but to be sealed together forever and not just ‘til death us do part.’[iv]   

Charles Didier, a member of the Seventy, said, “This union [of marriage] is solemnized by the authority of the everlasting priesthood into a holy and sacred ordinance, the temple sealing. It is also called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, and its purpose is to bind couples together on earth and bring them to a fullness of exaltation in the kingdom of God in the hereafter.” [v]

From an LDS perspective, we learn from these scriptures and apostolic references that marriage is much more than a legal social contract between two people. It is an ordinance and a covenant; a promise that we enter into with God and our spouses in His holy temples.

The Lord promises to bless us if we keep up our end of the covenant the best we are able, and repent when we make mistakes. The blessings of the marriage covenant are conditional upon our obedience to the Lord and in keeping our part of the agreement. 

When a couple knows that they can and will be married forever, it gives a strong incentive to be sexually faithful to one another and find peaceful loving solutions to their differences and problems.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are a covenant-making people. From baptism to the marriage sealing, covenants are a part of our lives and what shapes us spiritually to be more like God.

The Renewal of a Covenant

“The covenant of baptism, with its ordinance of confirmation, opens the gate for eternal life.” [vi]

We are taught that baptism is also an ordinance and a covenant. It’s a promise between us and the Lord that we will continually repent of our sins and keep His commandments. This covenant creates a special bond with the Savior and allows us to always have his spirit with us as we promise to keep his commandments and be more like him.

Covenants require periodic renewal and reminders in order to keep them strong in our minds and hearts. This is necessary simply because we are human, and prone to quickly forget the promises we make. How do we renew the covenant we make at baptism?

“The cleansing power of our Savior’s Atonement is renewed for us as we partake of the sacrament.” [vii]

So our baptismal covenant is renewed when we take the sacrament at Sacrament Meeting every week.

Ideally, we create a habit of scheduling a time to go to church each and every week and take the sacrament.

So, what then do we do to renew our most sacred ordinance and covenant of marriage?

Jeffrey R. Holland said, “I wish to stress with you this morning…that sexual union is also, in its own profound way, a very real sacrament of the highest order…” [viii]

Likewise, when a couple marries in the house of the Lord, and makes that sacred covenant to Him, they renew their covenant by participating in regular physical intimacy with their spouse – the “sacrament” of sex.

Be Not Deceived; God is Not Mocked…(Gal. 6:7)

It may be hard for some to understand this – cultural misunderstandings around sex are very strong – but there are further parallels that can be explored which reinforce this idea. What happens to those who take the sacrament unworthily – who have not made or have broken their covenants?

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself…” [ix]

So those who pretend they have made the covenant or don’t take it seriously, or only take it seriously when it’s convenient or they’re in the mood,  become damned by taking the sacrament of that covenant unworthily.

This is not “burning in a lake of fire” or eternal misery and suffering damnation as many think of when they hear the word…While damnation is certainly suffering and misery, I’d like to suggest another meaning of damned like a river is dammed. When a dam is placed on a river, the progression of the water is stopped, and cannot continue until the dam is removed.

Personal progression works in a manner similar to this.  Those who engage in premarital or extramarital sex are pretending they have made the marriage covenant, and thus “dam” their spiritual, emotional and psychological progression until they repent and remove that dam.

Lighting the Fire of the Covenant

But what about those who are married, and in a sexless marriage situation? These couples have made the covenant, but do not renew it, or do so very infrequently.  What do the scriptures and modern-day prophets teach us about the non-renewal of a covenant?

In the sacramental prayers, the promise given for the renewal of the covenant is, “…that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.” [x]

The promise that we receive from the Lord for partaking of the sacrament of baptism each week is that we will have the Lord’s Spirit to be with us and guide us. The sacrament is a sacred moment of our worship that unites 
“our will with God’s will, our spirit with his spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real. At such moments we not only acknowledge his divinity, but we quite literally take something of that divinity to ourselves...” [xi]

If we do not take the sacrament each week as we are encouraged to do, we have the freedom to make that choice, but we cannot choose the consequences. By making this choice, we lose that opportunity to renew the Lord’s spirit to be with us.  Just like a fire that needs to be constantly fed and stoked, like clockwork,  those members who neglect to come to church and take the sacrament regularly allow the fire of their beliefs to slowly become extinguished and fall away from the church as a result.

 Likewise, if we refuse to partake in the “sacrament” of marital intimacy – that “symbolic union between a man and a woman – the uniting of their very souls” we lose the blessings of the covenant, and the fire of our devotion to each other begins to die.
A spouse who finds him or herself in a sexless marriage becomes frustrated, since their only acceptable outlet of sexual expression has closed off and rejected them. Self-esteem deteriorates. Confusion and frustration develop. Romantic feelings flicker out, and the couple may relate to each other as roommates or siblings instead of lovers in order to keep the peace. Intimacy starvation (which manifests itself as sexual temptation) can become very intense and unrelenting.

“Everything else is fine, but my spouse won’t have sex with me…”

I have yet to hear of a couple that gets married with the planned intention to be celibate. Most couples get married because they love each other and want frequent and gratifying sex all their lives. Even though each spouse’s sexual drive may be at different levels, if one spouse refuses to have sex, the other spouse can’t go to the neighbors down the street to help them gratify their sexual need. Not without negative consequences anyway.  

Let me re-emphasize that the constant refusal of sex from either partner may lead to the negation of the covenant promises of marriage, especially a marriage where a couple is married for eternity.  A marriage is not a covenant in full until both partners have held up their end of the agreement to the best of their ability.

"I know that what is sealed on earth is literally sealed in heaven - never to be broken if those being sealed remain faithful and endure to the end...I have observed over the years many couples who have been able to maintain strong and vital marriages as they remain true to the covenants they take upon themselves..."[xii]
“But my spouse wants to have sex too much…”

A difference of levels of desire is one of the most common issues included with the marriage package. It requires honest communication and loving reassurances to come to an agreement on what amount and kinds of sexual activity are acceptable to both spouses.

The idea that sex in marriage is a sacrament should be in our minds when we consider how often to engage in sex with our spouses.

“[Psychologist Tina] Tessina's best advice is [that sex should be engaged in] at least once a week, saying that "intimacy keeps you glued together. It's what you need in order to nurture your connection to your spouse. You'll be a lot happier with each other and feel more cared about if you're regularly having sex.”

“…when a couple has had a long period — say, several months — without sex, it's important to address the problem, so months don't become years, Tessina says. "Some couples won't have sex for two years and then come in to my practice and ask for help. We can get to the bottom of the problem at that point, but it's more challenging. If they haven't had sex for a couple of months, that's when they really should be asking questions. That's a good time to come in and have therapy. Otherwise, anger and frustration builds, and it takes longer to fix it that way." [xiii]

There will also be times when a sexless marriage is inevitable for a period of time. Situations such as military deployment, or the first few weeks after giving birth, or illness may make sexual activity difficult to impossible. However, these situations are not an excuse for shutting off all forms of sexual intimacy. There are many different ways of maintaining intimacy that will stave off a sexless marriage situation, even when spouses have to refrain for a time. [xiv]

Is Sexless Marriage a Lifestyle Choice, or Something Else?

It’s interesting to see how the devil works. Have you noticed?

Before we marry, he works very hard to get single people to have sex; and/or pretend to live a type of marriage covenant they haven’t actually made.  This stops (dams) social, emotional, and spiritual progression that can only be obtained through marriage.

After a couple is married, Satan and his followers work very hard to keep couples apart and from being intimate - physically, mentally and emotionally. His intent is to destroy everything that brings happiness.

Where can we gain our greatest happiness from but through a productive and cooperative marriage relationship?

 When a couple is emotionally healthy and physically able, sexless marriage is sabotage that blocks that married couple from progressing and being united. However, I have found that, even in the most physically or emotionally extreme circumstances, love does find a way. There are many ways to be sexually intimate, with or without vaginal intercourse.

“Once the marriage covenant is made, it is conceivable that a man might never be guilty of violence or of infidelity and yet could fail the greatest blessings possible because of his failure in his covenant marriage. He should strive to be the perfect husband…and positively do all things to make his family relationships as the Lord would have them be. Similar requirements are made of the wife.” [xv]

Ultimately, how any particular sexual relationship works has to be decided by the couple involved, with help from the Spirit and professional assistance if needed.  It must be a matter of frank, loving discussion and prayer. It’s not enough to say that one person is satisfied with a sexless marriage and the other is “able to cope” with the situation. If one person is unhappy, then the couple must come together to find common ground - so that we can be one in body, one in mind, and one in spirit and united with the Lord and his purposes.

[i] Diane Brierley, “Sexless Marriage: The Desire Myth”, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage blog for Mark Gungor, 9 Mar 2010,

[ii] Mauer, Elena Donovan. “The Big No: The Truth About Sexless Marriage”, The Today Show blog on NBC, 8 Sep 2009,

[iii] 1Cor. 1: 1-9
[iv] D&C 131:2
[v] Charles Didier, Ensign, May 1994, italics added
[vi] James E. Faust, Ensign, Jan 2003
[vii] Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1999, italics added
[viii] Jeffrey R. Holland, 
“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” in Brigham Young University 1987–88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches (1988), 78–79.
, italics added

[ix] 1 Cor 11:29
[x] D&C 20:77. This is the promise related to the blessing of the bread. A similar promise is in D&C 20:79 in the prayer said over the water.
[xi] Jeffry R. Holland, Of Souls, Symbols and Sacraments

[xii] Robert D. Hales, "Blessings of the Temple", Ensign, Oct. 2009, 46–49,, bolding and italics added

[xiii] Mauer, Elena Donovan. “The Big No: The Truth About Sexless Marriage”, The Today Show blog on NBC, 8 Sep 2009,

[xiv] See 1Cor. 7:5
[xv] Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg. 97, italics and bolding added

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marriage: In the World, but Not Of the World?

Recently Time Magazine ran an article with a provocative headline: “Is Marriage Obsolete?” Many writers and bloggers have since weighed in with their own opinions, and here's my two cents.

What I'm about to say on this subject is not to play devil’s advocate, but to point out some very important differences between secular and religious perspectives. Most people are largely secular in view or religious in view.

First of all, marriage (as it is defined in LDS doctrine) is not a secular institution. It never was.

In a secular/agnostic/atheist/religion-less belief system, marriage is absolutely becoming obsolete. In the worldview, except for political or economic advantage, marriage just doesn't make sense and it has no purpose. If it did, it would be taught in our schools, promoted in our media, and by everyone we encounter. There would be more legislation promoting and protecting marriage, and less resistance to programs that protect and promote the family.

Marriage is a religious institution. It was started by God and is a place where all the principles of religion come into play. (Genesis 2:22-25; 1 Corinthians 7:2)

Godless belief systems and Social Darwinism teach selfishness, survival of the fittest, sex with multiple partners is natural and not improper. Do what feels good now. Life has no purpose, and death leads to nothing…so why waste your life on being married to one person?

If a marriage is going to work, it requires the principles of religion to survive. Principles such as love, selflessness, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, patience, honesty, respect, monogamy or at least fidelity in marriage, charity, moral integrity, temperance, kindness and many others are required here. I believe these are also the principles required to have a healthy society.

So, in the secular world, YES…the more religion is abandoned, and the principles of secularism embraced, then the more that marriage will fall out of fashion in society.

Marriage is a religious institution and always will be a religious institution.

"Marriage is not without trials of many kinds. These tests forge virtue and strength. The tempering that comes in marriage and family life produces men and women who will someday be exalted. 
God has ordained that life should have its beginning within the protecting shelter of marriage, conceived in a consummate expression of love and nurtured and fostered with that deeper love which is accompanied always by sacrifice.
     UAdd a Note 
Marriage offers fulfillment all the way through life—in youth and young love, the wedding and on the honeymoon, with the coming of little children and the nurturing of them. Then come the golden years when young ones leave the nest to build one of their own. The cycle then repeats itself, as God has decreed it should"
– Boyd K. Packer, “Marriage”, April 1981,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Do Your Sexual Practices Defile Something Sacred?

The following is a response to an email that was sent to me by one of my readers:

My name is Austin and my wife and I are students and BYU-I.

In a family foundations class the topic of what was "legal" to do with your wife and I  stumbled upon your blog when I was doing some research via Google.

I read your post about oral sex and completely agree and is exactly the way I interpreted it. I was under the understanding that as long as it was consensual it was okay. Now I am finding quite a few of references to the letter that was written to the leaders of the church. I had no idea that so many members believed that oral sex was doctrinally wrong.

I thought I remembered a talk during one of the General Conferences that either Gordon B. Hinckley said something to the effect that with the four walls of a married couples bedroom as long as it was consensual it was between them and God. Do you know what talk i am thinking about? If so, do you know exactly who said it and when? Anyway, thank you for your time and I await a response."

Hi Austin,

I am excited that you read my articles and I can appreciate your question.

This is an area of some significant disagreement among members, mostly because the General Authorities do not directly comment on it, General Authorities give “general” counsel that each couple must pray about and then apply to their specific situation.

If you’d like more background on where some of these beliefs come from, I would recommend my blog called “The Sexual Spectrum.” I give a bit of history on different cultural beliefs about sex in society and the gospel.

I searched through the church archives and (unfortunately) was unable to find anything by President Hinckley or any other general authority that said anything specifically about consensual sexual activity between a husband and wife.

That would be a pretty good one if he did say that. I'll keep searching though and let you know if I find that phrase or anything close to it.

This is what I did find and I hope you will find it helpful.

Spencer W. Kimball said "There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love’... (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 311)

The Bishop's Handbook instructs them that the church cannot tell a husband and wife what they can or cannot do sexually within the bonds of marriage. Your bishop would have to show you where that is at in his book. It's not something that is publicly distributed and is updated periodically.

I found that the General Authorities are pretty vague when they talk about sexual practices in marriage. Their main point seems to be to remind us not to forget to bear children while we are bonding with each other and gratifying each other sexually. All three functions are necessary and holy in marriage.

This article I found may help to put what the Presidents of the church want us to know about sexual practices in marriage - see "What Prophets and Apostles Teach about Chastity and Fidelity Ensign » 1998 » October" 

I believe that the key to knowing what is okay to do sexually in marriage (whether it be oral sex, anal sex, petting, necking, mutual masturbation, the use of sex toys, etc...) is understanding what the definition of "unholy practice" is.

The Topical Guide in the Bible tells me that to make something holy means to treat it as special, sacred, and protected from those that would mock or defile/profane it. The opposite would then be true of making something unholy. Unholy would then be to make something ordinary, common, not special, and irrelevant. 

When it comes to sexual practices in marriage (whatever that practice may be), as suggested by the article I linked above, what the prophets and the Lord seem to want to impress on our minds is to keep it holy.

My understanding is that when we accept doing sexual practices outside of marriage, we’re defiling something that should be guarded as sacred and holy. 

We keep sexual practices (whatever they may be) holy when a husband and wife only practice and discuss their sexual activities between each other.  Think of it in terms of what we learn and do in the Temple as your model. We would also be keeping our married sex sacred by discussing only with those who the couple can judiciously trust to also treat it with reverence.

If there is any “abstain from” for sexual practices in marriage, it’s profane erotica and coercion. 

“Pornographic or erotic stories and pictures are worse than filthy or polluted food. The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food. With a few fatal exceptions, bad food will only make you sick but do no permanent harm. In contrast, a person who feasts upon filthy stories or pornographic or erotic pictures and literature records them in this marvelous retrieval system we call a brain. The brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded, it will always remain subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind and drawing you away from the wholesome things in life.” 1
Here, brethren, I must tell you that our bishops and our professional counselors are seeing an increasing number of men involved with pornography, and many of those are active members. Some involved in pornography apparently minimize its seriousness and continue to exercise the priesthood of God because they think no one will know of their involvement. But the user knows, brethren, and so does the Lord…
The scriptures repeatedly teach that the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. When we worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” To qualify for that promise we covenant that we will “always remember him” (D&C 20:77). Those who seek out and use pornography for sexual stimulation obviously violate that covenant. They also violate a sacred covenant to refrain from unholy and impure practices. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks “Pornography” Ensign » 2005 » May )
I’d like to also add that pornographers take sexual practices that should be holy and sacred in marriage and present them as ordinary and not special. Their films are edited in such a way as to not show the reality, but to instead create a powerful impression on the subconscious mind that any sexual practices are okay to be performed between anyone, anywhere, at any time – with little consequence and only with a pleasurable outcome. We in the Church are taught that sexual activity and gratification belongs in the bounds of marriage and nowhere else and for no one else.

If you’re practicing oral sex with your wife as a foreplay and it strengthens your bond as a married couple, and you’re not doing it to the exclusion of having children, keep doing it and keep it sacred.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

News Release: Gay and Lesbian people (not practices) are allowed in the LDS Church

Recently the LDS Church held its semi-annual General Conference, and two very interesting results emerged from it.

President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk that made some references to recent developments in gay marriage, and reiterated that homosexuality is against the Lord’s code of chastity.

The Associated Press reports that the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay civil rights organization in the nation, delivered a petition with 150,000 signatures demanding that President Packer withdraw his October 3rd comments about gay marriage. For more on the story, a link is provided here:

In response to this group, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issued an official statement of response that was delivered through a spokesman. This statement can be read or viewed here:

I love and completely concur with this statement for several reasons.

 First of all, it reestablishes the fact that what legally happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes is part of their free agency. Even if we disagree with the practices of others, there is no reason to attack them for their choices, because that breaks the higher law of loving our neighbor.

Yes, if others make dysfunctional choices with how they use their life, the people around those people may suffer physical or psychological pain, but that’s part of the beauty of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our sins, as well as the sins of others.

If we are in pain because of the choices that others make, we can ask the Lord to apply His atoning sacrifice in our behalf, and He can lift that pain. This frees us to allow others to exercise their agency so that full and honest judgment can be made by God, and also allows our progression to continue unhindered.

“…Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.” – Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 2008

Second, it reaffirms the fact that we are free to believe what we choose to believe, regardless of outside pressure, and that our beliefs are not determined by popular vote. If one hundred million people signed a petition to repeal the law of gravity, it would make no difference at all to natural law. We can’t repeal or legislate away the consequences of our choices.

“But let us emphasize that right and wrong, righteousness and sin, are not dependent upon man’s interpretations, conventions, and attitudes. Social acceptance does not change the status of an act from wrong to right. If all the people in the world were to accept homosexuality, as it seems to have been accepted in Sodom and Gomorrah, the practice would still be deep, dark sin.” – Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg. 79

President Packer’s talk simply stated the truth as we in the LDS Church understand it – that the Lord does not sanction sexual practices of any kind outside of the marriage relationship. That is the doctrine of our church, and no amount of legislation or protests can change that. Only the Lord can, and the Lord frankly doesn’t care what we think is right. He sees things differently than we do.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” – Isaiah 55:8

Third, it brings us around to the fact that there is no excuse for unkindness or manipulation or bullying of others. From my understanding of this press release, vigilante efforts against evil, even in an effort to destroy it, only creates evil within us. There has to be order and due process, even if ultimately, the Lord is the only one to make that judgment after this life.

The press release also makes the point that, when it comes to immorality, it’s our actions that ultimately count, not our thoughts. To me, this means the Lord will not judge you or deem you unworthy for thoughts. When Jesus said that “a man that looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery in his heart”, he didn’t mean that that person is the same as an adulterer who has done the deed.

Thoughts indicate our desires, and can be considered a warning that we’re moving in the wrong direction. We can then choose to take steps to keep thoughts from turning into actions, or we can choose to follow impure thoughts and become truly impure before the Lord. It’s always our choice.

A member of our Church who struggles with unworthy thoughts (whether those thoughts are homosexual or adulterous or sexual in nature at all) is still worthy for all the blessings of the gospel, as long as they do not act upon those unworthy thoughts with the body. However, as modern prophets teach us, all actions begin with thoughts, so guarding our thoughts is important.

Members of the Church who feel same-sex attraction and wish to continue in full Church fellowship should seek out assistance from trusted family and friends, counselors and Church leaders. It’s not a sin, according to this statement from the First Presidency, to have feelings of same-sex attraction, and we don’t deny that some may be born with a certain biological inclination towards same-sex attraction. What is condemned is acting upon those feelings, because they are counterproductive to the procreative process and the plan that God has for us in marriage.

Ultimately, people with these attractions can seek to stay close to the Spirit and remember the covenants they have made. The Lord will bless and protect those who love Him and trust in Him. There are loving members of the Church who have the skill to help members with same-sex inclinations to keep the law of chastity. Sometimes these struggles can be overcome, and a person can have a healthy, heterosexual relationship. 

As science learns more about the biology of homosexual attractions, we have come to realize that sometimes people with same-sex attraction can’t change these feelings, and it’s a very difficult and painful struggle to endure. Such a person who desires Church membership would have to practice abstinence their whole life, and simply manage such feelings. These feelings may be strong, but they're not uncontrollable. No one has ever died from not having sex. You will never find a death certificate with the cause of death listed as "Failed to orgasm or ejaculate."

I encourage all my readers to remember that we all struggle in this life, and should do our utmost to make sure that others will not struggle more because of our treatment of them. Let us disagree about concepts and ideas if we must, but continue to respect and love the person as the child of God that they are.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reply to email about what's allowed sexually in marriage

In reply to your question kg6mvx:
"Is it possible that some expressions of sexuality are wholesome and loving between one couple, but not another?"

Indeed it is! :0) We have been counseled to live by the Spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. This is especially true when it comes to sexuality between a husband and wife. Husbands and wives are free to make decisions sexually as a couple. We learn about these types of decisions  through the example of Adam and Eve. God gave them commandments, but he also gave them the ability to choose. The choices may have come with consequences, but it wasn't necessarily a bad choice. The important thing was that they did their best to follow the Spirit and make the choice together. 

When I was a newlywed, my wife and I were the members who had been raised on the "thou shalt not" version of the law of chastity, but were never taught what was okay to do in marriage. Being newly married, we thought " what?" What is okay sexually and what isn't?

My stake president at the time was in my ward. He was an elderly gentleman who had been a member his whole life. When it came to law of chastity issues, he had seen it all. He is now a mission president.

Anyhow, I expressed my concern about not knowing which resources were ok to teach us about sexuality and not knowing what is okay and not okay in marriage. He told me, " We cannot tell you what you can or cannot do sexually in your marriage. Learn it, try it out,. If you as a couple spiritually feel good about it - it's okay. If you don't feel spiritually good about it or if it drives you apart, don't do it anymore." We're still worthy because we practiced it in marriage. Unworthiness comes when we know it's wrong and continue to do it.

Do be aware that what doesn't work for one couple doesn't mean it won't work for another. I believe this is why we don't have a letter of the law on this issue. People are individuals. Each are unique physically, are at different levels of progression and have different needs. As an example to illustrate this, I hate eating liver. It's repulsive to me, but for others they may love it. I believe we can look at sex in marriage the same way. I believe we don't need to make sex in marriage an ethnocentric issue - believing that what is good for you is good for everybody as well, or that your way is always the best way.

The nice thing is, if a certain practice done in marriage feels wrong, it's between you and the lord. You don't have to confess to your bishop. Sexual transgression to be confessed to your bishop are those done outside of those with our spouse.

Having clear resources on how to have sex - from LDS resources - wouldn't hurt either.  There's too much porn out there disguised as sex education material. I and other members are working on remedying that however. :0)

Friday, October 1, 2010


To stay married…or not?  Have you ever found yourself asking that question?

If you’ve ever made the statement in your mind “if my spouse ever does/doesn’t do this, I’ll divorce him/her” then you may have placed that parachute on your back.

Being married means being unified; being one. We set a relationship up for failure when we get married with the idea that “If I get tired of them, bored with them, or they don't meet my expectations for the "ideal" I could always divorce them.”

This may sound like a terrible way to think, but many consciously and subconsciously do.

When Latter-Day Saints get married it is intended to be for time and ALL eternity. This means that when we get married, our spouse’s problems, former abuse issues, parental issues, habits, addictions, communication weaknesses, etc…are now our problem too. 

“Then we’ll just wait to get married until I know everything about my future spouse…”

There is a good chance this will not be possible. We cannot know all the issues before you marry.  You can date someone for decades, and you won’t see everything you’re getting into before marriage. Some issues don’t even present themselves until after marriage begins. But why try? It’s a grab bag. We get what we get and  it’s what we do with what we’ve got that counts. From what I've learned, we have a responsibility to work together as a couple (or at least be willing to) to resolve these issues.

This includes problems as large as adultery. Many members of the church may not be aware of this, but a first- time adultery offense may not necessarily be an excommunicatable offense. Doctrine and Covenants 42: 24-26 teaches us this.

            “Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth
             Adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. But he that
            has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh
            it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; But if he doeth it
             again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.“

Too many of us are in the one-strike-you’re-out frame of mind – i.e. “If my spouse has an emotional affair or a sexual one I will divorce them instantly.” If we continue to adopt this culturally-conditioned mindset, we may all find ourselves divorced eventually. In this paradox, if we then remarry, it will likely be to someone who has had an affair or been tempted to have one.

A temptation to have an affair (emotionally or physically) or first-time sexual affair is a symptom of a deeper problem in the marital relationship. Poor communication, trust, childhood abuse issues or trauma, incorrect education about appropriate sexual behavior in marriage, lack of intimacy, sexless marriage, addiction are some of many factors that have and could contribute to a spouse having an affair.

I suppose we always have the option to pull our parachute and escape, or we could do what the scriptures say - forgive, talk to your spouse about it, get counseling, and work through the problem together. It’s hard and it’s awkward, but this is part of being married.

“But my spouse isn’t willing to make the effort to make it work.  What do I do?”

I’m not saying there are no good reasons for ending a marriage, because I believe there certainly are. I’m also not saying that everything will be perfect right away if you start communicating and working together. The hard truth is, if one or the other or both refuse to be united and refuse to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work, then they don’t have a marriage. If we allow ourselves to separate in our hearts and thoughts, we run a great risk of eventually become physically, permanently separate as well.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln

 “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” – D&C 38:27

“But what if we go through counseling and do all we can to solve the problems and my spouse has an affair again?”

As the Doctrine and Covenants says, they must be cast out if they do it again.  However, once an affair or addiction or whatever the problem has been treated, it could happen again. It’s not like getting a shot and it’s all fixed. The temptation will likely be with you for the rest of both of your lives, and relapses are to be expected in the learning process. Thus the temptation will need to be managed for the rest of your lives.

I’m not saying that serial cheaters should be trusted over and over again. I have learned that there are no single steps to problems such as adultery. No one wakes up one morning and says to themselves, “I’m going to go and have sex with the neighbor today.” There are a series of steps from fidelity to committing adultery. Each of those steps should be consciously managed.

If a person relapses into a single step or steps (such as spouses not talking to each other or keeping secrets, flirting, lusting after someone other than the spouse, etc.), then both need to become aware that they’ve violated that step, try to identify the triggers, and develop defenses together against those trigger thoughts and behaviors.

Psychologists today are learning that they have to take a different approach if they are to helping people completely overcome incorrect behavior by helping the patients understand that relapse is part of the recovery process: 
“Falling off the wagon…doesn’t mean total defeat. In fact, relapse is the best teacher on the road to recovery…The slide back into addiction can be reversed, but it has multiple stations of a journey.”[i]

The good news is that you can grow closer by working on your problems together; no matter how difficult they may seem. The chances of adultery happening again when you’re both working on the problems together are much lower than struggling alone.

Consider using this dialogue or one similar to it when you need to address a temptation together:

Wife: Honey there’s this man at work who I feel really attracted to.
Husband: Oh yeah? Tell me about it.
Wife: (Describe the situation) I don’t know why I feel so attracted to him. I only want to be attracted to you.
Husband: (ask questions) Are you not attracted to me anymore?
Wife: I’m still attracted to you. I just have these really strong feelings for him and I don’t know why.
Husband: Have you told him how you feel?
Wife: No!
Husband: Good. I’ve felt attraction for other women. Just because we are married doesn’t mean our attraction mechanisms stop working.
Wife: I know that.
Husband: What do you need? What can I do to help you? (Go on to work out some strategies for dealing with the attraction)

As husbands and wives, our goal should be to become comfortable enough with each other to discuss anything. Open, honest communication engenders trust and strengthens our bonds. It makes us truly one and an eternal unit.

“A husband must have no private, hidden agenda that is kept secret from his wife. Sharing everything about each other’s personal life is powerful spiritual insurance.”[ii]

[i] McGowan, Kathleen. “The New Quitter”. Psychology Today, Aug 2010
[ii] Scott, Richard G. “The Sanctity of Womanhood.” Ensign, May 2000

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'd Like To Hear From You

Hello everyone!

I hope you have enjoyed what you have read so far and found it helpful.

Some of my readers may not be aware that there is a "comments" link at the bottom of each article.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, concerns, or any insights you'd like to add.

Also feel free to email me any questions you don't want to be made public at

Thank you for reading and allowing me to help you have a happy and healthy marriage.

Sam Zaragoza
LDS Marriage and Family Coach

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why Harder Feels Better - Avoiding the Double Standard Conclusion

Sexual activity between a husband and wife can be compared to fire in the fireplace. Fire by nature is extremely dangerous. It destroys, but used in the proper place it cooks your food, can be used to make tools, and warms your home. Sparks from that fire sent outside of the fireplace can cause untold damage if left unchecked.

Using profane erotica in all its forms is a fire ignited outside of the fireplace. Done often enough, the habit of starting the fire outside the fireplace is formed and damage will inevitably occur. 

We still need sexual stimuli to become aroused with our marriage partner. Over time, that original infatuation boost we had from falling in love and first being married, fades as we move into the more subdued relationship phase of our marriage. Male and female porn would appear to be a quick and safe boost to jump-start our sexual engines, but they are artificial and train our minds to rely on them rather than our spouse for sexual arousal. This leads to not being able to become aroused or reach orgasm with our spouse unless we first self-medicate with porn. It can also result in dissatisfaction with our spouse. 

Male and female profane erotica are both relationship separators. A woman who reads romance novels before sex, and then calls her husband wicked for watching profane erotica before sex, is living a double standard.

Turning your attention to your spouse or trying to visualize your spouse in place of the hero or heroine after indulging in male or female profane erotica is an insufficient justification for using it because of the programming that takes place in our bodies and in our minds. The artificial stimuli replace the natural use of and desire for the spouse. Chemicals such as delta FosB and dopamine that are released in the brain while watching or reading profane erotica can “permanently alter brain chemistry.”

If actions like masturbation are introduced, profane erotica addiction is reinforced – “Neurons that fire together wire together.”[i]

To understand what appropriate sexual stimuli are, we need to understand the difference between intimacy and lust. Intimacy is not lust, but intimacy is sexually stimulating.
Lust is a feeling of being out of control, covetous, possessive, obsessive, and jealous or angry if one doesn’t get what they want. Lust is rebellious.   

“There is a great difference between love and lust. Pure love yields happiness and engenders trust. It is the foundation of eternal joy. Lust will destroy that which is enriching and beautiful.”[ii]

Intimacy is two people being close, affectionate, unselfish, and willing to gain a deep understanding of the other person’s emotional and sexual wants and needs. It can be very sexually stimulating when a married couple works together to develop intimacy. It will edify and strengthen the bonds between a husband and wife. This is what God intended for marriage to be since the days of Adam. 

Why don’t more people work to build intimacy if the outcome is so great?
The risk or threat of rejection or pain in the real relationship drives people to the “safer” and “easier” haven of profane erotica.  It’s ironic that people will spend hours indulging in profane erotica when the same amount of time (or less) could be spent in intimacy-building activities that give much more rewarding results. 

If care is taken to meet each others’ needs, a husband and wife won’t need external sexual stimuli to be aroused to each other. There are good books written that help a husband and wife explore their sexuality with each other. In the process of practicing these intimacy skills, sexual arousal will happen. We can trust that our bodies and our minds will function the way they were designed to. If they do not, seek medical attention or other appropriate professional evaluations.

But she/he is so different…I don’t know if I’ll ever understand her/him…
Thomas Moore, the author of “The Soul of Sex” said “the idea of having a sex partner is having someone who’s different from you, and that means if you’re a man and you’re with a woman or vice versa, to try and get to know what it’s like to be this other gender.” 

Marriage is a journey of sexual discovery and it’s meant by God to be taken together as husband and wife. [iii] If a man or a woman has a sexual or emotional void that should be filled by the spouse and is not, that person is most vulnerable to the draw of romance novels or profane erotica. To the disillusioned spouse, the romance novel or sexually defiling video seems to fill that hole in their intimate relationship.  That’s a symptom that the relationship needs to be addressed and corrective steps need to be taken so that that emptiness is being filled by the spouse and not by the male or female P.E.

“But my spouse absolutely refuses to work with me…”
“If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce. Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness.”[iv]
The emotional void can be filled if the spouse is willing to communicate and help, but if the spouse is unwilling to learn how to fill the other person’s needs, then some stronger decisions may have to be considered, but all I can offer is this advice from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Marriage is beautiful when beauty is looked for and cultivated. It can be ugly and uncomfortable when one is looking for faults and is blinded to virtue. As Edgar A. Guest once remarked, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” (“Home,” in Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest, Chicago: Reilly and Lee Co., 1934, p. 12.) That is true. I can show you throughout this church hundreds of thousands of families who make it work with love and peace, discipline and honesty, concern and unselfishness.

There must be recognition on the part of both husband and wife of the solemnity and sanctity of marriage and of the God-given design behind it.
There must be a willingness to overlook small faults, to forgive, and then to forget.
There must be a holding of one’s tongue. Temper is a vicious and corrosive thing that destroys affection and casts out love.

There must be self-discipline that constrains against abuse of wife and children and self. There must be the Spirit of God, invited and worked for, nurtured and strengthened. There must be recognition of the fact that each is a child of God—father, mother, son, and daughter, each with a divine birthright—and also recognition of the fact that when we offend one of these, we offend our Father in Heaven.

There may be now and again a legitimate cause for divorce. I am not one to say that it is never justified. But I say without hesitation that this plague among us, which seems to be growing everywhere, is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary of righteousness and peace and truth…You need not be his victims. You can rise above his wiles and entreaties. Get rid of the titillating entertainment, the pornography that leads to evil desires and reprehensible activity.

Wives, look upon your husbands as your precious companions and live worthy of that association. Husbands, see in your wives your most valued asset in time or eternity, each a daughter of God, a partner with whom you can walk hand in hand, through sunshine and storm, through all the perils and triumphs of life[v]
Remember that the Lord is the third party in your marriage as well. We all come across inflexible situations of one kind or another in life, and in marriage. It’s your decision whether or not to leave, or to manage the situation. Turn to the Lord for help, and use the Spirit to determine the right course of action for you to take to improve the situation. Outside sources of advice can sometimes only take you so far. 

Turning to profane erotic material to “keep the peace” and avoid discussing the emotional need only becomes a facade to cover deeper issues. It can also lead to deeper problems such as addiction and adultery.  Nowhere have studies shown that it improves a relationship over long-term use. 

This is part of the adventure of being married. It is a journey both take together to learn about each other. Relax and take your time; it is never a race. Filling each others' needs is also something that can only be learned through communication and time spent together. 

Appropriate romantic entertainment (i.e. plays, books, videos, etc) is that which helps you have a greater appreciation for your spouse and family. It will depict life and morals instead of a moral vacuum without consequences.  Whether meant for men or women, profane erotic material is harmful and should be passed up. Married couples have the opportunity to turn towards and be grateful for each other, rather than indulging in P.E. and encountering dissatisfaction - wishing for a spouse that was “that way.”

[i] Miller, Max. “Is Your Brain Addicted to Porn?”, Big Think, 17 September 2010.
[ii] Scott, Richard G. “The Sanctity of Womanhood.” Ensign, May 2000
[iii] D&C 49:15-17, 1Cor. 7: 2-5, D&C 42:22
[iv] Hinckley, Gordon B. “The Women in Our Lives” Ensign, Nov 2004
[v] Hinckley, Gordon B. “What God Hath Joined Together”, Ensign, May 1991

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conquering Gender Prejudice In Marriage: Avoiding the Double Standard Part III

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Viewer discretion is advised.

One of the greatest quandaries a married sexual relationship faces is to understand what turns the other spouse on. If uneducated, husbands are left to assume their wife has the same sex drive and desires as he does. Pornography is written to play on this comfortable sexual prejudice, and visually trains a man’s mind by showing women as having the same aggressive drive as he does. This is easy to understand as porn is mostly written by men from a male perspective to appeal to what men want to see.

Conversely, the same is true for female pornography except from the perspective of a female and what drives her sexually. The sex drive and what arouses each are as alien to the other - as John Gray coined - as Mars and Venus. An understanding of the differences between men and women – specifically, their different sexual cycles, the arousal process, and their relationship modes and how to move between them – is critical in order to have enough of a working understanding of the opposite gender that will break the barriers of prejudice.

“He/She was so different before we got married…”

I believe the seeds of gender prejudice are sown in the dating process. Single, hormonally driven, sexually curious, lonely, infatuated or in love, a woman can appear to have the same sex drive as a male. Once sexually satiated after marriage or giving birth, her true psychological and biological arousal characteristics and sexual desires are allowed to manifest themselves.  From the female perspective, the pre-marriage boyfriend is romantic and attentive. Once married, he settles into his natural tendencies of relating sexually to his new wife. He has reached his goal of doing what it took to get a wife and reasons to himself, “Why do I have to keep romancing and dating her? I’ve already won my wife. Now we are free to express our love through sex.”

Both of these are the natural inclinations of a married relationship, and neither are wrong or abnormal or perverse. They are just different. When a couple gets married, they move from a highly emotionally-charged state into a comfortable 98.6-degree state with each other. This is normal and natural and what should happen. Trouble in this state starts when either gender starts taking the other for granted. When either spouse harbors gender-centrisms (believing the way your sex/gender feels about sexuality is superior or more correct than what the other sex/gender has exhibited), this is where they will come out.

To provide for and sustain a satisfying marital sexual life in the long term, a husband and wife must adapt and learn how to build and maintain what makes their spouse feel loved emotionally and sexually. One way the husband accomplishes this task is by communicating with her to learn what she needs to be aroused and loved (no matter how strange or un-arousing it may sound), then do it.  Likewise, a wife must also nurture and care for her married sex life by not rejecting her husband's idea of sex and allowing him to initiate the sexual process with her. She does this by communicating with him to learn what makes him feel loved sexually and (no matter how strange or un-arousing it may sound), be prepared to receive it or postpone it in a way that won't make him feel unloved or rejected.

Understanding the Sexual Cycles of each Gender

Men and women have different sexual cycles. For the husband, his sexual cycle begins with arousal and is completed with the satisfaction of orgasm and the renewal of the love and intimacy he shares with his wife.

The woman’s sexual cycle extends much further out than the man’s, both in time and in complication. For the woman, she receives pleasure and satisfaction from the arousal and orgasm cycle that is (in itself) unique to the man’s, but since childbearing is also part of the full sexual (procreative) process, her full sexual cycle is not realized until she births children.

In fact, it has been discovered that during a natural (non-drug) birthing process as the child is expelled from the vagina, the woman's body is flooded with a mixture of the same chemicals released at orgasm (dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine , phenethylamine)  - making it possible for her to have a similar rush as a man experiences when he has an orgasm. If trained in natural birthing techniques, many women can experience this and have. (Steve Buonaugurio, Pregnant In America)

Consider the example of the first married couple, Adam and Eve. Commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, Adam was satisfied in the garden, fulfilling his male sexual cycle, while Eve was able to complete her part of the sexual cycle and unsatisfied enough to be tempted by the possibility of becoming like God. We learn further in the Pearl of Great Price  that one of the primary reasons why they partook of the fruit was so that Eve could have children, thus fulfilling her sexual cycle. [i]

We see signs of this today, in looking at the incredible lengths women will go to in order to have children. They will try awkward and painful artificial insemination, or go through long and emotionally wrenching adoption processes when they are unable to bear children naturally, because the fulfillment of the woman’s sexual cycle can be just as compelling a drive to a woman as seeking out sexual gratification through intercourse is to a man.

Understanding the Arousal Cycle

A man feels loved when his genitals are acknowledged and stimulated. He therefore may associate love with how she views his genitals. Phrases that would illustrate this for him are “You’re so big”, “You feel so good inside me when we make love”; “I like having you inside me”, “I love your penis”, etc. When his genitals are stimulated he feels loved, appreciated and desired, because she is accepting him into the most loving and nurturing place he can imagine - her vagina. This sounds very foreign and silly to females, but it is very real and emotionally important for him.

The opposite is true for females. A female associates love with relationships and emotions. When her heart is emotionally touched, she becomes aroused and then desires her sexual spots touched, and not before. The cycle then must begin with the woman’s heart, because he won’t get what he wants (passionate reception into the vagina) until he does. To men, this is very foreign, but to women, it’s the right way to have sex, and it’s very much an emotional reality for her.

Again, the cycle goes: the man touches the woman’s heart which makes her feel loved, which makes her feel aroused which leads to her desiring to be physically close to him and accepting of his penis inside her. The man then has intercourse with her which makes him feel loved, which touches his heart, which leads to him expressing his honest feelings of love for her, which touches her heart and therefore completes one instance of the cycle of intimacy for both spouses. [ii]

Relationship Roles and How They Affect Sex

To conquer this barrier of our sex drive differences we must first understand how men and women are the same sexually, and the importance of relationship roles. Women need time to get aroused. Don’t men get aroused at the drop of a hat? Single men do, and so do single women. Without a regular sexual outlet, skin hunger and sexual appetites are allowed to develop to their most intense levels. When men find a woman that they are attracted to and the female reciprocates his desires, she then becomes “the girlfriend”. The girlfriend is the person who looks at him with desire, accepts his advances and makes him feel desirable. She is someone who focuses on him when they are together and someone he can focus his affections on.

When a man and woman first marry, in general they enjoy a season of being together, satiating their sexual desires, bonding and establishing their married relationship in their husband and wife roles. As time goes on, this relationship evolves into a different form, as each spouse has additional roles added within this relationship.

For the man, he begins with the keys of a boyfriend and after marriage obtains the keys and responsibilities of the husband. When the children come, the keys and responsibilities of father are added. For the woman, she likewise begins with the keys and benefits of girlfriend. After marriage and children she obtains the additional keys and responsibilities of wife and then mother.

Neither the man nor the woman can effectively wear all three of these hats at the same time, and each role they fill has its own rules and method of communicating. The mother, for example, would not speak and behave with her children the way a girlfriend behaves with her boyfriend. Likewise, a father should not relate with his children like a boyfriend relates to a girlfriend.

A man’s brain (due to the low levels of estrogen – the neuron building chemical – in his brain during development in the womb)[iii] is organized into compartments and the connections between them are not as strong as those found in females. This allows men to focus, but it’s harder for him to shift from one mode of communication to another. It makes it easier for him to get out of his logical brain and be in the primitive sex part of his brain.

Females’ brains are strongly interconnected and process more than one thought quickly , but they will tend to get comfortable in a certain mode (mostly wife or mother, because a lot of time is spent there) and will need some time and stimulus to re-channel that mode to be in girlfriend mode or into the sexual function of her brain. She will especially lean more toward being comfortable in mother-mode because, as reaching orgasm and ejaculation is the sexual goal and fulfillment of the male sexual cycle, motherhood is the sexual drive biologically and the fulfillment of the female sexual cycle. Just as the body floods a males body with reward chemicals when he ejaculates, a mother is flooded with reward chemicals when she gives birth and when nurturing her children.

If he is in the mood to be romantic and in the mood for a girlfriend, and his wife is settled permanently in her mother mode, the untrained husband may get frustrated and become tempted to look for a “girlfriend” outside of the marriage. When he watches porn, the actress looks at him like a girlfriend does, or he can at least become aroused by watching her get aroused. Over time, he will begin to feel that it’s too hard to get the wife or mother to get aroused. He may turn to porn and to masturbation to “keep the peace”. Although this is detrimental to a relationship (not to mention a man's spirituality and worthiness), it is an all too common justification. The only cure to ending this destructive sexual cycle is to end gender prejudice though education about each genders sexual personas.

The wife has achieved her full sexual goal in motherhood, but must keep in mind her husband’s sexual cycle as well. It would be abusive in marriage for a wife to undermine, ridicule and reject his biological needs because they do not match hers. Ex. “He’s such a pervert because he wants sex all the time” would demonstrate this lack of understanding and sexual prejudice.Likewise " She's frigid, she's such a prude. She never wants sex." Would exemplify his gender prejudice due to his lack of knowledge about her sexual persona.

If only he were to understand that to learn his wife's sexual persona, he could unlock a sexual tigress just waiting to be awakened. Her mind cannot be switched from one mental compartment to another. It is a raging river that must be channeled to her sexual brain. That takes time and skill.

After giving birth, a wife may feel content in the fulfillment of her creation and deny her husband sex for long seasons. To do so would be the same as the husband thinking that the goal for his wife is to reach orgasm and that she should be content with this and never let her bear children. It’s not bad for her to be in mommy mode, but it is unbalanced in a married sexual relationship for a wife to stay stuck in this mode perpetually and ignore the sexual cycle of the husband.

Projecting your sex’s sexual cycle on the opposite gender will always result in frustration. It’s actually damning to us and our marriage relationship to stay in one mode and say “This is who I am. Why does he/she not accept me for who I am?”  In order to progress emotionally, we must be flexible enough to move from one mode to another. Being married means to progress. It means being able to be flexible. It means learning to shift around in multiple modes effectively: girlfriend/boyfriend, wife/husband, provider/home manager, mother/father, grandmother/grandfather…etc. [iv]

Some may say that they feel insincere playing a role for their spouse; they’d rather be the same way with everyone. That is as unrealistic as saying we relate to our parents the same way we relate to a boss or to a young child. We don’t show all sides of ourselves to everyone, unless we are only willing to relate with everyone at a very shallow, superficial level. In order to deepen communication in a marriage and really gain the intimacy we crave, our spouses are privileged to see a side of ourselves that no one else should see…our sexual side. Our spouses will also see parts of us that others see, but it’s important to keep that sexual side alive for the one person we’ve covenanted to share that with…our husband or wife.

A woman can learn to shift from mother to girlfriend, but she needs help. A husband who understands this can create circumstances to get her back into girlfriend mode and thus allow the arousal cycle to begin. 

From Mark Gungor’s arousal model[v] we can conclude that if a man wants to get his wife into girlfriend mode, he must create circumstances that allow her to shift from wife or mother mode to girlfriend mode.  She must also be aware of his sexual needs and allow him to begin the process. Here she has the power to shut him down, but, at the hazard of rejecting him.  Like an object that shocks you when you touch it, a man will only tolerate this rejection so many times before he stops trying and either turns to celibacy or looks for other sexual or intimacy sources that won’t reject him.

He must also do things to make her feel loved. A man’s sex drive and natural inclination to be the initiator motivates him to do this for her.  He, however, must learn how. No man is born knowing how to be romantic or how to meet the emotional needs of a female.  Sometimes, a female knows she needs to be romanced first to be aroused, but may not know how to communicate it. Communication and experimentation is in order here. Each person is different in what they respond to.

“Neither the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord”

Men are not better than women; they are different. Women are not better than men; they are different. This cannot be emphasized enough if we are to get away from sexual prejudice and gender-centrism, and come to a united understanding and appreciation of each other as human beings and children of our Heavenly Father. Just because we are different does not mean we are incompatible. We can take turns meeting the emotional and sexual needs of our spouse. Make it a game. Have fun with it. With loving communication, cooperation and acceptance, we can find common ground and keep that divine love alive that we felt from the beginning of our relationship.

[i] 2 Ne. 2; Gen 1:28; Moses 5:11; Moses 4:12
[ii] Laugh your way to a better marriage” Mark Gungor.
[iii] Science of the Sexes” Dr. Helen Fisher
[v] Laugh your way to a better marriage” Mark Gungor.