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Friday, May 6, 2011

From A Distance - Masturbation in the LDS Marriage


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

Hello everyone.

I’m still hammering out all the details for the next blog on the four marriage killers, but in the meantime, I wanted to share with you this interesting reader question I recently received:
 
My wife and I are currently apart because I am out of town for school and business.  Is phone/Internet sex okay?  Why or why not? 

We discussed the issue on a chat site, and the reason she didn't want to try it was because she feels masturbation is wrong at any time.

I believe that masturbation is wrong before marriage as it is best for one to "bridle" their passions.  Now that we are married, and as you express on the blog many times, it is very confusing trying to do right by the LDS Church standards when there are no specifics when it comes to marriage. 

We have a fulfilling sex life together and we are very open and communicate with each other about everything.  So... if you have any suggestions or help as to how we can be intimate with each other over such a long distance, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help and I look forward to your reply! 
-        Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for reading my blog and I’m grateful you have found it helpful. I can appreciate your concern as to how to keep the sexual spark strong between you and your wife when you are apart. I am sure there are many members of the Church faced with your same dilemma – especially those serving in the armed forces.

The best decision for your circumstance will ultimately come from you, your wife and the Lord. As you discuss with your wife what is acceptable for the both of you and make it a matter of prayer, the Spirit will guide you as to what you should do. What I can offer you are some suggestions to consider, with pros and cons for each.

The first aspect of your question I’d like to address is the concern about masturbation in marriage you mentioned. You said that your wife doesn’t want to engage in phone sex because masturbation is “wrong at any time.”

Masturbation outside of marriage is certainly out of the bounds the Lord has set; there are numerous references to this in Church doctrine. When it comes to masturbating in marriage, solo masturbation is not the best tool for keeping a healthy marriage and here is why.

Solo masturbation in marriage away from your spouse would be discouraged because it is a separating activity – not a bonding one. Biologically, neurons that fire together, wire together. This means that if solo masturbation is done over a long period of time the brain will re-program itself to associate sex with masturbation. It then becomes more difficult for a husband or wife to mentally or physically respond sexually with their spouse without it.  In addition, masturbating to porn to “keep the peace” will also create the same result and is definitely not a bonding activity.

When dealing with masturbation between married people, however, the rules shift slightly sometimes. It is sometimes appropriate for a married couple to use masturbation on a temporary basis as a learning tool, if the wife is unfamiliar with how her body will respond sexually. She can use it to show her husband how she likes to be touched, or he can demonstrate to his wife how he would like her to handle his genitals during sex. This use of masturbation is not sinful or separating in any way.

Mutual masturbation, which means to allow your spouse to manually stimulate you to orgasm with their hands or mouth or by using sex toys, is not forbidden in marriage, and often utilized as an acceptable form of foreplay between a married couple. There is nothing unrighteous or unholy or impure about a husband stimulating his wife, or the wife masturbating her husband, or both, if they both enjoy it. 

From the teachings of the prophets and other Church leaders and the scriptures, I have found no reference to any sexual practice in marriage being forbidden unless it’s done to prevent having any children, or involving people we’re not married to.

What you’re talking about – which is essentially mutual masturbation using long-distance forms of communication – can be done, but carries some inherent risk, which you must decide for yourselves according to your situation how serious that risk is.  It is also more difficult to do if you are not already comfortable with masturbating together.

Since your wife seems to object to masturbation under any circumstances, this could be a source of friction. However, since you also say that your sex life is healthy and your communication is good, she may be able to let go of her reservations if it’s approached with some sensitivity to her feelings on the matter and with some further education. 

Reading my blog posts could help with that. Purchasing the “Eternal Marriage” textbook from the Church Distribution Center at www.lds.org  (very cheap) could also be very helpful. It has a lot of material on intimacy from a gospel perspective.

It would also be good to keep in mind the inherent limits of what you’re attempting to do. Phone sex could be overheard or recorded by others on the same line, especially over cell phones or wireless connections; there is a slight risk of this. 

Using Skype or a video camera would add a visual element, but can leave the woman feeling particularly vulnerable, especially since such video could be (and has been) recorded and put on the Internet without the woman's knowledge or consent. 

Your trust level with your spouse would have to be relatively high for her to feel comfortable with expressing her sexuality with you this way, and you wouldn’t want to do anything that could potentially violate that trust. If you’re communicating over a Wi-Fi connection that’s not heavily encrypted, my understanding is that anyone with a computer in close vicinity could possibly tap into your conversation.

There are physical limits to what you can do over the phone or online as well. When we are physically together with our spouse and having sex, there are physiological functions other than just penis-in-vagina happening.

When you make physical contact with your spouse, there is an electrical current that flows and circulates between you. Positive and negative ions are being exchanged through skin contact. Visual, aural, olfactory, taste and mental connections are made. Our spirits are connecting. We are literally having sex with our whole being. It is a complete experience. A husband and wife become one.

If we masturbate to phone sex, we will have a partial release of sexual tension, but the rest of the experience – the electrical exchange through skin, the other senses other than auditory and maybe visual – are deprived. Chances are you may still be left will a feeling of “something is missing.” Many other parts of you and your spouse will still be sexually frustrated. Over long periods, this frustration can build and make you both vulnerable to sexual temptations.

If you are away from your spouse for a short time on a business trip or an internship of a short duration (say, three months or less) and you are engaging in phone sex or cyber-sex with your spouse, I don’t see this as creating an insurmountable problem. If you are doing it together and both enjoying it, it is a bonding activity and is fine.

The problem is more likely to present itself if we practice married phone or cyber-sex over an extended period (months, years). The brain will re-wire itself if this is practiced over a long period of time, making it more difficult to connect with our spouse sexually when we return.

It may not be noticed at first, but over time you may begin to find it difficult to be aroused by your spouse. You may find yourself craving phone or cyber-sex as the preferred method of arousal. At this stage, it’s gone from a fun/bonding experience to a separating sexual habit.

When it comes to being apart for long periods of time, I feel the apostle Paul gave some sound advice.  In I Corinthians 7: 2 – 5 (the Joseph Smith Translation) he said,

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband…

…Depart ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”

I understand this to mean that our spouse is supposed to be there for us sexually so we are not tempted to fornicate or commit adultery. If we have to be apart from our spouse for a long time:

1. The length of time has to be with their consent and,
2.  We are to "fast" from sex until we can be with our spouse and have sex with them again.

The spouses of our military service men and women don’t have the luxury of consent. Before marriage, it must be (and usually is) understood that they mentally have to prepare themselves to accept the lifestyle of having their military spouse gone for extended periods of time. Sexual discipline must come with the territory if a Church member in the military is to keep the law of chastity under these circumstances.

Those who travel frequently such as executives, or people who put in long hours of work, such as doctors, will be away from their spouse for long periods of time. This needs to be understood before entering into the relationship. Both spouses have the responsibility to be there sexually for their spouse as much as possible in order to keep the relationship healthy.

In my blog post, “The Four Marriage Killers”, separation is listed as a marriage killer. Any physical separations that happen in a marriage should be kept to the bare minimum. As Paul stressed in the scripture above, the temptations are just too strong, as you have also undoubtedly experienced.

Many good marriages get killed simply by being apart too much. Many intimacy-starved marriage partners in these circumstances find themselves in the arms of someone closer and more available and wonder how they got there.

As I talk about in many of my posts, the purpose of marriage (and sex in marriage) is to build eternal family units and strengthen the relationship bonds between a husband and wife. As members of Christ’s church, we are taught to follow the Spirit of the law.

A good way to do this is to ask ourselves, “Is this sexual activity bringing us closer together or separating us?” That is the rule of thumb; that is what I mean when I say use the Spirit of the law. If you find that you cannot successfully bond through phone sex or cyber-sex, may I suggest “fasting” sexually until you can be together again…and get together again as quickly and as often as possible.

Good luck to you and your wife in whatever you decide to do. Hopefully you will be back together again soon, having healthy, unifying sex. 

- Coach Sam


42 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the Apostle Paul didn't have a clue that one day a husband and wife would be able to bond sexually over a phone or computer. I would think that if a couple is comfortable with cyber/phone sex, it would be a very positive means of keeping them bonded and emotionally attached. Many a person has succumbed to the loneliness of separation from their spouse and either found themselves watching inappropriate movies or even committing adultery. I would say that phone or cybersex would be one of the best means of preventing infidelity, and one that can even strengthen the relationship.

I think that the risk of growing too dependant on cybersex is so negligible that one should not even consider it. I would think that the benefits would far out weigh the risks.

Also, there are varying definitions of mutual masturbation. For me, the definition should only refer to mutual self stimulation. To say that manual stimulation of one's partner is a form of masturbation... just creates one more area of confusion for those who are afraid of sinning. I don't even like the term mutual masturbation. I would prefer to call it mutual self stimulation.

You may disagree, but even the Church has softened it's stance on masturbation the past 10-15 years. There is NO mention of it in the General Handbook, and the latest For the Strength of Youth doesn't address masturbation, but says:

"Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the
powerful emotions that must be expressed only in
marriage."

I interpret this to mean to not arouse those feelings while with another person.

Certainly, masturbation can become highly addictive to a select few. But, seeing that approx. 90-95% of all male members of the Church, and approx. 60-70% of all female members of the Church have masturbated (and many of them have done so on a regular basis), tells me that masturbation is more of a biological need/response that is planted in all of God's children. He would not place that strong biological characteristic in all of His children, then condemn them when succumbing to that God given urge.

Certainly there should be some caution taught to our youth. But I think that we can do better for our members by removing much of the "vile sinner" hype that some of our past leaders have created.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it probably wouldn't do any harm for short-term, but we can't say what would happen over a long period of time. What if the wife doesn't like it, but does it to keep her man happy? It doesn't work then, does it?

We can't tell everyone what works for them and what doesn't. That's for each couple to decide.

And I have to disagree with your interpretation of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Masturbation by yourself can bring a person to orgasm, and I would consider those to be VERY powerful emotions.

Masturbation outside of marriage is wrong, no matter how common it may be in society. If masturbation makes young men in our Church unworthy to serve a mission, then I think it's safe to call it a sin. Inside of marriage, if they want to stimulate each other, that's up to them, but outside...not good.

Your statistics don't mean much of anything - no one knows that for sure. No one in their right mind in the Church would admit something like that, first of all, and no study I know of has ever been done on how many members masturbate - for crying out loud.

There are lots of worse sins than solo masturbation, sure...but it's still a sin. It still damages your spirit, and still requires repentance.

Just my thoughts...

Anonymous said...

I travel for work. Generally 4-5 days a week. Nobody can understand what it is like to be in this situation unless you ARE in this situation. It is so easy to say, oh hey, you are borderline sinning for having phone sex, or masturbating while you are away from your wife. (She is aware of it every time I might add. I don't keep that from her) However, she also will not even think about having phone sex because that is "all about the orgasm" and not being together.
I have nearly lost my testimony of the church because of the attitude it has when it comes to sex, etc. I am so tired of this. I am in a situation where I have to travel and that cannot be helped. Where does that leave me? Oh, well, get rid of every sexual thought ever during the week. Oh, and never-mind trying to come home and get aroused, after spending all week fighting EVERY urge during the week. I have to completely have a transformation and make myself realize that I can enjoy sex and have a sexual thought.
What B.S. I am so tired of feeling guilt for this. And we wonder why there are so many sexual issues as mormons? Here's an idea. Get rid of the guilt. Stop making us feel like we have to be perfect "Peter Priesthood" while in this situation. It is so easy for every one to stand back and say "this is what you should be doing brother so and so. A good priesthood holder would not have issues with this" Man, give me a break. I have just had it with this attitude.

This was my rant. You can choose to delete it or not post it or whatever. It is your blog. I won't judge you one way or the other if you choose to get rid of it. I am just saying that I am having severe testimony issues right now, and this is one of the biggest reasons.

CoachSam said...

Dear May 17th Anon,

Thanks for your very frank and honest comments.

You’re right. It’s very easy for someone else to stand back and say, “This is what you should be thinking, and feeling, and doing,” especially when we can only imagine what you’re going through.

I believe and teach that good priesthood holders do have sexual thoughts and feelings. Any impressions you may have received from the members that married sex is wrong, or that sexuality itself is wrong, is incorrect.

In fact, from what I’ve studied of the General Authorities’ teachings, they teach that sexuality is good and righteous and God-given and is appropriate when used in the bounds the Lord has set. Being Mormon doesn’t mean we’re anti-sex – in fact, we’re far from that. (See my blog on the Sexual Spectrum for more details here).

Getting married does not eliminate sexual feelings, nor should it. No one lives in a perfect, ideal situation. It is the GA’s job to hold up the ‘ideal’ standard. It can be frustrating to look at that ideal and think, “I’ll never measure up to that”, but that’s not the point.

What we as members should do is to use the Spirit, and all the tools the Lord gives us for personal and general revelation, to tailor that ideal to our circumstances as closely as possible.

Forget about perfection for now.I would suggest working on worthiness and becoming the best “you” you can be instead. This is what I believe the Savior taught, and what he means by living the “Spirit” of the law. Sometimes the general rules just don’t fit in every circumstance.

Sometimes God gives us the latitude to use our best judgment, and we won’t be condemned for that.

If Adam and Eve lived the law perfectly, we would never have been born. It was a choice they had to make, it was an imperfect choice, but it was theirs to make, and it was a righteous choice.

If you’re feeling guilty about masturbation, there’s a reason. Solo masturbation will not bring you intimacy with your wife. It is not a bonding activity, but a separating activity.

I didn’t make that rule up…that’s a natural law. That’s the Lord’s rules.

The good news is, you and your wife can find the answer to this problem you’re having…but you have to find it together.

You are each other's sexual stewardship. No one can create a successful marriage all by themselves. That tactic will only bring frustration.

For your specific situation, I would encourage you or anyone in your same situation to be just as frank and honest with your spouse as you were just now with me about what you need sexually.

If you’re swimming in guilt and your testimony’s faltering, something is terribly wrong in your life. Your wife needs to know about this, so she can help you find a way to meet each other’s intimacy needs.

Anonymous said...

Sam,
Thank you for your measured reply. I had a very bad day yesterday, and I only filtered so much of what I really wanted to say, so thank you.

I do have a couple of follow up points however. First of all, my wife is completely aware of what I go through while on the road, and that includes if I have to masturbate. She is ok with it, as long as I tell her about it. Which I do. However, she just doesn't want to be involved in that with me because it is too uncomfortable for her to do it by herself.

Another point, is I am not swimming in guilt. I do not feel like I am sinning in the least by masturbating once a month or every six weeks if the pressure gets too much for me. (yes, that is truly all it is).

My testimony is faltering for many reasons, which I won't get into here. Sex just happens to be a big part of that. I have talked to my wife multiple times about it, and nothing ever gets done about it. Believe me, I am all about communication. She is not, however.

With all due respect, I have yet to find anyone in my life who is pro-sex as I am. Everyone I know, IN THE CHURCH, has the attitude of, we can't talk about it. It is all carnal knowledge. When I have given lessons before in priesthood, and dared to mention the word sex in a positive light instead of something that should be shunned, I have been talked to about it.

Bottom line, I just don't have patience and time in my life for a church or people who want to inflict this much guilt on its members. It may not be the way it is in your ward, Sam, but this is the way it is in my ward.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my posting, leaving it up, and responding to me. I do appreciate it. I respect your opinion very much, but it was just those couple of points that I respectfully disagree with you on.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this topic thread. Due to the economy, I've had to change jobs a few times in the last 3 years. Each time, I had to go start work without my family in a new city for weeks, or months at a time. I just tried to put my desires totally aside. And for a time, it worked. But I was just so lonely and missed my wife so much. The idea of mutual, yet separate, masturbation came to me and I wondered if it was okay or not. I very gingerly proposed it to my sweet wife, and she agreed. It became a great bonding experience for us as we used technology to send intimate texts, pics, and enjoy cybersex together. We would tease each other in a loving, fun way and would look forward to it. It really helped us stay emotionally bonded during a very difficult time for both of us. I'm once again in the same situation. Starting a new job in a city hundreds of miles from home. I have no question that it's totally appropriate to engage in these activities under the circumstances. When we do reunite, it will not supplant our normal approach to intimacy. But it's really nice to have as an option. And again, it does bring us closer together. One more really fun inside joke that we can share. I feel no loss of the spirit whatsoever. Sorry if that was a bit long winded. I just wanted to add my voice and witness that it's completely within the bounds the Lord has set as long as it's mutually agreed upon, and mutually enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Anon 8:08.

You hit it on the head.. "it's comletely within the bounds the Lord has set as long as it's mutually agreed upon, and mutually enjoyed."

Anon 1:10 and 1:04, I sense that part of your struggle is that your wife's attitude towards sex is affecting your relationship, and her attitude/beliefs are are largely due to the teachings that she has recieved - whether from her parents, YW leaders, Bishop, etc...

The general attitude in the Church has been shifting and we are hearing more and more about the sex in marriage as being one of the binding/bonding means of expressing love. Granted, we need to get more open communication about what is acceptable, i.e. what is "mutually agreeable", no cooersion, etc... but that is coming, and there are quotes out there than can help your situation (if this is the issue - it was for my marriage).

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed this post and the comments to go along with it. THanks for keeping this blog. Sex can be such a touchy subject. I'm currently going through a somewhat sticky situation in my marriage and I think you have some great advice over here. I'll be back for sure!

a wife said...

Iam so thanksful to have found this site. I have been married for 9 years and for about 5 i have had medical problems which makes it too painful for intercourse, so we have tried to be as intimate as possible in the meantime on many occaisons i have asked my husband is this ok in the church are we allowed to mutually masturbate? are we sinning?, Iam glad we are not and Iam in the process of getting medically fixed so I will one day be able to have sex again, but my biggest problem is, there are no guidance on these matters, if I went to my Bishop iam sure all I would be told is "its between you and your husband and the Lord", which doesnt really help, the older members seem to think that all you can do is proper sex ie penetration and to grin and bear it, which to me seems like punishment. not something to enjoy, iam sure it would be helpful to maybe have a pamphlet to say specifics of what is and isnt ok. I had one sister ask me if Oral sex was ok? I had to tell her I didnt know which then I didnt, how sad is that?

thank you sam very much for this topic and for your honest answers I wish we had more if it, Iam not saying we need to be told every sex act or every circumstance but a guidline would be good

Anonymous said...

I dont want to detract from any of this, it has been a very helpful blog. My husband is deployed and we have had much of the same worries and questions. I feel so sad about anon may 18 1:10, mostly that there have been so many run- ins with the members that are so tight mouthed about sex. We have had the privilege of having 2 wonderful bishops in regards to this subject. Neither of them have been like that. Our latest has counseled, much like other have already said, that its up to us as a couple to decide what we are comfortable with. And, it is between us and the Lord, guided by the spirit. I know how your wife feels, it took alot for me to let go of that embarrassment and concern about doing anything, especially over the internet where anyone could possibly be seeing something. However, once I did, it has been a great experience. Our Bishop has really helped us with this and I would encourage you to consult with him and your wife when you can. He is there to help you. Try praying to your HF first that he(bishop) will be guided by the spirit to help you in your situation. I hope that things can get better for you, and good luck! Thanks Sam for your willingness to enlighten us in this sacred matter!

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon June 19 -

Thank you for your comment, and thanks for reading. God bless you both in your marriage.

Ridgeridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anon June19th 11:06~ Thank you so much for your reply. I am Anon may 18, 1:10. For what it's worth, I wish my wife could be your friend so you would be able to show her how it has worked so well for you in your marriage. I commend you for taking the step to keeping that closeness and intimacy alive in your marriage.
There has been a LOT that has changed over the last few weeks. Some for the better, some for way worse. I am hoping some things will still change for the better in that arena too.
As far as your comment about the bishop, I am going to apologize in advance for saying this, but my bishop is a complete douche bag. I can't stand him. He is a guy who wears his position on his sleeve, and doesn't care who he offends, or hurts, because he is the bishop and his opinion is right, no matter what. I just don't have patience for him. At ALL! The only reason I am still going to church right now is because of my kids.
I'm just done with the guilt and the baggage that comes along with that. I don't have the energy or the time to fight with idiotic close minded people anymore. I am throwing off the burdens of being "Peter Priesthood" If people don't like the way I teach my lessons, or what I say, they can ask me not to come to church anymore. My opinion, is 90% of the issues the church has with sex and masturbation is because of Pres. Kimball and of course, we as mormons have to take things to extremes. So what he has said has been taken and made to be 10 times worse than it is, just to show how righteous I am over another member. I'm just done with all of it.
Anyways, thank you again for your posting of support, and for what it's worth, I'm glad there are mormons like you in the church. You give me hope that all is not lost. I'm sorry I kind of went on a rant, but there are certain things that just get under my skin...

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3:32...

It sounds like you're very focused on the imperfections of many members. I don't want to be trite, or act like it's an easy problem with a quick fix.

If you can, try to take a step back: the gospel restored through Joseph Smith and continued through Thomas Monson is true, and in this church the authority exists to perform the saving ordinances.

I understand some of your struggles through personal experience. It *is* very frustrating. It is perhaps even more frustrating to be confronted with our own imperfection. It is tempting then to feel malice for everyone, or feel like everyone looks down on us, etc.

From one of your comments, it sounds like much of your frustration centers on a disconnect between you and your wife -- I understand that, too.

When our actions don't match our beliefs, we feel emotional pain until we either change our actions or change our beliefs.

I don't go to church for anyone else but God, so if someone there has a problem with me, they can kiss off. I won't let someone else's judgement keep me from salvation. Some people leave church because they are offended -- it is my belief that they wanted to leave, they just wanted someone else to give them a reason that would justify their behavior.

Just, please, try to take a step back. Try to remember / re-find your testimony. Ignore other people, and remember that your Heavenly Father loves you; he's given his laws because he knows what we all need to have true joy.

Believe me, I'm not being trite -- my personal challenges, my marriage, I don't know how I'll come through them. But the one good thing that has helped me through is in being willing to drop to my knees, rather than rise up in rebellion or turning away.

Just... hang in there. Try a different approach. Don't abandon the gospel. Don't give up.

CoachSam said...

Wonderful comments guys. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting.

Anonymous said...

For the guy who has the hard job where he is away from his wife 4-5 days a week, my heart goes out to you! Like you I don't feel the stance on masturbation makes sense at all, it is rooted more in protestant superstition than the revealed light of Christ.

Fortunately we have true religion that encourages us to seek revelation for ourselves. If you haven't done so already do it! Like you the uptight attitude towards sex and the beauty of the human body that so many of our coreligionists have is really disturbing to me and flies in the face of the gospel.

There have been cases where young men have committed suicide because of the guilt and conflicted conscience caused by the superstitious culturally based teachings the church has produced in the past on masturbation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not lead young men to commit suicide. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not teach us to revile our bodies and their organic functions. It is the adversary who teaches us to hate our bodies and revile their function.

Seek the council of the Lord first, then your wife. If your wife hasn't ask her to fast and pray that she might understand your struggles and share in revelation with you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sam,

Please be careful using the word "worthy". That is a mormon culture word and carries with it the connotation that God finds some people of lesser worth than others. Being "worthy" is as relative as being "nice" or "smart".

Also, is it not possible that the reason this man may be feeling guilty about masturbation is that he has been conditioned by his culture countless times over many years that it is sinful and he is now "unworthy?"

I also respectfully disagree with your statement that "I didn't make that rule up...thats natural law. That's the Lord's rules". Please show me where in scripture or in modern day revelation that sexual behavior agreed upon by spouses and within the bounds the Lord has set (granted those bounds are fairly undefined)is separating. I'll wait... Absolutist statements that fabricate doctrine are a hallmark of mormon culture that desperately needs to end for the health of its members and to institute a sorely needed change in the sexual education of its members.

Although I appreciate a forum for people to privately discuss sexuality without reprisal and in anonymity, I find it saddening that counsel given to young people to abstain from masturbation is considered legitimate and binding for a married couple who have come to an agreement as to what is acceptable between them. I tell my kids not to talk to strangers. I would hope however that as adults they would know when talking to strangers is not only appropriate but part of a healthy psyche and considered normal human behavior.

You're welcome to not post this comment. I have no intention of visiting your blog again. I would be interested however to see how your views soften and/or change as you both finish your studies, and begin to see the damage done to people by well intentioned but misinformed church leadership and cultural conditioning in your practice as a therapist. In your posts you come across as eager to reinforce dogma and less eager to truly advise what is healthiest for your readers. I suggest a quick surfing of Natasha's site "mormon therapist" for thoughtful, insightful, and healing advice. Good luck to you in your journey to serve the members of the church!

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling to form my thoughts on this topic.
Do me and my wife participate mutual masturbation and or phone sex, yes we do.
Yes I have struggled with the idea of it. Mainly because I could not find any information that could guide me on the subject.

Now I don't particularly need something to tell me what I can do with my wife sexually but it would have helped earlier in marriage. When some of the ideas of what you could not do before marriage carried over to after marriage.

I spend alot of time away from home as i am in the military and the decision to try mutual stimulation/masturbation phone sex what ever you want to call it was a hard one for both me and my wife. However it has been a blessing. Now I would never trade the real thing for phone sex but it is fun and different and shakes things up a little.

I am glad I am not the only one that has had this question. I didn't particularly want to raise my hand in elders quorum and ask but I did want to know if there was anything written about it.

My wife think its an act of love between each other and a way to have some intimacy when we are apart.

For the brother that has had some problems with church leaders. Keep your head up and your heart in prayer it doesn't matter what other members think or say. I have had a few that I struggled with as well. As my father once told me "its not the bishops church". It may not help but it has helped me and my father through a few bishops.

Anonymous said...

This article mentions sexual practice in marriage being forbidden if it’s done to prevent having any children. That stance is not necessarily true! The official view is "The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife." Lds.org Gospel Topics- birth control

I think birth control is fine and the vast majority of members I have met agree and use it! You do not see too many members with 10 kids anymore (how can anyone afford that many kids nowadays). Even my aunt that is opposed to birth control and had 11 kids eventually had her tubes tied. At some point you do stop having kids and may still be able to have them. Abstinence in marriage is not healthy. My cousin that is opposed to birth control now has to use it. She can only give birth via c-section. She has to wait a certain amount of time to have another baby and she can only have 4 kids.

Regarding masturbation- I could care less what someone does regarding all sexual matters. It is personal and noone elses business. There are pros and cons for masturbating.

How sad to think some members believe touching their spouse sexually is wrong. That view is very rare but still out there. To never touch your spouses private parts is unnatural. Foreplay and sex go hand in hand.

I too have become SO offended by other members views. I have gone inactive from it and thought about leaving the church completely.

But I have found that church members do not agree on sexual matters. Some members are for masturbation or oral sex and others are not. Whatever anyone decides on these matters there are members that will agree with you. You never know what someones view is until you talk to them. I apprecaite and love the members that have a open mind and try to not judge others.

Everyone has their own opinion. We do not have to agree with or live by others opinions.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate everything that's been said. My issue is somewhat different I think and would like to have some "professional" feedback.

I married my wife in the temple over 30 years ago, but most of which has been without regular sex. She has basically decided, unilaterally, that she does not want to "do it" any more. On those rare occasions when we do, it's ALWAYS me who initiates it and for her, she's just doing her duty. I can't keep this up, it's killing me. I have resorted to masturbation on a few occasions but refrain mostly for all the usual LDS reasons. It is, my choice of last resort. I do not involve pornography believe it or not, but instead I will concentrate thinking about my wife when I engage in masturbation. There is most often a sense of relief and the hormones released seem to help my general well being, in other words, my mood improves. That having been said, I'm really looking for counsel as to whether I should abstain from masturbation altogether even though and this is not an exaggeration, my wife and I may never again have intercourse. I love her very much and none other. What's in her heart is anyone's guess. I have sexual needs that are not being met by my wife and I refuse to fulfill that need with any other woman. Occasional "solo" masturbation seems to be my only outlet. (And yes, we're been to several of our bishops and marriage counselors over the years with no improvements in our relationship.)

Anonymous56

Anonymous said...

What about anal sex? Our Bishop said anal sex is equal to Homosexuality and the anus is not intended for sex. I notice here that you refer to oral sex being ok. What is the difference if a couple enjoys it.

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon Jan. 7,

If that is truly what your Bishop said, think carefully about the statement "anal sex is equal to homosexuality." In a heterosexual marriage, that is impossible.

The expression of sex in marriage is the very definition of what is holy and pure and the writings of Church leaders have made it clear that they cannot and will not tell a married couple what they can or cannot do sexually in marriage.

Anal sex is not automatically forbidden between a married couple in the gospel. Whether or not a married couple can successfully practice it depends on individual couples' circumstances.

If one or both spiritually don't feel right about it, I invite you to pray about it and follow the Spirit.

If you choose to practice anal sex, I caution you to not take a laissez-faire approach to it. There is a lot of careful preparation that must be done first, and do's and don'ts you need to be aware of before you attempt it. You could hurt your spouse very badly, so care must be taken.

If this doesn't answer your concern, the following articles I've written may help you gain some more perspective on this issue:

*"Is the Bishop in your Bedroom"
*"What are Sexual Perversions in in Marriage"
*"Sexual Extremes in Marriage"
*"Do Your Sexual Practices Defile something sacred"
*"The Question of Oral Sex in LDS Marriage:Part 2"
*"The Sexual Spectrum - Where do We Lie".

I apologize for not creating hyperlinks for these articles; I'm a little short on time today. Hopefully you can search on the main page for these.

Bottom line - There is nothing in Church doctrine that says anal sex in an LDS marriage is equal to homosexuality or is a sin against God.

Hope this helps, and let me know if you need any additional information. If you would like to discuss this or other issues privately, feel free to email me at samzaragoza@sbcglobal.net.

Anonymous said...

I have a job where i am out on the raod at least 3 weeks at a time. I have been married for 2 years now and my wife cant go with me all the time. As you can guess that makes it very hard to have moments with your spouse. I dont mean to point fingers at the church but who wants to have that conversation with a couple aof grown adults that are married. But at the same time how are we to know what is acceptable to the
Lord, if we are raised as youth and tought to put those feelings away, and then you get married and not a soul wants to sit down and say ok this is ok and that is bad. I jsut dont understand why nobody in the church takes an offical stand on this because this is truly a big problem not everyone can have a 8-5 job and be home every day. So thank you for shedding some light on this subject it has been a thorn in my side for a long time.

Anonymous said...

My husband is currently out of town. He was gone for 3 weeks, came home for a week, and left again this time for a little longer. I hesitated to even look up the topic worried about what sites I might wander onto. Yours was the first one I clicked on and I am glad I did.

I agreed with most of what you said. I also agree with many of the frustrated members on not getting direct council from church leaders, however, when I asked my bishop 10 years ago what was OK and what wasn’t he read me a scripture. I do not remember where to find it but it reads something like…the Lord does not command in all things. My bishop translated this to me as: God gave us a brain and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost…USE IT! I think we as members want to be told “yes” or “no” simply because it is easier.

I am still on the fence about phone sex. My husband and I have tried it. Sometimes I feel closer to him and other times I cry because it just makes it worse, it can be so unfulfilling…and I just miss him more.

As to the whole your body has natural urges and God wouldn’t give them to if you weren’t supposed to give in… Soooo not true. God gives us weakness that we may become strong. I had the weakness of masturbation when I was a teenager. I was the ONLY girl that had confessed it to the bishop (he told me that…and not to make me feel bad, but because it took him off balance a little.) and in talking with other women, it was rare for an LDS women of 14 years ago to have that problem. I believe the information has made the young ladies today experiment with things they never would have otherwise. It never made me feel good about me and it wasn’t just the guilt talking. Acting in a purely self gratifying way never brought me the happiness I was looking for. It feels good to have control over my body's urges. Why do people think we fast once a month? If everyone gave into every urge and desire think about what kind of a world we would live in then.

And I know the church doesn't council against sex. That is people looking to be offended about something. My bishop told me that just as it was a sin before marraige to engage in sexual activities it was equally important after marriage to engage in them. He encouraged me to pray about and try new things. I took his advice and have a very active and amazing sexual relationship with my husband.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great blog, truly very insightful. Just to clarify for Anon Aug. 5, 2011 or anyone who might have mistaken CoachSam's statement of "nature's law" - he wasn't quoting actual doctrine there but merely pointing out something that's been observed and "proven" scientifically (I use quotations because science is constantly evolving, and what is proven today can be disproved tomorrow. However as for now the evidence is pretty solid). Experts on the study of the brain have shown that chemical reactions as a result of an orgasm create a powerful bond to who or whatever brings us to climax. That being said, it only makes sense that when we have sex (be it oral, anal, etc. - whatever the couple mutually feels that the Lord has sanctioned [and for further clarity: not involving anyone outside of your marriage, real or virtual] to my understanding) with our spouse will cause us to strengthen our sacred bond immensely. Conversely, sex alone (masturbation without our spouse's involvement) will create that powerful bond with that particular stimuli (and not with your spouse) THUS creating a separation between the couple. (PS This powerful bond also explains why people get into unhealthy sexual addictions such as pornography, homosexuality, beastiality, molestation, etc. It can be very dangerous outside the covenant of marriage. But that's opening a whole new can of worms and I apologize for the aquard but important warning.)
Again for those who consider themselves a 'special case' and truly want to know what is ok, you and your spouse should ask our Father in Heaven what to do. For those just looking for justification, I caution you to please look at what you're risking and reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I can't believe misspelled awkward- sorry my brain usually shuts down around 1am...
Oh and one more thing, your bishops mean well. Its a tough job receiving revelation for an entire ward, not to mention everything else they have to worry about. Not that I am, nor ever have been or want to be bishop - it tough enough being a membership clerk. Just remember the church is perfect, not the members.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those topics that need addressing and I'm glad it's being addressed here.

My wife and I have been going through a very rough time in our marriage. No unfaithfulness, just a general distancing that has occurred over time. At it's worse we go over a year without any intimacy, and at it's best, perhaps we would be intimate every 6-7 months. This lasted for years and years and i think if we didn't have children we would not be together anymore.

If I give into urges and masturbated I feel terribly guilty. In fact that guilt pushes me farther from my wife, and actually further from the church too. I feel unworthy and my distance from church made my wife less interested in fixing things with our relationship.

I feel resentful of my wife, and resentful of myself, and then guilty of those feelings. I hate what I see when I looked in the mirror.

I don't know what the solution is. It was nice to see other comments here of people dealing with things that I deal with and I thought I would be candid in my remarks so perhaps someone else might be helped knowing they're not alone.

We're just people with the same urges as anyone else. I do wish that there was an answer.

Anonymous said...

The previous comments ends "I do wish that there was an answer." To which I would say the answer is found in strengthening and building the intimacy lost in your marriage. That road is sometimes quite difficult, requires forgiveness and a desire from both parties to see a brighter future. I don't love the movie "Fireproof," because of the cheesy-ness of it, but the principles are relevant as a starting point for what relationships need need to be strong. Building or rebuilding communication, trust, love, and intimacy comes from working at it. My wife and I went through a period where those things all suffered and we were both miserable, but after some repentance and an unrelenting pursuit of a better state we are moving closer to each other every day. At one point I realized that all of my efforts would be useless if she was not also pursuing the same goal. I could be perfect to her, but unless she was at least interested in moving closer together, it was pointless, because the marriage takes two. For me there was a lot of repentance of things, and for her the challenge (and maybe bigger challenge) was for forgiveness. We've been aggressively working on it for nearly two years and we are much closer, but we're still reaching toward something better. I highly recommend to anyone who is feeling distance from a spouse to go to counseling first thing as well as have real discussions about what keeps you apart and establish mutual goals for where you want to be. When my wife and I first met on the subject (the tension was unreal, tons of built up emotions and angst) I had created a worksheet for each of us to complete with a series of open ended questions on it that defined what marriage meant to both of us, what was most important in the relationship, what things were absolutely required, and so on. We did not see each others answers until later. There was a lot of tears, a lot of open wounds laid bare, a lot of hard things said, but that was the whole point. We would never regain intimacy in a whole person sense if there was a continued lack of trust, lack of forgiveness, lack of compassion or love, we had to get some real hurt feelings out of the way and make commitments to each other to fix what was lacking. We could no longer refuse to discuss what was bothering us, it had to get out and get resolved. I firmly believe that the cure for many issues (pornography and all her companions) is the building of real intimacy with your spouse...and for most marriages that does not start with sex...it starts with trust and trustworthiness and is fostered by communication. Hope the best for yours and everyone's marriages.

Anonymous said...

I hesitated a little before posting this comment, but after days of thinking it over I have finally decided to post it. I have a couple of points to raise on this matter. I seem to require more attention and affection than my husband can give to me. We have been together for several years now and this desire only grows stronger for me but the trouble is that he has no interest in physical affection outside of sex and I also think I have a higher libido because I crave the physical contact from him and know that is one of the only ways to get it! I recently read the book " They were Not Ashamed" written by an LDS author and she talks about how we as humans need a certain level of physical affection and the importance of touch itself. She then goes on to say for people that don't receive enough that you can touch your own body lovingly and all but then goes on to say that masturbating is wrong in another chapter. To me it seems that the two are the same and I don't understand why one is wrong and the other is okay. My other point is that mi often feel a bit used by my husband when he wants quick sex for his benefit and we are busy or do to having young children that wake from naps and need our immediate attention. I just feel likf it should be acceptable to finish what he started in times like this But maybe it is just wrong all around! I just know that I have spent many sleepless nights and prayed and shed tears wishing things were different. It is as if he feels that the fact that I am loved is to be understood and requires no effort on his behalf!

Anonymous said...

Dear Halloween Anon,

My heart aches for your situation. I wonder how many husbands believe that their wives are "satisfied" because they mistakenly believe that women's libidos are virtually non-existant (at least compared to men). I am lucky to be married to a wonderful woman who is very honest about her needs, and I do my best to fulfill them. Frankly, she still only reaches full orgasm about half as often as I do, but I believe she is happy with my efforts to make every experience as wonderful for her as possible.

Every marriage is different, but if your husband does not fully understand your needs, I am of the opinion that open honesty is almost always best. Teaching him how to get you to orgasm is great, asking him for some extra hand holding or cuddling outside of coitus isn't out of line either.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I have a question....I am a new convert to the church. (my wife was born into it) Ive been a member for almost a year and my wife and I are planning to seal in the temple next month. My wife is 5 months pregnant. 2 months after we married we concieved a child.She is now 5 months pregnant. During courtship we were often very affectionate and close however we maintained the law of chastity. After marriage for the first couple of months our love life and sex life was great and then we conceived a child. She is now 5 months pregnant and she doesnt want anything to do with me in the form of any intimacy. I am trying to be supportive and I know she is uncomfortable, often tired and she doesnt feel good. I also know she is self cautious of the changed in her body to a small extent. I have expressed to her both a physical and emotional need to make love to her but she ends up feeling guilty when she turns me down. I try and remain patient but sometimes get frustrated. I want to put her first and I love her so much. I try and show support and be patient and try my best to help her to feel beautiful and let her know these things in more ways than one. I find lately a lot of tension building up in the fact that we have a lack of intimacy and there is no release for me. Is masturbation in this case considered a sin? I know it wont fulfill my full needs because it is without her and it will feel as if something is missing. Most of all I have a desire to feel connected and close to her. I have two young boys from a previous marriage that ended due to infidelity (on the wifes part) and she has a child she brought into the marriage too so it is added pressure and stress on her - it isnt as if she just gets to lay around and do nothing all day. She is a great mom and wife all around. I just want to be the best husband i can for her and put her needs first...but lately my sexual frustrations are getting the best of me.

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon Dec 28,

My response was too long to post here in the comments. Please go to this link for my reply:
http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2012/12/reader-question-mormons-masturbation.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this honest and open discussion. This is a big issue for my wife and I because I am in the Army and currently deployed to Afghanistan. When I'm not deployed I am frequently away at training but I usually have some form of internet or communication. We have not done any type of communication sex and we are both extremely frustrated, which I believe could be one of the reasons we have as much friction as we do. It makes sense because if you aren't having sex when you are together it will cause friction so if you are apart and don't have any sexual relations then why would that also not cause friction? I always thought that any form of masturbation was wrong but I think my wife and I will try this over Skype and see how it feels afterward.

Anonymous said...

I have experienced a lot of what you have and being a convert and a military spouse, I have lots of questions. But what I have found from my experience is that THE CHURCH is a perfect church. It's the people in it that sometimes tend to be not so perfect. I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and opinion you two have provided. It gives a lot to think about. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous Dec 28 2012, even though there is next to no chance you will see this because it is posted several months after you posted, let me say that it is natural for women to lose some libido during pregnancy. That's just biology. However, in my marriage, my wife will frequently rub me to orgasm, especially if she is not in the mood but knows I need a release. We are both totally fine with it. It in no way sinful in my opinion. You might suggest that she help you along in a similar way if she is not interested. Also, at least with my wife, watching me as she is rubbing me to orgasm frequently gets her in the mood and we end up having sex after a little bit. In fact, this is a frequent way in which we end up having sex, with mutual stimulation.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have only been intimate 2 times in the last year and maybe 10 times in the last 5 years. This is not by my choice, rather my wife's. She is absolutely certain that I have had multiple affairs (which I have never) and now I find myself attending the lds version of the 12 step program for sexual addicts in order to save my marriage. I do occasionally masturbate when I can longer stand the frustration and I hear a very similar story from many of the good lds men that attend these meetings with me. I am amazed at the level of shame that is exhibited in these meetings and due to the nature and format of these meetings, no one dares ask any questions. To me, this is a travesty with a level of shaming control over the lives of many good men. I have 5 children and I will do whatever I have to in order to keep my family together - even to the point that I will willingly sit through these ludicrous sessions to keep my wife from divorcing me. I know this program assists those that actually have a sexual addiction problem, however, the majority of men attending these meetings do not meet that criteria. It is a shame that the church does not see the reality of this and continues to propagate this type of abuse and control over otherwise very loyal and worthy men. You would think that with all the claimed "inspiration" something would be done to mitigate this type of travesty.

Sincerely,

Disallusioned

CoachSam said...

Dear Disallusioned,

I'm very sorry about the frustrating time that you have had. I imagine that your situation is causing you a great deal of emotional pain.

It sounds like your wife is also having some struggles that are deeply affecting her.

There is hope, I promise you. It's in your local leader's best interest and especially in my best interest that you have a happy and healthy marriage - and that includes a healthy married sex life. One that you both want to keep for eternity.

Other than the church's addiction recovery program, there is also marriage counseling available (from a qualified LDS Marriage and Family counselor) through your local Bishop. Have you tried this route yet?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response. It is very painful, but nothing is more important than keeping my family together. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells all the time and it's very exhausting. We are in marriage counseling as well which follows the principles of EFT. We started going together but that only lasted for a couple weeks. My wife kept walking out of the sessions. We've been working with the therapist individually for the last 3 months. We finally have a couples session this weekend. Crossing my fingers that she can get through a whole session.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth:
My wife and I were both raised in the church and have been married for 15 yrs. We were both raised believing masturbation is a sin (no further context). We also believe sex to be an important part of God's plan, both for procreation but also to express love and foster intimacy in marriage.

My wife as a girl had a habit of masturbation. She always felt guilty about it. Some time after marriage I learned to manually stimulate her. (I didn't figure this out on my own- I had to read about it and she had to explain. Guys are fairly simplistic when it comes to sex as well as naive in interpreting what may appear to be female orgasm. :) Don't tell me it isn't true.) But I was squeamish with the idea of her stimulating herself.

Then I deployed for 6 months - I did a lot of reading about marriage (not much else to do in that area, after all). I learned a lot about male vs female sexuality. Was surprised to learn that most women rarely if ever climax with vaginal intercourse. Also learned that manual stimulation as performed by the husband does not perform a climax as intense as when done by the woman. Came to the conclusion that she was getting a second tier sexual relationship. Didn't want that. Came home, we talked about it, and we agreed to give it a try. I thought she might try it now and again. She does it ALL THE TIME, usually after vaginal intercourse to 'top off' but often just when she wants some or to relax at night. Might be the best idea I've ever had.

Fast forward several years and another deployment. Thus far I had not ever stimulated myself. We talked about it and decided to have Skype sex. It was great. Didn't feel guilt - it actually felt quite a bit like real sex - not as good, but same idea.

My big lesson with all of this is that anatomically, psychologically, and hormonally, women are more complicated. (Anyone surprised? Anyone? Bueller?) These all combine to make orgasm more complicated for women as well. I figure that this is a great (and maybe necessary) way for women to have a full sexual relationship because she is much more likely to experience orgasm with masturbation (or self-stimulation, if you prefer).

I've also come to the conclusion that sexuality in the context of a covenant marriage can and should be a lot of fun - and that separation or illness don't need to interfere. (Was Paul wrong about prolonged abstinence? Maybe he was [Flame suit on.] Or maybe we are interpreting him wrong. Or maybe he meant something else all along.])

I'm grateful for the deployments; I wouldn't have figured that out otherwise. My wife wouldn't have brought that up I don't think without me being on board with it. I shudder to think about an entire marriage with me getting a full sexual experience and her getting only an okay experience. So there's no question for me. When our daughter is old enough (ie, about to get married), I intend to explain this all in grown-up terms: a full marriage relationship should include BOTH partners having a full sexual relationship, and a full sexual relationship should include regular orgasms for both parties.

There. I said it. :)

Anonymous said...

"Fasting" from sex is definitely not what Paul meant, at least it isn't what he was saying. The word in Greek specifically denotes deliberate deprivation from food and drink, not sex. The word isn't as flexible in the Greek as in modern English. They would never say that they would "fast" from sex or travel or social events.

Paul is instead saying that fasting and prayer should be the mechanism used to prevent adultery when separation cannot be avoided.

Judaism (and early Christianity by extension) at the time didn't have strong views regarding masturbation, so I doubt Paul would have had much of anything to say on the topic. We tend to assume that previous prophets and apostles understood things the same way or had the same doctrine that we do, but that's definitely not the case on details like this. Judaism and Christianity later developed strong positions on the matter of Masturbation and by the time of Maimonides in the 12th Century, Judaism was split on the matter. Christianity didn't develop the strong condemnatory strain until roughly the same time. Islam never developed it (keeping the previous agnosticism regarding the matter and staying largely silent). By today, however, both Judaism and Christianity are pretty solidly condemnatory of masturbation.

The story of Onan in the Old Testament is frequently used to justify this condemnation by trying to make it biblically-based, but this is a case of presentism and a lack of contextual understanding. Onan's sin was deliberate failure to live up to the demands of the Law of Levirate marriage. His method was coitus-interuptus, not masturbation. But regardless of the method, the punishment was death because he refused to raise up seed for his deceased brother, not because he spilled his sperm on the ground.

All of that having been said, although the solid condemnation of masturbation maybe somewhat recent, it's also clearly (in large measure) correct. We have the advantage of modern prophets and apostles who can let us know when socially-ingrained philosophies are correct or incorrect. In this case they are correct, they make sense, and since we have received greater light and knowledge on how we are to conduct ourselves in the Latter-Days than the Saints of the primitive Church or the peoples of the Old Testament, we are obliged to live up to that knowledge. But to think that the Bibilical authors would have thought about masturbation as a big deal is likely incorrect and may lead to confusion on the part of a curious party should they dig into the history. It's one of those matters that just wasn't addressed then, but is now. Like in the case of the Word of Wisdom, the standard we've been called to live up to is different, but it's for our benefit.

Unknown said...

I so agree with you.

Sn said...

I so agree with you.