marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Isn’t It Romantic…?

 WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. The information contained is sexually graphic in nature. Reader discretion is advised.
“For the time shall come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables…” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
 I took my wife to a movie this weekend. It wasn’t a movie I would have chosen, but she wanted to see it, and I enjoy making her happy, so I took her.

It was a “chick flick” – not meant for men, but primarily for the enjoyment of women. Men may look at such films and roll their eyes and groan, and imagine explosions and death and mayhem where there is none, just to make it more tolerable to be there.

It was more than tolerable for me, in the sense that I love to study human behavior and wonder, “Why do they do that?” or “Why did the writer write that character that way?”

What I noticed about this particular film (as well as the many others I’ve had to watch in the name of bringing happiness to my wife) was that the heroine of the film was nurtured every second. She was cocooned in the love and concern of those around her. The hero was attentive to her every need. He protected her from every perceived slight and possible danger, even as she insisted that she didn't really need such protection.

Films that men enjoy are very different than women’s films. In a “guy” film, there are jobs to be done, a journey to take, challenges to overcome, lives to be saved and a woman’s heart to win. There are women who adore the hero, and express that adoration with their bodies as well as their words.

At the extreme end of the spectrum is pornography, which is often designed specifically to stroke this primal need in men, with women who enthusiastically throw themselves into sex with a man with the same desire as a man, often acting in ways that real women would never do…just as the romantic heroes in the chick flicks behave, think and act in ways a man in real life wouldn’t.

Why do the men in such films not act like men in reality? Or the women in men’s films? Where is the fulfillment that both sexes find in these stories?

I suggest that it stems, in large part, from each gender’s definition of intimacy.

His n’ Her Intimacy

Intimacy, in a woman’s mind, is not necessarily synonymous with sex. A woman who has been awakened to sex may admit that it feels good, that they like it, but it is not usually the central heart of what they crave.

Women crave intimacy, which to them means they want to be known for who they really are as a person. They want acknowledgement for the sacrifices that they make, large and small. They want to feel safe with the person they love.

They want to feel protected. They want to feel like they have a unique worth or value. This is usually what they mean when they say “I want to feel special.”

Ever wonder why women cling so closely to church, more so than men? They crave that relationship with their Heavenly Father. For them he is the ultimate protector…who sees into their very souls and loves them unconditionally, despite what they perceive as their faults. He sees something special in them as his daughter…and He watches out for their every need.

For them, when it feels like the rest of the world wants to destroy them, they look to him to protect and comfort them. I hear this over and over again when women talk about why their relationship with God is important to them. I see this being a very basic and primal need for women; to feel that level of “protected” and "adored".  A fictional example of this would be the story of Pride and Prejudice, when Mr. Darcy (a greater power who gives selflessly of himself to protect) swoops in to protect his sister’s honor and Elizabeth’s family’s honor because he loves them.

We as men usually don’t understand this, because we don’t feel that same need. In fact, it’s somewhat the opposite. We feel a primal need to be the provider, the protector and defender. We feel a primal need for women to desire us as we desire them and be turned on when we fix things for them or display our male prowess. Stories such as the James Bond films are classic examples of this desire to be clever and strong, and to protect and defend the innocent.We find it romantic when the girl swoons and falls in the hero's arms because of his masculinity, strength, skill and cleverness and wants sex with him based on these attributes alone.

Men’s relationship with God is reflected in this: We seek favor with God so he will help us better provide, defend and protect our wife and family. Even our priesthood is there to teach us how to best portray this role of provider and protector in the way God would do it.

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

Neither paradigm of romance or values is wrong or a perversion of the other. They are just different and reflect the roles (biologically, spiritually and otherwise) each are designed to portray.

If we want to attract or arouse our spouse, each sex needs to understand and respect this subcultural difference.

We as men will find ourselves frustrated if we attempt to turn on our wife by behaving or displaying things to women that arouse us as men. Likewise, a wife will find it difficult to influence a man to be a protector and appreciator by behaving and displaying things that she finds attractive and romantic.

Expecting him to “just know” what she wants can lead to frustration as well. She needs to tell him, and probably two or three times. This is not selfishness. It is not selfish to let someone know what you want or need. It is selfish to keep this to yourself and allow your frustrations to build. He wants to romance and protect you and show you appreciation. He just may not know how or that you even want it because what you need to feel intimate is not a basic primal need or instinct in him.

A man who takes on this role in a woman’s life has the potential of becoming the extension of Heavenly Father in the life of his wife. While we don’t consider our relationship with God to be in any way sexual, that sense of feeling safe and protected in every sense allows her to relax and open herself up sexually. It is a great responsibility and stewardship for every husband to be that extension of who she sees as the Great Protector.When I say "protector" I don't just mean physically, but emotionally, mentally, sexually and spiritually as well.

A man who will find small and large ways to protect his wife, who will encourage her to express herself and give her the wings to fly without criticism, and who expresses his gratitude for her sacrifices (especially in the bedroom, where those sacrifices can often be difficult for her) will arouse a sense of gratitude and romance in his wife.

This is not necessarily the viewpoint of a man. A man wants to do things himself. He doesn’t want to be protected. He wants his manhood. Above all, he wants sex. A man of God will desire to be in favor with God, but he will also want sex.

Women who consider men ‘sick’ or ‘twisted’ or ‘perverted’ because they like sex are misunderstanding what is ‘romantic’ to men. Men are not women with a penis. It would be gender-centric to believe so.

Sex IS romance and love to a man. It is intimacy. It is air and life.  A man who isn’t getting it even once in a while is probably having a hard time fully connecting to that feeling of love for his wife, no matter what other charitable acts she may do for him. He does all that he does for her to gain the deep, intimate sex he craves. If he puts all that effort into the relationship, and does not get sex out of it, resentment is very likely to set in.

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” – The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Women may never fully comprehend just how important the sexual aspect of life is to a man, because it often just isn’t as central a drive for the woman. Her sex drive and her sexual cycle are not the same. Not wrong…just different. Women are likewise not men with breasts and vaginas, no matter how much a man may desire that, or however much it may be portrayed that way in TV or movies. It would be gender-centric to believe so.

While the wife can’t and shouldn’t take the blame for the moral choices of her husband, the wife should also know and appreciate what a powerful tool she holds in her care – the sexual relationship – and how much good it can do in the lives of her family unit. Because she is often the spouse with lower sex drive, she is the one who holds control of the sexual relationship, and vise versa should the husband have the lower drive.The way the lower drive spouse wields this control will greatly influence the strength and vitality of the marriage.

A wife who will allow herself to rely on her husband for help (even when she may not need it), or who will appreciate the sacrifices he makes for her (a man who will help lift a woman’s physical burdens and listen without criticism is making a sacrifice), and who will take the time to learn about and develop her sexuality with him - will bring about a sense of deep love and appreciation from her husband.

We are different, but we can learn to understand and respect each other’s differences and values. Sacrifice for each other does bring forth the blessings of heaven. Taking the time to understand the man or woman you are married to, and giving them love the way they feel love, can bring down heaven’s choicest blessings and eternal unity.


Girl with a healthy libido said...

I think that your theory of women's lower libido is drastically stereotyped. Plenty of women match their husband's libido and plenty don't, simply because they've been conditioned to behave that way and see men as a sexual aggressor and deny their own sexual desire. Women too often don't enjoy sex because of social conditioning and husbands who won't take the time to understand HOW a woman's body enjoys sex, which is very different than their own.

I know you make generalizations to prove a point, but those generalizations can be really harmful in perpetuating the problem caused by those generalizations. I think that the root of this post, being honest with your spouse about what makes you feel loved, is spot on, but plenty of women like feeling like they have a real lover, not like their husband needs them for a quick release.

Anonymous said...

I'm female and Mormon, and my experience is totally different from this. I've found that my libido is stronger than my husband's, and this pattern is also true for many of my married female friends.

What's really frustrating is feeling that we are somehow perverse because we are women who enjoy sex even more than our spouses (who often just want to cuddle or talk).

Just Sayin'

Apron Appeal said...

I can't help but wonder if the woman you've described, needs a man for protection because she's never orgasmed.

Seriously. Once a woman begins to understand how her body can be powerful she begins to need less of her husband and not in a bad way. In a very good way. When the woman recognizes her power the husband and wife can become more equally yoked. And in my experience, this is a GOOD thing and a win win for both spouses.

natalie said...

Nothing in this post resonates with me at all.

I don't want to be protected. I want a partner. I don't think of my husband as God. That is just sick. And I don't view sex as a sacrifice.

What could you possibly mean by "sacrifices in the bedroom"? Because that sounds dangerously close to pressuring someone to do something they don't want to do, which qualifies as rape.

And men can't feel loved unless they're getting sex? They only do nice things for their wife for sex? What kind of a messed up relationship are you describing? It sounds to me like one based on emotional blackmail, manipulation, and guilt.

Maybe men and women can make each other happy by treating each other like unique individuals who have to be treated as such, not as random samples of a gender that can be cut out of the dough and made into the same kind of cookie as all the others.

CoachSam said...

Wow! Great comments!

It appears there's been a little misunderstanding of what I was trying to say, so let me reiterate. I did not say that a husband was a substitute for God, nor did I mean for anyone to think that our relationship with God is sexual in any way. Far from it.

What I meant was that a righteous man has the opportunity to be an extension of God in his family and to his wife, when he strives to be that spiritual protector and provider - when he attempts to understand her and see things the way she sees them.

I gave an example of a wife having the lower sex drive of the pair. I am fully aware that this is not the case in every relationship.

Whichever way it swings though, the person with the lower libido controls the sexual relationship, and thus has the responsibility to make sure that allowances are made on occasion for the higher-drive spouse to be allowed to express their sexuality, and not guilty for it.

The point of my article was to demonstrate that each gender is different from the other, and no one should feel guilty (or make someone feel guilty) for that difference, whether they're male or female.

Without specific cases to discuss, it's hard not to talk in generalizations, so I hope my readers will keep this in mind.

If your case doesn't fit my generalizations, please don't get the idea that I'm saying you're broken or something's pathologically wrong with you. Sex and relationships are not an exact science.

What I'm trying to extract from what I'm learning are the consistent patterns and principles of relationships, if any can be found. Even the marriage and family doctors I'm learning from admit that there are endless variations in relationships.

Thanks so much for your comments. Anyone else?

Juliane said...

I do not discredit your experience or the way you live your life and marriage. However, I find it dangerous that you generalize this to men and women in general. Do you have meaningful research to back this up, or do you feel that your own experience is enough to give advice to a more general public based on nothing but a personal opinion?

Sex is very important to me. I don't see it as a sacrifice or something I do to get my husband to be nice to me. That would be manipulation. Conversely, being nice to your wife to get in her pants would also be manipulation. Not an indicator of a healthy relationship if you ask me.

I agree men and women are different in some respects, mostly biologically. However, current research, if you care to look it up, actually suggests that individual differences are much more prevalent than gender differences. In other words, you and your wife might have different sex drives because you're two different people, not because you're a man and she's a woman.

Juliane said...

I don't see my husband as an extension of God any more than I see myself as an extension of God.

Also, very often the person with the higher sex drive controls the sexual relationship. That's called marital rape.

Yes, both spouses have to make compromises, but getting sex whenever you want to is not a right that comes with marriage (at least none of the marriage vows I'm familiar with). Your post sounds a lot like Schlessinger's "The proper care and feeding of husbands" which I find is a complete mockery of men as sex crazed individuals. What I find interesting is that you say sex is the most important thing for a man in a relationship. I can only speak for my own relationships with men in the past and those of friends and family and I find this statement to be untrue (and yes, those are men that I'm close enough with to get an honest answer).

I don't know which of your doctor/psychologist friends is giving you this info or how you have come to these conclusions, but packaging them as a general trend or pattern is harmful not helpful.

Kalliope said...

Sorry CoachSam, but whatever way you package it, the whole man-as-God thing is not going to fly with me, either. In fact, it's disturbing, and I'm not talking about the sexual aspect of it, either, as I recognize that that isn't at all what you meant. Fine, but still, disturbing. God is many things - all-powerful, omniscient, rule-making, immortal. Which of these characteristics makes for a healthy, equality-based relationship? If one person in the relationship is God, it necessarily follows that the other will be a subject.
Many men have been known to abuse what power they have. I have a dear friend whose husband wielded his priesthood with an iron fist and used it as an excuse to physically abuse and rape his wife. They are now divorced.
Many people have sex hang-ups because they have been victims of sexual abuse, rape, etc. Where are the words to men about being patient and understanding and loving with their wives? Statistics for rapes and assaults are appalling, and those only account for REPORTED cases. The sad truth is, MOST women I know have been attacked. These women are tender and scared, or even angry and self-protective.
Your sexual gratification is not more important than we are. There is so much women do to show love. It's not appropriate to tell us to act like whores - to compromise and give when we're not comfortable doing so.

New Guy said...

I'm really surprised at the comments.
Your article is in fact, my experience, and the experience of the majority of men I know. Women with the sexual cravings and libido commenting here, are the exception...not the rule. Trust me, I know...personally.

I found this article insightful and on the mark. I think I know the movie you saw, and I know A LOT of women who went to see it including my own wife with a whole gaggle of girls and giggles in tow.

A friend of mine (also LDS) describes the Twilight series as PORN for women, and I agree. It is. Its intellectual porn on the same level as that with arouses men. It speaks to the female mental framework, and appeals to them. In a HUGE way, obviously (see the sales of the books and movies).

Your points are valid, proven through countless study, and it or not ladies, true.

LovelyLauren said...

My problem with your movie analogy is that the vast majority of movies are produced by men. You don't know that that's what women want, it's what men think women should want.

Movies like Mamma Mia and The Help this summer shocked critics with how much women enjoyed them. That's because, like anyone else, women enjoy movies about fleshed out characters who enjoy real experiences. I would go further to say that the preference towards romcoms is a generational one, with younger girls preferring them less. I know a lot of girls who went to the Twilight premiere, but I know more who went to The Dark Knight premiere.

And to New Guy, yes, perhaps the women here are the exception, but that just proves that gross generalizations are meaningless. Every single relationship is different and instead of giving advice on how to deal with a difference in libido and how to make your partner feel loved, CoachSam gave us something so gender stereotyped that many women can't even relate to it, rendering it useless.

angstyray said...

"Women with the sexual cravings and libido commenting here, are the exception...not the rule. Trust me, I know...personally."

No, actually it's people like you who make women normal, healthy women with a sex drive into the exception. Women loving and wanting sex just as much as their husbands SHOULD BE THE RULE.

Guess what, when you and the general western culture constantly tell women that she's abnormal because she has a strong sex drive, you sort of crush that sex drive.

Women not enjoying sex as much, is not a function of nature, it's the sick aftermath of thousands of sexual repression. It's funny actually, because anatomically, women's bodies are designed for sexual pleasure as much as a man's body is, perhaps even more so.

The clitoris for instance, it has one function and one function only: pleasure. If stimulated CORRECTLY, any sexually healthy, normal female (barring instances, of trauma, rape, molestation, etc) should respond with lots of enthusiam. In fact, the clitoris is not one small, tiny, difficult to find place, while it is externally small, it represents an entire labyrinth of interior nerves throughout a woman's abdomen, meant to give her pleasure.

Did you know also that women are mutli-orgasmic? Basically, as long as you can keep up the stamina men, we can have an orgasm, again and again and again.

I love sex.

angstyray said...

Sorry for all the typos..I got a little excited....

Anonymous said...

My experience as a married LDS woman (and it correlates with that of my female LDS friends), is that most of the women actually have higher sex drives than their spouses and are multi-orgasmic. This kind of freaks out their husbands, who were raised thinking that women should be reticent in bed and not enjoy sex much.

PS: Twilight is porn because it portrays an unrealistic and freakily obsessive relationship. My smart female friends get that and don't waste their time with it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who sic'd all the Feminist Mormon Housewives on this particular article, but there are intelligent LDS women in the world who've had orgasms in many different ways, enjoy sex, and who actually agree with this article (like me, for instance.) And who enjoy the Twilight books and movies (like me, for instance.)
I think these women ought to take Coach Sam's advice and not try to make their experience everyone else's. Just because it didn't resonate with them doesn't mean everyone else is stupid and frigid if they don't feel the same.
I know lots of women who feel exactly as described here...and lots of others who may not, or who might feel something in-between. Men and women aren't the same, and trying to make them exactly equal in thought, word and deed is an exercise in complete frustration. I just accept the difference, and I relish the experience of being a woman. It's not better or worse than being a man. It's just different.

Anonymous said...

This idea, that woman only like cuddles and not sex, pretty much destroyed my marriage. My then-husband never could believe that not only did I like sex, but that I had a higher libido than him. No. No. No. No. No. Us humans, we come in lots of forms.

bandanamomtoo said...

As an active LDS woman with lots of female friends who are comfortable discussing sex I find that the majority of us have sex drives roughly equal to or in same cases greater than our spouses. I can only think of 2 female friends who are an exception to this. One of them just happens to be married to a guy with a really higher than normal drive (I think still wanting sex 2 or 3 times a day after 20 years of marriage qualifies as really high) and the other woman truly needs some therapy for her hang-ups with sex.

But that leaves dozens and dozens of LDS women friends who are fully orgasmic, happy sexual beings. I just feel like this article is describing more of a stereo-type of an woman than most women I know.

And Twighlight?? Ughhh. Who wants a creepy dead boyfriend who stares at you while you sleep? I don't get that whole thing at all. Though I realize there are women who love those books and movies they really do nothing for me.

Whoever the made the comment that women with high libidos are the exception really needs to get out and meet more real women.

CoachSam said...

"We live in a day when there are many political , legal, and social pressures for changes that confuse gender and homogenize the differences between men and women. Our eternal perspective sets us against changes that alter those separate duties and privileges of men and women that are essential to accomplish the great plan of happiness. We do not oppose all changes in the treatment of men and women, since some changes in laws or customs simply correct old wrongs that were never grounded in eternal principles..."
~Dallin H Oaks Ensign, Nov. 1993

Anonymous said...

I am an active LDS woman married to an inactive LDS man for almost 30 years. We are not married in the temple, however I do have the desire to follow the teachings of the church. We are active sexually although our frequency has dropped recently to only a couple of times per month. As we are getting older I think our frequency is less often which is okay. My question is that after we are done with sex is it bad for me to finish alone by masturbating while he is in the bathroom? He is done about the time I am really getting into it and this is the only way I can finish. For years it has been the only way I can climax, but I feel terrible after wards due to the no-masturbation rules the church endorses. It seems unfair to me if I can't finish but I feel awful when I do. It seems to be a no-win situation. What do you think?

CoachSam said...

Dear Anonymous Jan 9th 2012 1:55pm,

Studies I’ve researched by Dr. David Schnarch and others have shown that the desire to have sex will fluctuate as we get older, and that this is normal to happen.

I’d say, if you and your husband both feel satiated with sex twice a month then you have a healthy active sex life and you have nothing to worry about. How does your husband feel about the decrease of frequency in your sex life?

I’d like to point out that your concern about masturbating in marriage being a sin is unfounded. The counsel by the brethren to not masturbate is directed at the youth and the unmarried only. This is no more hypocritical than a policeman being allowed to write a traffic ticket, but an average citizen is not. It’s about readiness and authorization. Those who are unmarried are not authorized by the Lord to exercise the powers of procreation.

Masturbation is not to be practiced before marriage. After marriage, there is no sexual practice between a man and woman (who are legally and lawfully wedded to each other) that is forbidden. The expression of sex in marriage in any form is the definition of what is holy and pure.

In fact, according to Jeffry R Holland in his talk “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments”, we are sinning if we are not having sex with our spouse regularly. Sex is a sacred regular sacrament for the marriage covenants a couple makes with each other and God.

From what you explained, I’d like to suggest that your feelings of being spiritually guilty are not from you masturbating per se, but that your husband is not involved in your regular practice of this. Have you asked your husband how he feels about you masturbating alone after sex? Would he consider the possibility of helping you masturbate, or is he intimidated or upset by the thought?

The purpose of sex in marriage is of course for procreation, but it is also to be used as a tool to bring a husband and wife closer together and help build an eternal relationship.

It’s a wonderful gift that you give your husband to hold and nurture him and bring him to orgasm, and you have every right to expect the same from him. So YES, it is unfair that your intimacy is only one-sided, and I sensed from your comment that it might be causing some resentment. Sex is not supposed to cause resentment; it’s supposed to bring you closer together.

In your husband’s defense, if you don’t tell him what you need, he will continue to assume that you are getting all the sexual satisfaction you need by him doing his thing. Men are not born knowing how to be good husbands and sex partners. They have to be taught. They also need to be told more than once.

It’s actually good that you took the time after you got married to know that you can have an orgasm and how you need to be touched so you can have an orgasm. You can show him what feels good to you, and how to help you feel fulfilled sexually.

If you have not already, may I suggest telling him that you would like him to bring you to orgasm first when he approaches you for sex and showing him how you like your clitoris touched and stroked. …continued…

CoachSam said...

Continued from Dear Anonymous Jan 9th 2012 1:55pm,
You may want to talk with him about this first and take time to show him how to bring you to orgasm. Be patient with him, especially if he is not used to doing this. It may take some practice on his part, but will probably be fun for him to do this for you.

He can also use a vibrator on you if he doesn’t have the strength or endurance to bring you to orgasm using his hands. May I recommend the Hitachi Magic Wand to start with? It’s non-offensive and powerful enough to get the job done. A little warning though – it is a trifle noisy to run, and can fall into curious childrens’ hands, so take any precautions you may need to take. Running a fan or some music or TV should help moderate the sound.

Let him know that if he does you first, it will engorge your vagina and make sex even more enjoyable for both of you. Boys may need only a suggestion to get turned on, but girls sometimes need time to get warmed up first. Let him do this for you if this is the case. Allow him to serve and pamper you. It’s a way for him to express his love for you.

Talk about it, but more importantly, make it fun. Let the experience bring you closer together. Solo masturbation to keep the peace just defeats that purpose. It will rob you both of a great bonding experience.

If the thought of talking with your husband about these things sounds embarrassing or unpleasant, then part of your problem stems from your communication – more specifically, the lack of it. Who else should you talk to about sex but your husband? A spouse should be the very first person we go to when there’s a problem, not the last.

It can be hard to want to be with someone for eternity when communication is bad, resentments build and intimacy is lacking. Taking the time now to improve your communication and intimacy with each other, along with living the other teachings of the gospel, may lead to a greater desire on his part to want to be with you for eternity. It most certainly is a worthy goal to work toward.