marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Question - Sex With Teens in the House?

Dear Coach Sam – It was one thing when the kids had a bedtime of 8 or 9 o’clock, and we could enjoy an hour or two alone together whenever we wanted. But what happens when the kids are teenagers, and they don’t go to bed until 11 o’clock or midnight? Sex is a little harder to come by under those conditions.

On top of that, our bedrooms are really close together, and we’re very sensitive about the children hearing us – either the bed squeaking or other things – because they’ll know what’s going on.

What do we do now? – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

You’re right – things are different for you now, and for your teens. Sexuality circumstances change over time. God intended change to happen – it’s a good thing. Your children are growing into their sexuality, just as you’re growing into yours. They are looking to you as a loving couple to set the example of what to do when they are married, and what sexual etiquette to follow with their young children and teens someday.

It’s very appropriate to show basic affection with each other (kissing, hugging, holding hands) while in the presence of your teens. They may react as if it’s gross, but truthfully, expressions of affection help children feel more secure and stable in their home.[i] It also gives them something to look forward to in their own future marriage relationships. Parents set the example for the children to follow, for good or bad.

Like many young married couples, you may have made some ‘indiscretions’ at this point – someone may have overheard you in a passionate moment, and wondered aloud what was going on. It happens to most people, and that’s okay. Inviting your children into these moments is not acceptable, but neither is the accidental noise incident the end of the world.

Anyone is welcome to share what they have learned of course, but any reports I have read about a child being traumatized by the sound of their parents engaging in sexual abandon was mostly due to (as a child) not understanding what was happening or that those sounds were normal.

What you didn’t explain in more detail, and what I wish I knew about you, was how often and in what ways you talk to your children about sex. Have you been discussing sexuality with them since they were young, in age-appropriate ways? Or are they and you finding yourself bumping up against realities they’re only guessing at?[ii]

My first advice is not to hide and pretend you never have sex, or worse yet, avoid sexual encounters altogether. That often leads to results that aren’t good for anyone – especially the health of your marriage and the future marriages of your children.

We who are the parents are in charge of the situation – we should address it candidly and in a straightforward manner. We might want to bring it up with each child individually in private meetings, or we may want to have a family council and talk about it, depending on your own family dynamics.[iii] Anyway you handle it, be sure to relax and make it a positive experience. Have the atmosphere be positive and fun, but also reverent. Learning about sex and sexuality, the children should come away with a positive association, not a with a feeling of fear, disgust, anxiety or shame.

Since you are the parents, they are the ones that should adjust, not you. Remember that someday the children will leave, and you two will be left alone together all the time. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a healthy relationship with each other instead of a starved one? Wouldn’t you like to demonstrate a healthy and happy married relationship for your children, instead of one that’s resentful and strained and they can’t know why?

It’s vital you let your children know you love each other, and you are going to be intimate as happily married people are from time to time. I believe any child or teen would appreciate some sort of “heads up” to let them know to be in another part of the house? To this day, how many would want to hear their parents have sex? Yet, deep down, we can’t help but give a smile of happiness and contentment knowing that Mom and Dad still like each other and enjoy being intimate with each other. That their relationship is healthy enough to give each other that special kind of comfort and pleasure that can only be obtained in marriage.

Can the kids arrange to go out with friends or go to the movies at a predetermined time. When you plan to have sex as a couple, include them in the planning. Let them know that you Mama and Papa need some sacred alone time at the schedule time and that the polite thing to do is to make themselves scarce with your approved list of activities.  Date night is a great time for them to get out, while you stay in.

Can you turn on the television to cover any noise, or play some music? Can you provide them with earplugs or noise cancelling headphones in case they accidently hear something that makes them uncomfortable? Are you in a position where you can buy a house that has more space between the bedrooms, or can you adjust your current living conditions to create such a situation? Get creative.

You may feel embarrassed to talk to them about these things, but I would urge you to push through that. Nothing says you ever have to share the details of your sacred sexual relationship and what you do is sacred and not for their ears. Older teens and young adults are part of your household, for the time being, and adjustments should be made. Children will be very eager to know when your ‘sacred time’ is, so they can be elsewhere.

The essence of living together in love means sensitivity to those who are single and trying to live the law of chastity for single people, as well as making provisions for parents to be comfortable while still living the law of chastity as a married couple. Think about how you would wish to be treated, if you were a child in such a situation. Discuss it with them and get their feedback. When everyone knows what’s going on and knows what to do, there’s a lot less tension and uncertainty, fear or trauma. Make sure you’re building your marriage relationship while also building your relationship with your teens and young adults.

[ii] (see the video entitled ‘Tips for Parents – Helping Young Adults Be Better Prepared for Sex in Marriage’
[iii] For more advice about family councils, see this talk from M. Russell Ballard in the April 2016 Ensign:

Also, see my series of articles regarding teaching children about sex:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Therapist Tips on How To Improve The Quality Of The Sex In Your Marriage

  WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married readers only. Those who are currently unmarried are advised to keep to the standards of the Church and refrain from reading the married sexual instruction that follows.
...The Carnegie Mellon results suggest that [sacred] erotic quality is more important than [sacred] erotic quantity. No matter how often you have sex."

See below for some tips therapists recommend for increasing its quality:

*SCHEDULE IT. The myth is that sex “just happens” when spouses are “in the mood.” The problem is that after the hot-and-heavy period, one spouse is usually in the mood a good deal more than the other, and conflict ensues. To reach mutual accommodation, sex therapists urge couples to negotiate a mutually acceptable monthly frequency, and then pull out their calendars and schedule sex lovemaking dates.
 Scheduling may feel artificial at first, but it goes a long way toward eliminating conflicts over frequency. The husband or wife with less libido usually objects to scheduling—
What if we have a sex date scheduled and I’m not in the mood? That’s possible, of course, but once relieved of the stress of saying “no” to constant pleas, the vast majority of lower-libido lovers feel so relieved that they have little difficulty psyching themselves when sex is scheduled.

*WARM UP OUT OF BED. Before you undress, cuddle on the sofa, chat about your day, trade foot massages, or do other little things together that bring you closer.
Shower, together or separately. Sex is best when spouses feel relaxed. Showering is relaxing. It also eases hygiene concerns.
Create an erotic mood. Put out clean sheets. Light candles or keep curtains slightly open. Play music. And begin dressed.
Do the opposite of profane erotica. In profane erotica, sex is 95 percent genital, and only 5 percent kissing, embracing, and caressing. Flip this, because the best sex involves leisurely, playful, whole-body mutual massage.

Many women say it takes them a good 30 minutes of sensual play to warm up. Postponing intercourse also helps men maintain erections.

*TAKE TURNS GIVING AND RECEIVING PLEASURE. Simultaneous orgasms are as common as solar eclipses. Don't expect it or strive for it. Only 25 percent of women are reliably orgasmic during intercourse, no matter now long it lasts; most gentle, extended, direct caresses with fingers, tongue, or vibrator. Take turns helping each other to orgasm.

You can simply say “yes” or “ahhh” when you enjoy what you’re receiving. Most lovers very quickly provide more of what elicits “ahhhs.”

*SAVOR THE AFTERGLOW. Don’t immediately jump out of bed. Hold each other. Perhaps whisper endearments.

~Michael Castleman, M.A., (2016, 1) Psychology Today,  with edits by Sam Zaragoza
For the full original article, click here: 

Would More Sex Really Make You and Your Partner Happier?


  • Blanchflower, D.G. and A.J. Oswald. “Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study,” Scandinavian Journal of Economics (2004) 106:393.
  • Kahneman, D. et al. “Toward National Well-Being Accounts,” American Economic Review (2004) 94:429.
  • Loewenstein, G. et al. “Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (2015) 116:206.
  • Meston, CM and DM Buss. “Why Humans Have Sex,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2007) 36:477.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cultural Myth or Gospel Truth: Trying to Convince a Spouse to Have Sex is Coercion

Cultural Myth or Gospel Truth: If my wife/husband isn’t in the mood to have sex, then trying to convince them otherwise is coercion and/or unrighteous dominion.

What is coercion when it comes to sex?

Definitions are important, even for terms we’re very familiar with. The term ‘coercion’ means ‘use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance’.[i]

So how does this apply to sexuality in an LDS marriage?

Does our spouse physically force us to have sex? This is marital rape, one of the more obvious forms of coercion.

Does our spouse use threats, bullying or terrorization to compel us to engage in intimacy? This counts as coercion.

What if a spouse tries to talk about their desire, or persuade the other to change their mind about not having sex? Would it seem strange to know that this doesn’t fall under the banner of ‘coercion’? What if guilt is sometimes the proper emotion for the reluctant spouse to have?

“If you have little to no appetite for sex, you might be thinking, ‘This is my spouse’s problem. Why should I put energy into our sexual relationship if I don’t really desire sex?’…I’ve been a marriage therapist for a very long time, and I can tell you without hesitation that if you continue to look at the differences in your levels of sexual desire as your spouse’s problem rather than as a couple’s problem, you are courting disaster…

I also urge you to consider the unfairness of the tacit agreement you have had with your spouse…it goes something like this: ‘I know you’re sexually unhappy. Although I don’t plan on doing anything about it, I still expect you to remain faithful.’ Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?”[ii]

What is unrighteous dominion in the bedroom?

Expecting your spouse to live up to your expectations, whatever they are, with no regard for their feelings in the matter, is unrighteous dominion. It boils down to pride and selfishness – the universal sins.[iii]

Unrighteous dominion can be committed by the spouse who wants sex. It can also be committed by the spouse that doesn’t want sex. Unrighteous dominion has no gender limitations. When the Lord mentions ‘men’ in D&C 121 in this context, he is referring to us as humans, not just to males. Women also hold priesthood authority, which includes the authority to exercise their procreative powers in marriage.[iv]

As an example, should a member ask, does a worthy priesthood holder have the right to repeatedly refuse to give a priesthood blessing on the basis of not being “in the mood”? Can we not see something of a correlation here?

What if my spouse doesn’t want to have sex, and I do? Or vice versa?

Something that each spouse should consider is whether or not the person they’re blaming for all their problems isn’t actually the problem.

“And why beholdest thou the amote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”[v]

The spouse who wants sex can’t imagine why the other doesn’t want sex. The spouse who doesn’t want sex can’t imagine why the other wants it so much.

A good first step to address this is taking the time to see things the way the other spouse does. Understanding is the first step to finding an acceptable compromise, or even a resolution of the issue.

Consider how expectations may play into how we feel. Are we trying to live up to an ideal we learned in church, or in our family, or in the movies, or from a book? Could it be possible that that ‘ideal’ is incorrect for our specific situation in your marriage? No two marriages are alike, and this is normal.

Consider that we should both seek help. If you’re satisfied with your sex life, but your spouse is not, you both collectively have a problem that needs resolving. Each spouse is part of a team, and if one has a problem, both have a problem. Find a trusted counselor to help you work things out. Also, consider that a bishop or a stake president are spiritual counselors, not sexual or marriage counselors. There is a time and a place for seeking professional help.[vi]

If only one spouse is willing to work on themselves, that is enough to start.[vii]

Sometimes, sex should be had, even when we’re not in ‘the mood’. Sometimes ‘the mood’ doesn’t happen UNTIL the reluctant spouse starts to have sex.

The accepted cultural model usually goes like this: A person has desire, then feels arousal to have sex, and then initiates sex and experiences orgasm and resolution. Hollywood portrays this as the “norm”. 

The reality is that, for many, a spouse first needs to make the decision to have sex, then they feel arousal as they are stimulated, and then the desire comes.

A spouse should never be made to feel that they are “abnormal” for not feeling desire first, but instead should be shown gratitude for being willing to participate – even if arousal doesn’t come that time.[viii]

The idea that a spouse who tries to convince and encourage the other spouse to have sex is coercing them or exercising unrighteous dominion is not necessarily true – or in other words, a myth.

[ii] Weiner-Davis, Michele. The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido, A Couple’s Guide. Simon & Shuster: New York. 2003. Pg. 10-11.
[iii] See both ‘Beware of Pride’ by Ezra Taft Benson (April 1989 Conference):
 and ‘Pride and the Priesthood’ by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 2010 Conference):

[iv] Elder Oaks in his talk, ‘The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood’ talks about how women figure into the priesthood. If we consider sexuality as a priesthood-authorized function (we are authorized to exercise sexuality with each other when we are sealed in the temple as husband and wife), this talk is very relevant  to sexuality as well:

[v] Luke 6:41-42
[vi] “If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional [or sexual] disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.” – Holland, Jeffrey R. “Like a Broken Vessel”. October 2013 Conference:

[vii] Even though the book contains some language, Dr. David Schnarch’s book, ‘Passionate Marriage’ talks at length about the need for working on your weaknesses before trying to work on your spouse. Doing so is extremely difficult, but ultimately the only way out of a stagnant, gridlocked relationship. “When you work on yourself, you’re working on your marriage – because when you change, your relationship changes.”
[viii] “Among other things, it appears that some people, particularly women in long-term marriages, do not experience spontaneous or out-of-the-blue thoughts or fantasies. However, when they decide to be receptive to their [spouse’s] advances or initiate sexual contact themselves, not to quell a sexual hunger but for other, equally valid reasons such as the desire for intimate connection, being touched in stimulating ways often leads to arousal. Arousal triggers a strong desire to continue being sexual. Hence, desire follows arousal.” – Michele Weiner-Davis, ‘The Sex-Starved Marriage’. Pg. 29.