Sex as God Intended It
Sex can be a hard subject for couples to talk about. This could have started when we were young. Our parents may have treated the subject as taboo. Maybe you were like me, where you received a book with Birds and Bees on the cover when you turned 12, being told it would answer all your questions. You may have gotten your parent's non-verbal hint, "don't ask me anything embarrassing, please."
So, we learned about sex from the Hollywood movies, T.V. shows, and the wrong kind of magazines. Learning about sex is paramount to our marital bliss, but the source of that knowledge is even more important.
KNOW GOD'S PURPOSE FOR SEX
In the 1960 book called, You and Your Marriage, President Hugh B. Brown spoke of the importance of learning about sex:
“Thousands of young people come to the marriage altar almost illiterate insofar as this basic and fundamental function is concerned. The sex instinct is not something which we need to fear or be ashamed of. It is God-given and has a high and holy purpose … We want our young people to know that sex is not an unmentionable human misfortune, and certainly it should not be regarded as a sordid but necessary part of marriage. There is no excuse for approaching this most intimate relationship in life without true knowledge of its meaning and its high purpose.” (Bookcraft, 1960, pp. 73, 76; emphasis added) (Brotherson 2003)
Because of the world's take on sex is so physical and selfish, some think of sex solely as a physical gratification, a biological release; purely animistic in behavior. This is not true. Some religious groups think of sex as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. This is also not true. "Still others use sexuality as a weapon or a bargaining tool. This is not only a misuse of a God-given privilege, it shows great selfishness on the part of one or both partners and makes sexuality a destructive rather than a unifying element in marriage." (Barlow 1986)
President Kimball, a past Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints, quoted Billy Graham on the true beauty and design of sexual intimacy:
"The Bible celebrates sex and it's proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of that kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His commandment to the first man and woman to be 'one flesh' was as important as his command to 'be fruitful and multiply'." (Barlow 1986)
Sexual intimacy is a God-given gift for couples to find a connection of the deepest kind of love. Yet, sexual tension and frustrations in marriage seem to be the cause of many divorces today.
"Divorces often occur over sex...If you study the divorces, as we have had to do in these past years, you will find that there are [many] reasons. Generally sex is the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in the court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the reason." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. 1982. p. 329) (Brotherson 2003)
Here are a dozen tips for you to consider while striving for a divine understanding of sexual intimacy in your marriage:
- "Think of your spouse as a child of God, with his or her own hopes, desires, talents, and emotions. When a husband and wife forget this truth and see the other as an object, sexuality can do little or nothing to promote intimacy. (Barlow 1986)
- Pursue a serious and careful study of the scriptures and teachings of the prophets on the role of sexuality within the marriage relationship and guidelines for its expression and fulfillment. (Brotherson 2003) **At the end of this blog I will add a list of books that teach, in a comfortable and honorable way, about sexual intimacy in marriage. (Barlow 1986)
- Communicate openly with your spouse, learning to be comfortable in expressing your feelings and thoughts. There is no room for ego and pride if you are wanting to connect intimately (sexually, emotionally, and spiritually), as one, with your spouse.
- Have a humble and giving heart. Stay humble when you discuss each other's thoughts, concerns, and desires. Remember that you married your spouse and promised to serve them and love them in all ways.
- A willingness to listen to your spouse and learn what they need from you. It is important to hear how they want to be loved. Everyone is different. "A great key to success in marriage is to find out what would make our spouse happy and then to find joy in providing that happiness." (Barlow 1986)
- Think of your sexual relationship as a gospel stewardship.
Dr. Brent Barlow, professor of family life at BYU teaches,
"Implied are at least three elements that characterize successful stewardship:
(1) agency, (2) diligence, and (3) accountability. We may accept or reject the opportunity to become a steward, but once we accept the responsibility, we are expected to exert great effort, as (What Husbands Expect of Wives, 1989, p. 60) (Brotherson 2003)
- "If you are dealing with inhibitions that affect the sexual relationship in your marriage seek assistance from a wise counselor, therapist, or other trusted source." (Brotherson 2003)
- Abandon all ill will. “Ill will” is a catch-all term for emotional or verbal abuse, inattentiveness, apathy, isolation, anger, or other forms of negativity that couples may practice and thus perpetuate a cycle of ill feeling and willful hurt in a marriage relationship... An angry word will pour cold water on a spouse's romantic “on” switch more quickly than you can imagine, while a meaningful apology can pave the way to a gentle invitation toward intimacy." (Brotherson 2003)
- Keep prayer and God in your marriage. "Fill your empty places with service, scripture study, and love for your family." (Goddard 95)
- "Keep your soul free of pornography. It reduces the sacrament of intimacy to a random and wanton act of self-gratification." ( Goddard 95)
- Husbands, spend time with your wife. Do little things to show her she is #1 priority on your mind, always. "If the romance in marriage is limited to sexuality, wives may feel more exploited than loved." (Barlow 1986)
- Wives, treat your husband with affection, respect, and love. Remember he is a human being with needs, hopes, and aspirations. He is a child of God. (Barlow 1986)
- "Celebrate the sweet gift of companionship. The amazing message from our marriage partners is: 'I'm trusting you with my life, my body, my hopes, my dreams. Please be kind and gentle.' Each of us should rejoice in the sacred gift of spousal trust." (Goddard 95)
There isn't any "human relationship better than marriage to teach us the need for Christlike love - that unqualified and unconditional love that persuades us to think more of another than we think of ourselves." (Barlow 1986)
My hope and prayer is that we may find the spiritual, emotional, and intimate blessings our Heavenly Father intended in our sexual relationship with our spouse.
Good luck and God Bless You and Yours.
- Holly Jo
**This is a book list suggested by Bent Barlow (1986). If you know of other good books I would love to hear of them:
1 - The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love by Tim and Beverly LaHaye. Excellent, Christian-based book on sexual love in marriage, frank and wholesome. Great for engaged or newlywed couples, as well as couples at any other stage of marriage.
2 - Between Husband and Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy by Stephen Lamb and Douglas Brinley. Solid and interesting perspective on marital intimacy from a Latter-day Saint gospel perspective. Very good resource.
3 - Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. Book by a Christian MD and therapist with his wife, very insightful and well-done.
4 - The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis. Well-known therapist and marriage educator has written an engaging and positive book about dealing with sexual challenges in marriage. Brand new, a great read.
5 - Purity and Passion by Wendy Watson, a BYU professor and marital therapist whose book on intimacy is grounded in gospel understanding and purpose. Nice resource.
6 - Couple Sexual Awareness or Sexual Awareness: Couple Sexuality for the Twenty-first Century or Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages, all by Barry and Emily McCarthy. These are well-written, practical guides on sexual intimacy for couples by a well-recognized sex therapist and his spouse.
I was also told of a good book from a classmate called, And They Were Not Ashamed - Strengthening Marriage Through Sexual Fulfillment by Laura M. Brotherson, LMFT, CST, CFLE
Barlow, Brent A. The twain shall be one: thoughts on intimacy in marriage. LDS.org. Ensign. Sept. 1986. Web.
Brotherson, Sean E. Fulfilling the sexual stewardship in marriage. Meridian Magazine.com. 2003. Web.
Goddard, H. Wallace. Drawing heaven into your marriage. Joymap Publishing. Utah 2009. Print.