INTIMACY IN Marriage! Virgin Diaries: Virgin Diaries Sneak Peek : Video : TLC
It is interesting to note that nowhere in scripture do we find the word “sex.” The scriptures use the words “know” or “knew.” “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived , and bare [a son]” (Genesis 4:1). The words “know” and “knew” suggest that intimacy is far more than just a physical act. It involved knowing each other spiritually and emotionally. The sexual union will be most satisfying and gratifying when it is a harmonizing of the physical, spiritual, and emotional dimensions of a husband and wife.
The Honeymoon How many of you are nervous or afraid of your honeymoon? Why? Most couples look forward to the wedding night and the honeymoon with great anticipation, and probably some nervousness, or even fear. They wonder, “Will I know what to do when the time comes for sex?” “Will I be able to please my spouse?” “Will my spouse be patient with me?” “Will it be a comfortable experience for both of us?” When approached properly, most couples will find the wedding night to be as exciting and enjoyable as they imagined. However, for some couples the wedding night is not a pleasant or memorable experience. This is usually due to the lack of proper preparation and to unrealistic expectations. The couple should not worry about not knowing everything about sex before marriage!
One purpose of the honeymoon is to discover it together. It is normal to have many questions and anxieties. Remember, though, that sexual intimacy is a journey, not a destination, and the discovery itself is a memorable part of the adventure. Don’t expect perfection. Part of the enjoyment of sexual intimacy is learning together how to please each other and then watching that part of your relationship grow and improve over time. Focus on your partner, rather than yourself.
It may also be good advice for some to lighten up. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Look for all the ways you can to compliment and encourage your partner. Remember, sexual intimacy thrives in an environment of trust and encouragement.
Elder Packer said: “I must include a caution to you who are married. A couple may be tempted to introduce things into a relationship which are unworthy. Do not, as the scriptures warn, ‘change the natural use into that which is against nature’ (Rom. 1:26). If you do, the tempter will drive a wedge between you. If something unworthy has become part of your relationship, don’t ever do it again! Now, what exactly do I mean by that? You know what I mean by that, and I will not respond to any questions about it. We do not, in our counseling, enter the bedrooms of members of the Church” (“Fountain of Life”).
Sexual intimacy is a vital part of the marriage relationship because it keeps you connected in a way that nothing else can. When enjoyed by both partners, intimacy becomes a physical renewal of your love for each other. It’s amazing how much better things go in every other part of our marriage if we take the time for some sexual intimacy. Both seem to be happier and treat each other with greater tenderness and caring when you take time to be intimate. Never withhold sex as a punishment or use it to manipulate as a means to get what you want rather than as a fulfillment of love. When compared with the rest of your day or week, your sexual encounters are but a small moment.
The powerful and lasting effect that those few minutes have on the rest of the day, the week, the month, is incredible. What if the man wants it all the time, but the woman doesn’t. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported the “Perhaps 75 percent of all women derive little or no pleasure from the sexual act (Tim & Beverly LaHaye, The Act of Marriage, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderman, 1998), 152). The importance of what she feels in her heart must first be understood before she can accept any part of what she can feel from your touch. There may be times when you feel overwhelmed by her emotional responses and how long she seems to hold on to them. That is normal. God created this whole process and meant for you to enjoy it as much as your husband. I’m convinced He will help you find that enjoyment if you ask Him for help.
Notice the things you like about them and tell them. Ignore the rest, none of us is perfect. Women need assured privacy. The door has to be locked. Don’t give her a bad time about it, just lock the door. Why Men Want to Make Love So Often: Love him the way he is, and needing to have sex more often than you is part of the way he is. He didn’t plan it that way. A Divine Creator did. There of course needs to be a balance. Remember, sexual intimacy does not always mean sexual intercourse. She likes to be held. Sometimes she just wants a back rub. It’s amazing how few couples actually talk about their sexual needs with each other. Love does not force. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Men and women have the physical capacity to sustain a rich sex life into old age.
Don’t ever ask your spouse to do anything that they are uncomfortable doing! Alma 18:17 Whatsoever thou desirest which is right, that will I do.
President Kimball said: “Sexual relations in marriage are not unrestrained. Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence… If it is unnatural, you just don’t do it. That is all… There are some people who have said that behind the bedroom doors anything goes. That is not true and the Lord would not condone it” (TSWK 311-12).
The Purposes of Intimacy in Marriage: President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Sex was created and established by our Heavenly Father for sacred, holy, and high purposes” (TETB, 409).
President Kimball said: “Sex is for procreation and expression of love. It is the destiny of men and women to join together to make eternal family units. In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love” (TSWK, 311).
In their book “Between Husband and Wife,” Stephen Lamb and Douglas Brinley stated: “It is a nice distraction from paying the mortgage, earning a living, keeping the cars running, paying the bills, and dealing with the children… It is relaxing and pleasurable for couples to massage, stimulate, and arouse each other. These passions, when kept within the bounds of propriety, become sanctifying and enriching to each spouse and to the marriage” (ibid, 24).
Pleasure and joy Another purpose of intimacy in marriage is for pleasure and joy. Marriage is hard. It takes a great deal of effort and work to sustain a successful marriage. God provided sexual intimacy as a means of providing enjoyment or diversion from the work and difficulties of life. It is a way to keep or restore the playfulness in marriage. It is therapeutic. In “A Parent’s Guide,” published by the Church in 1985, it reads: “Husbands and wives do have physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled through sexual union… Becoming as one flesh can be one of life’s richest and most rewarding experiences” (A Parent’s Guide, 49).
As you prepare for marriage and the sexual intimacy that will be an important part of your relationship, consider the following five points: First, sexual intimacy will be as enjoyable as the marriage is strong and healthy. Marriage counselors have observed that sexual problems in marriage are merely symptomatic of underlying problems in the overall relationship. If the marriage is healthy, enjoyable marital intimacy is more likely to be achieved.
Second, gain basic knowledge of human sexuality. Lamb and Brinley suggest you should “know some basic facts about male and female biology. Most of us are pretty illiterate before marriage when it comes to the sexual functioning of the opposite gender, and even of our own bodily responses. It is helpful for both husbands and wives to have at least a rudimentary understanding of human anatomy and physiology and a basic knowledge of what happens before, during, and after sexual intercourse. Although most couples, in time, figure out these things on their own, the marriage can benefit greatly from some simple education in advance” (28-29). You may want to pick up the book, “Between Husband and Wife” (Lamb and Brinley).
Third,sexual intimacy will be most fulfilling and most enjoyable in marriage when there is an environment of trust, free from physical, psychological, and spiritual barriers. Physical barriers include health conditions that could cause intercourse to be painful. It is wise for women to have a pre-marital exam to ensure that there are no existing health conditions that could interfere with intimacy.
Fourth,understand that in general men and women differ in their perceptions and approaches to intimacy. Sex drive is generally higher in men than it is in women. Why? Because of the influence of testosterone in the brain. A second difference can be seen in the emphasis placed on sex in marriage. It has been said that: “Men give love to get sex while women give sex to get love.”
Men often have difficulty understanding why their wives are less interested in sexual intimacy than they are. They may feel a sense of rejection when their wives are not interested or may feel that their wives are being insensitive. On the other hand, women often have difficulty understating why their husbands want so much sex and why they are not content to be physically close. They feel used and unappreciated. These differences often stem from a lack of understanding of the opposite sex and from a lack of clear communication.
Fifth, “frequency of having sex.” In the early years of marriage this is probably the most common problem. Most couples wonder what is normal or right. What is normal or right for one couple may not be normal or right for another couple. Each couple must discover together what their needs and wants are and then work together to fulfill the needs and wants of their partner. Frequency will depend upon age and circumstances.
Someone once said: When you’re 25 it’s “tri-weekly.” When you’re 50 it’s “try weekly.” When you’re seventy-five, it’s “try weakly!”
Keep in mind that physical intimacy does not just mean intercourse. Even when intercourse is not desirable or possible, husbands and wives still need to be physically close. There is still a need for touching, hugging, kissing, etc. So, if intercourse is not desired, make the effort to establish physical closeness in some other way. Couples need to connect physically in some way, every day.
These differences present two choices to husbands and wives. For example, a woman whose husband tends to rush through sex can either resent his insensitivity and accuse him of being selfish or she can appreciate his different biological and cultural tendencies and seek to patiently teach him to slow down. A man whose wife is reluctant to engage in sexual relations can either be offended and feel his wife is uncaring and frigid, or can look for ways to help her feel more comfortable with their sexual relationship and to provide more non-sexual intimacy.
Another difference between men and women has to do with how they respond to sexual cues. Men respond more to visual cues than do women. Women respond more to emotional cues, such as tenderness, kind words, or helpfulness than men do. Another difference between men and women is seen in their approach to intimacy. Women find fulfillment more readily than men in nonsexual physical contact such as a tender embrace or a gentle touch. When it comes to sexual activity itself, men often want to rush through the experience faster than women. Women need more time for arousal. Many men assume that because they are aroused and ready for sex, their wives must be too.
When a marriage is based on mutual respect, trust, open communication, and tenderness, it is natural for marital partners to want to share all aspects of the marriage with each other. The capacity for oneness is greatly enhanced. But when bad feelings exist in a marriage, the natural tendency is to create greater distance, and often to decrease or discontinue physical intimacy. This generally makes matters worse and opens the door for Satan to tempt partners and destroy their marriage through pornography or adultery.
The Apostle Paul taught that if a couple tries to be kind and considerate of each other, there will be a natural desire for physical intimacy. If a couple decides to abstain for a time (sickness, pregnancy, etc.), it should be by mutual consent, and then only for a short period of time.
President Kimball said: “In family life, men must and should be considerate of their wives, not only in the bearing of children, but in caring for them through childhood. The mother’s health must be conserved, and the husband’s consideration for his wife is his first duty. Self-control must be a dominant factor in their relationships” (Ensign, Nov. 1976, 6-7).
“Sex is an expression of love in marriage when there is cleanliness and sacrifice and selflessness…Sex will continue to be an expression of love in marriage if there is an increase constantly of confidence [trust] and understanding, of frequent and sincere expressions of appreciation and affection. There must be a forgetting of self and a constant concern for the other.” Without those characteristics, sexual intimacy becomes an expression of lust rather than love, even in marriage!
President Howard W. Hunter said: “Tenderness and respect– never selfishness– must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires… Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife…Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51).
Procreation No greater privilege is given to moral beings than to exercise their powers of procreation to be co-creators with God. Elder Packer taught: “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness, it is the key– the very key [to happiness]” (“Foundation of Life”).
Elder Richard G. Scott said: “Any sexual intimacy outside of the bonds of marriage-- I mean any intentional contact with the sacred, private parts of another’s body, with or without clothing – is a sin and is forbidden by God” (Ensign Nov. 1994, 38).
Elder Packer said: “Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and a lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple, are those procreative powers released for the full expression of love. It is to be shared only and solely with that one who is our companion forever” (“Fountain of Life”).
Sex is a blessing in marriage because it is an important expression of love. “Love is cleanliness and sacrifice and selflessness.. For love to continue, there must be an increase constantly of confidence and understanding, of frequent and sincere expressions of appreciation and affection. There must be a forgetting of self and a constant concern for the other” (Faith Precedes the Miracle 157-58).
As we struggle with the challenges of mortality will be challenged emotionally and spiritually. All of us have times when we feel emotionally or spiritually low. We are all subject to stress and pressure and disappointment and failure. In marriage we have to deal with finances, work pressures, raising children, and the day to day irritations that naturally come when living with someone 24 hours a day. All of these things, and many others, combine to put a strain on the emotional and spiritual bonds of marriage. Sexual intimacy is a powerful way to repair, heal, and rebuild those bonds.
Elder Packer said: “It is interesting to know how man is put together– how incomplete he is. His whole physical and emotional and for that matter, spiritual nature, is formed in such a way that it depends upon a source of encouragement and power that is found in woman. When man has found his wife and companion, he has in a sense found the other half of himself. He will return to her again and again for that [intimacy] that exalts his manhood and strengthens him for the testing that life will give him” (Tribune, quoted in Between Husband and Wife, Lamb and Brinley, 20). That statement is equally true for women. When pulled apart emotionally and spiritually, sexual intimacy can help draw a husband and wife back to each other.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “The rapid sweeping deterioration of values in society is characterized now by a preoccupation – even an obsession – with the procreative act… Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within are openly scoffed at as being out of date… modesty is all but gone… Censorship of any kind is forced offstage as a violation of individual freedom. That which should be absolutely private is disrobed and acted out on center stage. In the shadows backstage wait addiction, pornography, perversion, infidelity, abortion, and – the ugliest of them all – incest and molestation. All of them are on the increase. In company with them now is the pestilent disease [of AIDS], which like a biblical plague, threatens races of mankind. In fact, all of mankind. The philosophies which owe converge all have one thing in common: either by insinuation or declaration they reject God as our creator, as our Father, as our lawgiver”(“The Fountain of Life,” BYU 18 Stake Fireside, 29 March 1992).
Birth Control in Marriage Several things seem to stand out, as important. First, one of our most important responsibilities on this earth is to multiply and replenish the earth. President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “there is nothing that should be held in greater sacredness than this covenant by which the spirits of men are clothed with mortal tabernacles” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:87).
President Kimball said: “Too many young people today marry with a selfish motive– they are interested first in themselves. The more important purposes of marriage [such as bearing and rearing children] are ignored for the less important. Family life is secondary. The college degrees, the occupation, the comforts, [and] convenience [are] considered first. To many there seems to be a total forgetfulness of the purpose of marriage and its responsibilities and opportunities. And many young people set their minds, determining that they will not marry or have children until they are more secure, until the military service period is over, until the college degree is secured; until the occupation is more well defined; until the debts are paid; or until it is more convenient.
They have forgotten that the first commandment is to ‘be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it’(Gen. 1:28). And so brides continue their employment and husbands encourage it, and contraceptives are used to prevent conception. Relatives and friends and even mothers sometimes encourage birth control for their young newlyweds. But the excuses are many, mostly weak…The Church cannot approve or condone the measures which so greatly limit the family” (Address to San Antonio Regional Conference, 5 December 1977).
Dr. Homer Ellsworth said: “Many of the decisions we make involve the application of principles where precise yes-and-no answers are just not available in Church handbooks, meetings, or even the scriptures. Our growth process, then, results from weighing the alternatives, studying the matter carefully, and seeking inspiration from the Lord…It is clear to me that the decisions regarding our children, when to have them, their number, and all related matters and questions can only be made after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer…In the process of learning what is right for you at any particular time, I have always found it helpful to use a basic measuring stick: Is it selfish? I have concluded that most of our sins are really sins of selfness…
“But on the other hand, we need to be afraid of studying the question from important angles– the physical or mental health of the mother and father, the parents’ capacity to provide basic necessities, and so on. If for certain personal reasons a couple prayerfully decides that having another child immediately is unwise, the method of spacing children– discounting possible medical or physical effects– makes little difference. Abstinence, of course, is also a form of contraception, and like any other method it has side effects, some of which are harmful to the marriage relationship….
“In searching for what is most important, I believe that we are accountable not only for what we do but for why we do it… Thus, regarding family size, spacing of children and [other such] questions, we should desire to multiply and replenish the earth as the Lord commands us. In that process, Heavenly Father intends that we use the free agency he has given in charting a wise course for ourselves and our families. We gain the wisdom to chart that wise course through study, prayer, and listening to the still small voice within us” (“I Have a Question,” Ensign Aug. 1979, 23-24).
As to the number of children a couple should have, Elder Dallin H. Oaks offered the following counsel: “How many children should a couple have? All they can care for! Of course, to care for children means more than simply giving them life. Children must be loved, nurtured, taught, fed, clothed, housed, and well started in their capacities to be good parents themselves. Exercising faith in God’s promises to bless them when they are keeping his commandments, many LDS parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or with the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another” (Ensign November 1993, 75).
“It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear. The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter”(Handbook of instructions given by Priesthood Leaders 158).
Husbands and wives should seek heavenly direction as they counsel together, considering such factors as the physical, mental, and emotional health of both mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life. They must take the decision they feel is right to the lord and seek his confirmation. Others may, and probably will, offer counsel, but ultimately it is a decision that is left between the couple and the Lord. Only they have the privilege and bear the responsibility of making that decision.
Abortion “Abortion is one of the most revolting and sinful practices of this day. Members must not submit to, be a party to, or perform an abortion. The only exceptions are when: • Pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape. • The life or health of the woman is in jeopardy in the opinion of the competent medical authority. • The fetus is known, by competent medical authority, to have severe defects that would not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. “Even in these cases the couple should consider an abortion only after consulting with each other and their bishop and receiving divine confirmation through prayer.”
“Church members who encourage, perform, or submit to an abortion are subject to Church discipline as appropriate. Priesthood leaders dealing with abortions should remember the word of the Lord, ‘Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it’ (D&C 59:6). As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion” (General Handbook of Instructions 11-4).