Open Forum 1 Discussions

connecting-the-dots-no-text-200pix.jpgWelcome to our “Open Forum 1” discussion page! This has been the place (up until June 29, 2009) to post your questions and comments and have an open dialogue about subjects related to marriage, sex, intimacy and parenting.

To create new discussion posts please visit our Open Forum 4 discussion page.

For additional insights, you can review previous discussions by clicking on the links below. You will then find a list of topics discussed in each Open Forum:


Open Forum 1 Topics

You’ll find some interesting and insightful discussions on the following topics in this Open Forum 1 post:

  • Lidocaine and lovemaking
  • Dirty talk during “intimacy” and porn issues
  • Selflessness
  • Breast implants
  • BLISS computerized game
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Masturbation
  • Masturbation causing homosexuality
  • Agency in marriage
  • Leaving father and mother and cleaving to your spouse
  • Different views on sex
  • Overcoming inhibitions together
  • Books that are not listed in Laura’s additional resources page
  • Is Mom mad at you, and why?
  • Re: Edward, Self-Mastery and The Marital Fire
  • Am I the only wife out there who loves making love with my husband?
  • Unconditional love
  • Turning to God
  • Hope in marriage
  • Sexual molestation as a child
  • Preparing for marriage

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I know from your many personal emails and the conversations we’ve had at various events that there is an army of intelligent and intuitive people who have great insights, and are seeking to strengthen their marriages intimately. I hope you will consider yourself a valuable resource in this forum as you share your questions and comments.

Please continue to be attentive to the tone of your posts, so that we can maintain an atmosphere of reverence and respect for each other and the sanctity of sexuality in marriage. I will try to respond as often as I can, but hope you will step up and share your insights as well.

Thank you all for your participation here! Let’s learn and improve our marriages together! : )

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Related Posts

Comments
  • From Comments Page August 14, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Subject: Lidocaine

    Comments: Quick question. i have only read a few chapters of this book becasue i am only 23 and single. My question like the subject states is about KY with lidocaine. to me that would almost seem pointless becasue lidocaine is a numbing agent and if used wouldnt that numb the nerves and other sensual areas thus no pleasure. i know that some couples use it because of the small lacerations that the females get during there first few times, but doesnt that defeat the purpose of having sex. (i know that before sex she has to be prepared via foreplay.) i mean wouldnt she want to feel the experience of sexual pleasure for the first time, or am i missing something. Like i said i have not read the entire book because im single and being my age and single kinda sucks (dont need any more temptation than there all ready is.) so any type of informative answer that could help me would be nice. thanx and i hope to hear from someone.

  • From Comments Page August 14, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Subject: Dirty Talk During “intimacy” and porn issues

    Comments: I have read your book and think it has wonderful ideas about how to address issues with intimacy. Unfortunately my husband does not want to read the book and now I don’t know how to address a huge challenge in our relationship. I am 37, have 7 children, 20, 17, 15, 13, 12, 9 years and the youngest 8 months and have been with my second husband 16 years. Intimacy with him was always difficult, as he would reject me very often.

    About 4 years into our marriage I found out he was interested in pornograpy (his father used to have it all around the house), and that was part of the reason for his rejections. After a few years of arguments, dicussions, counseling (I was raised a Catholic and totally hate it) and 2 more kids, I agreed to some compromises as to what I would do and say when we were intimate, never quite feeling it was right, but thinking it would keep my marriage somehow safe from that filth.

    We just had a baby 8 months ago and although he was wonderful thru my pregnancy, he is now only interested in having sex with me and not about spending couple time, cuddling, talking, or doing anything the two of us alone. In return I am not able to have sexual intimacy for the fear that he’s only interested in sex, and he talks dirty to me all the time the few times he is having sex with me, which makes me feel even worse and more uncomfortable. I believe he is into pornography again due to his behaviour and don’t know how to address it. I would love to be with him feeling is right to be with him, the way God inteded for us to be as a couple. How can I address it? Who can I talk to?

    • Anonymous August 14, 2007 at 9:53 pm

      In response to:”Dirty Talk” post

      Comments: This is a tough issue. I hate to sound like I’m know it all or that we’re in Sunday School…but PRAYER can really change things. Patience Repentence Act upon promptings You are a child of God Eternal perspective Remember to have faith…God is aware of your situation! The brethren have addressed the issues of pornography so much…my heart aches for you and I pray that you will find some kind of direction. “Be Still and know that I Am”

  • From Comments Page August 14, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Subject: Selflessness

    Comments: As a recent topic at church was selfless service, I have been thinking about how this applies to marriage and hope to get some input from others on this topic. Specifically, is it ever “ok” to think about “my needs”? If I feel like my needs are not being met, is it safe to say that I probably need to focus more on my spouse and serving others and less on myself? If my spouse is perfectly content with status quo in our relationship but I feel that it is lacking and needs attention and effort, is it selfish of me to try to involve my spouse in improving our relationship? If I desire greater levels of all types of intimacy in our marriage but my wife does not, is that selfish of me, and what course of action should I take? I appreciate any comments….

    • Terry August 18, 2007 at 5:44 am

      One common misconception is that thinking of one’s own needs at any time to any degree is “selfish.” Perhaps the best response to this notion is from C.S. Lewis, who pointed out that a little bit of appropriate self-concern can go a long way toward preventing built-up resentment and grudges, whereas excessive “selflessness” actually focuses one’s own attention on sacrifices being made and favors which seem to be owed in return for this selflessness. I find that if I communicate my own needs to my wife in a kind, loving way without making demands, then she responds in a positive way. For years she too saw no need for sexual intimacy, as she thought that we were doing pretty well in other areas of our marriage. However, as my bishop pointed out, if the vital sexual arena is lacking, then it is a general sign that other aspects are in trouble as well, specifically communication. I don’t consider myself qualified to address that element, but with regard to thinking of your needs, it is better to address that directly with your spouse than to try to ignore it, as it never goes away but continues to lurk under the surface and contribute to all manner of resentments. It is better to have just enough appropriate self-concern so that you can confront the related issues than to bend over backwards in the interest of a forced, artificial “selflessness” which will, most likely, only escalate the tensions already present. Laura’s book is a tremendous help in this regard. God bless.

    • Laura M. Brotherson August 18, 2007 at 2:13 pm

      Laura’s Reply to “Subject: Selflessness” post dated 8-14-07

      Certainly it is okay to think about our needs, it’s just that when we are in that line of thought we tend to stay in a state of dissatisfaction and longing, instead of in a state of appreciation for the many good things our spouse IS doing. The more we can focus on the good things about our spouse the more we will see good things from our spouse.

      If you feel like your needs are not being met, certainly it is helpful to share that valuable information with your spouse. For example, you could say, “Honey, I am feeling a bit unloved in our relationship. I don’t know how to explain how important physical intimacy is to me. It just seems to be the most powerful way for me to feel that you love me even though you do many other wonderful things for me.”

      If you can then discuss it, great! If these discussions never go anywhere then I’d suggest getting someone to help–like a counselor, either going to God himself with these issues or a human-form counselor might be helpful. Don’t let your resentment build, but be wise in how you approach it.

      Improving your relationship is all about how you go about it. If you go about it with a spirit of discontent then it will feel like pressure and that your spouse is not good enough or doing enough for you. That’s hard for any spouse to receive. If you can go about it without any emotional attachment to the outcome then go for it! It can be a fun new adventure for you both to read a book together or try something new, etc. It’s all in the spirit of how you do it, and the intention behind it.

      It’s not selfish of you to want more intimacy and connection with your spouse. The selfishness comes from a focus on what YOU need to the exclusion of what your spouse might need. By all means, keep the positive communication flowing on the subject, but keep your focus on what you can do to be more loving as a husband.

      You might also check out the following Q&A and article that address these subjects:

      Q&A — “How to Get My Spouse to Read Your Book”

      http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/qa.php#QA1

      ARTICLE–“How do I get my spouse to change?”

      http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life/news/story?story_id=7640.

      • Jimbalaya August 20, 2007 at 12:30 pm

        Terry and Laura,

        Thank you both for your input on the balance of selflessness and needs. This continues to be a topic that fascinates me. When I think about the Savior, it seems to me that there is no evidence in the scriptures that He had needs or ever thought about them. He only seemed to care about helping, blessing, serving, and doing the will of the Father. He was in a position to give and didn’t seem to need to receive. Perhaps few if any of us will be able to obtain a similar level of selflessness in mortality. Possibly as our focus begins to shift more to our spouse’s needs, our spouse will likewise do the same.

        I also think about the creation. The scriptures tell us that after Adam was created, God said that it was not good for man to be alone, and Eve was created as a companion and help meet for Adam. So I think it is safe to say that man “needs” woman and that woman “needs” man. Neither alone are whole, but together they can strengthen, help, and bless one another, and together they can whole and complete in a way that they could not on their own. I love this concept of synergy in marriage.

        I really think the key is to maintain a balance and to have open communication. Ideally, both husband and wife are “keyed in” to each other’s interests and needs and both make it a high priority to love and take care of one another. Hopefully this is the type of marriage that we all strive for. Elder and Sister Hafen’s article on Equal Partners in the August 2007 Ensign addresses this.

        Thank you both again for your comments and insights. I hope that others will contribute as this has the potential to be an excellent source for sharing and learning.

    • bws71 September 9, 2007 at 9:19 pm

      Balancing your needs in marriage is tricky. Most of us learn that ‘selflessness’ and sacrifice are how we should deal with what we crave from our spouses – whether is is affection, conversation, help around the house or sex. I always felt I was just expected to be happy with what I had and count my blessing. I felt I had no right to feel unfulfilled in any way. Trying to ignore those feelings doesn’t make them go away. Patience is indeed required, but total sublimation of one’s emotional needs is not healthy. If there is a hole in your heart when it comes to your marriage, throwing a tarp over it and covering it with plastic flowers still leaves the hole. Going without what you crave in your marriage is ‘noble’ and stoic but also very dangerous. It leaves you incredibly vulnerable to alloew those needs to be met elsewhere and usually inappropriately. If nothing else, failing to meet each other’s needs robs you both of the true oneness fitting of a celestial marriage. Check out Willard Harley’s site on this idea. He wrote the book His Need, Her Needs. I think you’ll find it really clicks. Marriage Builders

  • Cindy August 27, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I would like to know if I shouild tell my husband about past sexual incidents that have been resolved with church leaders. I fear that he may totally reject me if he knew but wonder if he should know. I have a hard time forgetting it myself let alone forgiving myself.

    • tiachap August 27, 2007 at 4:15 pm

      Cindy,

      I told my husband about past sexual incidents before we were married, and he was very understanding about it. I just wanted him to know about it, so I wouldn’t feel like I was hiding something from him. He was a little hurt at first, but we have a great marriage now, and it doesn’t cause any problems. It was a long time ago, and it’s in the PAST. But not all men are the same, as we all know! I am glad I told him though, and have never regretted telling him.

      If you have resolved it with church leaders, and gone through the repentance process, you shouldn’t have feelings of guilt anymore. Please learn to forgive yourself! You did the right thing by going to the bishop. You can ask your bishop what he thinks about whether you should tell your husband. If it keeps bothering you, just continue to pray about whether or not you should tell him.

      From my experience, I’ve been able to forgive myself, but don’t think I’ll ever completely forget about it! I also don’t think it something you HAVE to do, especially since you’ve resolved it w/ the bishop. Good luck, and hope I’ve helped a little bit!

    • bws71 September 9, 2007 at 9:27 pm

      Cindy – that is such a good question. I remember being told specifically by my bishop I never had to tell my future spouse about the stupid things I did when I was a teenager. He told me Christ didn’t remember my sins and I didn’t have to either. This was such bad advice. I should have never kept this from my wife. She should have known everyting about me before me married. Go to http://www.marriagebuilders.com and read about the Policy of Radical Honesty under Basic Concepts. I’ll think you’ll find it helpful. How wonderful it will feel to know your husband loves you after knowing everything there is to know about you. Share this information with love and care and with the motivation to draw closer to your husband. He may have to adjust to the new information a bit, give him time to do so. But I would tell him.

    • HappyLDSWifeMom October 12, 2007 at 8:19 pm

      Cindy,

      After 3 kids and almost 20 years of marriage, I found out about my husband’s past. It was hard on me, but I knew he had gone through the repentence process and the Lord had forgiven him and that was good enough for me. I heard it said once the Lord had forgiven you then it is over. Why keep bringing it up. If your spouse finds out on his own, then tell him that the Lord forgave you and it is over and you are no longer that person. However, follow the Spirit. It is a tough decision.

  • tiachap August 27, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Does anyone out there know the church’s stand on breast implants? It seems so common now, and I learn of more and more LDS women who are having them done! I myself am a 30 year old woman with 3 kids, and with all the running and triathlons I love to do, my body fat has disappeared, but so has my chest! I pretty much look like a 10 year old boy in that area, and it’s embarrassing to be seen in a swim suit. My husband thinks it’s okay if it’s not drastic, like going from A (or smaller, like me) to Double D, and if it would help improve the woman’s self-confidence. He really wants me to get it done. If I did, I wouldn’t want the world to know. I probably wouldn’t even want to tell my family! Has anyone out there had it done, and did you regret it? Has it helped your marriage? Am I just being vain? By the way, Laura, my husband and I LOVE your book! It’s helped us drastically over the past 2 years! Thanks!

    • LT72884 August 28, 2007 at 2:26 pm

      As far as i know that dont have one. I think this is just one of those things that is a personal choice. The most i have heard about anything to do with cosmetic surgery is dont go over board and dont make it a worldy thing. Having one cosmetic surgery is fine. its when you want more and more and all you care about is yourself with your looks and spend 99% of your time at the gym and forget about your family becasue your to busy trying to look good. thats when it becomes an issue when you start to think more and more about yourself rather than your husband and family. there is a fine line sometimes with this. i know a few women who have had this done. the only down fall is that they have been telling the girls they teach in young womens to maybe think about it for them selves. if you have implants , people dont have to know. its your body and your business not theres. if they ask then sure you can answer and tell them. i mean i wouldnt mind my wife having it done but there would be a limit just like you stated. i would not want her going around and telling every body “look at me, i just doubled in size.” i would hope that she would keep that between me and her. but if she doesnt have it done oh well. fine by me. i should love her no matter what. but then again im not married. thats my opinion. i think its attractive, what else can i say, im a guy 😉

    • Time2LearnSeasonOfStrength December 10, 2007 at 6:12 pm

      Tiachap,

      on implants & plastic surgery:

      I have discussed this extensively with my husband. I don’t want to die, and at the resurrection, my husband see’s me and says, “Oh ya, that’s right you have a flat chest”. Or I go to heaven & God says, I gave you $$ to help others & you could have paid for a missionary to serve…but well instead you spent it all on yourself.

      I agree that this is very PERSONAL. Modesty should always be considered…as well as if this could improve your marriage. I live in a state with the highest number of plastic surgeries in the U.S. Not all bad. I was in an accident as a child & my parents paid for plastic surgery for me. I am glad.(Or I might not be married:))My husband was hit by a car when he was 6 years old. He did not have plastic surgery. He still suffers from the skeletal pains of it all. He has completely forgiven the drunk driver, but every other day he looks in the mirror & says that he wishes that each half of his face would match up together. (He uses a lot of humor). Maybe when we die & at the resurrection, I will say, oh, so that’s what you really look like. But the reality is that I love him how he is now, it would be strange to see him without the 6 inch scare on his face.

      So I think it is all in your intent. I was sexually abused as a child, and no matter how much therapy (8+yrs)I have done, I have my own personal issues with being flat chested. (I tend to sabotage weightloss for fear of loosing what I have–it’s the first place I loose the weight). Now fortunately for me and my husband, I have overcome a lot (Laura’s book helped the most with the GGS). But this discussion continues. Right now the whole weight & money issue keeps me from persuing…but I would be interested in Laura & Kevin’s opinion. Perhaps over the holidays?

      • winterman93 June 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm

        Look, YOU need to have self confidence and self assurance in YOU…a woman’s image is not EVERYTHING, but to say it does not play in, would easily be a lie. As I am not to “lie” to women, our wives would not ask us how they look in their outfit if image was not remotely involved.

        If you feel, in YOUR heart, not your husband’s not your kids, that YOUR self esteem and confidence will be built up by having a body which you can feel good about, then I do not see that as being selfish.

        You MAY say that about your husband….but I have a hard time, as a man(possibly a dumb man), thinking that there might be a corner of his mind that is VERY glad that you did it. Now he, in his right mind, WILL NEVER lie ERRR tell the truth about that AND you know that!

        If he sees this as selfish, then he didn’t take advantage of the situation. I think that this COULD improve the relationship for reasons again that he will never admit to, but do not hold THAT over him, we are visual and we will try to coax you into feeling that we love you for YOU and not for them…but..and listen to this, because for all of the hormones in our bodies, THE TRUTH IS…IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BREASTS AT ALL!

        WE ARE SIMPLY GLAD THAT YOU ARE HAPPY OVERALL AND THAT STEMS WITH YOU BEING HAPPY WITH YOURSELF!

        people can disagree with me wholeheartedly, but I do not say things to be PC or “safe”…we are plenty PC and quiet in the church when it comes to sensitive issues…which is why we are where we are.

  • LT72884 August 28, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Cindy,

    my mom once told me that holding the truth to yourself is not lying. But at the same time i can see how you feel becasue i feel the same way. I would want my girlfriend to tell me if she had. i dont really know how to word this so bare with me. If it sounds like im being selfish im sorry im not trying to be. To me i would rather marry a woman who has repented of those situations because that means she knows how to use the atonement for her and is willing to change and become a better person. People make mistakes but thats what the atonement is for. if she has taken care of it then more power to her for putting forth the faith and doing what she knows to be right. I do not want to marry a complacent woman who says “well i slipped but its ok i can take care of it later or when ever i have time, its not like its that big of a deal.” to me that means that she doesnt want to change and doesnt really care about it at all. It always makes me proud when i hear stories like yours because it gives me hope that people do care and are willing to change and use the power of Gods atonement for themselves and feel better and become a better person. stories like yours and tiachap are very important stories. I know i have made my fair share of mistakes but im grateful for examples like you and tiachap and others who have been through alot in life and are willing to share it. So i congratulate you in overcoming one of the hardest things in life. To me i would want to know, yes at first i would be hurt but then i would realize that you know how to use the power of the atonement and that would make me feel really happy. I would love to know that my wife is human and makes mistakes also.

  • holtmiester September 11, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Do you recommend the BLISS computerized game for couples and if so what do others have to say about it as well?

    Rob

    • Xenon July 3, 2008 at 6:54 am

      We have enjoyed BLISS the one time we played it.

      You can download and try it out for an hour. That is what we did and it was fun.

      I enjoyed it (I am the higher drive spouse and the more adventurous spouse) because it opened up new activities that we had never done before. I think it was good for my wife too because it was somehow easier to do some things when “told to” by the game.

      I guess the best recommendation I can give is that when we were done with our hour free demo, my wife said it would be OK for me to go ahead a spend the money to buy it for real. She enjoyed it (or perhaps enjoyed me enjoying it) enough to spend the money on it.

      It would be interesting I think to see if someone would write a series of “LDS centered actions” for the game. Some I thought of might be:

      “Tell your spouse you love them in your mission language” (if you went foreign speaking mostly).

      “Tell your spouse about a favorite memory from the temple when you got married”

      “Tell your spouse about your feelings about eternity”

      Anyway, I’d at least download it and take a peak at it. It took my wife nearly a year to come around to being willing to play. We discussed it, she thought about it for a few months to get up the courage, we planned to play a couple of times, and things got in the way, but we did actually play, and had a good time.

  • LT72884 September 18, 2007 at 8:33 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bliss_(game)

    Go here for more info on the game. It might help you decide if you want to try it out or not..

  • LT72884 September 18, 2007 at 8:48 am

    http://www.gamersmark.com/reviews/view/714

    Be sure to check out the screen shots of this game. Just click on the link and it will give you a full review and images to see if its something you want..

  • From Comments Page September 25, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Subject: “Childhood sexual abuse” comment from website

    Date: September 25 2007

    I have been considering purchasing this book but have a few questions concerning its relevance concerning my wife and my particular issues. My wife was sexually abused as a child from the age of 7 through age 13, by the significant male relationships in her life (father, grandfather, brother, mother’s live-in boyfriend).

    We were married when she was 19 and I was 21. When she was 28, after nine years of marriage and three children, she had a nervous breakdown when she regained the suppressed memories of these traumatic events in her life. We spent a good portion of the next two years slowing rebuilding her ‘sexual self’, allowing her to have complete control and including a long period of no relations.

    She still to this day has a hard time discussing sexuality and our sexual relationship. She has difficulty having orgasms and has complained of still feeling ‘disconnected’ during sex. She talks at times about talking with a therapist about these issues but does not push forward because of the feelings she has.

    It has been 15 years since she regained her memories but during the majority of the time since then, she has not felt like our sex life is all that it could be for her. I rarely try to push her, given her experience, anything that makes her feel out of control is out of the question. Personally, given her experience I think that the fact that she want to have sex 2-3 times a month and usually orgasms at least two thirds of the time I think she has come a long way and I am very proud of her. However, I would like to make the experience as fulfilling for her as she would like it to be.

    How relevant is the material in “And They Were Not Ashamed” or would another book or therapy be more appropriate?

    • Time2LearnSeasonOfStrength December 10, 2007 at 6:38 pm

      In response to “Child Sexual Abuse”:

      I experienced similar issues (we are all different). This book helped me a ton! I like how much it helped me to focus on the marriage aspect of intimacy. I did however, go through a lot of therapy & every once in a while I frequent LDS Social Services. I am very glad that we have this resource to heal our hearts and homes. Having Brotherson’s book to go to, helped to open up many avenues and comunication between my husband and I. For the first time EVER, I am open to talk about it. I am open to change. I have talked to friends about intimacy (not sharing intimate details). I have been blessed with a fantastic husband…who is gently rewarded often for his patience with me in this area. Be faithful to your covenants and strength WILL come.

      Our level of friendship and intimacy has increased a hundred fold. Prayer and fasting helped so much. I asked for a priesthood blessing of healing, for this area. Let me tell you, Heavenly Father was first my father, and he desires for all of us to be happy. I am sad for the things that should not have happened to me…but because I have prayed for the healing power of the atonement…I am beyond grateful for those horrible experiences. Trials can make us better people if we let them, and Heavenly Father does not love us any less.

      The tricky part is allowing your wife the “control” to change as she is ready. May you be blessed…this trial can help you too. Journal. Journal. Journal.

  • ricky October 2, 2007 at 10:55 am

    re: masturbation

    Recently, I have been examining the issue of masturbation and the guilt/shame complex that is instilled in people (especially youth) by many Christian/LDS religions. I have read about many LDS young men who become depressed and even commit suicide because of the shame they feel regarding masturbation.

    There are contradictory messages out there. Doctors, counselors say that masturbation is okay, normal. Some doctors even prescribe doing it to men who have prostate problems. However, churches say that it is a sin. Laura’s book suggests self-exploration (masturbation) to learn about one’s body, what feels good, orgasm, etc. The mixed messages are very confusing.

    I have researched and I have not found a specific rule or guideline about masturbation in the LDS’ church handbook of instructions. I researched the LDS gospel library and only found a few articles from a few previous prophets on the subject, and I was uncomfortable with the connection it made between masturbation causing homosexuality. Also, all of the articles and information I found were directed to youth only. What does the church say about masturbation and married individuals? Is it okay if it is for the purposes of improving marital intimacy as Laura proposes in her book?

    It also doesn’t make sense that we are encouraged to teach our children about their amazing bodies, but we shame any normal sexual feelings. We know that the majority of young men and men masturbate, so why do we instill such shame? This seems to perpetuate the idea that anything sexual is taboo and wrong, the negative sexual conditioning that Laura writes about in her book. Please comment.

    • bws71 October 2, 2007 at 7:03 pm

      Ricky – I can give you my opinion on the various questions you raise about masturbation. I can’t of course answer for the church but i can share my opinion and the information I’m aware of with you.

      First – why do we shame? OR Should be shame? Of course we shouldn’t shame our children or anyone about anything. Sharing the Lord’s counsel on a given behavior or choice should be done with clarity but compassion. Warning and instruction seem appropriate. Shame and guilt should not enter the equation.

      My take on masturbation – engaging in any sexual relations with anyone with whom we are not legally and lawfully wedded is a breach of the law of chastity. This would include oneself. If we accept that sex is meant to bond a husband and spouse together as well as procreate – masturbation serves neither purpose.

      I think sex between a husband and wife could include masturbation while the other spouse caresses and hold the other. I also feel like phone sex is ok between a husband and wife. But, personally any solo activity where both parties are not present and engaged breaches the law of chastity.

      Just my opinion.

      • LT72884 October 4, 2007 at 11:23 am

        “I think sex between a husband and wife could include masturbation while the other spouse caresses and hold the other”

        I agree. Now if the wife were to do this on her own and stimulate herself with out her husband there, thats were the issue starts. And if a man stimulates himself while she is gone, that causes problems also. To me i think its meant that the wife is supposed to stimulate and cares the mans intimate areas and the man stimulate the wifes intimate areas and tease and have fun.

        The reason way masturbation is a problem in the church is becasue 99% of the time masturbation and pornography go hand in hand. If you look at porn then most likely you masturbate. Most people that look at porn will get aroused simply by just sitting in front of a turned off computer and will actually masturbate and orgasm in front of a turned off computer. thats how bad it is. Its also very very addicting. orgasm releases alot of oxytocin thus causing a euphoric high and thus becomes addicting. when its outside of marriage and you achieve orgasm on purpose, thats when guilt comes into play becasue those orgasmic feelings are meant for marriage between husband and wife. Most of the time depression and emotional anxiety will cause people to look at porn becasue when they masturbate to it, its a emotional escape for a few hours. After that few hours has subsided you think to your self “WOW” that felt good. after the afterglow and oxytocin have gone away the person starts to feel guilty and think what have i done, i cant let my wife or parents no about this. so then they promise themselves that they wont do it again. Then all of a sudden they have a bad day at school or work OR a parent yells at them. They are scared and dont know what to do and need an emotional escape and then they sit at the computer watch a few pornographic movies and then they masturbate and orgasm to feel free from the emotional bondage and then they become and addict over time.

        BUT the feelings you get before your married of wanting to have sex are fine and dandy. You just have to bridal them so that they dont take over your main thought process. Thats what im dealing with now becasue im a single 23 year old, and im a guy for that matter and its 10 times as hard being a male with these feelings. I am very attracted to women and i find my self everyday excited for marriage. These feelings are given to us so that we have a desire to get married and to have sex and to please and play with our spouse to become closer with each other.

        I have a book on the whole psychology of pornography and what it does to the mind.

        Confronting pornography. Deseret book has it.

        • winterman93 June 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm

          “Most people that look at porn will get aroused simply by just sitting in front of a turned off computer and will actually masturbate and orgasm in front of a turned off computer.”

          This is simply not true. I cannot reiterate how incorrect this thought process is. this has never happened to me, not at all, not in my life. And YES, I would know.

          WHY MEN WATCH PORN…well to preface, they haven’t read Laura’s book and neither has their wife. Because there are plenty of tips that help wives in several areas…now THAT aside..NOW…considering they have NOT READ, here are the reasons.

          1) Men want sex at the drop of a hat, women actually have to CHOOSE to have sex and because they took care of kids, went to work, did errands etc…they are frequently exhausted and may not be able to do it as often. NOW, MEN CAN accept this as long as we are factored into the picture at least 2 times a week. When she starts to become tired for weeks on end… and the excuse starts working wonders…he may become resentful because his physiology does NOT work in the same way.

          2) because of (possible)resentment and physiological needs that men have, they may take care of those needs in order to get it off their mind, go to sleep, AND leave their wives in peace since she is exhausted and they do not have to bother her as they figure she is too tired anyway.

          3) She is nauseous of sperm, she feels extremely uncomfortable holding his penis let alone caressing him…ultimately she is sooo reserved sexually, that even his sperm against her skin is uncomfortable. Much of these issues are based on a complete omission of sex education on their parent’s behalf. Because she is unwilling to reciprocate what he does for her, he takes care of himself.

          Look, the fact of the matter is, masturbation may be the only “action” that lonely man will receive that WHOLE month. It is not that she is holding sex over him like a weapon, she simply does not like sex. He doesn’t want to deal with getting a divorce and all that is involved and loves his kids way too much to “visit” them or pay child support. So does he coerce her into doing something she doesn’t want to do? No, that is taking her by force and against her will. Or does he simply take care of business and move on in life?

          Look, masturbation, IS self abuse, it is selfish by definition. But if a man goes unfulfilled, he will take things into his own hands…literally. Women are JUST as responsible in this as men. It is FAR more taboo, but it happens…and with a frequency that I imagine would shock men. Female masturbation happens every bit as much as male masturbation and nobody says anything about that. They may not buy toys, but they know their bodies too.

          Women come after us about masturbation, yet they do it themselves and say nothing. Men take the heat for this and we’re men, so we often overlook it, but we also get scolded for it.

          I am NOT condoning pornography OR masturbation because a man’s wife is holding sex over him or avoiding him altogether. I am saying that it happens.. He is lonely, he is sad that his marriage is going the way that it is, and he uses masturbation as a stress release so that THAT is not a key issue and so he can face the next day at least semi-normal.

          It is said, to bridal one’s passions. Look, sex is a commandment of marriage, women you KNEW this going in or SHOULD HAVE…the bridaling of passions after 25 years is PLENTY….it is very unfair and selfish that you marry us, then you completely control the situation KNOWING FULL well, that we can have nothing if not you…we cannot masturbate- we can’t have sex…we can’t do any of that and we grow restless and are lonely even in marriage and yet, to no avail, we are simply ignored in the bedroom.

          YOU have created the very sex crazed husband that you hate so much. We want it as bad as we do because we do not get it. Ironically, masturbation doesn’t really kill the drive…if not temporarily…

          It was said by Dr. Mehmet Oz, that ideally men should have a release 4 times a week to maintain prostate health. Now that means that man is having more than half a month’s sex every month. I am pretty sure MOST men do not see this quota met, nor are they even courageous enough to MAKE that a quota for fear of being insensitive to their wives.

          I am pretty sure that MOST women inside and out of the Church laughed him off as being ludicrous for NOT being a woman and NOT being on the receiving side of that love barrage…but..somewhere in the middle should be considered.

          Think of it this way…would YOU rather be the reason he is watching porn? Or would you rather be the reason he is watching YOU!

    • Laura M. Brotherson January 14, 2008 at 7:33 pm

      Hi ricky,

      This is in response to your 2007-10-02 10:55:26 comment about masturbation. I just want to be very clear that what I am talking about in chapter 12 of my book on self-learning is completely different than masturbation. Masturbation is something you do for self-pleasuring/self-medicating/self-soothing purposes NOT something you do to learn how your body works in order to strengthen your sexual relationship in marriage. (Note the significant difference in intent!) Ideally this kind of intimate learning should occur as part of lovemaking between husband and wife, but for some women it can be helpful and less threatening to figure some things out on her own.

      Men and women generally have very different access to and interaction with their genitals growing up, and thus have very different levels of understanding of how their body works sexually. So, please do not put what I am suggesting about self-learning (for those who may need it) in the same category as masturbation. I make it very clear what the differences are between masturbation and what I am suggesting. For one thing self-learning is a one-time or short-term learning process, not an regular habit for selfish purposes. I hope people can clearly see the difference in that section, especially in the intent. Intent is very important.

      I do agree with your comments about shame and guilt. Shame is not a good teaching tool nor a good motivator. Certainly a parent would want to redirect a child’s focus if the child is developing a habit of playing with their genitals, but it should be done calmly and kindly to teach that the body is a gift and that the genitals are not playthings. Depending on the age and understanding of the child the parent can go further to explain about the purposes of the body within marriage to provide a positive context.

      I think masturbation is more of a temptation for some than others (just like every temptation I guess). I would hope we could find a way to discourage masturbation from becoming habitual or self-serving without resorting to guilt and shame.

      What some couples see as “masturbation” within marriage may simply be a part of lovemaking. Some couples employ self-stimulation (for lovemaking purposes) within lovemaking for various reasons. This would be something for the couple to determine if it strengthens or assists in the sexual relationship or something that weakens it.

      • billgant January 28, 2008 at 11:24 am

        What about masturbation within marriage during the time a woman is going through the change? Your drive is much higher than her desire are you suppose to bridle your passions or find release. This is masturbation without porn or thoughts of other women. It is definitely self satisfying but it is hard to press your spouse for love when her drive is suppressed and you feel she is doing it just for you and it is not a mutual feeling.

  • LT72884 October 4, 2007 at 11:51 am

    “connection it made between masturbation causing homosexuality”

    The reason why this can happen is becasue when the person is masturbating and viewing porn, be it male or female they are watching other men have sex with multiple partners. After a while the persons sub conscience mind starts to say that watching people of the same sex masturbate or have sex with others is ok. Then when they become addicted to porn they need something more than just watching a movie of a man and women having sex. so they start to watch movies that involve more than 2 people including males and females. then when thats not enough they want to see what gay/lesbian pornography is like and start to watch that. Then when thats not enough to feed there passions and addiction they start to watch movies that involve adults and children and then they begin to download child porn and then prison time. its a vicious vicious cycle that is very difficult to get out of BUT it is very possible to get out of it.

    • winterman93 June 20, 2008 at 9:12 pm

      I am DEFINITELY not a perfect person…I have seen my fair share (and your share, and his share, etc.) to date, no level of homosexuality has EVER played in…so I disagree with that notion. Maybe that is JUST with me…I am just saying it has not played out that way for me whatsoever.

      I understand that the tendency is to never be satisfied and to always want a little more…it is no different than everything we are desensitized to…but we all have our limits to what our stomachs will allow…homosexuality is simply offensive across the board.

      I remember when the comment “screw you rocky” was a VERY strong comment back in the day…now that pales in comparison with the things heard in movies.

  • HappyLDSWifeMom October 12, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    I have been reading one of the books Laura recommended, Intended for Pleasure by Dr Ed Wheat. It is great! I recommend it for any couple no matter how many years they have been married!

  • yyellowrose October 18, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I am looking for some direction with a problem I am having in my marriage. I have been married for 24 years and I am having a very difficult time allowing myself to be physically touched in the female areas by my husband. It hasn’t always been this way. I learned after 17 years of my hb’s addiction to porn, but that has been resolved with the proper authority and he has refrained for almost 3 years now. I am handicapped and he has mentioned divorce several times over the past 7 years because he feels stifled and mentions wanting to be with someone who can do the things he likes like walk on the beach and play tennis.

    I understand and see that I have put up walls to protect myself from hurt, but even though he has repented of the porn, these other statements are said and I feel scared to make myself vulnerable, but at the same time, it is hurting our intimacy. I want things to be better, but in the back of my mind the thought is always there of what he has said and my not feeling secure anymore. He says he loves me and will be with me as things progress (the disability could get worse), but then other things are said and I wonder. I did tell him that if the “d” word is brought up again, be prepared to follow through. Over the summer, he had planned on being gone when I got home from seeing my nephew off for his mission. He said it would be easier that way, but decided that was the coward’s way out.

    Any suggestions here? I am seeing a social worker, but I really wish I could see a marriage therapist…even one together. He is very helpful around the house, but then the words sting. Our children are all grown and it should be time for us and I shouldn’t feel like I don’t want him to touch me. Help!!!

    • Laura M. Brotherson January 14, 2008 at 10:39 pm

      Hi yyellowrose,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I would certainly continue with seeing a professional (whether alone or as a couple) to work through your challenges as well as you can. Every marriage has tough situations to overcome. Remember that the only one you can change is you, and you’d be amazed how much changing yourself can change your spouse as well. Keep your focus on how you can improve things if you want your marriage to continue. It’s good to see that your husband didn’t take the “easy way out.” I’d take that as a sign that there’s something worth fighting for here. If you’d like additional help you could also consider setting up a phone consultation. I wish you well. Your marriage is worth fighting for!

  • JJ November 7, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Subject: Agency in Marriage

    Ideally in marriage, both spouses have similar goals and aspirations and are committed to working together. After all, this is the intent of marriage- that husband and wife work together, support one another, strive to understand each other and meet each other’s needs, learn together, progress together, etc. In this case, both spouses exercise their agency to make marriage a priority in their lives and to spend the time and effort necessary to truly become one.

    What happens though when one spouse has little or no interest in developing the relationship? The natural tendency in this situation is for the interested spouse to feel rejected, neglected, and unimportant. This begins the downward cycle of collusion where the interested spouse examines everything said or done by the disinterested spouse to support his/her feelings of neglect. Over time, the distance between the spouses increases until there is little if any connection between the two. The interested spouse really cannot change the interests and desires of the disinterested spouse.

    How does the interested spouse break this cycle? How can the interested spouse not feel rejected and neglected at the spouse’s disinterest in what is so critical? How can the interested spouse learn to love unconditionally and to not have any feelings of disappointment at the lack of connection in the marriage?

    The obvious answer is that the interested spouse simply chooses to love, to not be hurt, etc., but in reality, this proves to be much more easily said than done.

  • micahutah January 8, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    A few years ago, before Laura’s book came along, I read another book on marriage from a Christian author and I thought I remember the book title being “For your Marriage” but I haven’t been able to find it online anywhere. Anyways, the reason I ask is because this book contained a technique for men so that they could enjoy multiple orgasms with their wife, in the same time frame. The technique involves the husband strengthening their PC muscle (as you would for the wife doing Kegel exercises) and using this muscle to block/stop ejaculatory flow while still experiencing the rest of the orgasm (essentially orgasm without ejaculation). Thus the sex drive is not depleted and you can bring yourself to another orgasm with or without ejaculation rather quickly (much like women). I remember being able to succeed with this process but since lovemaking wasn’t going well for us back then, I lost practice of it but now since rejuvinating our marriage with the “And they were not ashamed” book, I was hoping to re-read how to do this technique but now can’t find the book, or I am remembering the title wrong. Has anyone else heard of this technique or know where I can find information on it? Thanks

    • klover March 31, 2008 at 5:02 pm

      A book that deals with this is “How to Make Love to a Women all Night Long”, I believe by Lou …

  • JL January 21, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Leaving Father & Mother & Cleaving to Your Spouse

    One thing that makes intimacy hard is that sometimes we don’t seem to want to leave our father and mother (brothers and sisters, etc) and cleave to our spouse (Genesis 2:24). We may give higher priority to to them than to our spouse. I struggle with knowing what is the proper relationship with parents and brothers and sisters.

    I have noticed that when spouses are having troubles they turn to their parents or siblings which seems to make the troubles worse.

  • Time2LearnSeasonOfStrength February 10, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Hi!

    I am looking for a charity that educates youth and adults about the serious problems of pornography…maybe even one that passes out pamphlets on anti-pornography. If anyone knows of one or two, will you leave me some information.

    Or:

    Does anyone want to start one?

    THANK YOU!!

  • acidfire March 19, 2008 at 12:56 am

    My wife and i are both lds and married in the temple. We both have different views on sex and this causes many disagreements. i am very open to learning more about how to improve sex and make things better, but she does not like to research or really read anything to learn more. she is more us just figuring out everything. i struggle because our views on stuff vary so much. I was wandering do you know whether or not sex toys(vibrators, dildos, etc..) for foreplay are okay. also oral sex and playing with yourself in front of your wife as a turn on or vice versa. I am sorry if this is inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable. I just seek for us to try new things with each other and improve but at times i just feel as though i am viewed as being bad and inappropriate. I do not think so but perhaps. I have tried researching many church things but have not found any specific answers and no real help. thank you. also if you could provide me some references preferably through the church if you find the answer i would appreciate it.

  • JL March 24, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I doubt you will find anything very specific from the LDS church about your questions. The church teaches us correct principles and we govern ourselves. If your wife is not interested in sex toys and oral sex then I feel you shouldn’t worry about them. Just do your best to enjoy each other and meet each others needs. They may not be wrong but if your wife is not comfortable with them then it may be best to not do or use them.

  • Time2LearnSeasonOfStrength April 11, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Dear Acidfire,

    You should buy and read Laura’s book…this will answer many of your questions…even if your wife will not read it.

    Never ever give up…prayer and open communication are so needed for all of us…Just so you know, no one has a perfect marriage. It is great that you are seeking to overcome your differences and work together in unity and love.

    Enjoy the Journey!

  • Xenon July 5, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Overcoming Inhibitions Together ….

    I am interested in people’s suggestions on overcoming inappropriate inhibitions together in a relationship. Specifically, if a couple together identifies that a particular inhibitition is not appropriate, how do you work together to overcome that? I’m looking for “psychology” answers, and personal experience answers.

    What I’m getting at is this … Take smoking as an example. If you wanted to help someone quit smoking, there are lots of ideas and suggestions. Some advocate a “cold turkey” or “intervention” approach – Go in and talk all the cigarettes and lighters and stuff and throw them away. Some advocate a more “stepwise” approach – reduce the number of cigarettes each day by one over a 2 month or 6 month period or something like that. Some advocate a “replacement” approach – the nicotine gum and/or patch approach.

    Or perhaps another way to look at is phobias. A phobia is a irrational fear that prevents you from being about function normally in your life. If someone has a irrational fear of heights or spiders or the number thirteen, what can you do to help that person? Is a “direct” approach the best way to deal with the phobia? Something like locking the person in a room on the thirteenth floor of a tall building with thirteen big hairy spiders? Or is a stepwise approach better? – going to the first floor of the tall building with just one small spider this week and then the second floor with two spiders the next week?

    And then I guess the key question is … how can we apply what has been learned about helping people overcome smoking or phobias to helping our spouses with inhibitations in the bed room?

    As a specific example … My dear wife as said on a couple of occations that she thinks the “stuff” that leaks out during foreplay and intercourse is “gross”. Let’s say we decided together that that issue is an “inappropriate inhibitation” for her. How do we work through that together? Is an “direct” or “cold turkey” approach the best way? (and what would be a direct approach there)? Or would something like a stepwise approach be best (and again what would be your suggestions)?

  • Xenon July 13, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Ok, I don’t know if this is the right section to ask this, but ….

    In church today, I was teaching Gospel Essentials on the Law of Chastity. Since we had no investigators and just one recently reactivated member in the class today, as we usually do, the class turns into more of a “how do we teach Gospel Essentials to our kids and friends” rather than “teaching the lesson material to an investigator”.

    I thought of a similarity between the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity that we discussed for a while, and I wonder what others here think of this idea.

    Often when we teaching or discussing the Word of Wisdom, we focused or stress the “Don’ts” – No coffee, No tea, No smoking, No alcohol. But there really is much more to the Word of Wisdom than the don’ts – there are all the “Dos” as well – Do eats fruits and veggies, Do eat grains, Do eat meat but sparingly, etc. And there is great benefit and blessings to be gained from the “Dos”. The Lord DIDN’T just say “No No No”, but also “Do Do Do”. And if all you focus on is the Don’ts, you are missing many blessings that Heavenly Father has for us.

    Now, what about the Law of Chastity? I think that if we think about the Law of Chastity as JUST the “Don’ts”, you will similarly miss out on blessings that are there for the offering from a Loving Heavenly Father. The Law of Chastity, as it usually is stated, implies a “Dos’ Section as well. “No sexual relations outside of legal marriage” implies “DO have sexual relations inside of legal marriage”. And I think, if we did a better job of teaching the Law of Chastity as having both a “DON’Ts” and a “DOs” section, we would have heathlier and more satistifying marriages and a deeper and more fulfilling relationships in marriage.

    We talked about that idea a bit in our class – How do we model for or teach our children that there are things that are special and unique in the marriage relationship? How do help teens and young adults focus on the future Dos and not just the present Don’ts.

    If someone JUST didn’t smoke or didn’t drink, I guess that is “living the Word of Wisdom”, and similarly JUST not having an affair or prematial sex, is “living the Law of Chastity”. BUT, I think that there is much to learned above and beyond the don’ts. Perhaps the “don’ts” are the “for the least who can be called saints”, while the dos are a higher law somehow. In both cases, the dos are are left much more to our own personal discretion. No one really asks “how much meat did you eat last month” or “Did you have your Fruits and veggies today” to determine if you are living the Word of Wisdom. Similarly, no one really asks “how many times did you have sexual relations with your legally and lawfully married spouse last month” or “Did you fulfill your spouses sexual needs today” to determine if you are living the Law of Chastity. BUT, I think those are questions we ought to be asking ourselves.

  • SirJohn December 21, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I would like some opinions on several books that are not listed in Laura’s additional resources page:

    “Between Husband and Wife”

    “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Laura Schlessinger

    We purchased these books some time ago and I would like to know if there are specific issues with the books that we should be aware of. I’m curious as to why they are not on Laura’s list. Any thoughts?

    • Laura M. Brotherson December 22, 2008 at 1:35 pm

      Hi SirJohn,

      I appreciate your email to me as well as your question posted here on the subject of these books. There are a couple reasons these two books are not listed on my Resources page. First of all there are many good books that I don’t yet have listed either because I have not yet read them enough to have an opinion on them, or I didn’t feel they were especially helpful to couples.

      Regarding the books you have asked about, Between Husband and Wife is a good book, but I didn’t feel that it went far enough to be a huge amount of help to readers. It certainly opened the door for the subject of sex to be addressed in the LDS culture, which is great, but I didn’t think it would do much to help people actually overcome their issues. One of the reasons I wrote my book And They Were Not Ashamed was because this book was all the LDS market had on the subject of sex, and I didn’t think it was near enough.

      Dr. Laura’s book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is also a good book, but I felt like I could tell wives what it said in a couple sentences and save them from having to read it: Be nice to your husband. Have sex more often, and make him dinner more often. The bigger issue I felt, is that her approach is not terribly effective for the women who most need to read the book. Sure every husband would be thrilled for his wife to read and apply the book’s teachings, but Dr. Laura’s approach is kind of a turn off for those women who might really be struggling with the intimate dimension of their marriage. A heavy-handed approach is not terribly helpful for most women to motivate them to overcome their sexual issues.

      If you already have these books, then that’s great. I’m sure you’ll learn something of value from them. I just didn’t love them enough to put them on my Resources Page.

  • Xenon December 27, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Ok, I don’t know if this is the right forum or not … but ….

    Our oldest is 13. She is going through Sex Ed at the schools, and we have had many talks with her about sex. We are trying to really stress (I HOPE better than our parents) the “Sex is good WHEN you are married” as compared to “Sex is bad” that we both got. I think we are doing ok, since she had evidently asked my DW “Does sex feel good, mom?”

    Now, my question is kind of on the flip side of that. Sex is a struggle between my DW and I. I am high drive, and she is low drive – I am adventurous, and she is conservative. And that conflict does spill out into our relationship that the kids see. So, we had a fight about sex, and it resulted in my DW being is a bad mood, and going and hiding in the bedroom while I made dinner. Sometimes similar things happen in the morning on saturdays when I am hoping for some love and she is not in the mood.

    Anyway, our 13 year old, of course, recognizes this, and has asked things like “Is mom mad at you, and why?” or “Mom’s sad again – it is me, or one of the other kids, or what?”.

    What do I say?

    Do I let her know that sex, while it is good, can also be a source of stress in a marriage as well? At some point before she gets married I think that would be a good thing to know. At the same time, I don’t think that it is appropriate to tell her too intimate a detail either.

  • SirJohn December 29, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Xenon – I’ll give you my opinion on this topic.

    First. I don’t think that either “Your mother is frigid and selfish.” or “My demands for sex drove your mother to tears” will have any positive influence on your children.

    At 13, I think it is enough for them to know that Sex is intended by God to be a wonderful unifying factor in marriage. When they are older it may be helpful for them to know that there are differences between male and female sexual response which can cause some tension. As far as guidance to overcome these differences, just give the basics: Be kind, be generous, be motivated by your spouses happiness (not your own). A more detailed discussion could be helpful just before marriage but I would not do it at 13.

    I don’t think it’s helpful for a child to know what each specific fight is about. “We’re fighting about sex… Again!”

    I think the biggest challenge you have right now is not how to talk to your daughter, but how to talk to your wife.

    Laura said something in one of her articles that really hit home to me:

    “If the emotional climate and communication between the couple has become strained or hostile, then the spirit of the relationship has been offended, indicating an unhealthy attempt toward one’s sexual fulfillment. The spirit of contention is a definite killer of intimate closeness and enjoyment.”

    Although it is a righteous desire to want a passionate sexual relationship with your wife, if she is not willing to work on it or even talk about it, than it becomes a detriment to the relationship for you to express those desires. I feel for you. I’m in the same situation. My desire for intimacy with my wife has led to many bad feelings in the past. I used to say that her coldness and selfishness has led to many bad feelings in the past. While this is true, I have no control over her side of the equation. I can only control my expression of my desires. If don’t express any desire for intimacy then we don’t fight about it. If I do express my desires then its almost certain that we will fight about it.

    For me, it came down to providing the best climate for raising children. I don’t want my wife to be in a bad mood. I try to do those things that will minimize the opportunities she has for complaint. I try to not do those things that aggravate and irritate her. The kids have a better home climate when Mama is happy.

    • JustMe January 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm

      SirJohn,

      I, too, am in a similar boat. You seem to be at peace with the situation; unfortunately I am not, and I hope you can share something that might give me more light on the topic.

      In my situation, my wife seems almost always happy. On the other hand, I rarely seem happy. I realize that I have to take responsibility for my own emotions and cannot depend so much on intimacy to generate my happiness.

      But isn’t marriage about trying to meet each other’s needs? Obviously no one person can meet all of another’s needs, but in the case of sex, the need really can only be met by one’s spouse. And while I understand the importance of compromise, if one spouse is generally happy and the other generally is not, I believe there is a problem brewing. And for me, trying to deny my need and desire for intimacy is not the answer- the need doesn’t simply go away by ignorning it.

      So, how have you arrived at a place where your former bad feelings no longer exist? I have been trying for years and would love to find that place….

      • SirJohn January 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

        JustMe,

        I am glad that I appear to be at peace with the situation. That was one of my goals in writing. The more I act like I am at peace, the closer I get to that goal. I realize that saying this somewhat defeats my stated purpose, but I’ll say it anyway in the hopes that it provides you some comfort and perspective: I’m not truly at peace with it. It’s helpful to have realistic goals, and I don’t think that it’s possible to be at peace with a wrong situation. I’d describe the real goal more as “functional” rather than “at peace.” At least not if you are a healthy person. My goal is to maintain a healthy outlook and attitude in the other aspects of my life. It is not easy to compartmentalize this serious lack of fulfillment. It’s easy to let it spill over and become a generally grumpy and bitter person. I believe that would damage my children. It would not be beneficial to behave that way at work.

        As strange as it sounds, I don’t believe that it would be good or appropriate to be completely at peace with the situation. It is a wrong situation and you should feel sad about it. There is no other healthy feeling in response to being mistreated than to feel sad. There is a difference, though, between feeling sadness and being sad. While he was not talking about this specific situation, the advice given by Elder Holland in “General Patterns and Specific Lives” (last Worldwide Training) applies. There is power in recognizing the ideal situation, even if it is not possible for you. This is a delicate balance, because, as I said before in addition to the power it brings, there is and always will be some sadness and sense of loss.

        For me it has been a gradual journey. When she first started refusing me and making these irrational and dangerous comments such as: “I hate your kisses, there disgusting,” and other expressions of repulsion rather than love and affection, I did not believe her. I ignored them as well as I could. It was easy to attribute them to her diagnosed personality disorder and to tell myself that it was not her talking, it was her disorder. The trouble is that her disorder is her more than it is not her. So denial about the core issues was my first step. After years of patiently waiting and longing, my level of frustration just kept rising. I went through many cycles between hating her and blaming myself for my own inadequacies as a husband. Neither of which is productive. I am trying now to focus on other aspects of my life and to leave our sexual intimacy up to her. There is nothing I can do about it anyway. The biggest help I have received in my struggle has come from reading Laura’s articles. Specifically the two part article “What’s Okay and What’s not” (the quote I mentioned in my previous post is from this) and also “How do I get my spouse to change.” I would love to get her book and read it too, but the other marriage help books we have purchased (she purchased them, oddly enough) just made her angry. She would complain that they made her feel guilty that she was not a good wife. This guilt did not motivate her to change, but rather made her angry. She never finished them. I do not believe that it would be good for her to see another “Sex Book” in the house. It would also defeat my resolve to put zero pressure on her about this.

        As an aside, I have wondered recently how Laura would feel to know that her advice about having great sex has strengthened my resolve to never have sex again!

        In contrast to your situation, I am generally more happy and contented (in other aspects of life) than my wife, even when I am feeling frustrated and neglected. This is due primarily to the affects of her personality disorder, which I hope is not a factor for you. It just makes the possibility of change even more remote.

        I agree with you completely about what marriage should be. But when one spouse is unwilling to work on it, there is nothing you can do. You can’t change her. I feel confident that you have tried. I tried for many years to encourage, convince, rationalize, beg, plead. It does not help.

        There is a poem I remember from my youth. Before I knew what it was about, I liked it and found it amusing. Now it serves as a reminder of my goals but hits too close to home to laugh at:

        Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?

        by Sir John Suckling

        Why so pale and wan, fond lover?

        Prithee, why so pale?

        Will, when looking well can’t move her,

        Looking ill prevail?

        Prithee, why so pale?

        Why so dull and mute, young sinner?

        Prithee, why so mute?

        Will, when speaking well can’t win her,

        Saying nothing do’t?

        Prithee, why so mute?

        Quit, quit for shame! This will not move;

        This cannot take her.

        If of herself she will not love,

        Nothing can make her:

        The devil take her!

        I’m embarrassed to say that I can still relate to the bitter last line. As much as I try not too, there is always a twinge of bitterness at my situation.

        Please do not misconstrue any of this advice as an indication either that sexual intimacy is not necessary to a marriage, or that you should deny that you have those needs. That is not what I mean at all. What I intend is simply this: I can continue to beat my head against the wall, or I can recognize that my needs will not be meet and stop kicking against the pricks. This will always lead to some sadness and unfulfilled longing, but it is possible to lie there night after night with an ache in your chest, trembling with desire for that which cannot be and then to rise every morning and go about your duties with a smile on your face, hug, kiss and play with your children, talk pleasantly with friends and coworkers and then do it all over again. There is rarely a night that goes by without some level of suffering. I’m not perfect at this. Only God or his Son could be, but I am getting better with practice. Besides, what choice do I have? Divorce may be an answer for some, but I will not put my children through that.

        My focus has been on a specific set of behaviors for myself. I believe these behaviors have two benefits. Most importantly, they help me to cope with my unfortunate reality. Secondly they are the only way to provide my wife with the space and time required for her to grow, develop and change (if that is even possible for her). While I have only been trying this new focus of mine for about 4 months, I have seen benefits and felt more joy and happiness in other aspects of my life. I have never yet attempted to enumerate them specifically. I have just called them by the general categories of “give up the dream”, and “be nice”. I’ll try to list them more specifically now:

        1. Don’t hint at my desires for sex, either verbally or non verbally.

        2. Don’t behave like it bothers me. This is Difficult.

        3. Give her the expressions of love that she needs and desires. This is very difficult. My tendency is to pout and withhold as punishment for her neglect of my needs.

        4. Be the best husband I can be. Actually this is probably part of number three.

        5. Don’t blame myself, even if I fault short on numbers three and four. It’s not my fault it just is. This is most difficult when I make mistakes related to three and four.

        6. Be (act) cheerful and happy. Especially around the kids. She commented to me once, “I can tell when we have not had sex for a while, ’cause your short tempered with the kids.” That hurt. I never want that to happen again. They deserve the best from me regardless of my personal struggles.

        7. Focus on other aspects of my life. Professional and social, for example. I have started a new hobby! My tendency is to focus somewhat myopically on the hole in my life, rather than the whole of my life. There are plenty of good things to occupy my time and attention.

        I appreciate your questions and comments. I hope these thoughts help you as much as they have helped me. I have gained a lot by thinking more about this and attempting to verbalize my thoughts. Thank you, and good luck!

        Sir John

        • JustMe January 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

          Sir John,

          This is obviously a difficult situation- I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and how you cope. Somehow there is a little comfort in knowing that others also deal with this issue.

          Perhaps I misread, but I believe you have come to accept that the situation will likely not improve. I am still at the point where I question why the situation cannot improve. So I know well the conflict between feelings of bitterness while simultaneously trying to love your spouse.

          I often wonder if celibacy would be preferable to the disappointment of waiting and hoping that things will improve.

          If you would like to continue this discussion offline, feel free to contact me by e-mail at codesdc@gmail.com.

          • SirJohn January 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm

            JustMe,

            Reading comments from others in the same situation on this and other forums has been a source of strength for me too.

            I have accepted that my situation will likely never change. My wife’s personality disorder is one that has little hope of ever changing, and is integral to her difficulties with intimacy. True intimacy requires great vulnerability. She will likely never be comfortable with even moderate feelings of vulnerability. I hope that this is not an issue in your situation.

            In stating this I am not implying that even my situation cannot change. I could hardly call myself a Christian if I did not believe that all are capable of a change of heart. The key for me is to finally accept that any change is out of my control. I need to learn to “Be still and know that [he] is God.” Equally important is the understanding that my attempts to change my wife’s attitudes only made the situation worse. It put her back up against the wall. She felt threatened, unloved, and unappreciated. I know it’s not rational, but when I say, “I want to love you more,” she hears, “You are not a good wife.”

            Absolutely, the situation can change. I have no power to change it myself. My attempts to change what I cannot change have made the situation worse. For me it is best if I abandon to topic altogether. If the lower desire spouse is still open to calm discussions of sex, than it is important to have those discussions.

            I to have wondered if celibacy would be easier to deal with. It has to be easier if you are not sleeping next to the one you desire every night. I’ve thought about separate rooms. Castration has even crossed my mind. How pathetic is that?

            I’m fine discussing this via email if you would like. I would prefer to keep it in the forum if possible for the simple fact that I have gained a lot from reading others comments and keeping the discussion going may invite others to participate.

            Sir John

          • JustMe January 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

            Sir John,

            Yes- the scenario you describe is all too familiar. Is your wife aware of your difficulty, or is it more of a private battle for you alone? If she’s not aware, is there any value in expressing to her the details of your struggle?

            With me, I’m the quiet type. It’s difficult for me to ask for anything, let alone sex. So while I try to express my needs, I’m afraid that my attempts are too subtile for her, and although I cannot see how, it seems like she is oblivious to my needs. I honestly feel that she is so content with how things are that she doesn’t want to know my needs- as though ignoring the situation means it doesn’t really exist.

            Unlike you, I am not yet able to keep this from tainting my outlook in general. My inability to “fix” what should be easily fixable perplexes me.

          • SirJohn January 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

            She was aware. She said several times that she understands my needs and agrees that it’s important, but “I just have no desire to be with you in that way.” With my recent apparent lack of desire, I’m not sure what she thinks. She may chalk it up to loss of libido due to age. I have wondered through this how much of the statistics stating that male sexual drive decreases with age is skewed by those who just give up the battle. I’m sure there are others who have lost hope of ever being loved.

            I had several thoughts that might help you in this situation.

            1. Laura Brotherson, in some of her articles, has some suggestions on how to overcome your own uneasiness in discussing sex with your wife. It’s possible that when you have discussed this topic, she is picking up on your uneasiness which might make her more tense and defensive. Some of her recommendations that I remember were to practice in front of the mirror, talking out loud and saying the words that might embarrass you. If you can get to the point of discussing sex calmly and unflustered, it might help her to calm down and listen to your point of view.

            2. My wife and I have a policy of 24 hour notice before “discussions.” If one of us has something on our minds, we tell the other what the topic is and schedule a time to talk at least 24 hours away. This helps keep the other from feeling blindsided and unprepared which can lead to feeling attacked and defensive. It has not solved this specific issue for me, but has helped in many other aspects of our relationship. I would not recommend that sex be the first topic you bring up. Establish a routine of handling issues this way first and when you are both comfortable with doing it this way, perhaps months later, try talking to her again. It may help.

            3. Study and read. Start with Laura Brotherson’s book and articles. She has others that she recommends on her website. If possible try to convince your wife to study and read too. Choose an article or book, read it separately and then have a date night to discuss.

            4. Regarding two and three, do your best to keep things light and fun. Do it as part of a date night. Maybe over a bowl of ice cream. Make sure you spend at least equal amounts of time listening to her point of view. Be careful that you don’t have expectations of sex after studying or discussing together. If she starts to see a pattern that she is going to “have to perform” after any study or discussion of sex, it might turn her off to the whole idea.

            5. Professional help. Try to convince her to go to a marriage counselor. Be careful to find a good one. Laura Brotherson I think could help tremendously. It seems that many are just there to listen to people complain about each other. This does not help in my opinion.

            As far as fixing it goes, it’s fixable but not by you. Ultimately that’s between her and God. If she’s open to discussions, that my help, but the more concerned you are about fixing it, the more tension it’s going to bring into the conversation. She’ll feel it and the results will not help. I am convinced that the greatest chance for it to get fixed is for you to quit trying. The more unconditional love she feels from you (regardless of the sex) the more open and accepting she will be to having sexual feelings for you. A bit counterintuitive, I know, but I believe it is truth.

            I don’t know if any of this can help you, but knowing my own feelings of desperation in the past, you might want to give it a try.

            Sir John

          • JustGettingBy January 20, 2009 at 4:24 am

            SirJohn and JustMe – your blog conversation the last few days was quite interesting. I started thinking when reading parts of it “did I write this?” Knowing that others are going through like struggles (and some even more extreme than my situation) does help a bit – as does sharing. In the end that is a small aspirin against a persistent migraine. I can really relate to SirJohn where he lays in bed aching for something you can’t have and reaching the point where you realize there is nothing you can do to change the situation. What you have been doing is like banging your head on a wall.

            I too have decided that I need to “give up on the dream” of a relationship that I find fully fulfilling, turn it over to the Lord in prayer, and just try to be the best Husband that I can. It has taken me years to get to this point. I do feel calmer most of the time than in the years before – which I was often on the edge of being able to function. It is better than when I would try REALLY hard to do everything possible and then emotionally crash. I do still try hard, but I don’t expect anything to come from it. I do it because I am deeply in love with my dear wife. One other thought that buoys me up is that Satan is trying his best to use this to drive a wedge into my marriage. I need to be doing everything I can to keep that from happening.

            Like SirJohn, I have been in this frame of mind about 1/2 a year. I sure hope I am able to get to a steady state that I can live with (with the assistance of many prayers).

            I look at others that have trials such as the loss of a child and I have to admit I would much rather have my oneness struggles in my otherwise fantastic marriage.

          • SirJohn January 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

            JustGettingBy,

            It sounds like you are two steps ahead of me. You give me hope and strengthen my resolve to never hint to my wife that I have needs.

            Thus far it has been a progressive journey. I admit that when I first began it was with an attitude of “Let’s see how you like it!” I withheld even non-sexual expressions of affection. I tried hard to treat her politely in spite of my feelings of anger towards her.

            After a couple of months, my feelings softened a bit. I made the resolve to give her the expressions of affection that she needs. This is not an easy task. Her needs are as variable and shifty as quicksand. She said to me once, “you should kiss me deeply and passionately like you have not in a long time.” As I went to give her a kiss, she turned quickly and I kissed the back of her head. She has three moods: Grumpy, polite and happy, and sexy and passionate. The sexy and passionate I have seen only about every other year and usually lasts about 1 day. Nothing gets her grumpy quicker than misinterpreting polite and happy as an open door for affection.

            After a couple more months there was one week of sexy and passionate. I had never seen her like that before. It’s over now and she’s back to grumpy.

            The part I admire you for is deeply loving your dear wife. I am not there. I would like to be. That has been my goal for several months now. I am getting better at faking it, but there is still a portion of me that is bitter. Is it possible to truly love someone who consistently tells you that your needs are unimportant to them? This is true charity. This is the love of Christ. How did you get there? For me it a cross to bear all day, only to find that it grows heavier when the night comes. Does it grow lighter with time and increased capacity to love unconditionally? Or do you simply learn to find joy and peace in meeting the growing challenge day by day? I have hope that it will get easier, because it is easier now than it was a year ago.

            Thank you for your encouragement,

            Sir John

          • JustGettingBy January 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm

            I think what really changed my attitude was when I really came to a realization that (a) I am not primarily to blame and (b) I can’t fix this. After several decades, several discussions, and even a year in counseling together it just kind of dawned on me. That and reading Laura’s “How do I change my spouse”). I guess in my mind I feel this is a trial that the Lord thinks I need to learn something from and the sooner I learn it, the sooner it will be over (or maybe it won’t). I am also trying my darnest to do what I am supposed to do: praying often, reading scriptures daily, doing my calling, doing my home teaching, … That seems to help give me motivation (so far). The thought has not escaped me that this might be the very thing the Lord wanted me doing all along, but was unable to humble me to prioritize these high enough on my todo list.

            I agree that during the night it is the hardest. I often try and get on an “early to rise and early to bed” routine so when night comes I am TIRED and fall right to sleep. My wife is more of a night owl. The only issue is that when I wake up at 3 AM, I often just stare at her and can’t go back to sleep for a while.

            I personally am amazed that even with this persistent significant wedge between us, I love her more and more. I hope that you can get to a place of peace. If it makes you feel any better, the last month has not been all that good, but so far I am keeping my head up.

          • SirJohn January 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

            JustGettingBy,

            We’re not that different in our state after all. Exactly the same things helped my attitude change. I would add to the list Laura’s 2 articles on What’s Okay and What’s not. Those helped tremendously. I reread them frequently to buoy me up. It has been better since I quite expressing any of my needs. I have been more at at peace with torture. I have been less frustrated and angry.

            I agree also with keeping up on my spiritual maintenance. This is critical to maintaining sanity while living with someone who does not care about your needs. Even with that, there is a void that I don’t believe even God can fill. He gave us the longing for a reason. It is good and righteous. I don’t think that you can loose that without sinking farther away from Him. Perhaps not even then. Perhaps it just gets misdirected into evil acts.

            I understand the desire for “early to bed and early to rise”. I tried that for a while and I felt much better. My wife does not like it. One thing that helps her feel loved by me is if I stay up ’till 12 or 1 watching videos with her. She loves it and wants me to sit near her while she watches. She likes foot massages while she watches. The downside is that I have to get up at 6 to go to work while she sleeps in ’till 9.

            I can also say that I love her more and more, since I quite trying to LOVE her. I just wouldn’t say that I love her deeply. “Reservedly” is a more accurate word. You are my hero in that department. Keep up the good work. Keep encouraging others. It is to me a source of strength to hear of your success.

            Sir John

        • Laura M. Brotherson January 30, 2009 at 11:42 am

          Dear Sir John and JustGettingBy,

          I am in awe and so humbled by your comments. I apologize for being so slow to respond to this incredible line of discussion that you all have going on here. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their struggles and strengths. I believe it helps others.

          It sounds so painful, but I believe you are onto a course that is most likely to bring you peace and joy. We unfortunately cannot change another person directly, but I believe we have the most hope by changing those things within ourselves that do not add positively to the relationship. Our best hopes of getting what we long for are to do those things that make others feel so loved and cherished that they in turn want to do the same for us. To truly accomplish this, we practically lose our original self-focused desires and truly learn to love another without strings attached. That is the beauty that can come from our pain.

          My heart hurts for the many husbands like you who have little hope of experiencing what I know is possible for couples within marriage. But that’s faith. Faith is believing in something even when you have no reason to. I know better now what the sexual relationship means to a man. I know how painful the lack can be for a man. I wish every couple would seek to experience the joy that marriage has to offer.

          My heart also hurts for the many women who have not yet awakened to the divinity of their sexuality, or who still feel too much emotional disconnect from their husbands to move into sexual territory. Many feel hopelessness and feelings of failure as a wife not understanding that things can change, or how. Others have not yet made their sexuality a worthy part of their beingness. They do not yet know what is missing.

          I hope husbands everywhere are buoyed up by the comments shared here. I imagine someday we’ll want to create some kind of men’s support group or something to help men get through these difficult times.

          Part of the reason I have recently said yes to an upcoming TV interview is because of this conversation you are having here. If even one wife is inspired to awaken to their divinely ordained sexual potential in marriage then there can be one less hopeless husband (and one more fully fulfilled wife!).

          Women have an extra strike against them sexually where society and even the religious culture does not empower women to embrace their sexuality. So, women not only have to work a little harder due to their wiring, but they also have to swim upstream somewhat against cultural norms that still send the message that “good girls don’t.”

          If I can continue to chip away at that cultural notion then at some point there will be enough awakened women to change the cultural norm making it easier for all women to then embrace their sexuality for it’s divine fulfillment within marriage.

          I pray for you and others everywhere who are wanting things to be better, but who have not yet found their way. I know great joy — emotionally, spiritually and sexually — are possible in marriage, but I also know it isn’t always easy for couples, and I know it can take time.

          Keep believing in the possibilities and find strength from God to carry you. These efforts to strengthen marriage are not those that can be accomplished on your own. God really has to have a hand in this work within marriages, or it will not succeed.

          • SirJohn February 3, 2009 at 10:47 am

            Thank you for your kind, supportive response. It is helpful to receive this kind of encouragement from others who have a healthy marriage. It is difficult to obtain perspective on this subject. Especially for people in my situation. I cannot discuss this with friends and associates without making things worse. The isolated thoughts and emotions spinning for so many years have the potential of drifting far from a healthy center. I often wonder if I am sick for wanting physical intimacy in my marriage.

            I agree with your comments here. I believe that my greatest chance for peace and happiness comes by not expressing any desire for sexual fulfillment. Already I have found much greater peace and comfort. In saying this I do not mean to imply that it has grown easier. It has not. What I have been surprised to find is that peace has found a place to coexist along side the pain. While I still hope for the day when the pain will leave me, this will not likely happen during this life time. I believe that the desire for sex as part of an intimate marital relationship is divinely given of God. I don’t believe that we can abandon this desire completely without sinking farther away from Him. Having those desires and knowing that my wife does not will likely be a constant source of pain. Not dwelling on that pain allows for peace to enter also.

            Elder Holland discussed this principle with a different application during last years Worldwide Leadership Training in his talk “General Patterns and Specific Lives.” Enduring the absence of an ideal situation is made easier, not by the abandonment of the ideal, but by continually recognizing it. Even though recognition of the ideal keeps the longing fresh in my mind.

            Reading comments like these on blogs similar to yours helps tremendously. Writing my own comments also helps. The struggle to find the words to express my feelings helps me think through my actions and attitudes. When I see the words I have typed, I see areas that I need to improve upon. I deleted several pages of this post because it was more negative than I wanted it to be. Re-writing in a more positive light helps me to feel positive and peaceful inside.

            I am interested in your upcoming TV interview. Will this be on your website with the other videos? Please let us know when and where to watch.

            Sir John

          • SimplySweetMarriage February 8, 2009 at 3:40 am

            First of all, here is a HUGE virtual HUG to all of you husbands who are living in such agony! I literally have ached reading this forum and tears of empathy have clouded my eyes…my prayers are with you. Our loving Heavenly Father knows your pain. You are all such brave, courageous men!!

            NEVER NEVER EVER GIVE UP! I, myself, put my poor husband through so much. Our circumstances are different than yours, but the feelings of pain could have been the same. The joy felt when overcoming obstacles was worth every minute of the pain! I have overcome a lot, and not because my husband tried to change me or fix me…but because he put God first, and just loved me. Priesthood Blessings can heal many wounds when used with a pure heart and valiant intent. Heavenly Father has a way of teaching each of us.

            Now my understanding for the NEED of sexual intimacy within marriage is so much greater. God did create men to have the physical drive they do, and he really created women to have the same. (If not more!)

            I am a marriage advocate. I still learn things everyday. I talk openly to my friends and women in general about the importance of intimacy in marriage. Sometimes, my candid honesty is too much, but I know it rings truth in their ears because they always come back.

            I attempted to write some of the stories down, but I think the better use of this space would be to THANK YOU for sharing what you have here already. I feel more determined and encouraged here to keep working toward educating friends within my own circle of friendship; and reaching out beyond to help in an anyway I can. I have found that some women need to talk to other women and get that social reconditioning that sex is good and “okay”.

            Thank you for your audacity to share your feelings, please keep doing so!

          • SirJohn February 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

            SimplySweetMarriage,

            Thank you for your kind words and support. In this very isolated and personal struggle, it helps to get positive feed back from any source.

            If it is not too much trouble, please post some of the stories you mentioned. Any reading on this topic is of interest to me. I (and I am sure others) am in daily need of encouragement.

            Sir John

          • Morguerat February 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

            I’m not trying to make light of your situation, the Lord knows I suffered through the same trials, but perhaps in laughter, a balm can be found for the pain. In 1894, a Mrs. Ruth Smythers, the wife of a vicar, wrote “Sex Tips for Husbands and Wives” Among the advice presented was:

            THE wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly — and as time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency.

            Feigned illness, sleepiness and headaches are among her best friends in this matter.

            • MOST men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices, including performing the normal act in abnormal positions, mouthing the female body and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.

            • A SELFISH and sensual husband can easily take advantage of his wife. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: Give little, give seldom and above all give grudgingly. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.

            • JUST as she should be ever alert to keep the quantity of sex as low as possible, the wise bride will pay equal attention to limiting the kind and degree of sexual contacts.

            • MANY men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must ensure that there is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise he might be encouraged to soon try for more.

            • A WISE wife will make it her goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her.

            • MANY women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pyjamas for their husbands — they need not be removed during the sex act. Thus, a minimum of flesh is exposed.

            • Once in bed, the wife should turn off all the lights and make no sound to guide her husband in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement.

            • Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. Arguments, nagging, scolding and bickering prove very effective if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.

            • By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child-bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband.

            • When he finds her, she should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness.

            Much of it rung true to my marriage and the ways my ex-wife would try to discourage anything remotely amorous, and like SirJohn and JustGettingBy, It was something I learned to deal with and suppress. (not the reason my marriage failed, that was for other mostly unrelated reasons). Perhaps, advice from over a century ago on Victorian sex would be more humourous if there weren’t so much truth in it.

          • SirJohn February 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm

            Morguerat,

            Wow! This proves three things:

            1. Reincarnation is real.

            2. The same spirit which possesses us in this life, will posses us in the next.

            3. I know where Ruth Smythers lives.

            Even though it’s not real (you do know it’s a hoax, right?) this is hillarious. Finally marriage advice that my wife and I can read together that will not upset her! Yea!

            I like the following quote:

            “While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.”

            Wive’s, never give up! It is possible to irradicate your husbands affection and turn his desires into “noble and unselfish” despair. Now I can hold my head up high and snub my nose at those pathetic “average men” and their poor, diluded, loving wives. 😉

            Thanks for the chuckle!

            Sir John

          • SimplySweetMarriage February 18, 2009 at 3:01 am

            Sir John, Thanks for your response. I have been following your remarks here and on the post “Share Your Secrets of Sexually Satisfied Wives”. From what I can tell, you seem to have a pretty good sense of humor and that you have an idea of ways to help your own situation…not that it is easy. I wanted to give you a bit about my own background.

            I came from a background where sex was a taboo subject at best. As a child, I dealt with the results of appalling pornographic addictions and actions of others. Later, I had youth teachers and leaders that shamed any sexuality. As a youth, it was awkward when boys showed an interest in me. Even if I noticed their flirting, I would act as if I didn’t, possibly out of fear. I felt like marriage was something that I had to do, not something that I desired to do…a duty. When I married my first husband, I learned to think that the few desires I had allowed myself to feel, were to him unnatural and “disgusting”. Frankly, having this all compounded together in one lifetime taught me to ignore my own sexuality! I refused that inner voice that gently pressed that sex is really “okay”. After divorce, my ex-husband disclosed his sexual orientation. That’s when I realize, that maybe nothing was wrong with my desires after all. The revelation was a liberating moment in time for me! I began to understand that it was okay for me to have those very sincere desires, and maybe one day I could express those desires. Fortunately, I did meet and marry the love of my eternal life! Our relationship began with all of the right pieces of the puzzle to make a good marriage sizzle! Proven over time that with God’s help, trust, mutual understanding, a willingness to be teachable, and my husband’s extreme ability to be patient with me that a women like me can walk from the shadows of into the sunlight.

            Please explain your wife’s background. Where is she coming from? Anyone else is welcome.

          • SimplySweetMarriage February 18, 2009 at 3:08 am

            I wanted to post some thoughts that may or may not help some who are experiencing the “desert”…but may be helpful others.

            (Laura, I did not want to be a blog HOG, yet no one else is mentioning the physical aspect of it).

            I am obviously not a Dr. but I am becoming more acquainted with helpful intimate products, so I thought that I would share:

            SEVERAL women who have 3-7 children have come to me and confided that they have been married for 8 to 21 years and they had yet to experience even ONE orgasm. Now guys, reverse that, can you imagine how used and resentful you might feel? Seriously…so sad. They do not even want to cuddle or be touched anymore. So I first listen (which can make me pretty sad). I suggest that they talk to their husbands, bishops, and counselors! For the stubborn and about anyone, I refer them to Laura’s book-not that I am trying to brown nose here-but women seem too often need to hear or read it from other women! Then if they are ready or not for it I recommend a variety of products that can make the difference between owie to oooh-la-la.

            TAKE the FOCUS Off of performance and Put the Focus on LOVING.

            Lubricant is always a good idea, even if women are self lubricating most of the time. I cannot tell you the number of women who end up resenting love making because of normal hormone changes (nursing, pregnancy, and menopause) or from daily stress that occurs. Trust me on this one…invest on what works for her (there are a variety from thick to thin).

            PC muscle exercisers are hands down one of the nicest “work out” items a woman should own especially following child birth, pelvic surgery, or with age. Women can lose feeling here, so by using small weights she can actually tone up to the point of gaining or regaining feeling. Finally!

            Some women have tried small vibrators, as suggested in Laura’s book. Husbands can definitely be a big part of using them. Occasionally, there has been that one women who cannot have an orgasm without the strong vibrations…so if it saves the marriage and both husband and wife are involved, why not? We have imperfect bodies. The top selling vibrator of 2008 was created by an inventor and his wife to save their marriage from fizzling.

            Just a thought here.

          • SirJohn February 18, 2009 at 4:25 pm

            SimplySweetMarriage,

            My wife’s background:

            Her father was domineering and somewhat distant emotionally. Others in her family trace their various struggles to him and to their mother for catering to his attitudes. He was somewhat intimidating when I meet him, but I have seen him kind and generous also. My wife says that he has changed somewhat “in his old age.” He is still very distant emotionally. He seems to be empathetic to other’s struggles in his words and actions if not emotionally. My wife struggled off and on through childhood with depression. She had not had treatment or symptoms for about 4 years before we met. About three years after we were married, after the birth of our son, she struggled with postpartum depression. She found a therapist who diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Successful treatment predictions are heavily caveated and estimate about 60% remission after 10 years of intensive therapy.

            One of the identifying characteristics of BPD is commonly referred to as “I hate you, don’t leave me.” Intense anger (temper tantrums) and fear of abandonment result in a push pull dance that bounces the significant other around like a yo-yo. I can be reasonably assured of some love and affection from my wife if I act distant and uncaring. After a month or two it predictably plays on her fear of abandonment and she begins to try to secure my affections again. Knowing this makes it a bit more difficult to always treat her with the love and attention that she needs. The temptation to play her game in exchange for brief affection is sometimes very strong. It helps to remind myself that when she’s pulling the yo-yo back in she will immediately afterward feel her autonomy is threatened and push me away even harder. My goal is a stable relationship. By many accounts this is impossible with some one affected by BPD. I have had moderate success in smoothing things out as long as I am attentive to her needs and do not express my own. For this reason support groups for BPD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder sometimes overlap.

            This is the part of my wife’s background that has the most impact on our relationship. Of course there are other factors as well. She has some of what Laura calls the “Good Girl Syndrome,” although it seems to be more of a tool that she uses when she is trying to push me away. When she is trying to reel me in, there is no sign of that.

            As for specific physical ideas to increase my wife’s pleasure during sex: I like all your ideas, but I don’t think any of them can come from me. I agree that it would be best if she would talk to another woman about this, but I don’t think that is going to happen.

            You get a gold star on your forehead for “Take the focus off of performance and put the focus on loving.” That is my goal. I think this is a challenge for many men. “We are men of action!” to quote Westley. It’s the action that speaks to us and provides the evidence of the love. I need to be better about recognizing love in other forms.

            I agree completely that if the pleasure is not there, a feeling of being used and abused can take it’s place. So what is the solution? Give it up altogether? There are some few men who don’t care about their wife’s needs but the typical guy wants to please his woman. The typical guy has no idea how to do this. If she says “let’s try this…” he’s likely to be all for it. If she pretends it’s enjoyable for a while and then suddenly cuts him off ’cause she can’t take it anymore, what is he to do? It sounds like you were in a very similar situation with your ex. He made it appear that it was you that had the problem when in reality it was him with the, “unnatural affections.”

            I appreciate your comments and wisdom. Keep it coming.

            Sir John

          • SimplySweetMarriage February 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm

            Sir John,

            Not that either of us could change your wife, but I wish that I knew her and could listen to her, heck maybe I do know her!?

            Has she ever seen a professional counselor? Would she consider it? I know that therapy is very painful. I experienced several years of it, and it hurt…but it was oh soooo worth it!

            Has your wife ever read what you have written on this Open Discussion Forum?

            You asked about “faking an orgasm”: My “unprofessional” opinion is that I have listened to women who have told me that they were unsure of whether they were having an orgasm or not. They loved their husbands so much that they went along with it. Later, they questioned it. Like many women, perhaps your wife loves you and wanted to make you happy so bad…but later realized that she did not experience what she wanted both of you to have…increasing her guilt.

            Laura’s book talks about how women do not understand their own sexuality or accept it. Sadly, it is definately not uncommon! I have heard this theme over and over and almost daily.

            I wonder if you have tried to “get away” with no intentions of sex (its tough sorry), but just being together and talking? Revisiting why you fell in love, ask her about her hopes and dreams. Would she be open to that? Sometimes I think that a change in atmosphere and stepping away can bring refreshing views back into the marriage. At least I noticed this with couples who “get away” together.

            Thanks for letting me ask lots of questions, all of which are your choice to answer or not. 🙂 But it helps to understand, since people are so multi-dimensional.

            I do not have a solution…but NEVER EVER give up! It seems like you probably do this daily, but forgive her. She knows not the true extent that you suffer in your gethsemane, only God knows.

          • SirJohn February 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

            SimplySweetMarriage,

            In answer to your questions:

            She is seeing a counselor, but than you already knew that.

            She has not seen what I have written here. That would violate my goal of putting zero sexual pressure on her for the time being. Perhaps one day I will show her this. I have discussed most of these concepts with her in the past although certainly in much less detail. It was hard to get very far into a conversation before she felt threatened and shut down or got mad.

            Regarding faking orgasms. She was very convincing for someone who has never had one and, presumably, does not know what it is. I think either she has had orgasms and just does not know that was it. Maybe she’s expecting something else for some reason. Or as I said before, she felt herself loosing control and fought it back (almost had an orgasm). Whatever. It’s largely irrelevant at this time in our lives.

            As for the “get away” with no strings attached: Nothing we do has had the expectation of sex for some time now. We do date nights and other events. We have not had an overnighter with just the two of us in a long time. That would be fun.

            Forgiving? Agreed. I could hardly call my self a Christian if I did not agree with you on this point. The application is trickier. (Do I win the prize for the biggest, “well, DUH!” statement?) about 5 months ago I was really struggling with this. It’s much better now.

            Sir John

          • SimplySweetMarriage February 27, 2009 at 11:42 pm

            Sir John,

            You are a good writer…I think that you should write a book about what you are going through, even if you do not publish it. I for one, would love to read it. If ever it published, I’d sell it.

          • SirJohn March 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm

            SimplySweetMarriage,

            Thanks for the compliment. Perhaps it would be cathartic to write a book. I see two major problems:

            1. This would be a book about a very negative subject and the target audience would (I hope) be quite small. This topic has been dealt with quite well as part of the bigger picture of human sexuality by other books including Laura Brotherson’s. That format is better because the book as a whole is positive and so can deal with common problems without the entire book being a downer.

            2. Although it may help some other couples, it can only have a negative affect on my own marriage. There are reasons I don’t bring this topic up with my wife any more. Publishing a book would bring up the topic in a big way. It could never be published without review by my wife first, and I don’t see this happening anytime in the foreseeable future.

            I’ll have to give it some thought. Thanks for the compliment, regardless of the outcome.

            Sir John

  • Rachel Haskin January 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I just have to say that Laura’s book has given me so many answers. My husband introduced it to me and he is very thankful that I was open to the idea of reading it. He was amazed at how quickly I began to open up to him. I never realized just how closed off I had been in the past. My desire to be close to him in all areas got stronger. He can finally show his love for me and I don’t brush him away. I understand my husband much more and realize now that his intentions are pure and I am more able to accept his loving touches and can give them in return. Now it’s kind of funny that my desires for him have grown so much that he can’t keep up with me! It’s like there has been a major role reversal. I find myself doing more to make sure he is happy and that his needs are met so he will be able to let go in the bedroom. That used to be what HE did for ME. We are learning to find that balance, but I am forever grateful to Laura Brotherson for writing this book. Thank you. My job now is to spread the word and to properly teach my children about sexuality. Satan is working overtime to make beautiful and holy things seem wrong or twisted. Sexual relations in marriage is the best thing in life!

  • Morguerat January 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    “Re: Edward, Self-Mastery and The Marital Fire”

    I find it continually bothersome as a “nice guy” to see women idolizing Edward Cullen, he’s an abusive cretin, a pedophile (despite being 17 when he died, he has been alive over a century, if that’s not pedophilia, what is), a stalker (showing up unannounced in someone else’s room to stare at them while they sleep may seem “romantic” to some, most would call it stalking and resort to either pepper spray or a baseball bat, followed up with a call to the police).

    I saw an interesting breakdown of the Twilight books from a feminist perspective, and it made a number of good points (many about how poorly written the book is with nonexistent characterization), but the ones I took away from it dealt with the abusiveness of the Swan/Cullen relationship, from the second entry dealing with how to write like Stephenie Meyers: “Personally, I recommend using jealousy, lack of intimacy, sexual coercion, broken promises, and controlling behavior because those are all quite easy to justify; all the hero must do is claim that he acts out of his desire to protect the heroine from danger because of his overwhelming love for her. Additionally, if there is another possible romantic interest for the heroine outside of the hero, isolating the heroine from him is a particularly effective method for the hero to use. One example might be siphoning the gasoline from the heroine’s moped to prevent her from leaving her house.

    It is especially important to note that the heroine must not find fault in the hero for his abusive actions, as that would make him much less appealing. Instead, she should excuse his behavior by saying ‘he just loves me’ and then continue to submit to his will.

    Both articles can be found here:

    http://psa.blastmagazine.com/2008/08/16/twilight-sucks-and-not-in-a-good-way/

    http://psa.blastmagazine.com/2008/08/23/twilight-a-follow-up-and-a-promise/

    P.S. I as a well adjusted male, respectful of women, and a member of the LDS church found the books to be terrifying in their portrayal of an “ideal” relationship.

    P.P.S. The actor who portrayed Edward in the movie was… not impressed… with Mrs. Meyers, and believes she needs some serious therapy.

  • Gladys February 13, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Because the sex life we have with our spouses is so private and never discussed really with a lot of people, the most interesting thing to me as I read these comments is “how normal we are!” His desire is always at the drop of a hat, mine is more subdued. All of these comments are so reassuring and comforting in the way that I realize, we are all very much the same.

    we have lived all of this to one extent or other. My heart bleeeeeeds for these poor husbands whose wives haven’t learned to “partake” It has made me more aware to be there for my husband-and not just going through the motions, but “partaking” I really don’t feel ‘one’ with my husband if I don’t partake. We have reached a level of closeness and oneness we didn’t even know existed. It has required me to really let go, have sex more often than I would have chosen (ok A LOT more 🙂 )but what it has done for our marriage. Wives, your husbands need you. Partake. A greater spirit and oneness will enter your marriage than you have ever experienced. Try it! And I am someone with great inhibitions. It has taken a lot of work to get past the good girl syndrome and issue of past sexual abuse. It is all there, but it can be done.

  • Jane February 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Am I the only wife out there who love’s making love with my husband? Am I really that abnormal because I enjoy being intimate whenever, wherever? Or is it my husband who is abnormal because he would rather find ways to please me instead of spending hours wining online to complete strangers (no matter how “intelligent” one may appear, it is still is wining). My advice to men–get over yourselves! My advice to women–communicate with your men, they will not, cannot, satisfy you if you don’t tell them what you want and need, and if you don’t know, read, search, ponder, and pray. Women were created to have just as much intimate fulfillment as men. Work together, turn to each other—confiding in others on this matter (especially non-professionals) will only draw you away from each other. Be wise, be patient, be careful, your spouse (eternal mate and parent of your children) should be your best friend, and should be presented to others in such a way that no one else should ever wonder where your loyalties lye.

    • JustMe February 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

      Jane,

      Your comment strikes a bit of a cord with me as I am one of the ones that have been, as you put it, whining.

      Since you gave some advice, my advice to you is twofold: first, count your blessings that you and your husband seem to have an equal interest in marriage, intimacy, understanding each other, etc.; second, be careful to not judge too quickly or too harshly those of us that want but do not currently have this blessing.

      I could easily be wrong, but I assume that you have only been married a few years. Maybe you do not yet have children or perhaps your family is still young. Just guesses. Marriage and intimacy are pretty easy in the beginning but oddly become more complicated and difficult for many as children and other interests/activities require an increasing amount of time and attention.

      Your suggestion to “work together” is good but only works when both spouses are interested and willing and have this as a priority. Sometimes what “should be” and what actually “is” are two vastly different things.

  • kdj February 22, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Sir John and Just Me,

    I have found your comments very enlightening. I knew my husband needs physical intimacy, but I didn’t really realize the degree it plays. I still don’t fully understand, but I hope to. I have suffered with hormone imbalances which affects many facets of my health and it does induce depression. I am on medication for it and it helps to some degree, but I feel like it is the reason that I have no desire for sex. Actually thinking about it repulses me. I HATE feeling this way. It has nothing to do with him and I want to be closer to my husband but don’t know how. My level of sexual desire is not an equation for how much I love my husband. We have a great marraige otherwise. I’ve been thinking that maybe if I switch medications it might help, but I’m worried that some of the anti-depressants that don’t lower your libido will not be as good at correcting my depression. The depression symptoms coming back would not be good for my libido. I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    • SirJohn February 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      kdj,

      I have some ideas that I hope will be helpful to you:

      1. Be vigilantly open with your husband about the source of your struggles, how much you want to correct it, and what you are doing to correct it. Be very specific. Being rejected by your spouse hurts no matter what the reason. Let him know you are not happy with the situation either. This isn’t a one time conversation, make it regular.

      2. Make sure that he is part of the solution. Bring him to your doctors appointment where you discuss the problem and possible solutions. Ask for his advice. Listen to what he has to say and put at least some of it into practice. Even if it is ridiculous. If he says to stick out your tongue and cross your eyes, do it. It will tell him all at one time that you love him, you value his opinions, and that you are willing to try anything to make this better.

      Most men are fixit types. Even if they are not handymen with tools, they deal better with working on solutions than with marinating in problems. If he feels he is involved in the solution, it will bind him to you and secure his loyalty and devotion better than anything else. This goes for other problems too. If you ask him sweetly to open a jar for you and then be cute and affectionate with your gratitude (and you behave this way as a general rule), he’s yours.

      3. Don’t be afraid to try different things. Take the medication issue for example. I know that changing meds can be scary. When Med A is working, you don’t want to shake things up. However, if you know that Med A is killing your libido, that has to carry more weight than a potentially less affective Med B. A known negative is more important than the fear of a possible negative.

      The same goes for foreplay. Be willing to try to get into the mood. Talk to him about things that might work to get your engine revving. Say, “would you try …” If you can tolerate it, then keep it up for a while and see what happens. If it turns your stomach, then be very gentle in telling him to stop. You can say, “Okay, that isn’t working, can you just hold me for a minute or two while I catch my breath?” When something isn’t working, be careful not to push him away. Especially don’t express anger or frustration. Even when you are just frustrated with the situation, if you express it, he is likely to take it personally. Pleasing our wives is a very personal issue for most husbands. Even when we know there are complicating situations (hormones, medications, etc.) we like to think that we are good enough to clear those hurdles and please our wives. If you express frustration he will also be afraid that it means you are throwing in the towel and giving up on trying anything else.

      4. Don’t pull back from other (non-sexual) expressions of love and affection. You will need to redouble your efforts to let him know you love him and care about him. Both verbally and physically. When you cannot tolerate physical intimacy with him, he is going to have times when he doubts whether you truly love him, even if intellectually he understands the extenuating circumstances. Since nothing can compensate for the most sublime, passionate, tender and intimate expression of love between a husband and wife, no amount of other expressions of love will be too much in attempting to compensate to some degree.

      As I said before, you need to talk to him about the problem and more importantly about solutions to the problem, but make sure that for every minute you talk about the reasons why your libido is down, you spend 5 minutes reinforcing you’re love for him. You need to be a little bit careful about how you phrase things. For example, you mentioned in your post that “it has nothing to do with him.” I understand what you mean: that the reasons you’re libido is down has nothing to do with him, he is still desirable. But there is still going to be some part of him that says, “it has everything to do with me! How can your desire for me not be about me?!” Telling him that it has nothing to do with him takes him out of the picture. He needs to know that he is still in your picture, and that he is the most important part. He needs to know that no matter what, he’s important to you.

      Men like to boil complex problems down to simple equations. A man will take all the negative things that happened during the day, all the struggles at work, all the difficulties at home, the ache in his muscles, the exhaustion in his head and put them on the left side of invisible scales. Then he will put the love for his wife on the right side of the scales and say, “the love for my wife is more important to me than all these issues, therefore I want to make love to her tonight.” He assumes that the woman in his life goes through the same reasoning process and will conclude that when she totals everything up, her love for him is outweighed by all the problems and difficulties of life, whatever they may be. I understand that for you your level of sexual desire is not an equation for how much you love your husband, but it will be for him and that is just a reality that you will have to acknowledge, even if you don’t understand it. This may sound unfair, but it’s impossible for him to understand completely the issues that you are fighting and yet he must acknowledge them and behave accordingly.

      Marriage is not about platonic love no matter how deep it may be. Marriage is about a longing to be one with another soul (body+spirit). It requires all aspects of intimacy and negative behaviors on one aspect will inevitably have a negative impact on other aspects.

      5. Last of all – the most difficult part. Every once in a while pleasure him sexually just because you love him, and even if you hate it. There are innumerable ways to do this. If X absolutely turns your stomach, try Y. Find the things that you can tolerate the best. In going about this you need to walk a razors edge: don’t be fake. I know right now it sounds impossible to be sexual with your husband and to not be fake about it, but I know there are some things you can do with or for him and still be pleasant about it. Express excitement. You don’t have to be excited about the sex, but you can and should be excited to please your man. You can talk sweetly and tell him how much you love him and how much you want to please him. If you don’t do this, he is going to wonder at times how much of this is just an excuse and how much is real issues. If you do this, he will be left with no doubt about your love for him and (if he is a “typical guy”) he will do anything in return to please his woman.

      May God bless you in your efforts,

      Sir John

  • Jane February 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Justme,

    Thank you for your response—actually I have been married for 18 years, and my intimate life has only gotten better with time. We also have four children, the oldest is sixteen and the youngest is seven. I am a Registered Nurse, and have heard from just as many unhappy women who are yearning for greater intimate fulfillment and deeper sense of connection with their spouses. I realize that I may be the minority when it comes to sexual desires and fulfillment, but that is only because my husband and I have constant open and honest communication, and value intimacy and the blessings it brings (even after 18 years of marriage). That doesn’t mean our sex life is perfect, it only suggests that we make it a priority (schedule it) and do our best to be kind (this includes saying kind things to other people about our spouse), loving, and always put each other first.

    My point of the previous post was, if many of the above authors would express themselves as well and as often to their spouses as they are willing to do with complete strangers, then that could be a first step towards healing their relationships. However, if they have tried to provide an atmosphere of unselfish love and trust (using “I” statements instead of “you”), where their spouses feel comfortable enough to open up and express true, deep, feelings, and there is still no sign of breakthrough or willingness to improve communication and promote change, than I am sorry; I don’t have the answer. I know I sound young and idealistic to you, but I think people give up too easily when it comes to relationships, and making things work. We are married for eternity, and throwing it all away because of unfulfilled physical desires is really sad, especially when considering the length of time we are here on earth compared to eternity. We cannot control our spouses, but we can control our thoughts and actions and how we choose to react to any situation. Sometimes all we can do is forget ourselves (and all that we might be missing out on) and serve each other, speak each other’s love language, and give each other what is really wanted. Try to rise above carnal desires, and rebuild your relationship with unconditional love and giving, and see if your relationship doesn’t begin to change. If you don’t see the changes in her, I guarantee you will see and feel the changes in yourself, and maybe even come to realize that it is not about who is giving or getting as much as it is about loving someone unconditionally or the Lord’s way. Throwing off the natural man/woman (with all natural man/woman desires and concerns) is not easy, but how wonderful will be the day when each of our issues or “weaknesses” are turned into strengths, and how worthwhile our lives will have become!

    Jane

    • SirJohn February 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm

      Jane,

      I applaud you for your comments and apologize if my comments on this blog post were whinny.

      I began posting here in an attempt to find support for my struggles at the advice of my wife’s therapist. It has been a tremendous support for me. My marriage has improved from my participation in these forums. I certainly would not want to bring anyone else down. After my wife’s therapist encouraged me to find a support group with whom I could talk through my issues, I was hesitant. After 5 more years of struggling on my own, I decided to try his advice and started looking for a positive and anonymous place where I could talk, listen, and learn with minimal danger of anything getting back to my wife. Laura Brotherson’s pages are the most gospel centered and positive of any I have found. I did find some online communities that are geared more specifically to dealing with intimacy neglect. However, they all seemed to be very negative. I don’t want this site to end up that way, yet I have received such strength from participating here that I am convinced there needs to be something similar for others in this situation.

      What is the perfect solution? I don’t know exactly. A separate specific forum would likely get too negative. Posts about intimacy neglect within a more general intimacy forum tends to bring the whole conversation down. Perhaps the best solution is to continue on as we are now, with those who are dealing with these issues to try to keep their posts as positive as possible, restricting negative comments to the facts about their negative situation and not including personal attacks, rants or negative judgements of their spouse. This may require periodic reminders from others like yourself when we cross the line. Thank you for standing up and speaking out.

      Perhaps I have not convinced you and you’re opinion is that this topic (coping with intimacy neglect) should not be discussed at all. Please let us know your thoughts and any additional ideas you may have.

      I know you said that you don’t have an answer for when one spouse is unwilling to discuss or work on the problem, but the rest of your post details very well the only answer I have found:

      1. Get over yourself.

      2. It’s not worth giving up on the relationship.

      3. Serve your spouse unconditionally.

      4. Learn to speak your spouses “love language”

      I like that term “love language.” Everyone has there own unique cues that let them know they are loved. Finding them in my spouse is both a full time job and a highly rewarding pastime. I feel tremendous satisfaction when I do or say something just right and I can see in her face that my love and devotion to her are evident.

      I would like to emphasize one other thing that you said: “If you don’t see the changes in her, I guarantee you will see and feel the changes in yourself…” This has certainly been true for me. Shortly before I found this site and read Laura’s articles I had come to the conclusion that all attempts to improve our physical intimacy only lead to tension. I was determined to ignore this issue in our marriage. What was missing, however, was the unconditional love. I was committed to being polite, but I was not warm and loving for several months. I rationalized that If she did not care about my needs than I should not care about hers. Reading Laura’s articles helped me see how wrong I was. I then committed myself to showing her love and affection in the way that she needs to feel it. The results have been a much improved and more intimate relationship. The physical intimacy issues have not changed but the emotional intimacy has improved. I don’t believe that the longings and the desire for physical intimacy will ever diminish. They are given by God and for good intent. But life is better if I follow the counsel you have given.

      Thanks for your comments and advice.

      Sir John

      • Morguerat February 27, 2009 at 10:48 am

        SirJohn, the love Languages sentiment comes from the book The Five Love Languages by Mr Gary Chapman. http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Five-Love-Languages/dp/1881273806/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235753182&sr=8-2

        It’s an excellent book, if you haven’t read it, I actually just sent a copy of it to my mother, I think it’s an excellent resource.

        • SirJohn February 27, 2009 at 4:07 pm

          Morguerat,

          I knew I had heard it before, I just could not remember where. Thank you for the reference. I would like to read that one.

          Sir John

          • Morguerat March 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

            I discovered after sending a copy of the book linked to my mother, that it’s the abridged condensed version of the book (“heart of” the 5 love languages), the full version is linked on the page, and is probably better for you if you haven’t read it yet.

      • SimplySweetMarriage February 27, 2009 at 3:17 pm

        Sir John,

        Ignore my posted questions in the earlier reply…I did not see your post until today. (I asked if your wife was in therapy or have read this forum).

        I am glad that you recognize this:

        ” I don’t believe that the longings and the desire for physical intimacy will ever diminish. They are given by God and for good intent. ”

        One day your pain will become joy and very deep joy.

  • Morguerat February 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Jane, I think the disparity you are seeing is the same one that would have a doctor believe that no one is ever healthy or feeling well. After all, how often do you or your children go to visit your family doctor when you’re perfectly healthy?

    The people who post here are here, in general, because there is in fact something missing in their marriages. And to quote Lady and the Tramp: “Miserable being must find more miserable being, then he’s happy” (aside from being the misery loves company quote, it tells of the solidarity that can be found by learning of others in similar circumstances to their own). There is strength in knowing you are not alone.

    And some of the posters, well it’s obvious that having tried open communication in the past, it has failed. What do you do after all if your spouse withdraws or becomes hostile every time you dare to broach a subject? If you can’t change the situation, you can only change how you react to it.

  • kdj February 25, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    SirJohn,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate the glimpse into the male way of thinking. Some things I really had no idea about. I have the female way of thinking that sex doesn’t really equate with love. The way I show love is cooking him dinner, folding his laundry, ect. But you gave me some good insight into the way men see it. I didn’t realize how sensitive men can be to rejection. I felt like he was insensitive for wanting it all the time. So I withdrew some affection because I didn’t want him to think that I was interested in sex. After reading this forum I realized that my intimacy issues in our marriage are worse than I even imagined. I know now that I really need to make an effort at revitalizing this part in our marriage.

    Thank you again for your comments.

    P.S. I think I will talk to my doctor about taking the leap and switching my medication.

    • Laura M. Brotherson February 26, 2009 at 11:35 am

      Sir John,

      I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty dang cool if even one couple like “kdj” and her husband are able to find greater joy in their intimate relationship because of something they’ve learned here. It may not directly change things for you and your situation, but I hope it may make your load feel a little less heavy, knowing that sharing your experience has helped someone else. It always thrills me to know there is one less unhappy husband or wife out there.

      The discussion you all are having here is such a good one. Maybe it seems like whining to some, but I believe it is seen as very helpful to others.

      I continue to applaud you and others like you in what seems to be a herculean effort to love unconditionally, especially when your sexual desires are not currently being met. I feel for the wives too. I’ve been in their shoes, so I know it’s no piece of cake being on the other side of your dilemma. Keep hanging in there!

      I do think at some point when I am able to spend more time in my professional efforts that we will need to create some kind of a system of support for husbands just like you. I welcome anyone’s thoughts on the matter. I know I will be doing women’s groups, but I want to figure out a way to help the husbands through their daunting challenges as well.

      Thank you all for sharing your struggles and successes. Just having this kind of open conversation does much to help educate and to help couples more fully embrace sexuality as it was designed by God.

      • SirJohn February 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm

        Laura Brotherson,

        I agree. Thanks for all that you do.

        Sir John

    • SirJohn February 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

      kdj,

      Congratulations and best of luck! The difficult path ahead of you will end in more happiness and joy. Finding the right medication at the right dosage will be a bit of trial and error and may be a rough road for a time, but I am certain that you and your doctor can find something that works.

      I know what you mean about not seeing things from our spouses point of view. It is extremely difficult. As Jane said, we need to learn to speak our spouses “love language.” Some times we see things very differently.

      Please continue to share your experience with is and help us clueless husbands understand the female point of view.

      Sir John

  • SimplySweetMarriage February 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Just Me, Sir John, and all other quiet “Desert Husbands”:

    You continue to be in my prayers, and each time I am approached by a women who have closed off the fountains, I think of you. Maybe I am crazy, but as an “unprofessional” 🙂 I am in a unique position to stand at the crossroads, and listen.

    I am open to the public about the way I feel about intimacy. 3 women crossed my path last week who wanted or needed to address this issue.

    As crazy as it was, I imagined them to be your wives…

    I wanted to thank you for your insite. I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of you…I have felt it when I prayed for you.

  • SimplySweetMarriage February 27, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I find it interesting how Satan has worked so hard on “GOOD GIRL’s” by having them think that their body was only made for having babies and not for intimate pleasure with their companions. Satan is so clever with his lies and driving a wedge between spouses.

    Just a thought here: The ONLY function of the clitoris is for pure pleasure between spouses. I don’t need a clitoris to have a baby. I am grateful for ALL of God’s creations, including my body. Yet, sadly, so many very good women deny God’s loving gifts…showing complete ingratitude for a very desirable gift meant to draw marriages close and bring joy to life. I am thankful for the way Heavenly Father made me!

  • JustMe February 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Subject: Unconditional Love

    I believe the key to joy in marriage and in life is also the most difficult thing for many of us to develop: unconditional love.

    Even in the euphoria of courtship and newlywed phases of a marriage, I believe that much of what is often experienced is not loving unconditionally. Instead, what I think is most common is for us to love based on another’s response or reaction to us. For example, we attempt some expression of love (by words, notes, gifts, touch, etc.). If our love is well received or reciprocated, we receive reinforcement to continue our expressions of love. This is easy, perhaps too easy, because we can become conditioned to only love if we feel loved ourselves.

    For instance, what if your expression of love was not well received or even acknowledged? What if you try to give love but do not feel any love in return? I think we are often so conditioned to do that which offers some kind of reward or even a promise of a future reward that the absence of this makes it very difficult to continue loving thoughts and behaviors. Yet this is the unconditional love that Heavenly Father has for us and that he wants us to develop. The command isn’t just to love but to love without conditions as He loves us.

    So with this type of love as our goal, how do we develop this? I don’t have all of the answers but hope that others will share their ideas. I do think it has a lot to do with not just knowing but really living the gospel- strengthening our faith in Jesus Christ and desiring to be like Him, having a change of heart through humbly and sincerely repenting, etc. I believe through this process we become changed and reconditioned so that we can give pure love without expectations or requirements.

  • SirJohn March 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks for the update.

    Sir John

  • Dubliner March 14, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I am happy to have found this site. I have been living with this issue for nearly 17 year (my enite marriage) and it’s only gotten worse. I will add that at this time I have given up on hoping that any change is in the making for me. When my wife articulates her conditions for intimacy the line always moves or the conditions morph into something else. I have recently decided to turn more to God. Perhaps I am being irrational, but it seems I have tried much to help our marriage to no avail. My wife will not go to couseling although I have asked several times. She does not feel anything is wrong in our marriage, so our experiences are so skewed in opposite directions… I feel like giving up. I’m not suggesting I am leaving or wish to do anything against my moral beliefs but I am hoping to nuture a closer relationship to God. If you recall the Price is Right show there were always three doors to chose from at the end of the show. For me, I feel as though I have only one door left to chose from and its a life hopefully fufilled with the Spirit. This may sound over the top or corny, but short of divorce, cheating and I dont see any other outcome. I miss my wife terribly. She just reactes as though I am being immature or selfish. I have not approached her in three years now.

    So are there any friendly words of advice? Why should I not give up or accept this life. I will add that having accepted this burden as my cross has helped me release the shackles of rejection, resentment and need I share the rest of the emotions?

    • Morguerat March 16, 2009 at 8:13 am

      Dubliner, being divorced, I don’t currently have a reason to seek out Mrs. Brotherson’s book, however, if and when I remarry, I do plan to get it, with luck, it won’t be “needed” but make excellent reading, and offer sound advice, the kind I’ve seen here, offered in love, with the spirit.

      That being said, I’ve recommended The Five Love Languages before (and sent my parents a copy of the abridged version). The ways we show affection are many and varied, and we are receptive to different ones at different times. Her love needs may be being met, and so she doesn’t see anything wrong in the relationship, or understand how important it is to you, or as some here have mentioned, the absense of libido may be a side-effect of medication. I would recomment Laura’s book, as well as the Five love languages. Communicate with love, not anger or resentment. If your wife doesn’t know it’s important, or assumes you’re totally happy with the way things are, she won’t know that they could be made better. Many women simply don’t know how, or even that it is, important for men.

      If you can approach the subject (some women aren’t even remotely willing to discuss it), after you’ve read the books, share them, and discuss them with her. Do not withhold affection if she doesn’t immediately agree with you though. Love her, cherish her, and hope that she will accept it, and return it in a way that is important to you as well.

    • JustMe March 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

      Dubliner,

      It is interesting to me that you describe turning to God. I think you can never go wrong by doing that. Did you know that turning our hearts to God is essentially what repentance is?

      The details of our circumstances obviously differ, but the outcome is the same. Many of the feelings you describe I am all too familiar with. It is funny to me that I have advice to give you that I may not have considered for myself.

      It is the adversary that wants us to feel trapped and that we have no options. We have to avoid this deception. While we may not be able to create the type of marriage that we want, we do have choices. We can choose to recognize and appreciate the good in our spouse. We can choose to cultivate loving and positive thoughts about our spouse. And even while turning toward God, we can also turn toward our spouse and try to offer our spouse whatever we can. It is in realizing that we have these choices and exercising our ability to make these difficult choices that we find true freedom.

      Like I often say, this is easier said than done, but it is possible….

      • SirJohn March 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

        JustMe,

        “Did you know that turning our hearts to God is essentially what repentance is?”

        Excellent point. The Savior suffered for our pains, trials, and infirmities as well as our sins. Healing from all of these comes from the same source. Surprisingly, the process of applying the atonement in our lives is very similar for both the guilty sinner and the innocent victim.

        Sir John

        • Morguerat March 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

          A friend of mine once explained that the Savior experienced the entirety of our lives, bitter with the sweet, he knows our highs and our lows, and because of that can appreciate our efforts, even when we fall short, without seeing us as one more person causing him affliction during the atonement process. There is much love for us there in that thought, that he experienced how good I can be, not just how I struggle, or fall short…

          It buoys up my heart when I feel like I’m struggling and falling short. When I have trouble letting go of the bars of my cage and can’t forgive myself, or ask for help.

  • Dubliner March 16, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Gentlemen. Thank you for sharing your stories. I too have been living in this vortex for quite some time. Let me sharing my personal experiences. Curious to see what your thoughts are.

    My wife treats me wonderfully when we are in the company of other people. Once we are alone, however, she reverts to her typical self. We are both well educated and we both have good jobs. I am an executive at a major bank and have been working under much stress for many years. Recntly the stress has been very intense. We have two children, one of whom, has ADHH & now ODD. Having a child like this is very difficult. My wife has used his behavior as an excuse for not being intimate with me because she feels its my responsibility to manage him and (historically) every other negative occurrence in our lives (there are many of course). I will add she has been diagnosed with depression and can be fiercely hurtful and negative at times. When I do embark on a path to correct my son’s behavior, if it’s not compatible with her opinion, she attempts to take over, belittle my efforts and the conflict ensues. It’s a vicious cycle we are in and I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I can’t tell you how often I have been asked for a divorce or she has threatened to move out. She has told me she loves me but is not “in love” with me. On our honeymoon she told me she thought marrying me was a mistake. In hindsight, I must agree with her. My point, however, is that I have not just been abandoned in bed but I have endured a gauntlet of mental, emotional and verbal abuse I would not wish on anyone.

    I’ve wanted to leave her often and I so wanted to have an affair, having had four opportunities to do so, but never could follow through. Thank goodness at my core I can’t deny my moral fabric. My daughter is a wonderful young lady too. She is 13 now and she is the light of my life. My son needs to find his way and I continue to help him where he accepts my assistance. Had I had an affair I would never had forgiven myself to the potential pain it would bring my family not to mention the disappointment I would have had in myself. Still, I wonder why I chose to stay in this marriage for so many years. For me, the answer has been my children and the hope that one day our marriage may heal.

    To amend the gentleman’s feelings and to give you further insight I would liken this mode of life as being sentenced for a grave crime which I never committed. I am cell bound forever. Well, at least that is how I’ve felt for a long time. I have also lost most hope in developing a deep relationship with my wife any time soon. I’ve never experienced looking into a woman’s eyes and sharing a heart felt sentiment simply through the exchange of our countenance. I have experienced rejection, loneliness, anger, fatigue, betrayal, anguish, resentment and a whole host of negative emotions. I will add, had it not been for my marriage being so poor, I might not be in as good of shape as I am in and I may not be so close to my children.

    Recently I have experienced an epiphany of sorts. I will add that as I read the article on your site it cemented this thought in my mind. What if this is what was intended for me? Is this my cross to bear? If this is my cross, how lucky am I to have come to that understanding, and why didn’t I recognize this long ago when the forced celibacy first entered my marriage? When I came to this realization it was almost as if I passed through a warm membrane and the dark clouds that seemed to be over present broke with a streak of light hitting me – smack in the middle of my forehead. My wife no longer has a grip on my heart. I am emotionally free.

    I feel sorry for my wife. I think she has never experienced an awakening such as this nor do I think she ever will. Where I thought I was once consigned to the lot of angry under-loved men, I have cut the cord and will begin my life at its mid point with a new, fresh understanding that bearing a cross, however light or heavy, is a privilege and an opportunity to grow as a human being. Mind you I am working 50-70 hour weeks and I have not found nirvana at the mountain top. But, today I am happy in understanding that bad things can happen to good people and ruminating over past injustices will only age me faster.

    Perhaps some day my wife and I will be in love again. Perhaps I may outlive her and find a woman I can share my soul with. Perhaps I will continue to find peace within or maybe she will leave me… who knows. I’m hopeful and persistent and I will continue to do my best to differentiate myself from the negative aspects of this life.

    • SirJohn March 17, 2009 at 10:17 am

      Dubliner,

      Welcome to the forum. I hope that you find the help here that you are looking for. I also had an epiphany shortly before I found this site. Laura’s writings solidified a conviction in me that would otherwise have been short term, I am sure.

      I am sorry that you are suffering with this anguish in your life. For me it like half of my soul is missing. The other half is raw and aching. The best salve for healing comes from the Lord. It helped me to read the posts and articles here. They are more positive and helpful than any other site I have found. I did have a few thoughts about your specific post:

      You said that your wife has been diagnosed with depression and can be “fiercely hurtful and negative at times.” This may be an indication of deeper troubles than depression. Has she ever seen a psychologist for her issues? I have a feeling from what you have said that she may be very resistant to the idea, but if possible, it sounds like professional help would be a good idea, perhaps for both of you.

      I am glad that you have found some peace through your struggles. Maintaining that peace is not always easy but requires constant effort. This site can be very helpful. Keep reading. Keep posting. Participate in the discussions. It has helped me tremendously.

      Sir John

  • SimplySweetMarriage March 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Dubliner,

    I find it very admirable that you have stayed faithful to your wife despite the 4 opportunities to have affairs. I am glad that you have found this site, and I hope you noticed the blog written just for you. I think you read it, but just in case…

    Copy this to your browser:

    http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/intimacy/help-for-husbands-stranded-in-the-sexual-desert/

    This is one of the most positive group of men that I have read…who are dealing with such torment as yourself! I have had the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings with a few wives who have had little to no interest in sex before they read. I am happy to say that I know of 2 women who are changing because of these entries. They are recognizing the difference they can make in their marriage.

    Keep writing and sharing, it can only help.

  • Jane March 17, 2009 at 8:58 am

    O.k. I am a big enough person to admit when I am wrong, well not really wrong just a little naive at how many men are struggling with this issue. It breaks my heart to hear these stories, and as a woman I wish I could shine some light, or offer better advice, however, I did not, and could not say anything as true and eloquent as JustMe’s remarks in the above paragraph. The Lord can help; the Lord will help if you let him. Letting go and trusting your wives is not only repentance, but it is also forgiveness, which is just as important. Once you truly forgive your wives, then your souls will be healed. The Lord not only suffered for our physical pains, but he suffered for our mental anguishes as well. Choosing Satan’s way may seem the best solution in the beginning but you know it will only lead to sorrow and misery in the end, and life is too precious to throw it all away for eternal sorrow and misery. I know I am probably out of my league here, but don’t think all women are cold and callus. We are certainly different than men, extremely complex, and yes exasperating at times, but that is where communication is extremely vital. Get into your spouse’s head and try to understand why she feels the way she does, there could be a million reasons—some easy to fix, and some that will take time. If she is not willing to open up, then try this little game that my husband and I do. We call it “honesty hour,” when we are both willing to really open-up to one another and express what is bothering us. During this time of sharing, each partner really listens without saying anything until the other person has said everything they want to say, and vice versa. It has really worked in our marriage and even though it sounds a little trite, perhaps it might work in yours too, especially when all the old ways of communicating have failed. I have already rambled on too long, but my prayers are with you all…God Bless!

    –Jane

  • JustMe March 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I appreciate Jane’s reference not just to repentance but also to forgiveness. I think it is very easy to develop a “victim” mentality where we begin to see ourselves as 100% right and our spouse as 100% wrong. We begin to feel that we have been wronged. We take offense. We so easily justify our hurt feelings. Our minds and hearts begin closing. We cannot truly give love in this state of mind because we are hyper-focused on our own distorted view. This is the condition that we are warned so often to avoid: pride.

    Instead, as Mark Chamberlain’s article mentions, we need to leave the door open to the possibility that there are very valid reasons for the spouse’s behavior. We need to consider that our spouse is doing his/her best but is imperfect just like we are.

    And possibly most importantly, the Atonement is not just for our sins but for those of our spouse as well. If we continue to hold a grudge and to harbor resentment, we assume a role that isn’t ours to take- that of judge. By witholding forgiveness, we incur the greater sin.

    I think we often search for other solutions, but I believe the only path toward peace and progress is to repent of our wrongs and to freely forgive others, especially our spouse, for what we have perceived as wrongs against us.

  • Simply Sweet Marriage March 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I converse with people from all over the Unites States. There is a particular woman who ended sex within her marriage 5 years ago. I will admit, she has opened my mind to things I never considered. I do have great respect for her. She is actually an amazing woman. She works with children everyday, and from what I know of her she is a very kind and giving individual. What is not written here, is that she was date raped prior to meeting her current husband and marriage, and then was chastised for it by a bishop. I sent her to this blog. (She read about husbands in the sexual desert). She did not want to join the conversation (at least yet). I asked her if I could post our conversation on here and she said that was fine…For privacy purposes I will name her, “Zoe”. PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS about OUR CONVERSATION. I love people and I want to understand them.

    Simply Sweet Marriage to Zoe:

    *Did I read the posts? some of them

    *What did I think of the husbands comments? I think they are whiny. If you strip their answers to the basics they would be “we are married so I am entitled to sexual gratification.”

    *Why did I say “I am tired of being told what I should do to make others happy”? I feel like no one takes my happiness into consideration or even understands what I have endured.

    * Have I ever felt the good feelings that are meant to come from intimacy? Yes, I love a sweet kiss or to fall asleep in [my husbands] arms. I mourn the memories of when we would go for walks in the rain or slow dancing to our song. No, I do not enjoy sex. Nor, do I enjoy having someone force their desires upon me.

    *Why did I say “I am sure that there are people who enjoy sexual intimacy, I do not, never have never will.” Due to my endometriosis, sex is painful. Imagine that your uterus is filled with tissue like cobwebs that bleed easily and lead to menstrual like cramps. Surgery got rid of my uterus but not the pain. Since surgery the only way I will have sex is with MAJOR drugs in my system so I don’t feel the pain during, but boy do I feel it after the drugs wear off.

    * Have I really never enjoyed being intimate? I don’t associate sex with intimacy. Sex was a way to conceive children. I am done with having children so I am content to abstain from sex. I don’t buy into the thought that sex is meant to be pleasurable. Pleasure seeking is lust and it was someone’s lust that haunts my teen years.

    *Does menopause mean that you suddenly had no period? no period, no estrogen, no sore or tender boobs

    *Did I mourn about losing everything or was I happy because of the pain? I celebrated the thought of being pain-free finally. Unfortunately, I am one of the few that surgery did not take away the pain.

    *When you have ups and downs like you mentioned to me…is it different than the ups and downs that come with periods? no very similar. Mood swings are caused by hormones. My hormones are synthetic. If I go without hormone replacement I suffer hot flashes (flushing and an on fire sensation.) If I take too many hormones I stimulate the endometrial growths. Trying to find a happy balance is an on-going process.

    As for menopause not being talked about….I don’t think women talk about it because it makes them feel old or less of a woman when they can’t bear children anymore. I have no problems talking about it because I had been put into medically induced menopause between children, as a way to control my endometriosis. So to have surgery induced menopause was nothing.

    This was “Zoe’s” response to Mark Chanberlain’s Stranded article after reading some of the comments there:

    Read it but my feelings are still the same….guys will say anything to get what they want. But in a way I am jealous….I wish I could go uninterrupted long enough to explain the “theatrics” I experience.

    PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

    • SirJohn March 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm

      SimplySweetMarriage and Zoe,

      How terribly tragic. There are few sins worse than sexual brutality. The damage to the victims lasts an incredibly long time. I hope that most victims of such horrible crimes do not get blamed for it by others as this poor woman did.

      There are many issues discussed very briefly in this post and some of it was hard to understand. I am curious what was meant by: “I wish I could go uninterrupted long enough to explain the theatrics I experience.”

      Who is interrupting? Her husband does not let her explain her feelings and concerns without interrupting?

      What does theatrics mean? Is she referring to the drama of her husband begging for sex? Does she mean the drama of living with endometriosis? Does she mean the painful physical and emotional ordeal she endures during sex?

      Posting on a site such as this is perhaps one of the easiest ways to express your thoughts and feelings without being interrupted. If she does not want to post herself, perhaps you could ask her to email you her explanation of the theatrics she experiences and you could post them for her?

      If she is struggling with being interrupted by her husband and would like him to understand, she could write it down and then have him read it. If he is a brute and refuses to listen to anything she has to say, there may not be an easy solution. You cannot force a brute to be a lamb. I am sorry that she is feeling like she does not have a receptive and loving confidant. That can be very frustrating.

      Here are the sexual issues as I have understood them. Please correct me if I am wrong.

      1. She was raped.

      2. She was at least partially blamed for being raped.

      3. She suffers from endometriosis (causes pain during sex).

      4. She believes that sex for pleasure is bad.

      Sir John

      • Simply Sweet Marriage March 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

        I will ask her if she would not mind replying to your post. I think that this is also an excellent place for her to post…right now she has no desire.

        I am just appreciative that “Zoe” would share with me what she has. I will ask.

  • JustMe March 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    SSM,

    Regarding Zoe, the important question, in my opinion, is how does the husband feel about the situation? If both are at peace, then I say, “great for them!” If the husband feels frustrated, neglected, ignored, etc., then there is obviously a problem that the two of them need to try to resolve.

    I think it is important to remember also that there is no single solution that works perfectly for every couple (in my opinion). We each have unique needs and expectations, so what works well for one couple may not work at all for another. What isn’t acceptable though is to ignore a problem with the hope that it will just go away.

    • Simply Sweet Marriage March 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

      Regarding Zoe~

      Thank you guys (and Zoe) for helping me to open my mind about women who deny the rain, and men in the desert.

      I was able to communicate with Zoe and calculate a bigger picture. Things are never what they first seem.

      “Does she mean the painful physical and emotional ordeal she endures during sex?”

      Both. Apparently, the “date rape” was NOT a one time occurance. As a child she was battered by both of her parents, to the point of leaving one of her senses handicapped. Not surprisingly, when she was a teenager her mother “forced” her to go out with a man in his 20’s. The man took her somewhere and used a sword to her neck and raped her. This man was kind to her mother, he would await her arrival from school. Her mom threatened her to go with him. Over a period of time, he began to beat her when she refused him or ranaway.

      I know. This is complex. [My opinion is that she turned the physical feelings off, because she could not function. This is not uncommon with sexual abuse. What do you think?]

      Speed forward, she met her current husband who essentially “saved her”. He cares deeply for her, and is kind to her. He is a logical sort of fellow and rarely shares his emotional side. For over 14 years, she has not once experienced an orgasm, and each sexual act brings pain…and resentment. She apparently has been to several doctors about, with no solutions. [My opinion is that although the physical pain plays into it, there is a larger amount of psychological issues that have not been addressed–which SHE thinks that she is not strong enough to handle. I think she can. I also think that fear is a huge factor. What do you think?]

      “If the husband feels frustrated, neglected, ignored, etc., then there is obviously a problem that the two of them need to try to resolve.”

      He is very frustrated. They are best friends, or roommates, living together. This is the one thing they fight over.

      I have seen pictures of the woman, and I recognize that she is an attractive person. She is fit, thin, well groomed, and has a pretty face. Her husband tells her she is beautiful everyday. He will “grab” her about everyday. According to her, this makes her push him away more because that is what the abusive guy would do. She has told her husband this. [I think that she is responsible at this point in time to resolve and deal with the issues of the past…I KNOW how hard this is…and how much joy it can bring when things are dealt with. Although her husband could be more sensitive here. Maybe he is doing the best he can? Thoughts here?]

      “* Have I ever felt the good feelings that are meant to come from intimacy? Yes, I love a sweet kiss or to fall asleep in [my husbands] arms. I mourn the memories of when we would go for walks in the rain or slow dancing to our song.”

      On several occasions she has mentioned this love language of quality time. When they are alone, he talks about work, their careers, and children. She wants to connect emotionally and hear him talk about things he dreams of or how he feels. Like I mentioned, she said that he is very logical, and rarely if ever shares his emotions.

      This kind of reminds me of the conversation that kdj and Sir John had. Generally, wives need to connect emotionally to be physical. Husbands need to be physical to open emotionally. Only, according to her, when she has “given in” he still is unemotional. This is why she thinks that the sex they have had is lust instead of love.

      This conversation has really helped me to have a more open mind and be less judgemental about people and situations. People are complex and have several facets.

      • JustGettingBy March 21, 2009 at 5:18 pm

        Zoe/SSM,

        Hearing of your experience brought me to tears. I have a friend that works with battered women – AND counseling the men that are the offenders. I have mentioned that I don’t understand how she can talk to these guys without her emotions getting in the way. I know I don’t think I could and I think I of myself as quite patient.

        As far as direct advice, I would say that going to see a counselor would be needed. I don’t think that this forum can really resolve such a deep scar – and she has every right to hurt deeply about this. BUT – for the sake of her marriage she needs to address this. Even with the husband knowing these issues exist, it can end a marriage.

        I find in my marriage where I have a much higher level of desire for intimacy (both sexual and touch). This in itself makes me feel very much less that fully loved, but what has come to be the bigger hurt is that it seems from my perspective she refuses to ever even try. I can only think of one time in the last 10+ years that she has compromised – and that was after I spent most of a week off dong mostly honey-do’s. That adds to the feeling that she does not love me.

        The last thing I can say is that this issue needs to be turned over to the Lord from both Zoe and her Husband. The older I get and the more I have gone through the more I believe that is the key.

        • kdj March 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm

          “As far as direct advice, I would say that going to see a counselor would be needed. I don’t think that this forum can really resolve such a deep scar – and she has every right to hurt deeply about this. BUT – for the sake of her marriage she needs to address this. Even with the husband knowing these issues exist, it can end a marriage.”

          I absolutely agree that without counseling her marriage could be in trouble. I think she is strong enough to face it and just think what a burden would be lifted from her (and her marraige).

          • Morguerat March 23, 2009 at 9:00 am

            SSM and Zoe…

            One of the most completely and utterly terrifying things in my life that I learned during my divorce, is the truth of 1st Corinthians 10:13: “…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

            There is no ordeal that we must face that we are not strong enough (or can be braced up with the help of Christ to have the strength) to handle and work through. It applies here as well. If she doesn’t think she’s strong enough to work through it in therapy, she needs to humble herself, and go. She is in fact strong enough, or it would not be a trial she needs to overcome. Now, that doesn’t mean it will be easy, the terrifying part of it, is that if it’s given to you, then yes, you ARE strong enough to overcome it, I never wanted to know how strong I would become through my trials, but I did, and looking back, I can say it was terrible, it was painful, it just downright sucked. But I made it, and so will Zoe, if she is willing to seek Him and get help.

            One other thing I noticed, is that she doesn’t see a problem with no sex, and that in itself is a problem. Just because the endometriosis makes vaginal intercourse painful, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways of expressing love sexually that would meet her and her husband’s needs. I know my Bishop has in the past stated that the church’s policy is “other than sodomy, whatever goes on between a man and a wife in their bedroom is between them and God.” (Of course there is still what sounds like “Good Girl Syndrome” in place. I won’t go into details, but penetration isn’t necessary if they are creative, and honest about it.

      • SirJohn March 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm

        SimplySweetMarriage (and Zoe),

        I agree with what others have said. This situation requires professional help. It’s not something that will go away after chatting on the internet. Healing is possible. That she is talking to you about sexual issues indicates that she is not completely closed off to discussing it.

        I don’t know how much contact you have with Zoe’s husband, but he would probably benefit more from reading and participating in these forums than she would. In fact, Zoe would probably benefit more from his participation here than her own. At least at this point in their marriage. She may not want to point him to this site because it encourages healthy sexual intimacy. Much of the advice to husbands in low sex marriages encourages them to be patient, loving, and kind; to find peace with the situation and to not try to change their spouse. While we disagree on the purpose and importance of sex, I am sure that she would agree with us on these points.

        I wish them both success in dealing with these challenges. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

        Sir John

        • Simply Sweet Marriage March 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm

          Thank you everyone for your responses. I have pointed “Zoe” in this direction. For now, she has asked that I do not ask anymore questions or discuss this with her further. I do respect her space. I am very appreciative of having the insight that she did share.

          I agree that she could benefit from a professional counselor.

          I too, hope that she will make therapy a priority, soon! I think in the end, she will be able to make better decisions with her marriage, family, and career. I have limited access to her husband, but I also hope that she will at some point send him here so that he can cope with what is going on.

          Thank you everyone for your responses.

  • JustMe March 20, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Subject: Hope in Marriage

    I recently read a wonderful talk by Elder Bruce Hafen titled “Beauty for Ashes.” In one section of this talk Elder Hafen discusses the spiritual endowments that are available to us through the atonement, and one of these is the gift of hope (see quote below).

    While I feel hopeful about my personal life- my progress, growth, learning, etc.- I struggle to feel the same way about my marriage. In marriage, I think I fail establish a vision or an ideal that we both embrace and strive toward. And even to the extent that I have articulated my needs, interests, or expectations, I generally feel a large gap between the ideal marriage in my mind and my actual marriage. The gap itself doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that I seem to be powerless in making any progress at reducing the gap.

    What ideas do you have about working together toward an ideal marriage? How can we incorporate this gift of hope not just in our personal lives but also in our marriages?

    Elder Hafen: “Another affirmative endowment of grace is the gift of hope, which blesses us with the state of mind necessary to deal with the gap between where we are and where we seek to be. As the remission of our sins makes us lowly of heart and meek enough to receive the Holy Ghost, the Comforter fills us with “hope” (see Moro. 8:25–26). The gift of hope offers peace and perspective, like the encouragement we feel when a close friend gives us insight about a difficult problem and we sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Such hope can be literally life-sustaining when given us by the Savior, for the light at the end of life’s darkest tunnels is the Light and the Life of the world.”

  • Simply Sweet Marriage March 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Just Me,

    The topic of hope is also something that I have been studying. I want to find and study this article first.

    I am wondering what you are asking with your question. 🙂

    “What ideas do you have about working together toward an ideal marriage?”

    In regards to what aspect? What do you do already? Specifically or generally?

    • JustMe March 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm

      Simply Sweet Marriage,

      To clarify my questions, I’m trying to get a feel for how others approach strengthening marriage. First, do you even think about your marriage? Based on your thoughts, desires, and efforts, where does marriage/spouse rank among other responsibilities?

      Do you both (together) actively plan activities to stay close and to keep the marriage strong, or is this something that you achieve more on individual effort?

      If you perceive a gap between a “perfect” marriage and your actual marriage, how do you attempt to close that gap?

      Does that clarify at all?

      • Simply Sweet Marriage March 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm

        In the article, “Beauty for Ashes,” I thought that the 2 paragraphs following what you quoted above answered what you were asking.

        The fact that we are here on this forum, says that we think about marriage. As for others…I think that sometimes we get so caught up in the problems right in front of us, that stepping away together, is wise. Life is fast. Even a couple hours together having quality talk and time can remind us that there is still hope in being together.

        Ideally:

        1. We put the kids to bed early and spend time together.

        2. We attend the temple together monthly.

        3. We date weekly, and make it a point to only talk about us, marriage, our future together, etc. Sometimes we just laugh, enjoy a concert, play, or movie, etc.

        4. We go on “mini-moons” every other month. Dishing out kids, or going to a hotel, etc. Whatever it is, we spend at least a day together, just the two of us. When the kids are grown, it will be just the two of us.

        Reality:

        1. The kids interupt, they get sick, or have activities that go past bedtime. We just keep trying.

        2. Our schedules may conflict, so we go seperately to the temple. This doesn’t happen every month. We just keep trying.

        3. Unemployment has hit, where we could not afford a babysitter or schedules were tight…so we have date night at home, dance, go on a walk and just talk, play board games, etc. just the two of us. We squeeze in a 20 minute lunch. We just keep trying.

        4. $$ gets tight, a babysitter may not be available, etc. We just keep trying.

        I think its normal for each person to have dry times when they give and are doing the best they can, but still its not good enough…so we try to remember to give each other credit, even if its not measuring up. Those times are the times when it is best for the other spouse to be more patient and loving.

        Just keep trying.

    • Simply Sweet Marriage March 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

      I found the article, “Beauty for Ashes” by Bruce C. Hafen. Thanks for sharing it, JustMe. I am reading and sharing it…I highly recommend it!

      Here is an excerpt:

      “Some chruch members feel weighed down with discouragement about the circumstances of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts. Frequently, these feelings of self-dissappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may no be fully to blame. The Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to these experiences because it applies to all of life. The Savior can wipe away ALL of our tears, after all we can do…”

      Click here to print:

      http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=8f402150a447b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

  • Dubliner March 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    This is an obvious yet valid point. It seems to me the more awareness and cultivation that we bring to our marriages in a way that our wives naturally comprehend, the more likely they will respond with affection. The last time my wife slept with me I had spent the day with her dad who suffers from alzheimer’s – caring for him. Mind you I’ve done this prior to that and many times since. To be honest, I had no idea she was going to react in such a way and why she hasn’t since I can only make assumptions.

    So here are the obstacles in my way: The house is not spotless, shopping must be done, my son is disrepectiful and is performing poorly in school, my father in law has alzheimer’s, I work at a bank that has received TARP funds (this is a topic in an of itself – certainly this is no picnic), my daughter is too care free (according to my wife – I think it’s beautiful that she’s always happy)… the list goes on. So is it possible that when my wife says she has nothing left for us as a couple that I can still have hope?

    It’s difficult to explain to the person you love that you believe a strong marriage will help ease the stress of the rest of one’s life. I believe that. My father and mother both offered that advice. But how does one convince a person to rearrange their priorities so that the marriage does come first when it never has? There has always been another priority(s)

    Anyway, I do believe cultivation means being willing and open to the perspective of your spouse and tyring to address their needs / concerns as they can easily understand and appreciate.

    Having said that – it still makes me wonder why we are created so differently. I used to say to my wife we live by your standard for a year any I cant affored a hug? It seems seflfish to me… I must be missing the mark altogether.

    • Morguerat March 23, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Dubliner: “Having said that – it still makes me wonder why we are created so differently. I used to say to my wife we live by your standard for a year any I cant afford a hug? It seems selfish to me…”

      You are right. It is selfish. It is unfair. It isn’t ideal. But, the best way to respond is with love, and unselfishness. As SirJohn and JustGettingBy and others have said, no good comes from being upset by your spouses inattention to your needs. Just love her, the best that you can. Don’t make her suffer for her point of view, however wrong-headed it may seem to you now. Talk to her if you can, avoid contention, but be truthful.

      When Pres. Hinkley was on his mission he had very little success. One time feeling particularly low, and contemplating returning home, he wrote and told his father about it. His father replied very briefly, “Forget yourself, and go back to work.” The change in attitude made a huge difference to that young missionary, and it might help you (and everyone else suffering “the desert”) too.

    • SirJohn March 23, 2009 at 11:54 am

      Dubliner,

      I second what Morguerat has said about the best way to respond: with love and compassion. Any other way makes things worse.

      “So is it possible that when my wife says she has nothing left for us as a couple that I can still have hope?”

      A lot has been said and many questions have been asked on these forums recently about hope in marriage. I say, yes absolutely! There is every reason to hope. We have a guarantee from our all powerful creator that happiness awaits the faithful.

      I believe that we need be careful to place our hope in true principles. It is a true principle that each person one this earth is free to act for themselves. That means that it is possible, even if I were a perfect husband, that my wife could decide to love me less and less from now through the rest of eternity. Even if I could present to her an irrefutable argument for great sex, in a perfectly loving and non confrontational way, she is still free to respond with, “I have a headache.”

      I could have faith that she will come to me all of her own accord tonight and say, “Dear husband, It suddenly occurred to me that I have been neglecting your needs. I am filled with a passionate desire to please you and to have you please me. Let’s make love every night for the rest of our lives!” But the most likely outcome of this type of hope is disappointment. This disappointment can and often does lead to anger. Anger with my wife, and even anger with God. It is easy, to say, “Dear God, I placed my trust in you. I am doing to the best I can as a husband. I am kind and giving. I had hope that my wife would be loving and affectionate with me at least once this month. This did not happen. Is this too much to ask for? How could you let me down like this?”

      The problem is that God’s promise of eternal reward does not have a time limit. There is no guarantee that this aspect of life (or any other for that matter) will be repaired during this life, or even in the life to come. It will be repaired after the resurrection and after the final judgement. Anything that happens before that point is part of the test, and tests are meant to challenge us.

      I do have hope that my wife loves me. She is fighting some very serious challenges in her life. They are real and they are dangerous. God, who sees all and judges with compassion, will likely be more lenient with my wife for the heroic way in which she daily battles her demons, than with my own expressions of frustration and anger at not having my needs met. She has some very important needs that are not being met also. Many of these I cannot help with, other than to be patient with her and express my love and support. I don’t think that I could live day after day, performing the mundane tasks that she does with the constant and nagging self doubts that she has. “You are no good. You can’t do anything right. Nobody loves you. You have no friends. You do not measure up.” How she copes, I may never know. If knowing requires experiencing what she endures, I hope that I never know.

      There is one other very important hope that I would like to mention. The hope for the strength to endure our challenges. Thanks to Morguerat for this reminder. We have been promised that we will be given strength to endure our specific challenges and temptations. This does not mean the the challenges will go away. They may stay for a long time. Perhaps through this life and even the next. But we have been promised that if we put our trust in God and the atonement of his Son, we can endure. Better than endure, we can actually find peace in spite of our challenges. I used to think that peace meant and absence of pain, frustration, challenges, and the like. I have learned from experience that peace can live alongside of enduring pain and sadness. They are not mutually exclusive. I have also learned that peace is not something you acquire, put in your pocket, and carry around with you for the rest of your life. It is not easy to keep. It requires constant effort and attention. You can’t loose your focus or it slips through your fingers like water.

      There is hope, but it must be founded on true principles.

      Sir John

      • Simply Sweet Marriage March 23, 2009 at 12:50 pm

        I got on here to respond…but after reading what has been written, it has already been said even more than I didn’t think of. Amazing. I also think the “How We Met” stories that Laura has been posting are a good resource for ideas…at the end of each one, couples list ways they strengthen their marriage.

        Sir John, I hope that you are keeping these entries for your up and coming book. 😉

  • kdj March 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    “First, do you even think about your marriage? Based on your thoughts, desires, and efforts, where does marriage/spouse rank among other responsibilities?”

    I think about my marriage all the time, every day. I would like to say that my spouse is #1, but he sometimes gets put to #2 because I have very young demanding children. I do try to think of ways to help ease his burdens because he is in a very demanding school program. It is hard to make him a priority when he is not around very much and when school is his main focus right now, leaving me with the responsibility of the children. Not that I’m really complaining about it, it’s just that that is the way it is right now. So I guess we don’t try actively together to plan things to keep our marriage strong, it is more of an individual thing.

    “If you perceive a gap between a “perfect” marriage and your actual marriage, how do you attempt to close that gap?”

    I don’t think there is a perfect marriage out there as long as there are imperfect people in that marriage, but we should always be striving for perfection (not just individually, but in all aspects including marriage).

    As far as trying to close the gap, I try to think of things that I can do for him…having dinner on time, a special note to let him know I’m thinking about him even though I haven’t seen him for more than a few hours a week, watching his favorite movie with him, planning a date, really listening and responding when he tells me about his day, ect. I need to feel connected to him somehow, that we really are in this long haul together, so we don’t get caught up in our own (semi-separate) lives.

    I was at an enrichment activity where men were invited and we had a family counselor come talk to us and share a few things that I thought might be helpful for my husband and I. She said that once a day they check-in with eachother such as…”physically I have a headache, mentally I’m going crazy, emotionally I’m good, spiritually I’m good, ect.” It is really quick but it is a rundown to see how your partner is doing and see where they might need a boost, to connect. Then once or twice a week they have a 20 minute session where one spouse talks for 10 minutes and the other talks for 10 minutes without interruption and without trying to solve problems for the other. It is just to be heard. It can be about anything, good, bad, indifferent, how the day went, blah, blah, blah. I haven’t tried that one yet but I can see some benefits from it. Sometimes I just want to vent my day to someone who will listen.

  • Simply Sweet Marriage March 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    H ave faith,

    O ptimism,

    P atience and an

    E ternal perspective

  • SirJohn March 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

    In pondering Zoe’s story, I reread Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s October 1998 conference address, “Personal Purity.” Because this talk was intended to encourage personal righteousness, it does not address specifically the affect of sexual crimes on the innocent victims. However, many of the principles discussed are very applicable. I should caveat that I would be very hesitant to share this talk verbatim with a victim of sexual abuse, because of the significant difference that victims are not guilty of any sin or crime. They are, however, intensely susceptible to debilitating irrational guilt for what was done to them. I would not want to add to those feelings of guilt in any way.

    Terribly sad, however is the fact that the victims of such abuse often suffer the same damaging affects as the guilty. It seems that their wounds are often deeper and the affects last even longer. Oh, the heavy price of justice enacted on the unrepentant heads of those who rend the soul of an innocent child of the Almighty God!

    Below are several quotes I found particularly poignant. I have paraphrased these quotes to apply them to innocent victims rather than the guilty. You may read the original quotes from the referenced talk.

    ****

    The body is an essential part of the soul. This distinctive and very important Latter-day Saint doctrine underscores why sexual [abuse] is so serious. We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life, “the very key” to life, as President Boyd K. Packer once called it. In exploiting the body of another–which means exploiting his or her soul–one desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life. And when one mocks the Son of Righteousness, one steps into a realm of heat hotter and holier than the noonday sun.

    If [someone pursues] physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, [the innocent victim suffers] such spiritual, psychic damage that … both [their] longing for physical intimacy and [their] ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love [is undermined]. [They] may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to [their] horror that what … should have [been] saved has been [stolen], and that only God’s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue [that was] so [callously taken] away.

    If some of you are carrying such wounds, to you is extended the peace and renewal … available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. In such serious matters the path of [healing] is not easily begun nor painlessly traveled. But the Savior of the world will walk that essential journey with everyone willing to undertake it. He will strengthen you when you waver. He will be your light when it seems most dark. He will take your hand and be your hope when hope seems all you have left. His compassion and mercy, with all their cleansing and healing power, are freely given to all who truly wish complete [healing] and will take the steps that lead to it.

    ****

    • Simply Sweet Marriage March 25, 2009 at 10:37 pm

      Sir John,

      Thanks for posting that…it was beautiful. The last quote was especially touching to me. I whole-heartedly know that it is true! ALL things are possible with God’s strength and love.

    • tammyndavid October 12, 2010 at 12:02 am

      I always feel so saddened when I hear about sexual abuse. It is so heartbreaking to me. We can just always pray for those that have gone through such a horrible ordeal to have Heavenly Father inspire those that can help them.

  • crubyc March 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I went through a lot sexual molestation as a child, but have hardly any memory of it. I have tried everything to remember them (therapists-many), but nothing has helped. I feel like it is negatively effecting my marriage. I have a difficult time being intimate with my hubby because I don’t like being touched in many ways for some reason. I hardly ever feel fulfilled after we are intimate (regardless of what happens). We have spent hundreds of dollars, but nothing has helped. We have your book (bought it soon after we got married). It has informed us, but nothing has changed. My husband and I are very open in our communication on this subject, but we just feel like we’ve tried everything. Just asking what else can we do to help me be fulfilled?

    • Simply Sweet Marriage March 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm

      crubyc,

      I have been thinking about your entry.

      Everyone is so different about this issue. I also went through a similar experience, but I feel like I am on the other end of it now. I really do not like to advertise about it, but it seems that my life is fast becoming an open public book. 😉 My sexual abuse began when I was 13 months old and went on and off until I was 17 years old (by several different men).

      At 17, I got help. I went through about 3 years of weekly, sometimes 2-3 times a week sessions. I saw 7 counselors during that time…until I found one that worked for me. I took a break, and then went back on and off for a total of 4.5 years. I am very comfortable talking to my husband about it now, so I rarely go anymore…unless it is something that my hubby thinks that a professional would know how to help me more (rare).

      “I went through a lot sexual molestation as a child, but have hardly any memory of it.”

      Perhaps you have no need to remember it right now or you may not be ready to deal with it. ??? I remembered it in layers. I journaled like crazy.

      “I have tried everything to remember them (therapists-many), but nothing has helped.”

      Did you go to a counselor who specializes in sexual abuse? I am not sure how religious you are, but prayer helped me a lot to find the right therapist for the right time. I also have a very strong belief that the Atonement of Jesus Christ could help heal me, and it has. I had MANY Priesthood blessings to help me. I believe in the power of God. If God can part the sea, move mountains, and create the Earth, he can also bless me with what I needed.

      During one of my most intense therapy sessions, it took 2 hours. I had to consciously choose to be vulnerable for the greater good. Later, I was given some “music therapy” by a friend (who is a counselor). This helped me to remember the early years (which were the most painful for me). How it works is that you listen on headphones this ocean type music…it is scientifically engineered to opens the brain channels to your deeper subconscious. Basically, I would listen to this before bed, while driving, or just prior to therapy. After 2 days, I felt anxious but did not know why. Soon after, I started remembering things, which isn’t always fun, but I knew that I wanted to “get better”. It went in layers from feeling like I was 15 years old, then 7 years old or 3 years old, etc. I had the hardest time with feeling memories, but talking to a professional was still the best thing.

      “I have a difficult time being intimate with my hubby because I don’t like being touched in many ways for some reason.”

      I wonder if you have really pondered this and asked yourself why…or what it is specifically that bothers you. Is it the feeling? Is it the way the touch feels? Do you actually associate the touch with the sexual abuse? Maybe when it happens you could slow down and talk to your husband about it, to really understand yourself and what’s going on. Again, these are all good things that a sexual abuse therapist could address.

      “I hardly ever feel fulfilled after we are intimate (regardless of what happens).”

      I am not sure what you are saying here. What do you mean? What does it mean to YOU to be fulfilled? Are you talking about having an orgasm? or the lack of it? Emotionally? Do you feel disconnected? Can you explain this more? Thanks.

      I hope I didn’t just babble for no reason. Sorry this was so long. I am also wondering if this has nothing to do with sexual abuse…but other factors. ??

      Do you feel that “sex is bad”? Do you feel guilty during or after it? Do you think about your husband’s body and your intimate moments outside of the bedroom? Are there any other factors that lead to you feeling “unfulfilled” that are not mentioned here? (Past problems, medications, depression, self image issues, etc.)

      This has nothing to do with you…but I know of a woman who masturbated when she hit puberty. Later she stopped the practice for religious reasons. Years later, when she married, she could not stand to be touched because it was not the same as from years earlier. She had to re-teach herself to relax and enjoy the new touch.

      TMI! Sorry.

    • Laura M. Brotherson March 27, 2009 at 10:24 am

      RE: Sexual Abuse

      Hi crubyc,

      I thought it was interesting to get your post. I just returned from a three-day training on sexual abuse and trauma. We may be stunned to know that 1 in 3 women have been sexually abused or have experienced sexual trauma, and 1 in 4-6 men have experienced it as well. (I have to wonder if some of our “sexual desert” husbands’ wives have had some degree of inappropriate sexualization as children.) These stats are simply shocking. That is a lot of people who have been significantly affected in their thoughts, beliefs, actions and reactions to many things in life, but especially toward sex.

      It’s great that you have sought out therapists to help you overcome the effects of sexual abuse. I do hope you will keep seeking until you find the answers you need. Most people will not be able to fully overcome without professional help.

      I’m very sorry that things haven’t seemed to work sufficiently well for you yet. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right. I think our soul knows when it’s time to break free. The timing must be right for this kind of trauma work and healing. I think we also do that in stages, kinda like peeling an onion.

      I would certainly recommend you check out the book “The Sexual Healing Journey: A guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse” by Wendy Maltz. You can also find out a lot of good information on her site: http://www.HealthySex.com. This book was one of the required readings for this Sex Therapy course.

      (There are some things about sexual orientation and masturbation in the book that she’s a little off on, but otherwise it’s an incredible book for anyone to guide their journey to sexual wholeness. It can help those without obvious sexual abuse as well.)

      The content covers:

      Part I — Starting Out: Becoming Aware

      Ch 1 — Realizing There’s a Sexual Issue

      Ch 2 — Acknowledging the Abuse

      Ch 3 — Identifying the Sexual Impact

      Ch 4 — Deciding to Reclaim Our Sexuality

      Part II — Moving Forward: Making Changes

      Ch 5 — Creating a New Meaning for Sex

      Ch 6 — Finding Our Real Sexual Selves

      Ch 7 — Gaining Control over Automatic Reactions

      Ch 8 — Moving Toward Healthy Sexual Behavior

      Ch 9 — Healing with an Intimate Partner

      Part III — Getting There: Creating Positive Experiences

      Ch 10 — Techniques for Relearning Touch

      Ch 11 — Solving Specific Sexual Problems

      Ch 12 — Enjoying Sexual Experiences

      You might also consider getting the video program she also created called “Relearning Touch” that can help couples start at ground 0 and work their way up from there at their own time and pace. I saw some of the video and thought it was great. I plan to use it in future couples retreats. It’s great for everyone. I believe you can get it by calling Intervision at (541) 343-7993 or emailing info@intervisionmedia.com. (I’m not sure how much it is, as I haven’t ordered it yet.)

      Here’s a good overview article by Wendy Maltz as well: http://www.voicesofstrength.org/intimacy.htm.

      Some of the things she suggests for sexual healing are:

      –Stop sexual behaviors that are part of the problem.

      –Learn about healthy sexuality. (I hope our book “And They Were Not Ashamed” can be helpful in that regard.)

      –See yourself as separate from what was done to you.

      –Learn to handle automatic reactions to touch.

      –Familiarize yourself with touch techniques.

      After attending this training I am more convinced than ever that inappropriate sexualization of children (or any of us) is terribly damaging. But with persistence and a lot of time and effort sexual healing and wholeness can occur.

      I hope something here will be helpful to you. I’ll be praying for you and others who have had similar painful experiences. God bless!!

  • Simply Sweet Marriage March 24, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Today I was reviewing Laura’s book, “And They Were Not Ashamed”. I was reading pages 68-70. These pages seem to apply to what has been said here about the causes of low libido and the gaps of desire. (Or at least they are a good reminder).

    “Love is a choice. For many women, engaging in sexual relations may also have to be a conscious choice. With information and suggestions in this book, sex need not be begrudgingly and hesitatingly endured, but become a source of BOUNDLESS pleasure and intimacy.” (Chapter 4)

    I remember reading this before, and feeling the peace its truthfulness. It’s a choice. I also remember that at first as I opened up emotionally and allowed myself to be a sexual person, it felt kind of fake or foreign. I kept pursuing in my vulnerability and I made conscious choices to allow myself the pleasure that Heavenly Father invented for husbands and wives.

    Marital physical intimacy has become a marvelous source of boundless pleasure. Confidence in me and in my husband has grown in other areas of our marriage. Our ability to work towards and enjoy sexual fulfillment together has happened a day at a time.

    With God, ALL things are possible.

  • Xenon April 6, 2009 at 6:13 am

    A couple of questions about vibrators.

    I (the higher drive Husband) would like to get a vibrator. My lower drive wife doesn’t think it is “OK”

    We read Laura book, and my DW interpreted Laura’s short part on vibrators as “They are ok only for just starting out and learning how the female parts work”.

    I’d like to get one for several reason, including:

    1) I’d like something to help get her excited during the times when she is typically “unexcitable”.

    2) I can sometimes get her excited by rubbing her, but she usually says I am not “consistent” enough – slow down or speed up or change something – so I am looking for something “consistent”

    So here are my questions …

    a) How many other people here have vibrators? Have they be a positive thing?

    b) How have other people interpreted Laura’s section on vibrators? Are they “ok” or “bad”?

  • Struggling April 10, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    My wife and I just got married at the beginning of this year. Starting off, things were okay – my wife didn’t like or enjoy sex but she didn’t dislike it either. She said that she just enjoyed being with me even if she didn’t like sex. Since that point things have changed a bit.

    Now it’s to the point where she absolutely hates sex worse than almost anything and we’ve talked and talked about it but can’t seem to figure out why or what to do about it. It is very hard since I have a very strong sex drive and not only does she have no sex drive but she has an anti-sex drive and hates sex and tries to avoid it. We try to communicate about everything as openly as possible regarding sex and this problem but she just can’t get over how much she hates it.

    We have tried to work on ways to help her experience an orgasm thinking that maybe it would help with this problem but I don’t think we’ve ever even come close. When we try she says that it’s just very uncomfortable when I try to stimulate her and so we just give up before she gets too ornery about it. If she ever starts to feel any “pleasure” she says it feels dirty and wrong like if she were being raped or something and she can’t seem to get over that.

    To be honest, I think it would be nice if we could find a counselor or therapist to help. I just don’t know how to go about finding one that would be good, and that we can trust and be comfortable with. I have read a decent portion of Laura’s book and there is some good advice but my wife either doesn’t think it applies to her, doesn’t think she can follow it, or doesn’t care.

    We are both at a loss of what to do to try and work on this problem. I almost wish we could meet with Laura, since I don’t know how to even find a good LDS therapist that I can trust and she seems to know so much. Does anyone have any suggestions that might help us either find a good therapist in Utah or solve this problem another way?

  • Trevor April 21, 2009 at 10:20 am

    [from Comments Page]

    Subject: Preparing for Marriage!!

    Date: March 30 2009

    Name: Trevor

    Comments:

    HEY EVERYONE! OR LAURA… It seems that many people are getting the book as an enrichment or help for marriages, which is wonderful and I’m sure we will always seek enrichment later on… But we’re just starting. Getting married in a couple months. And we’re open to advice. One of the books we read was so doom and gloom, using what felt like scare tactics about how difficult marriage is, we felt horrible reading it. We don’t have any problems with each other, quite the opposite! I would like your opinions on how much to talk about sex, as we’re just starting. Pre-honeymoon, and the first few months. Much of the info available sounds great, but I don’t want my wife to feel overwhelmed. I personally feel like I’m pretty sensitive and I don’t know if I want her to feel like she’s having sex as a duty or for my sake. She seems like she IS very excited about sex and will be. If i am sensitive and caring, i feel like it will only get better. I feel like I can be very giving and let things go naturally as we talk about everything. We’re very open already. Of course we will learn beforehand about how sex works and I will definitely have learned how to make it enjoyable for her sexually. If we’re open, do you think we could do without reading too much? I DO feel like STARTING with ideas presented in “And They Were Not Ashamed” before marriage will be much nicer than trying to change things for people who have already been married for a while, but what do you think would be best in our case? Thanks!!!

    • Laura M. Brotherson April 21, 2009 at 10:32 am

      Hi Trevor,

      I have moved your comment from the StrengtheningMarriage.com Comments page to the blog here so that it will be a little bit easier for people to respond.

      I do believe the book And They Were Not Ashamed can be very helpful for those not yet married as well as for those who already are. This book is a must read for any who want to start out better than the rest of us probably did! : )

      Since you are not yet married I would suggest you read the book separately, or together in a public place. It all depends on the two of you as to what would be best. If you can read the whole book (except maybe the last three chapters on how to teach your children–although it’s great for reeducating yourself as well) that would be best. But if you are not able to read it all then chapters 3, 4 and 5 are most critical to know and understand before the honeymoon. It can make all the difference between having a positive experience or starting out on the wrong foot that can take a long time to overcome. Things don’t have to be perfect, but the more you can learn about each other’s expectations and understand your differing wiring the better! I hate to see more honeymoon horror stories created out of ignorance!

      I also recommend that you read the article “From Honeymoon to Happily Ever After—Preparing for an Intimately Fulfilling Relationship,” which I wrote especially for soon-to-be-married couples like you. You can find the article here: http://www.meridianmagazine.com/LdsMariageNetwork/060802honeymoon.html.

      I wish you well on your exciting new adventure of marriage. I would encourage you and any other engaged couples to get all the marriage education you can. You can find many articles here on this blog and on the Articles page: http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/news.php. I would even look into a couple sessions of premarital counseling with a good marital therapist for good measure as well. The better prepared you can be the better off you’ll be! Good luck!

  • Simply Sweet Marriage April 21, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Trevor,

    You are pretty thoughtful to think about all of this before marriage. Personally, I think that the better prepared you are…the nicer things will be. So many couples are afraid to learn…and communicate their thoughts to each other!

    Obviously, some of the “homework” may need to wait until after marriage.

    From the 1st Chapter, Laura’s book can help both of you “reprogram”…and you are picking the best time to do it!

    Congrats on your marriage!

  • mormongirltrue April 24, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Laura,

    I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the effects of solo masturbation in a marriage where both spouses are open and accepting of the practice and don’t conceal their occasional participation in it from one another. (I’m referring to masturbation that is not in the presence of the other spouse and that never involves pornography.)

    Many commenters in other LDS forums on sexuality claim that it has been a great blessing in marriages with disparate sex drives by helping “level the playing fields.” Others say that it awakens and increases, rather than detracts from, the wife’s desire to be sexual with her husband, thus increasing the frequency and quality of marital intimacy.

    I have read your insightful views on self-learning and its distinction from masturbation. I would be very appreciative of any insight you may have regarding the possible consequences (good or bad) of unconcealed masturbation in marriage beyond the scope of temporary self-learning.

    • JustMe April 28, 2009 at 10:05 am

      First, is this Open Forum extremely slow for anyone else, or is it just me? (no pun intended!)

      mormongirltrue, I appreciate the question as I have also wondered about this. What are your thoughts? Hopefully we can get enough input that people can make their own informed decision…

    • Laura M. Brotherson May 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

      Hi mormongirltrue,

      Masturbation is certainly one of those controversial issues. It is one of those questions that is best answered between husband and wife and God if necessary. You may want to review the information I’ve written specifically about how to determine what’s okay and what isn’t in one’s marriage.

      This information provides principles for people to consider putting into practice within their unique marital relationship. This post links you to multiple writings I’ve done on this subject:

      “What’s Okay and What Isn’t Sexually”

      http://strengtheningmarriage.com/blog/sex/whats-okay-what-isnt-sexually/

      I think the key questions to ask yourself are:

      — What is the purpose or intent of the behavior?

      — What are the short-term and long-term outcomes of adding masturbation to your intimate relationship?

      — Is the marriage relationship more likely to be strengthened or might it be weakened in some way?

      Certainly any secrecy with masturbation in marriage is likely to lead to a weakening of the intimate relationship.

      Even though I can see how masturbation may be used in some marriages to “level the playing field” or even account for illness or separation or whatever, in the long run I don’t think that masturbation is God’s intent for marriage even for crisis management.

      I can’t imagine that it would be His remedy for a less than ideal situation, but again, that’s just an opinion. Since God has not said much about masturbation within marriage, and since there are often many factors to consider, this becomes one of those important times for couples (or individuals) to go to the Lord for the right answer. But even that brings up another important factor–one’s spiritual connectedness to God, their ability to receive divine guidance, or even their degree of spiritual strength.

      I think it’s pretty clear that God does not think masturbation is a good idea outside of marriage, which I certainly agree. There’s no good reason to stir up those feelings when the divinely approved outlet for such expression is not yet available until marriage.

      While masturbation may be a natural inclination (particularly for men), I don’t agree with the societal teaching that it’s “healthy” to masturbate. Regardless of the circumstances, I do believe God prefers that we turn to Him for help in fulfilling our needs–whatever they may be.

      I do see learning about our bodies as something very different than masturbation though, particulary for women who may not have ever seen or are not familiar with their bodies. As you mention “Others say that it awakens and increases, rather than detracts from, the wife’s desire to be sexual with her husband, thus increasing the frequency and quality of marital intimacy.” To me this could certainly fall under the category of “self-learning” if it was a short-term process for learning how to experience pleasure or to awaken one’s sexuality.

      In this situation, the question of whether the behavior has the effect of strengthening or weakening the intimate relationship might possibly be answered as being a means of strengthening the relationship. But only the individuals involved can really answer that questions accurately.

      If masturbation was being used as a substitute for the intimate relationship between husband and wife, then it moves into the category of having a weakening effect on the relationship and even one’s connection to God.

  • Simply Sweet Marriage April 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Laura, I hope you aren’t offended that I share this link on your blog. I have followed Dr. Corey Allan for a while now. He has some pretty good insights about marriage. This is one of my favorite articles that he has written…

    “When it comes to sexual connection, there are three categories of couples. The sexually barren, the sexually average, and the blessed few….”

    (I personally hope to make it with the blessed few..lol!)

    http://www.simplemarriage.net/man-upwoman-up-how-to-have-curl-your-toes-sex.html

  • mormongirltrue April 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I thought this LDS marriage and family therapist’s blog had some great insight about the issue of masturbation in marriage:

    http://mormontherapist.blogspot.com/2009/04/is-occasional-masturbation-by-married.html

  • LonelyOne May 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    “I think it has been taught by some that as we lay our bodies down, they will so rise again in the resurrection with all the impediments and imperfections that they had here; and that if a wife does not love her husband in this state she cannot love him in the next. This is not so. Those who attain to the blessing of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God. If you can, by faithfulness in this life, obtain the right to come up in the morning of the resurrection, you need entertain no fears that the wife will be dissatisfied with her husband, or the husband with the wife; for those of the first resurrection will be free from sin and from the consequences and power of sin. This body ‘is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.’ ‘And, as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.'” (Brigham Young; October 6, 1862; Journal of Discourses, Volume 10; “Future State of Existence”)

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