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September 09, 2014



I am so tired of being a minority. I am one of those women who would love to have sex more often. However, for my husband it's more important to be the one in control. Do we ever talk about it? Of course not, it's too painful and my feelings always get dismissed anyway. Getting tired of it.

R Helman

It's definitely important to teach our kids about anatomy and it's purpose/design. I read through The Talk with my daughters. I want them to have accuracy and wonder at a young age, and openness so that we can continue talking about it as they age. I'm now in my early 30's and just celebrated 10 years of marriage. It's taken time to be more comfortable talking about what I need, what I'm comfortable with. It's not easy for me to talk, but my husband wants to know so that we can get even better. I think it's pretty ideal. And that the other thing, the ideas portrayed in media of what should happen. That's another reason we need to talk.


I didn't even know what the word consent meant-in a sexual context-until your posts last year. So, thanks. My parents don't talk about sex around me and the only media that does tends to be dirty. I appreciate when I see books that give me new information without graphic scenes.


I also appreciate this. Sex is a taboo subject with my parents, and I am very ignorant when it comes to uncomfortable topics. I feel like I am getting vital advice on things that could inevitably become problems in my future marriage. Thanks for giving me loving parental advice in a safe way that will not scar me for life.

a very happy spouse

I'm very fortunate because I grew up with parents who did not want their children (especially their daughters) getting to their wedding night without knowing and understanding what was going to happen. Considering that my parents are now in their 80s and most of my friends' parents refused to talk about sex with their children, I'm fully aware of how lucky I am to have the parents I do. I waited until I was married to have sex, but I was fully aware of the physical part of sex before I got married. I don't think anyone can prepare you completely for the emotional part of sex. It is something that you have to experience to understand. I've been married for 5 years now, and both my husband and I fully enjoy our sex life. We both feel comfortable initiating intimacy, and we are both aware that if the other isn't up for it at the time, they can say no. We have both promised not to use sex as a reward or punishment. We are a partnership in this. There are times when one partner really wants sex and the other partner isn't interested. Your communication has be in place so that you can understand the ramifications of consenting or not consenting in these situations. We understand that if the other consents at these times, what they are saying is "Yes, I see that you really want or need it now, and I'm not that interested. However, because I love you and I'm as interested in your happiness as my own, I'm okay with it." and that not consenting usually means "Right now is a really bad time for me. Can we try later or tomorrow night?" These are times when negotiation is critical, and it should never be just one partner who makes all of the concessions.

I'm from the same cultural and religious background as Shannon, were sex outside of marriage is taught as something you shouldn't do. I'm also a youth leader at church, and I'm really happy that there has been a shift in how we discuss chastity and sexual relationships with the youth (at least the young women, whom I work with). We tell them that sex is beautiful and lovely and fun and wonderful, but that it is also powerful and emotional and binding. We teach them that they shouldn't feel guilty when they want to hold hands with or kiss a boy or even want to touch a boy. That is natural. It is the way God made us. Our feelings are an integral part of who we are. We explain that, in our faith, full intimacy should wait until marriage, so they need to be aware that certain levels of kissing or touching will initiate feelings that lead to full intimacy and should avoided. We also tell them that feeling pressure to do something you don't want to do from someone who claims to love you is a sign that the person is only concerned with his own feelings and desires. They can and should have as much control as the boys (men) about what happens and when and where. We also tell them that, while our church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong, if it happens, life isn't over and they are not worthless.

Understanding and Patient

One aspect of this that has not been addressed is pornography. Although I can relate to some of the comments you quoted I know that,at least in my case, it is more complicated than misunderstandings and lack of communication. In fact, we are doing okay in those areas. But my husband is what you might call a recovering porn addict. Even though he is currently not partaking, his experiences with pornography have colored our entire relationship. His expectations are based on what he learned through those videos and images or read in romance novels. I don't feel pressured to have sex, per se, but to react in certain ways.

Early in our marriage he suggested I read a few books that he and his family had enjoyed. (His mother and siblings used to all read the same book so they could talk about it) I was shocked by the graphic scenes but I also saw them as clearly unrealistic. My husband didn't understand. As I become better acquainted with his mother, I realized that she had spent many years as an unhappy wife because of her unrealized expectations.

It has taken a lot time, talking, counsel from numerous sources, and a lot of love to keep our marriage going. I don't think that is unusual. All marriages need those things for one reason or another. But I wish we didn't have this particular issue. He can't erase the things he has seen. Relearning what is realistic and what isn't has been difficult for both of us. But we keep going, keep trying, keep loving. I have great faith that we will overcome these challenges. And we are both cautious about what our children experience. We talk to them a lot.

Pornography is often subtle but the consequences can last a lifetime.


@Understanding and Patient-Agreed. I have a relative who got into pornography after reading the summary-the SUMMARY-of Fifty Shades of Gray. She didn't understand a lot of terms it used, so she started clicking wikipedia links. She's been out of it for a year but still, every once in a while, she'll use a sexual term or make a comment people don't understand. When people ask her, she says, "Wait, that's not normal?"


I agree about needing to give kids more information before marriage. I recently got married, and was told nothing--NOTHING--about sex beforehand by my parents. (Or after, for that matter.) His parents also told him nothing. I think they assumed that since I and my husband are a few years older than they were when they got married, that we would have heard from other sources. Why on earth would you trust other sources to give your kids information about sex?? The only reason I wasn't completely ignorant was because I have a couple very close already married friends who gave me a book to read.



You and your readers might find this blog helpful:


It addresses sexuality in a Christian marriage.

Your welcome.

Audry T.

Plenty of people go without sex for years, whether by choice or by circumstance. Lack of sex isn't by default either healthy or unhealthy, since masturbation is a reasonable (if less satisfying) alternative for many. But sometimes the motivations behind practicing voluntary celibacy can have a damaging impact on a person's health and well-being. When asexual, intersex, and gay individuals, for example, are taught that they have to be celibate their entire lives or marry someone they are not attracted to just because that person fits an arbitrary rule (like being of the opposite gender -- which is what for an intersex person???), that can be deeply damaging. When people, including teenagers, are taught that they shouldn't have sex under specific circumstances because it is arbitrarily wrong and then they have sex under those specific circumstances, they can be heaped with shame and self-hatred that is imagined rather than real. They can end up suffering for arbitrary reasons. Or if they have sex under "wrong" circumstances and discover it doesn't generate the shame or unhappiness they were taught that it should, they can becomes confused and end up thinking something is wrong with them, that they are an evil person for not generating a mandatory feeling of shame within themselves over their actions. There's also the flip side of celibacy, which is usually the expectation that celibate individuals will eventually or preferably enter into narrowly defined marriages -- if they don't, they are often taught to see their lives and selves as being "incomplete." The pressure to get married and have unpleasant sex to have babies or for eternal happiness or other reasons can be damaging for, for example, an asexual for whom married sex is at minimal unpleasant or at the extreme rape; or for someone who was repeatedly raped and sexually abused as a child and needs to go through a process of healing with a partner they feel safe with instead of someone who they have married out of pressure to perform their duty. But the truth is, rigid parameters regarding sexual relations, who one can have them with, when one can or can't have them, what types of sexual relations are supposed to be "satisfying" or "sacred" versus "immoral" or "unsatisfying" can be damaging to ANYONE who doesn't by coincidence have the right temperament, level of sex drive, gender, and orientation that suits those parameters.

Celibacy is neither here nor there; the *reasons* for celibacy, however, have the potential to lead to lifelong emotional pain, trauma, manipulative relationships, and on the extreme end -- abuse that others ignore or pretend is acceptable in the name of living a "more moral" life than they otherwise would have if they had pursued circumstances that would have been healthier for them.

In response to Very Happy Spouse: I grew up Mormon, too. I was a teen in the 90's. I struggled with chastity for years, sticking to very rigid ideas about sexual immorality and sexual urges even though they made me loathe myself and my body, and led me to fear and vilify men. My friends explored sex in more natural and normal ways as part of growing up, which meant that they had some experience to call upon once they became adults. When I was 20, I finally had sex outside of marriage -- my FIRST kiss, my FIRST makeout session, my first intercourse, everything in one go. It was casual sex with no expectation of marriage. It was tremendously satisfying and a HUGE relief after so many years of self-oppression. I went on to live with a man for several years before we had a non-religious wedding ceremony and went back to living together in the exact same way with the slight alteration of having a certificate calling us husband and wife for legal purposes. We adored each other. We did not adore each other less before marriage, or find our sex life less satisfying. Marriage did not magically improve anything about our lives or our spirituality. Our sex life has been fantastic, and from the start we have been equals. There's no pressure to have unwanted sex, because our sex drives and interests are compatible, which we learned by living together rather than forcing ourselves into a long-term obligation that would have been toxic to both of us due to our backgrounds and past experiences. Our relationship progressed naturally into one that has last 16 years and is as wonderful as ever because we moved forward at a pace that worked for us. Neither of us are inclined to have children, and neither of us feel as if we should be ashamed of this. Neither of us feel like we should be ashamed of anything sexual we've together, either before or after marriage. There is no manipulation in our approach to sex, and neither of us would ever choose to willfully cause emotional harm to the other by either forcing sex on them or by denying them sex to punish them for misdeeds. I'm glad to hear that the church has changed the tone it uses when teaching teenagers about sex, but teaching that sex is wrong outside of marriage is still drawing an arbitrary, and potentially damaging, line in the sand. Some relationships have to progress sexually without such tethers to have a chance to flourish, due to the upbringing or experiences of the individuals involved. And is it just straight marriage that you teach that is "right" or "more right"? Is it still only temple marriage that really "counts"? Are all the other marriages still only "temporary" and just not as good as temple ones? Where do transgenders fit into your lessons or your eternal husband/wife afterlife? What about girls who were physically abused to the point where having sex would physically pain them and who don't want to be married? Girls who were born unable to have sex due to sealed vaginas? Boys who were born asexual and would find it outright painful to get themselves to a point where they could get a wife pregnant? How do you handle all the individuals, caveats, exceptions -- REAL PEOPLE -- who exist outside of your arbitrary declaration of what kind of sex is "right" and what kind of sex is "wrong, but we'll forgive you for it anyway"? The teachings may have changed somewhat, but that doesn't meant they aren't still inflicting damage on those who don't fit into your narrow definition of a righteous sexual union.

You could argue that your beliefs are different than my beliefs, except that I am talking about actual experiences, not beliefs. You could argue that you choose of your free will to believe in a narrowly definition of righteous sex and marriage and that's your right, which it is, but I want to point out that you are turning around and teaching children that there is only one, true path. You are teaching them that they do not have real choices -- only the right one and evil ones or less right ones that they should avoid because you tell them to. Have you ever told them, "Maybe Mormonism is wrong. Maybe celestial marriage isn't right for you. Don't pressure yourself to pray endlessly for proof that my statements are 'true.' Go seek your own path, the one that is happiest and healthiest for you. Don't worry about promises of eternal life or threats of outer darkness; make your own choices in life, because there is no one, true rod that everyone has to grab hold of." What you teach them is that there is one rod, and one path, and if they don't fit on it, they should contort themselves until they do and be grateful that God gave them the chance to do so.

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