Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fidelity and Healthy Sexuality in Marriage

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"Thou shalt love thy [spouse] with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her [or him] and none else."
-Doctrine and Covenants 42:22
Link: Cleave to One Another
This week's post is going to cover both marital fidelity and healthy sexuality within marriage. Fidelity in marriage is defined as loyalty and support to one's spouse along with sexual, and might I say EMOTIONAL, faithfulness. It is a trait that is essential to the trust and emotional health of the couple in the marriage relationship.

Of course, being married doesn't mean that you can't have friends, even friends of the opposite sex. However, boundaries need to be taken into consideration so that a friendship outside of the marriage does not turn into something more than what is healthy for your marriage (Matheson, 2009, p. 3).Your spouse needs to be first in your heart amongst your earthly relationships.

Infidelity is not limited to only the physical act of sexual intimacy outside of the marriage. There is also emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity is the act of giving way to romantic or sexual thoughts and emotions being focused on someone other than your spouse. It is a type of infidelity that doesn't usually happen suddenly, but gradually. It may come on so subtly that the person or people involved with it do not perceive any wrongdoing (p.3).

Questions to consider to honestly assess whether or not you are being unfaithful to your spouse by way of a friendship:
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  • Are you turning to your friend for comfort rather than to your spouse?
  • "Do you find yourself thinking about your friend even when you are at home?"
  •  "Do you seek opportunities to be with your friend, even when work doesn't require you to be together?"
  • "Do you email and text your friend when you're not together?"
  • Do you tell your spouse about these messages? Do you feel a need to keep these messages a secret from your husband/wife?
  • Do you spend more time and energy on your friendship than on your relationship with your spouse?
  • "Do you compare your spouse to your friend?"
  • "Would you feel uncomfortable introducing your spouse to your friend?"
  • Do you feel this friendship to be "special"?
(List taken from Matheson, 2009, p. 9-10).
Link: Clean Conscience


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If you have answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you may need to make some changes in your life. Kenneth W. Matheson, who is a professor of social work at Brigham Young University, recommends considering "an open and honest conversation with your spouse--being sure to focus on yourself and not the other person." In other words, take resposibility for your actions and let your spouse know that you will no longer be nurturing that friendship. For overcoming addiction to the "friend", you may need to seek counsel from a spiritual leader and/or a professional counselor (p.10).

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Another way to be emotionally unfaithful is by using pornography. Pornography is a serious addiction that can have an impact on every facet of the addict's life. It has a great potential to destroy
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relationships, which will further isolate the addict and create an even bigger need for pornography use. 

I once attended a fireside where Dan Oaks, a counselor who specialized in overcoming sexual addiction in San Tan Valley, Arizona, talked about how the sexual need in human beings stems from the need to be bonded to another person. We are born with the need to feel bonded to others. As children, we bond to our parents and siblings through hugs, kisses, and spending time together. As we age and the sex drive kicks in, feelings of loneliness and isolation can make this new appetite burn with an intense heat in order for the person to seek out a meaningful bond. The healthiest way to feed this urge
Link: Teen Talking to Parent

 when you are a teenager or not married is to talk to someone with whom you share a bond (typically a parent) to help alleviate the loneliness, which will quell the sexual feelings. What will not help are pornography and masturbation because they will not fill the innate need to have a bond. Rather, it only stimulates the hormones and pleasure centers of the brain without providing any feelings of satisfation because there is no bond. To understand more about the effects of pronography on the brain, the body, and your relationships, see fightthenewdrug.org.

Dan Oaks also said that having sexual trysts with somone to whom you are not married will also not fill this need for a bond because you do not share a deep, emotional bond with them. Your brain will say, "Well, that was nice, but that was not what I was looking for."
Link: Marriage's Beautiful Garden
However, when you marry someone to whom you are emotionally bonded, your mind and your body react differently to the act of sexual intimacy. The act iself becomes a sacred bonding act between spouses with the potential to create life (Please don't misunderstand. This potential to procreate children is there whether or not you are married). Keeping your emotional and physical loyalties healthy within your marriage relationship will help keep this sacrement in your marriage deeply satisfying.


To have  a healthy sexual relationship within your marriage, you need to have healthy attitudes toward it. Often in religious circles, children are taught that intamacy is "icky" or a "necessary evil" for
the procreation of children (Barlow, Sep. 1986, p. 1). President Spencer
Link: Spencer W. Kimball
W. Kimball, former leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said, "The Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propegation of the human race, and for the expression of that kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His commandment to the first man and woman to be 'one flesh' was as important as his command to 'be fruitful and multiply'." (Quoting Billy Graham) (p. 1).


"Recent research indicates that the capacity for sexual response in women is just as great, if not greater, than that of males." 
          -Brent A. Barlow

What healthy sexuality in a marriage is NOT:
  • Only for the procreation of children.
  • Only for physical gratification (the couple becomes obsessed with pleasure so much that they neglect nurturing their love for one another).
  • A tool to use as a weapon or a bargaining tool.
(List taken from Barlow, Sep. 1986, p. 2).
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How to nurture sexuality in marriage:
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  • Talk about sex with your spouse (Brotherson, 2003, p. 2).
  • Give yourself permission to "seek out from the best books"  information in regard to how human sexuality works (p. 3). For suggestions, a list of Christian-based books that treats sexuality with dignity is provided at the end of this article.
  • Overcome your negative feelings toward sex (p. 4). If you are a victim of sexual crime, you may need professional help to
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    overcome this. I, personally, had a significant struggle with this step due to sexual crimes committed against me as a child. Going to a professional counselor who was faith-based, encouraged my marital relationship to grow, and was sensitive to my needs to help me overcome Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and sexual dysfunction was worth every penny. If you decide to go, bring your spouse along with you as often as you can. They will need to understand how to help you while you heal. Also, please understand that this is not going to be a quick fix. It will take time, but, as I said, it's worth it. I'm much more at ease with the sexual side of my relationship with my husband, and I am comfortable with the idea that I am a sexual being who is allowed to intimately bond with her husband and enjoy it.
  • Think of your sexual relationship as a stewardship. In a stewardship, you give time and attention to a duty you want to see grow into something special (p. 5).
  • View it, as Harold B. Lee puts it, as a "holy impulse for a holy
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    purpose" (p. 5). God gave us these feelings to help us to nurture our marital bond while also making it possible for children to be born into the relationship.
A note to the husband: in order for your wife to be in a mood to open herself up to you, she needs small gestures from you to make her feel accepted and attractive to you such as:
  1. A hug and a kiss goodbye before you part ways for work, and then doing that again when reunited at the end of the day.
  2. Spending time together often throughout the week.
  3. Care about the small struggles she has in her life.
  4. Help around the house, especially when she has had a hard day at work (this includes the job of being a stay-at-home mother) or isn't feeling well.
  5. Compliment her and tell her you love her.
  6. Give small gifts.
  7. Sit next to her and hold her hand. 
  • A note to the wife: realize that your husband has needs other than just sexual. Sex actually isn't his main focus in life. He has hopes, dreams, interests, and aspirations. He needs you to know and understand these things. Also:
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  1. Find time to spend with him.
  2. Allow him to be romatic with you (hugs, kisses, holding hands, receiving gifts, etc.).
  3. Express what you appreciate about him and the things he does (no sarcasm, please).
  4. Initiate affection. 
  5. Try the things listed above in the note to the husband. They work for him too (Barlow,  Sep. 1986, p. 3-4).

The sexual aspect of your realtionship is special and needed. The trust you share with one another needs to be more important than any feelings of infidelity. Enjoy your bond, and remember to nurture all aspects of your relationship as we have discussed in previous articles.

List of Christian-based books on healthy sexuality:
Link: Keep Marriage Pure

  • You and Your Marriage by Hugh B. Brown
  • The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love by Tim and Beverly LaHaye 
  • Between Husband and Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy by Stephen Lamb and Douglas Brinley
  • Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat
  • The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis
  • Purity and Passion by Wendy Watson
  • Couple Sexual Awareness or Sexual Awareness, Couple Sexuality for the Twenty-first Century or Rekindling Desire, or A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex Marriages all by Barry and Emily McCarthy
(List taken from Brotherson, 2003, p. 2&8.)
Link: https://byloverefined.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/548978_3671475279882_1372657641_n.jpg?w=940

References:

Brotherson, S.E. (2003). "Fulfilling the Sexual Stewardship in Marriage." Meridian Magazine, www.meridianmagazine.com
 
Barlow, B. A. (Sep 1986). "They twain shall be one: Thoughts on intimacy in marriage." Ensign, Sept 1986, 49.

Matheson, K.W. (Sep 2009). "Fidelity in marriage: It's more than you think." Ensign, Sept. 2009, 13-16.

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