18 Dec

Marriage and Mormonism

Posted by Jenna, Under Married Life, Religious

I forwarded myself this link with the title “best article ever on marriage from a Mormon perspective“.

And I seriously think it is. I read it out loud to That Husband as we were going to bed last night and we had a great discussion revolving around several of the topics. A few of my favorite points:

  • Mormon divorce statistics aren’t really that different from the rest of the country [we have a lot of room to improve]
  • We are not only marrying incredibly young, we are going from meeting-dating-engagement-marriage in a matter of weeks, and it’s not good
  • Surprise, our sex lives are probably different [better] than what most people would expect for a group of mostly-conservatives

An aside prompted by the article:

So often in Mormon circles women will say “It’s a huge problem for so many females in the church to be told sex is bad one day, then you get married, and it’s okay the next.” This is why sex is an issue for my Mormon girlfriends.

But something Lambert said made me realize I don’t really think that’s the problem. I think our actual problem is differences regarding what is okay and what is not okay between husband and wife. The LDS Church position today is that couples should decide what is appropriate for their own relationship, and it is none of the leadership’s business, but several decades ago this was not the case. Couples were being asked very personal questions about their intimate life by their church leaders, and opinions were given regarding what should be eliminated from the bedroom. I feel like I can’t stress enough that we don’t live in that kind of time anymore, but I think that the culture hasn’t yet shifted to fully accepting that it’s between the couple and shouldn’t be determined by past statements from leaders. This is where a lot of marital troubles can arise, specifically when women do something with their husband that makes them feel “unholy”, and they don’t talk it out with their spouse. The solution here is better communication during marriage, but also before. If you think X is okay, but your spouse thinks XXX is okay, you’re in for some rough surprises if you don’t have sex until marriage.  To my single friends: talk about this before the wedding night.

Back to my favorite points:

  • Unrealistic expectations about how dreamy and easy marriage will be [prince riding in on a white horse and taking his princess to a castle in a fairyland] make a difficult thing ever more difficult
  • Gender roles and living in a patriarchal society
  • Judging our spouse if they don’t “choose the right”, based on what we think is right [he gives the example of a husband watching an R rated movie, and the wife struggling to deal with his choice]
  • Dealing with change as our spouse becomes a different person than they were when you got married. What they believe might change, and that is hard to accept in a culture that stresses that a family must all stay together in order to sit down for family dinner every night in the Celestial Kingdom.

And the article titled “Thou Shalt Not Coerce They Spouse” is a must read. I’ve read it several times over the past few days and every time I like it more. Particularly this line:

Everybody changes, even if it’s just to become even more insecure and inflexible and dogmatic about their original beliefs. Assuming that everything else in the relationship is cool, it’s the height of irony to divorce someone over God, particularly since faith in him is supposed to be all about patience, forgiveness, and love. Frankly, who better deserves this kind of treatment than the person you vowed to love forever?

This post is all over the place. I wanted to share it with the Mormons who read, because I think it can make our culture/marriages stronger to talk about these things. I wanted to share it with those who aren’t Mormon because if you come from a religious conservative background some of these things will probably apply. And I know there are many of you who don’t fit into the former two categories, but have an abiding interest in these sort of things and will have interesting opinions to share below.

179 Comments


  1. It bugs me that Church leadership *ever* thought it was appropriate to ask couples about their sexual activities. That should have never been anyone’s business but the couple’s.

    I never felt awkward about having sex after I was married. I never felt that we were taught “sex is bad,” just that sex was for after marriage. That was never a struggle for my husband and I. We waited, we started having sex when we were married and it was never awkward. Maybe that’s not the case for other LDS couples?

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Our experience was more like yours. And we talked about it a lot before we did (our relationship was long distance, which better lends itself to these types of conversations when you’re a couple who is ‘waiting”).

    Reply

    Alisha Reply:

    Yeah, I’m sure it was easier to talk about when it didn’t have to be face-to-face! LOL. I’m glad you and TH didn’t have a hard time with it.

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    I’ve REALLY been realizing this recently and have even researched it a bit – I came to the same conclusion that Jenna spoke of (used to dictate, now they no longer) but it has made it so confusing getting to that process. One minute I’d read something very directive, the other it’s “up to the husband and wife”.

    I hear the phrases and the ideas that certain things are wrong (other than the totally obvious things of course – no pornography, etc), but I think it definately went over board back then and made people question *everything* and every move they made. And we’re a faithful people – you give us the slightest feeling that something is “wrong” and we won’t touch it or anything near it with a ten foot pole. Which can be a hinderence when trying to naviagate a healthy, satisfying sex life for both people.

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  2. I’m excited to read the article! But just as a side note and clarification. You said “If you think X is okay, but your spouse thinks XXX is okay, you’re in for some rough surprises if you don’t have sex until marriage.”

    XXX is well known to mean pornography and this is something that in no way should be part of a marriage or sexual relations. :D

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Actually I wrote that pretty deliberately. Another thing I really liked on Mormonism and Marriage and Sex was this podcast: http://mormonstories.org/?p=1942

    And I think things like toys or oral would be considered XXX by some Mormons, but not by others.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Oral and toys depends on each couple’s comfort levels. However I still want to be clear that the viewing of pornography or reading pornography such as playboy, are not acceptable in marriage in order to arouse each other or self or improve sexual relations. Another thing about toys would be the place these are sold at are often XXX stores where the content of these stores are extreme, inappropriate, and degrading. Even a quick search for sex toys will bring up incredible amounts of pornography on computers that are not properly secured, not to mention the huge amount of the industry being geared to self pleasure.

    Basically all I’m saying is that sex is great and a huge important part of marriage, but there is a fine line between enhancing your marriage and starting to destroy it by introducing pornographic things into it. We have to be careful about what we view and do as a couple and label it sexuality improvements.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Pornography may not be a part of YOUR marriage or YOUR sexual relations, but that is just you and your belief/opinion. There are lots of people out there (myself included) who see no harm in it and believe that it can improve your sex life.

    As for Jenna, I think you’re preaching to the choir. I think she already knows this bit. ;)

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    This is an LDS standard. I was not speaking for anybody else but active LDS members. I know many of my friends who are not members disagree with me, but I still disagree with them and we just move along.

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    Shanna Reply:

    I know. Your comment, however, was a statement of fact rather than an expression of your beliefs or of a facet of LDS doctrine. As such, it can be offensive to those of us who don’t have the same beliefs.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    It is a fact that pornography use by LDS members is not acceptable.

    Reply

    Alisha Reply:

    True, but there are no standards regarding sex toys and there are LDS couples who use them!

    Reply

    R Reply:

    Drugstore.com. It’s neither nasty nor includes pornographic images.

    Reply

    kate Reply:

    Toys can be very helpful in aiding couples with sexual difficulties and there are all kinds from “massagers” sold at CVS etc. to more “naughty” looking ones. I don’t see how sharing these safe and healthy toys between a couple could lead to anything negative, unless one person is uncomfortable in the scenerio.

    There are plenty of stats on how using toys often brings a couple closer together because it may allow one partner (often a woman) to better enjoy herself.

    Reply

    Sr Reply:

    In regards to porn in a relationship, you should really educate yourself on the whole industry and how it treats women overall. read articles from different sources/schools of thought and really reflect. there is a reason why a very large number of women (and men) in the porn industry turn to drugs and alcohol. Even though you might be buying “strait” porn, think of what your money is supporting overall.

    Ps. I’m not a christian but I don’t understand how viewing/ aspect of other people’s sex acts (porn video) is within the realm of acceptable within Christianity. Wouldn’t that be supporting premarital sex? Also isn’t the point of mormon modesty standards and garmets so that ones body is meant for their spouse???? How is viewing someone’s body (not your spouse) in a sexual context ok with christinity? It just doesn’t make sense to me…

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I think this reply is in response to me? I didn’t mean to come across as defending porn. I’ve never engaged with it, and never plan to. Like you, I think it’s overall effect is degrading and to be avoided.

    With the XXX I was trying to imply that one spouse might think something is equivalent to pornography in terms of how “bad” it might be. Another might think it is harmless. I’m not sure if that’s making sense.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    I am neither Christian nor Mormon, which is why I took offense at Thais’s original statement. She was stating a LDS fact which doesn’t necessarily pertain to the rest of us. So, all the things you brought up are essentially why porn is a no go for Mormons, among other things. I wouldn’t put porn and Christianity at odds, though.

    Good points about the industry. Just like any other industry that mass markets, it does have its issues. I’m not sure how the argument about drugs and alcohol jives though. Rock stars, actors and white collar workers use as well, so I wonder how much is causality or correlation.

    Regarding porn and women, that’s complicated and I don’t want to get into it here. Not all porn objectifies women or treats them poorly, and there is feminist porn too. We definitively shouldn’t support rape, victimization of minors, abuse, etc. but porn, when done right, can be a good thing IMO. Bringing it out in the open, ceasing the shaming and accepting it as a valid job would do wonders in cutting back on the shady stuff that goes down around sex work, I think.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    Here you go, Christian sex toy: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18975616

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    Katy Reply:

    I still need to listen to that. My husband saw that I have it in my favorites and was also asking if I’d listened to it yet!;)

    I go back and forth all the time – sometimes I wish God would really just give us a list in marriage. Do this, can’t do that. Easy. But I know that would keep us from using our intellect. It would keep us from learning with our spouse. And I have come to realize that when God REALLY doesn’t want us to do something – if it’s a REALLY big deal (like remaining pure before marriage) – He’s very clear with us.

    I have to realize that even though their is a relative silence on the matter of sex isn’t a complete licensce to do WHATEVER we please, it does mean that within our marriage we don’t have to limit ourselves *quite* as much as we think. We shouldn’t go overboard or extreme on either side (extreme prudness or extreme allowance), we can pray when we don’t know for sure, and discuss with our spouse. If our lives are in harmony with God, we’ll know what’s good for us and what we don’t like (which can be different in specifics from one couple to the next).

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    Thais Reply:

    Jackie Thank you for the Christian sex toy link. I know there is an LDS one but I cannot remember what it is called!! Scratch that! I found it: http://www.simplysweetmarriage.com/index.html

    To all that replied. Thank you for being kind (well most of you)

    A few added comments I’d like to add.

    1. I do think toys can enhance a marriage if both partners are comfortable with it. I was just trying to make the point that I didn’t think going to XXX stores to acquire them and that we needed to be very careful with what were looking up online due to the heavy content sites it can bring up. I know there are playful things available at stores, like walgreens sells “sex dice” during Valentines. Barnes and Noble sells a game called “101 Nights of grrrreat sex” (there’s also a book) which is fun, but you need to set aside like 3 hours lol, and so on. I also highly recommend “The Sexually Confident Wife” by Shannon Ethridge.

    2. I am not condemning anybody for anything. But two things are very clear in LDS teachings are that pornography is not allowed in any way, shape or form and masturbation (of self, not each other) is also not allowed. That is as far as restrictions go the way I understand it for us LDS folk!!!

    3. I am not a prude. And I am slightly offended by what Grace (below us) commented about me without knowing a dang thing about me. As a convert I was exposed to a lot of things prior to getting baptized at 18. My parents were very liberal and sex is not a taboo in my house at all. Still somehow managed to remain a virgin though till I was married.My husband’s house is very much different, sex is a curse word, and boy were they in for a surprise when I waltzed in! I taught my husband all the ins and outs about his anatomy and my anatomy prior to getting married. I pulled out my anatomy and physiology book from nursing school out. We both read “Between husband and wife” by Brinley and Lamb. There is constant conversation (and research) being done. We’ve even talked about sex during pregnancy, how I feel about body changes after baby and my concerns about that, old age, and so on all related to sex and things we can do, like, dislike. Communication is key and sadly some couples don’t feel safe in talking about it and are embarrassed to do so because of the huge stigma attached to it.

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    Sophia Reply:

    See, here is what I’m wondering re: masturbation. Theoretically, can’t there be mutual masturbation within a marriage? If you’re both together, and if it’s part of foreplay and leads to sex with one’s spouse, I don’t see how it breaks the rule. Also, what about phone sex with one’s spouse that involves masturbation, in order to stay sexually connected while apart (especially apart for long periods of time)? These are the gray areas that I think a lot of people just say “nope, no masturbation so I can NEVER touch myself EVER” (not saying you’re saying that, but I’m just saying in general, it can get very black and white when I think it’s kind of gray.)

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    Sophia Reply:

    I should also add that I think that this blanket rule does a disservice to women, who generally have a harder time figuring things out in the orgasm department. I get the reason for it before marriage (although I disagree and I don’t share that value), but after, I think it could be helpful in a variety of ways.

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    Thais Reply:

    Sophia,

    I quote to you from “A Parent’s Guide” published by the church to help parents teach children about intimacy:

    “The intimate relationship between husband and wife realizes its greatest value when it is based on loving kindness and tenderness between the marriage partners. This fact, supported by valid research data, helps newly married couples recognize that the so-called sex drive is mostly myth. Sexual intimacy is not an involuntary, strictly biological necessity for survival, like breathing and eating. Sexual intimacy between a husband and wife can be delayed or even suspended for long periods of time with no negative effect (for example, when the health of one or the other requires it). Husbands and wives are not compelled to mate because their genes or hormones order them to do so. Sexual powers are voluntary and controllable; the heart and mind do rule. While sex drive is a myth, husbands and wives do have physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled through sexual union. If they perceive and appreciate their masculine and feminine natures as important, complementing, but not controlling, parts of their lives, becoming as one flesh can be one of life’s richest and most rewarding experiences.

    There are times within the marriage when complete abstinence is appropriate for extended periods of time, such as during ill health, difficult pregnancy, separation due to employment away from home, or a need to restore respect and mutually decent emotional and spiritual relationships. There also are times when a spouse’s emotional and physical needs would make it desirable for the other to be especially affectionate.”
    Link here: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=53537befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=7b2a5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    As far as I understand, self pleasuring is not something we practice even if you are apart for extended periods of time. As to mutual masturbation I think it’s a gray area for sure and I have no good answer except that if both couples are comfortable then maybe? I don’t really know, but I think IMO (and I don’t want to be attacked on this!!) it’d more fun and appropriate to do it to each other with good open communication about what feels good and what doesn’t… oh and lube, lots of lube. :)

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    Jenna Reply:

    OH MY GOSH. I actually can’t believe I’m reading this. The Church is acting like wet dreams and erections that come from sustained periods of suspended sexual activity don’t even exist. I mean, I get that for a woman they just assume that I’m supposed to exercise some sort of saintly virtue and put those thoughts away for our grand reunion, but for a guy? It’s an actual biological need to have an outlet.

    Wow, I could not disagree with what I read above more. Sex drive is a real thing, I can feel it in myself each month throughout my cycle as I ovulate and feel an increased desire to have sex. Men who experience erections, particularly when it’s been a long period of time since their last climax, can certainly tell you it’s a real thing.

    (And Thais, I’m not attacking you, I’m attacking this ridiculous statement by the Church, to be clear).

    And I feel for any military spouse who reads this and feels that they are just supposed to wait it out with no other options. Or men/women who travel for long periods of time and feel like using Skype isn’t an option because some completely ridiculous statements made by Church leaders tell them not to.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Jenna,

    The whole book goes into it in more detail and there are other things about wet dreams being natural and NOT a form of masturbation. You’d have to read the whole thing.

    I am in no way discrediting that it would be incredibly difficult to be apart for long periods of time but I believe church position is clear that masturbation is not okay even under such circumstances. However I still believe it’d be up to the couple to determine their level of comfort on this. Illness or post baby thing can be worked around, but if you’re physically apart it’s kind of hard to touch each other.

    When it comes to sexual drive I take it as something that can be controlled type of thing. While yes we have sexual feelings or drives these are feelings that can be controlled and not acted upon just because you feel them and they are normal to have. Hence why masturbation, premarital sex are forbidden. Or if you were to be divorced, just because you had sex before, doesn’t mean it’s fine to self pleasure, or single members. The list goes on and on about all the people that could use the “it’s a natural thing/desire” into “masturbation is okay”. Even after marriage there is a need for self control. If you and your husband are out together and all of the sudden you get an urge to have sex, you won’t be getting it on in the middle of the mall. While I thing the wording could be better, I believe the general concept is that we can control our sex “drive” and not behave like bunnies. :D

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    Jenna Reply:

    I think we will have to agree to disagree. Admittedly this position is rather new for me, but I think mutual masturbation doesn’t have to mean being in the same place.

    For me, masturbation means having sex with yourself, and not involving your partner. It is saying “I don’t want to work with someone else right now, I want to make this happen on my own.” It is selfish.

    Using Skype or the telephone, calling your spouse, connecting with them and expressing your need, IS having sex *with* them, even if you aren’t physically touching each other.

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    Sophia Reply:

    I agree. I truly cannot see how one is expected to abstain from sexual interactions with spouses who are on military deployment, or overseas on business, or heck, even just gone for a while- connecting in that way requires a lot more communication and can, I think, almost enhance the sexual relationship by being creative with ways to stay in touch even when you *can’t* touch. In the age of Skype and phones, I think it is a great way to stay intimately connected.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Yeah. Wow. I’m way with Jenna on this. That pamphlet is full of nonsense. They are making a useful point about exercising self-control, but it is surrounded by untruths and nonsensical ideas.

    If a couple wants to have phone or skype sex they totally should. The damage of porn and solo masturbation is in it’s selfish focus (my pleasure, on my schedule, my way). Mutual masturbation completely avoids that issue and makes the sexual interaction once again about “our” pleasure and connection. What’s more, mutual masturbation when a couple is together physically has tons of benefits. Both partners can effectively share what makes them feel good and, if things are proving tricky, more easily ensure that they can both have an orgasm if they both want one. Frankly, if I didn’t do some work myself a lot of the time I wouldn’t get there. It’s tricky stuff and we’re both learning and I can better adapt to the cues my body sends me than my husband who can’t read my mind and know that a millimeter to the left is critical in a given moment.

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    kate Reply:

    In college I had an LDS roommate from an otherwise loving and rather socially liberal LDS family. However, her 14 y/o brother was caught masturbating and the family did a whole intervention. I felt SO BAD for him. I mean, I don’t know how kids that age, especially boys, go without. I think that it’s probably done by most LDS boys and girls bit secretly and with shame.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    They did an intervention that everyone know about? How awful.

    Oh I had a great conversation about this before we left Chicago for Christmas break. It’s a big problem in the Church, telling boys not to masturbate just means a constant cycle of sin+guilt+repentance until they get married.

    One of the men in the conversation said “I made it my whole mission without doing it. I don’t know how, it was an act of God.” The other said he only did it once. And your mission is a time when you are completely removed from the world, and with another person almost every moment of every day.

    If it’s superhuman to think you can make it your whole mission, there is no way the men (and yes, some women) of the church are going from age 10-12 through their mid-twenties without masturbating.

    I don’t know what the solution is though.

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    Danielle Reply:

    My husband did. I have no idea how, he says he just felt compelled to be obedient. His friends absolutely did not, though, and it made no difference if they were mormon or not.

    I don’t think it should be a habit, but rarely isn’t that grave of a sin, IMO. We fail to exercise control over our bodies in lots of ways, all the time. This is one where you do your best and if you mess up you repent and try again. Maybe you’ll feel like you need to talk to someone, maybe you won’t. But huge shame complexes about something that one is strongly and biologically compelled to do certainly won’t help. You have to teach why it’s important not to do it and that you just try again when you fall short.

    A family intervention sounds horrifying to me at 25. I can only imagine how a 14 year old would feel.

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    Kat Reply:

    “While sex drive is a myth, husbands and wives do have physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled through sexual union”

    My definition of ‘sex drive’ would be pretty close to “physical and emotional needs that are fulfilled through sexual union” ie sex drive is the desire to have sex. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libido) Having a high desire to have sex doesn’t make sex a biological necessity, but also doesn’t make sex drive a myth.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Sad anecdote. In college I started using tampons without an applicator. A friend of mine did the same, and we were talking about how much we loved it with a few other girls (all Mormons, of course). They expressed this really extreme discomfort at the idea of “touching themselves” and said they felt wrong about the idea. This made me incredibly sad, even then, when I was much more conservative than I am now.

    I would guess there are a lot of Mormon women who have never physically explored their own genitalia with their fingers. How can you help your spouse do a good job in bed if you don’t even know what feels good?

    I don’t know much about this, but this is what the Vagina Monologues are about, right?

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    vintage_paige Reply:

    Can Jenna or someone please explain why masturbation is not allowed before marriage? I know the reasoning for after marriage, but why before? Isn’t it found to decrease premarital sex and wouldn’t it likely decrease the number of LDS teenagers and barely twenty somethings getting married?

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    Christiana Reply:

    I’m with vintage_paige here, if masturbation after marriage is selfish, then why isn’t masturbation before marriage okay?

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    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    The Vagina Monologues are about a lot of things, not just sexual exploration. They cover a lot of issues like rape, molestation, abuse, and societal issues that impact women. I was in the Vagina Monologues when I was in college and invited my Dad to my show. He was like, “Sure!…..So do you dress up like a vagina and dance around the stage?” -Haha!

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    Danielle Reply:

    That is so sad to me. There is such a shame complex in our culture (not just church, I mean our broader culture) about female genitalia. It’s not dirty. It’s not ugly. It’s not smelly. It’s not shameful.

    My sister had a friend, not mormon, who expressed similar disgust at touching herself. My sister was so confused as to how her friend could be sexually active and still not bring herself to insert a tampon.

    Also, applicator-less ob tampons are the best. I was irritated that my mom, who used them, never suggested them to me as a teenager. I had to find them in college. They’re awesome.

    Reply

    Grace Reply:

    Hi Thais, sorry I offended you. I reread my comment and it does sound like I am implying that you have a bad sex life which is both rude and unknowable (since I don’t know you and obviously have no idea what your sex life is like whatsoever). I certainly didn’t mean that at all!

    What I meant to say (however ineptly) was that labeling whole areas of sex as “degrading” or “inappropriate” is not helpful if your goal is honest communication.

    I am not suggesting that anyone do something they aren’t comfortable with, but to me it seems that saying, “I don’t like mutual masturbation and don’t want anything to do with it” (stating your personal feelings) is so much better than saying “Mutual masturbation is degrading, and only sinful people do it” (imposing a value judgment). If your husband is actually interested in such an activity, you’ve just reduced the chances of an honest conversation to approximately zero.

    I think it’s really important in marriage to create an environment in which both people feel comfortable in exploring all facets of themselves, sexually and otherwise. I do not think that imposing value judgments on sexual behavior is the way to make this happen.

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  3. Growing up, I never really got the “sex is bad” vibe. I think it was more just a “wait til marriage” thing. Honestly, what bothered me the most was the ignorance surrounding it. It was just so hush-hush that most kids were left in the dark about it! I remember being really, really glad my school district had really progressive and thorough sex education or I wouldn’t have had any idea about anything. I remember talking to a few of my Mormon girlfriends at the “bachelorette” party of one of them and being astounded by their lack of knowledge, and this included the bride! I just wish the church had a more honest, open view about sex being a healthy expression of love rather than something to be hidden. Maybe this was just my family/ward though?

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    Alisha Reply:

    I completely agree! It is amazing how naive and uninformed so many in the LDS church are about sex. Almost dangerously naive, I’d say. I think way too many members of the church learn that “sex is bad” rather than “sex is great and healthy when you’re married.” Or at least that’s how they perceive what they’re told. It’s sad.

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    Katy Reply:

    Sometimes I think I’m a bit more of ‘prude’, especially compared with non-LDS friends, but when I read accounts of other LDS women and *their* level of prudeness and uncertainty (some thinking its wrong to take a shower with their husband is one of the more extreme examples i remember) and suddenly I feel like a vixen!;)

    I do wish so.much. that we had more open conversations about married sex life – I know we can’t and shouldn’t go into too much detail, but it would be so great to have some actual frank sex discussions with other girls that share the same faith. Sometimes you wonder if you what you think is “normal” or if you’re being too extreme about something. I don’t know exactly how to bridge that fine line between openess and being too open, but it would be wonderful for us LDS gals to be converse in ways that would be helpful for our own lives.

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    Shanna Reply:

    I am curious. Why can’t/shouldn’t you go into too much detail? If you’re worried that a conversation between can veer into the pornography are, I would say to not worry about is. Or is there another reason? I have a Mormon friend who talks very frankly about sex with me, and I never heard anything growing up about sharing too much detail.

    I think being “too open” should be on a personal level. I have a couple good girlfriends that will go into gory details with me. We can talk about positions, how to introduce new things, frequency, all kinds of things. I have always found this to be really helpful, and it really helped me learn that everyone is different and different things work for different people. In addition, without them, or porn, or naughty websites, I am pretty sure I’d be stuck doing missionary every day and that would make me unhappy. :/

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    Danielle Reply:

    My guess is that Katy is talking about being careful of detail in conversations outside of marriage because it can be damaging to the intimacy of the marriage relationship. Which I think is a good thing to be cautious of, though how much is too much is also really dependent on the people in the marriage. I know my comfort level for sharing is higher than my husband’s, but it’s “our” sex life I would theoretically be talking about so I have to be respectful of his boundaries. She can correct me if I read into that wrong, though.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Mine too! I would talk about much more if I was married to someone who was more open.

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    Thais Reply:

    lol clearly I am in no way a closed book. My husband doesn’t talk about it, but he doesn’t mind and is not bothered about my oversharing. :D

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    Danielle is right – *I* have no problem being more open and frank, but sometimes worry that my husband might think I’m over-sharing! And I’m more worried that others (LDS others) wouldn’t want to engage in that discussion and would think *I’m* saying too much or being too ‘vulgar’ – which is funny, because I’m not at all a vulgar person. Just not my nature. But never once has one of my LDS friends ever engaged me in any kind of intimacy discussion/questions, so I’m afraid to step on their toes if their ability to talk about something frankly (but respectfully!) isn’t as high as mine. I would love to have a more ‘frank’ discussion with another LDS wife because she’ll completely understand where I’m coming from from a religious/lifestyle perspective.

    I do have other good friends though (not LDS) that do like to discuss it – it’s never crude and demeaning in any way to their husbands. Just informative and a place for me to ask questions (they are a bit more ‘experienced’ you could say than I:)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Maybe we need to start emailing each other! Sometimes I long for this as well.

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    :) Feel free anytime! Though how does one just launch into the subject anytime, but especailly via email?

    From: Katy
    To: Jenna
    RE: Toys – and not the ones for our kids

    :)

    Actually, I went to one of those home sales parties – called Slumber Parties – that sell different sexual products. I didn’t think I’d actually go and gave myself permission to leave if it got too crazy and *too much* for me, but it was great! I had discussions with friends there I might have not had elsewhere and it’s what launched my ability to go to my good friends back in LA with my questions/comments. I remember the whole time wishing that I could attend a party like that with just me and my LDS friends – put our “spin” on it and try to reach out to each other in a respectful but informative way. I thought I’d be driven out with a pitchfork for suggesting it though, so I lost the nerve to ever do it.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    My Mormon friends have gone and love them as well! It’s so funny to think about the Relief Society president getting excited about a pair of fancy underwear or something :)

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I recently had a very frank conversation about sex with one of my LDS friends. She said it changed her life. She and her husband were just woefully uninformed about anatomy. I felt really awkward at first, but then just went for it. Seriously, why did I have to figure this all out on my own? And why does my friend have to be miserable for months before she can find someone to talk about this with? Cah-razy.

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I should add that I am also LDS. I did some off-reservation reading before I got married. It was worth it. All my mom told me? It’s messier than I thought it would be. No wait. I lied, she did say, ‘Make sure you tell him what you like.’ That was nice of her. ;)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I read a thread on Feminist Mormon Housewives that was all about sex (a bunch of Mormons and ex-mormons talking about what they do in the bedroom) and it was so eye opening to me! Really helped me understand the variety of things that go on.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I think this is where we most struggle with the idea that sex is sacred AND that it’s up to the couple and can be enjoyable. In the Church we don’t talk about sacred things outside of specific contexts (as in, we don’t talk about what goes on in the temple, outside of the temple, even with people have been through the temple). Because doing so is what helps make it both sacred and special for us.

    I think this bleeds over into sexuality as well. It’s special and sacred, and so we hesitate to talk about it because we don’t want to be blasphemous or inappropriate.

    Reply

    Krissy Reply:

    I also agree that it would be great to have an environment where we could discuss these topics very openly with other lds women without having to worry about people getting offended. I find this site to be very helpful to hear other opinions and to see that other women feel the same way I do sexually. I hope this site can find the appropriate way to be more open about it. I’m happy to discuss offline with any of you as well (swattfam2@gmail.com). Krissy

    Reply

    kate Reply:

    I do wish that the LDS church would dispense information to young people about STD/HIV/Pregnancy prevention. Yes, I know, sex isn’t supposed to come before marriage in the LDS church but young people may stray from this dictate (and often do, across religious affiliations) and should still be armed with the means to protect themselves.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Yes! I firmly believe that abstinence only sex ed doesn’t work and that kids need to be educated. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s better to be armed with knowledge than have your mistakes turn into an unplanned pregnancy. This is why I thank my lucky stars to have grown up in a liberal town or I would probably have been 16 & Pregnant. ;)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    *All* couples should be asking their fiance if they have been tested for any sexually transmitted diseases, and assure them that they will still want to marry them if that is the case.

    Can you imagine getting married to someone you thought had avoided sex, and then find out they gave you herpes or something? The only way to thoroughly prevent this is better sex ed training in schools AND conservatives not being naive about what their SO might have done before they met.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    My mom was the sex-ed instructor for our school district. Having those materials available to leaf through was the perfect way for me to be introduced to things (I like learning about things on my own time in my own way, an awkward conversation with my mom would not have been ideal).

    That doesn’t mean I was quite where I needed to be though. I didn’t even know what doggy style meant until I was a freshman in college! We had a night where a bunch of us virgin girls got together and talked about sex. Goo thing we had a night like that though, because most Mormons I know don’t have sex-soaked bachelorette parties. Would there be a way to introduce something like that in a way that isn’t crude, but would still be informational/educational?

    Reply

    kate Reply:

    My health teacher was a former Catholic nun in HS. She was actually a great sexual health educator and let me tell you one of her greatest tactics: She invited a local GYN to show us medical slides of different STDs in all their glory—and I mean, up close and personal body parts. The presentation required a permission slip but I think it was greatly beneficial.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    I think that telling people the reality about sex would be more likely to turn people off! (Yes, it can be messy, yes, it can be painful, yes, you can get pregnant, yes, you can get an STD or a UTI, yes, it is wonderful but because its so wonderful, it can lead to heartache – do you still want to hook up after prom?)

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Yeah, this seems hard! I bought a couple toys for my friend (stuff I had liked that was pretty laid back and could be used by her and her husband) and had a good time explaining some stuff. I really enjoyed helping shed some light for some of them, but a couple were just too skittish about the whole thing.

    I also bought a jokey Kama Sutra book with silly illustrations that was not well received. I wouldn’t have considered that porn, but I guess it is? It just seems like it would be too easy to cross the line there. Maybe you just need to get a bunch of young virgins, as you said, and sit them with a married woman who will answer all their questions? I’d just use google, but then you’d definitely run into lots of porn sites. :( Maybe there needs to be a Mormon version of Dr Ruth?

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  4. I think the most interesting part of the article is the fact that it recognizes that people change in marriage. This is especially the case if you marry young.

    I didn’t marry young, but I started seriously dating my husband when we were 18 and 19 (which in my social setting is basically equivalent). We are extremely different people now, 14 years later, than we were then, in so many ways. Growth and change are part of life (and if you don’t grow as a person, you will still change, usually for the worse, as the article states). I can’t describe how important it is to allow both your spouse and you the space and freedom to develop.

    One of the things I like about your blog is that if you read in the archives, you can see how you’ve changed, getting interested in natural birth, conscious eating, etc. It’s a sign of a healthy marriage if both spouses change and develop new interests and values. The exciting thing about getting married young is that you can watch this process happen (sort of like having a child I suppose). But it’s true you have to be careful that the process of growth doesn’t mean you grow apart instead of in concert.

    I would argue that sex is really the same. People change their sexual interests/needs/desires over time, or discover new ones, or become comfortable enough to admit to them. That’s why you have to KEEP talking about sex after marriage (though you’re right anyone who marries without talking about it before is a fool). Flexibility and open mindedness are key (and in my opinion a blaming/shaming attitude like Thais’ is a good way to get a bad sex life).

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    I was just reading through Jenna’s archvives the other night. (My husband has been staying up late studying and I can’t go to bed without him, so I’ve been doing lots of stuff like this lately haha). I was amazed at how much both you and your writing has matured! Great job!

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I have changed, a lot. Some things I’m actually hesitant to share sometimes because I feel like I’ll get pounced on for “flip-flopping”. It’s so frustrating to feel pigeon-holed that way. Am I worrying about that for nothing though?

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    I think you are worrying about it for nothing if you present it the right way- as in being upfront that you’re changed your mind rather then defending your original position and/or your change of heart. People will think that you’re developing as a person and that’s part of what blogging is all about, right?

    Reply

    Sam Reply:

    I agree with the above – totally cool to say you’ve changed your mind, maybe just share why if you can. It’s always interesting to see the journey one has taken to arrive at a certain conclusion.

    And in other news, I kinda wish there was a “like” button on comments :)

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  5. As a non-LDS, I found the article really interesting as well.

    Jenna, I’m curious about your own reflections on the article, specifically the part about the tendency of Mormons to view things in black and white terms. I think sometimes the way that you present things on the blog related to your beliefs on eating, birthing, parenting, etc. do infer that you tend to see things in a black and white way. Some could say these are just very strong convictions, but I do see it as a contrast to my own world that is comprised almost entirely of various shades of gray (I question EVERYTHING, and hence am never really sure what is right or wrong, and am very hesitant to get on any bandwagon, ascribe to a certain group, make a firm declaration, etc – and yes I recognize the inherent weaknesses in this way of thinking as well).

    I’m curious if you agreed with that part of the article, and how do you feel it relates to your own ways of thinking? Hopefully this didn’t come across negatively, I really am just curious, and found that part fascinating.

    Reply

    R Reply:

    I’m the same way. But that’s probably because we are perceiving on the Myers Briggs scale rather than judging. It’s not a flaw. It’s one of the strengths we carry with us. Just as Jenna’s ability to see black and white is her strength

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    R, you are always so kind. Always honest, but still kind. I really appreciate that.

    Reply

    Rebekah Reply:

    Well thank you. :) We’re all in this together, right? It’s not a competition. And it’s so cool to see how you’ve grown (and myself as well) through this blogging process.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Well I think the way I believe is right, because if it wasn’t, why would I do it? I think we are SO politically correct in America, that every time we talk about something we need to issue a disclaimer along the lines of “I think this is right, but you are free to think whatever you think as well”. I just don’t feel the need to use such language, because to me it seems obvious. Of course we’re going to disagree, everyone does. I think a lot of my “black and whiteness” comes from my personality – I’m get worked up really easily and like to drive my point home. It’s something I am trying to mold into a positive trait, instead of letting it be something that is overwhelming and unappealing.

    I do think though, that I’m changing and softening over time. What I wrote a few years ago might not be what I think now (Actually I know that is the case with a few things I run across) but you guys might not see that because I don’t often write follow-up posts. This could be because A. the change is subtle for me and I don’t remember what I thought about subject Y 3 years ago, or B. I am prideful and admitting I’ve changed my mind about something I believed in so strongly is hard to do. Probably a mix of both a lot of the time.

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  6. It really resonated with me when you wrote “…specifically when women do something with their husband that makes them feel “unholy”, and they don’t talk it out with their spouse. The solution here is better communication during marriage, but also before. If you think X is okay, but your spouse thinks XXX is okay, you’re in for some rough surprises if you don’t have sex until marriage.”

    Not only is it an adorable (if slightly naughty) pun, but I think it’s a really great example of why it’s important to talk — in fairly specific detail — about sex BEFORE you make a major commitment like marriage (or even having sex itself). It is entirely possible that XXX makes Spouse A feel unholy, while Spouse B views it as a normal, healthy part of an appropriate sexual relationship.

    I also really enjoyed reading the other comments here!

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    TOTALLY. I am SO glad that my husband was open to pre-marriage discussions about sex. I think I sometimes felt a little guilty about what we were talking about (stupid Mormon guilt), but I am SO glad we had lots of discussion ahead of time. We have also both been very open in discussing what is and is not okay as we progress in our marriage.

    Really excellent discussion, though.

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  7. My husband and I got engaged when we were 21 (our junior year of college). When we entered our second semester of our senior year (22) we went to the free counseling center and got premartial counseling. There we talked about a lot of issues. Some serious, like how many children we wanted and where we saw our family in 10 years, and some not so serious like if we would allow our children to have friends come over whenever they wanted and how we would handle sleep overs.

    I think pre marital counseling, with the right counselor, is a great for anyone considering marriage. I have a co-worker who had pre marital counseling and decided not to marry the guy based on the time they spent in counseling. She says it was the best decision she had ever made.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    It’s required in my church!

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I SO SO SO wish that the LDS church required pre-marital counseling. I can’t even imagine how different things would be for many of my friends.

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  8. I always knew that until I was married, no sex. Not that it was wrong or bad, the problem was the timing. So when we got married I had NO problem switching over to “yes”. And it’s not like I come from a particularly “open” family – I don’t think my mom ever talked to me about sex (except to reiterate our church standards about waiting until marriage).

    I don’t know if it’s the fault of parents or the person interalizing the “no” message too much, but some people really do think everything related to sex is inherently wrong – hopefully people can reach out to them and change that!

    And yes, you could do a whole post on each one of those phenomenon of LDS marriage – the quick dating and engaged part, the fact that our divorce numbers are on par with the rest of the country.

    My personal belief on the “quick to marriage” idea that I hope to relate to my kids – - – date for a long time. Date for how ever long it takes to really get to know the person and see all sides of them. Then when you decide to marry, be engaged for a relatively short(er) time. Especially for us LDS couples, once we get engaged it can be hard to control the excitement over soon getting to live together and all that entails. I say – date for a good, long time (I hestiate to say what that is, though, come on LDS peeps – 2 weeks isn’t long!:) and once you’ve decided to spend eternity with that person, don’t dilly-dally too much then (though making your wedding a month away will take a few years off your mothers life. Try to spare her if you can:)

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Personally, I found the waiting to be easier once we were engaged. My husband did as well. We dated for over a year before he proposed and were engaged for 5 months. We were ready to have sex like a month into the dating thing so it was a very very long and difficult thing to wait. But yeah, once we were engaged and there was a specific end planned to our no-sex situation it got way easier to wait.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    I think this is a really interesting part of LDS culture. I see it in evangelical churches too, recommending a short engagement. In my church (Catholic), we are required to wait 6 months before getting engaged before we can get married! It’s because we view engagement as the period where you prepare for the sacrament of marriage, and so it should be used for discernment, prayer, preparation, and lots and lots of discussion. Though I think it is good to do the “discernment” part before you get engaged, I think it is good to have the 6 month period to prepare for the sacrament. We have to, for instance, 1) meet with a priest, 2) go on a retreat, 3) meet with a married couple to take this sort-of-a-compatability test, 4) go over the results with them (it’s not used to see if you should get married or not, just to point out things like “hey, you guys disagreed on how many kids you want. Have you talked about that?” Everyone goes in dreading it and ends up LOVING it.

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    Oh, I actually think a 6 month engagement is great. 4-6 months to me is ideal – - as if what I think really matters anyway! Ha! I’m not saying 1 month or anything:) But the whole year/two year engagement thing may work out great for people already living together, but for LDS people, we just don’t do that!

    And of course Danielle’s experience differs and blows my little self-imagined theory out of the water. It’s not a perfect theory for sure!:) I guess more than anything I bristle at hearing how quickly LDS couples date and then move into engagment. Landon and I dated for almost 2 years (that’s an eternity in comparison to most people). There’s a definate ‘honeymoon period’ in dating where you think the other person is PERFECT and yada,yada – then after that time, things settle in more normally and you realize the differences/faults (and whether or not you want to stay together).

    For a lot of LDS couples that date for just mere months and are also engaged for a very short time, they marry while still on this ‘high’, then really come crashing down when they realize their perfect boyfriend is now a normal guy husband. Landon and I had our ups and downs before marriage, so we didn’t really experience too much surprise in that area when then living together after marriage.

    But I know – everyone is different. We all navigate through this a bit differently and some have stories of wonderful, long lasting happy marriages even when dating/engagement is very short. But if my kids want my 2 cents, that’s what I’ll tell them. And then they won’t listen – because that’s what kids do. ;)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Jackie, all of these cultures/faiths that you mentioned encouraged to wait until marriage to have sex? I would say that is the reason why people in the LDS Church tend to encourage long dating, short engagement, because notwithstanding Danielle’s anecdote (which I’m sure applies to some) most find it harder to resist sex once they’ve made the commitment to get married. So the thought is, hurry and get married so you don’t mess up.

    But I think that the consequences for “messing up” are different in other faiths as well, right? In the LDS church it means not getting married in the temple for an entire year, as well as the public shame of everyone knowing that you had sex before marriage.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    Catholicism definitely encourages people to wait till marriage, but having sex before marriage is not an impediment to marriage. So if you do the deed beforehand, yes you messed up and yes you should go to confession, but it won’t stop you from getting married. I think the Church sees it as kind of “better married than not” and doesn’t want to discourage people from getting married and “making it right”.

    Interestingly though, the Church is very, very wary of couples who get married because they’ve had a kid out of wedlock or are pregnant. While there is kinda the old school idea that you should get married to make things OK, the Catholic Church believes people should get married if a) it’s their calling and b) they love each other. Doing it to make family happy or to make things look good on the outside is not considered a valid reason for marriage. (And also it’s the sex outside of marriage that’s the sin, not the having a kid outside of marriage). So one of the things they ask in your premarital counseling is if you are getting married just because you are pregnant. I think it’s the right call…better to have a kid with unmarried parents who marry someone they actually love than to marry each other and end up hating each other.

    And I’m way off topic now.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I actually asked my dad this weekend if he would have forced me to marry a guy just because I got knocked up (in high school). He said no, and we will approach it the same way with our kids. Forcing a marriage, keeping the baby, and divorcing later, makes no sense. Let people choose a spouse that will actually work for them for a long, long, time, and give the kids a better life.

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    If I had a kid who got pregnant in high school (or got someone pregnant) I would probably encourage them NOT to get married. If they really wanted to, after 21 they could have my blessing. I think that more people are realizing that marriage doesn’t cover anything up.

    Reply

    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    I work with a girl who is 17, got pregnant when she was 16, married the guy because her family made her, lost the baby via falling down the stairs, and is in the middle of a divorce…. ALL THAT AT 17!!! So sad.

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  9. I found this article incredibly interesting and was quite suprised to find out there is no pre-marital counseling in the LDS church. The Catholic church makes it mandatory that all couples wishing to marry attend pre-marital counseling through their parish. Sometimes this means spending an entire weekend with a priest or attending several sessions throughout a certain time period. For me, I found that experience incredibly insightful and see the benefits in my marriage to this day. Thank you for sharing, Jenna! This is a great read for anyone, whether you are LDS or of another faith.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Kayley,

    Are priests trained to provide pre-marital counseling? I think this may be why we don’t have a program in place yet for this, our bishops are normal joes and it’d suck for people to get bad counsel because they didn’t know better themselves.

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  10. What a fascinating article. Thank you for sharing. It seems like my comment has already been stressed, but I, too, was surprised by the article’s point about the lack of required counseling for Mormon couples. While I was married by a Baptist minister, I consider myself to be a non-denominational Protestant. She required us to have six mandatory counseling session before she performed our ceremony. We talked about everything from the role of faith, other family members, children, etc. and spent extensive time on communication. I think this was rather valuable to me and my husband.

    Jenna, do you think that there may be a move to add more premarital counseling for Mormon couples soon? Do you think that would help address some of the issues that this article brings up, or do you think more of a large cultural shift is needed?

    Thanks again.

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    I too am completely surprised that there is no required premarital counseling in the LDS Church. I alway assumed there was. The church I grew up in required it of couples wanting to get married there and I’m surprised it’s not the same for Temple weddings at least.

    For many, not much is gained by this counseling (though it’s still fun and interesting), I think for couples that have issues with communicating (particularly around sex, raising children, role expectations) counseling can be so helpful in addressing several of the issues this article lists.

    Does anyone know why there is no required premarital counseling? Is there an official reason?

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    To my knowledge, there is no official reason. The LDS colleges (and institutes where the 18+ singles get religious education while going to regular colleges) do offer Marriage Prep courses that last a semster long. I *think* at BYU they are required, but I could be wrong (I went there and don’t remember!).

    So while we do have courses out there designed for this type of thing, I think it would be great if we also had more one-on-one formal appointments/counseling. Of course, any couple can meet with their Bishop as often as they need to if they’d like to discuss stuff before they get married or even seek out counseling from licensed marriage/couple therapists that are LDS (could get from anyone of course, but if the therapist were LDS it would really help them better understand where the couple is coming from).

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I don’t know if they will add in mandatory counseling anytime soon, but I wish they would. It would be very helpful. There are probably a few reasons why it’s not though:

    1. As Katy mentioned above, there is a Marriage Prep course offered at BYU that some might say is “good enough”. (It is not mandatory, I didn’t take it.) I don’t think it’s anything like what others on WEddingbee or other sites have described for their couples counseling though. It’s very broad, and what I would like to see is one-on-one style discussions that prompt really deep conversations about important issues related to marriage. Plus marriage prep is a class that a lot of people (girls especially) take without even being in a serious relationship! They want to get married, so they “prep” for it.

    2. Someone else in a different thread mentioned that we have a lay clergy. My bishop right now is a lawyer who works full time and runs the congregation on the side. My parent’s have a bishop who is a farmer (they all went to school together). One of my bishops at BYU was a consultant. So having some sort of counseling series with the bishop beforehand doesn’t relaly make sense because he’s not really an expert in the area of counseling people (and giving him the training would be difficult since he has a lot of other stuff on his plate).

    3. The Church really emphasizes self-reliance and taking care of yourself. I think they just kind of assume that the parents will do a good job taking care of preparing their kids. Obviously this is not happening if our divorce rate is close to 50%.

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    vintage_paige Reply:

    Yes it seems sessions based on a couple’s specific relationship that inspires meaningful introspection and communication would be more useful than a broad marriage prep course (apart from learning general religious expectations, temple info, etc.)
    My prep wasn’t with a church leader type ( I imagine it would have been quite different with a bishop type. I question how open the discussion would be especially in a group setting) but rather led by a married couple with counseling training. I also feel that if it hadn’t been required to get married in our church we wouldn’t have done it. We didn’t really appreciate it until after the fact.

    It’s too bad the Church bothers to make it such a large component of church teachings as you grow up and into Uni with family and marriage prep courses without getting more personal and specific with it.

    If the LDS divorce rate is ~ 50%, what percentage of those are also temple divorces? I believe they aren’t as common? So if divorced LDS get remarried what is the thought on how that plays out in the after life?

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    This is complicated. Temple divorces aren’t always sought because they are hard to get (13 million members on the books and the temple divorce has to be approved by one set of 3 guys). So some couples will divorce civilly and then just stay sealed together (there are also complicating factors like children being sealed to a married couple and couples not wanting to break up that circle or chain or whatever it is).

    Honestly, I’m not the one to ask about temple sealings divorce and related stuff. I have a really different opinion than everyone else, which is basically that it doesn’t matter as much as we seem to make it matter. If God is all know-ing, perfectly just, and loves us as His children, he’s going to make sure that we don’t end up with someone we dislike for eternity.

    Reply

    Terri Reply:

    Just popping in to say “Thanks!” for answering my questions. :)

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    I know you think differently on this matter, but if people are sealed to their spouses and their children, and those children are sealed to their spouses and their children, is the idea that everyone ends up together then? I thought it was more like everyone ends in smaller groups…

    p.s. Jenna, I sometimes (maybe often) don’t totally agree with you, but I have to say I love how open you are about your faith and about answering questions. One of my very best friends I grew up with is LDS and she wouldn’t never get into it with me, making me think it was all quite secretive. So thank you!

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    eeek just read my comment- I really need to proof read. I meant She wouldn’t ever..

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    You are welcome! I admit you are one of the commenters who in the beginning tested my patience a bit (you’re very honest :) ), but most of the time I end up liking the honest commenters who “don’t always agree with me” the most! I’ve enjoyed our interactions and your comments on this post.

    In regards to your question, I don’t think most people have really thought it through. I admit I roll my eyes a bit when people get all weepy and obviously are thinking they will literally live with their kid (like in some kind of house setting?) in heaven. It just doesn’t work that way. (Do I live with my parents or do my kids live with me or do my parents live with their parents, so on and so forth).

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    Yes, I’ve viewed it this way as well. It seems only really necessary to get that temple divorce/cancellation if you plan to remarry in the temple again to someone else. Otherwise, if you aren’t living together as husband/wife and living up to your promises, the sealing is void right there. Being sealed together isn’t just a one day event, it’s something you get to have through eternity through obedience/faithfulness in this life.

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Well-said, Katy.

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  11. The sad thing is that so many people continue to labor under the misunderstanding that certain things are “off limits” in marriage. I’ve talked about it before, but I dated a Mormon guy for a very long time and his mother taught all of his sisters that oral sex was “not something that members do” and openly expressed her disgust for it. I’ve heard of other people saying similar things.

    I guess what annoys me is that the Church hasn’t been really explicit (no pun intended) about communicating “HEY, GUYS, TOTALLY NOT OUR BUSINESS, WE PROMISE”. This could likely easily and naturally happen in, say, the temple recommend interviews given before a couple is allowed to wed in the temple. It could be short and sweet, and would be a natural segue after the worthiness questions- something like “You’ve kept yourself pure for your spouse and that is great and according to Heavenly Father’s plan. Now you need to know that whatever the two of you want to do within your bedroom is your own business, and nothing is off limits except pornography/adultery. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are working off of outdated information and they are not correct. Don’t let them shame you”. Done. Simple. I can’t even imagine how many marriages/sexual lives this might save. It’s heart breaking to me to think about how many Mormon women think their husbands are leading them down a devil’s path by being “sinful” and asking for oral, or how many Mormon men might be chastising their wives for being lustful for asking for oral. To me, there is nothing even remotely kinky/fringe/risque about oral- it’s a pretty standard part of the arsenal. I mean, how sad that a spouse feels like they have to question their partner’s integrity for simply wanting to explore that?

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Another thing- I’ve read about women being married for *years* before they finally have an O. That also speaks to some serious ignorance about the female body on both the husband and wife’s part. I think it is great to have sexual standards, but if you wait for so long for something it would be nice for it to be worth the wait, and be fun and enjoyable for both spouses. It would be good to be pro-active with some good information in a culture of virgins. I think one issue might be with couples thinking that books about sex (which might have diagrams/anatomically correct pictures) are p*rn*graphy due to the illustrations/language, so they shun even clinical/self help kind of books as sinful. I could definitely see this as a confusing gray area for some people.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Sophia,

    there are several LDS authored books about sex nowadays and many have anatomical diagrams. It is getting better!!

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    That’s good to know! I can absolutely see how a culture that shuns pornography would be wary of sex help books with illustrations/diagrams/descriptions, so a Church “endorsement”, if you will, probably helps.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    This is the biggest problem with being in a culture where sex isn’t really discussed. To think that there are women who experience night after night of frustration trying to figure out what a climax feels like, or worse, have just given up and aren’t really a participant in their own sexual experiences. Very sad. :(

    I hope that with the advent of the internet, that more Mormon women will be brave and ask others how they can make changes and feel fulfilled.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    I will say that the messages you get as a member about what’s ok sexually and who’s business it is can vary widely. No one ever told me oral sex was out until I was in college and then it was another LDS girl I knew repeating what she had been told. I just said that it’s really not anyone’s business. I knew leaders used to ask about stuff more in depth, but for a couple decades the policy has been to stay out of people’s bedrooms. So plenty of us are clear on it. Just like plenty aren’t.

    Your proposed statement is a good one and would probably be helpful for some. I just wanted to be clear that it’s not a universal failing.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    I agree that it’s not a universal failing, for sure- it’s the ambiguity and mixed messages, though, that I think need to be universally addressed. I’m sure plenty of Mormons grow up feeling just fine about doing whatever they please in the bedroom, but for the sake of those who don’t, I really wish there was a concerted effort to ferret out the cultural influences that are not relevant/correct anymore.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Totally.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Yes. I am wracking my brain trying to think of what should be off limits and getting to be very perplexed. Your comments about oral are very to the point, especially since the majority of women (or at least a lot) can’t reach O from vaginal sex. That would be something else to point out! That good sex can take a lot of work in the beginning, and you both have to put in the effort so that it is enjoyable for both partners.

    Reply

    Tiffany Reply:

    i’m super duper late to reply but our bishop and stake president actually told us almost exactly what you stated. that nothing is off limits now and it is all between us. well besides the obvious you listed, porn and adultry.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    That’s good to know! I’m glad a few bishops are being proactive in this regard.

    Reply

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  12. Also, my jaw dropped and shattered on the floor when I read about the couple he counseled. The woman had *never* taken off her temple garments in front of her husband in THIRTY-TWO years?? I cannot even imagine never letting my husband see me nude :(

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    This shocked me as well. My husband would totally leave. And if the situation was reversed I would leave him as well. The amount of dysfunction this indicates would be a major deal breaker (assuming a little chat wouldn’t resolve it). Whatever happened to the biblical “one flesh”?

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    I agree! That dysfunction probably runs *very* deep :(

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    This entire article was really fabulous. Ok, last comment on this post, lol.

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    haha maybe it’s not a religious issue, perhaps she’s just a never-nude. ;)

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    LOL, maybe ;)

    Reply

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    Oh great reference!!!!

    Reply

    Senora H-B Reply:

    There are DOZENS of us!

    Reply

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  13. I’m not LDS, but I do come from a very conservative evangelical background, so I think there’s some parallels here. My husband (who was a virgin when we married) and I (not)have been married for 6 months and have found several resources to be helpful.

    1) A book called Sheet Music, which, cheesy title aside, has some really good points, ideas and thoughts on sex within marriage. I would only recommend it to engaged couples or even married couples. It really helped guide us as we started talking about sex http://www.amazon.com/Sheet-Music-Uncovering-Intimacy-Marriage/dp/0842360247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324315207&sr=8-1

    2) This sermon series is all about Song of Solomon and drawing wisdom from it for singles and marrieds. He uses scripture to show that anything a couple can agree on, that doesn’t harm one of them physically or emotionally, is healthy and good for a couple’s sex life. My H and I listened to this series on a road trip and we have some great conversations because of it. http://marshill.com/media/the-peasant-princess/preview

    That’s really been what we’ve learned so far. We may not agree on what’s comfortable for one of us, but the point is to communicate through it, be patient and attempt to serve one another by meeting each other’s needs.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    That book looks really interesting. Thanks for recommending it!

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  14. This was a super fascinating article. Interestingly, even though my husband and I were both raised LDS, none of the 10 issues he talks about have ever been issues for us. We married older (me 24, him 31), have no problem identifying when dogma veers off the gospel track, have no issues with authority complexes, neither of us buy into gender roles, and we talked and talked and talked about *everything* while we dated and were engaged. And we have a super awesome marriage that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

    I didn’t go to BYU and a lot of my LDS peers out here on the East coast seem to have avoided these problems as well. The ones who do follow some of these patterns (super fast marriages, judgementalness, fairytale marriage expectations) are the men and women who were raised in Utah/Idaho and, usually, found their partner there. So in my limited, anecdotal experience it seems that a dominate culture of mormonism in which many of these behaviors and attitudes are the prevailing norm really generate and perpetuate these issues within marriages. Just as I said, a limited observation though. And I’m sure that plenty of people whose marriages have these elements will be and are very happy together, but I think the article is spot on in identifying them as potential weak spots.

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    This is a really interesting comment. I’m happy to get the sense from your comment and the Utah stats post that perhaps the norms in a more Mormon dominated culture like Utah are not necessarily ideals to be attained and there is a more varied LDS culture.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Yes. I think there’s a huge difference between Utah Mormons and Mormons raised in other parts of the world. Judgemental, yes, but my opinion. I feel like a lot of Mormon stereotypes are more pronounced there and don’t necessarily hold true elsewhere.

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    I loved how you put that “when dogma veers off the gospel track” – that’s what I try to navigate and figure out. That’s what trips me up sometimes in this intimacy stuff – seperating convential wisdom from actual, real truth.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    lol Isn’t that the truth! I tell my husband all the time that I don’t even want my children (especially my girls) to go to BYU for that reason alone! The focus is not on getting a degree, having fun, enjoying college, and dating. It is more like you’re here… when’s the wedding!?

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I do want my kids to go to BYU (good quality for the price, hard to beat) but I do NOT want them to be raised in Utah. Luckily TH doesn’t want that either. I don’t like how the culture tends to foster close-mindedness.

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    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    I DON’T want my children to be raised here in Utah. I live in Utah currently and for the last two years of our marriage we have fought about staying in Utah. My husbands family is here and he has never left except to go on his mission. He is still friends with the same people he went to high school with as well as college. I think it is great that he found people he likes enough to be friends so long, but there is no diversity of opinion as they were all raised LDS here in Salt Lake.

    I think this is an example of issues in Mormon marriages. The husband feeling like he has the power to decide where to live. Although I will state that *one* of the reasons my husband doesn’t want to leave is that I have a lot of health problems and moving would most likely mean a loss in health insurance which would have a big impact on us financially. I understand that is a real concern, he is in my mind being selfish in not considering leaving because he doesn’t want to.

    Any advice? (The only people I know are my family and people raised in Utah who love it and don’t understand someone who doesn’t like it)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Shay this reply went to me. You should point it out to a few people in the thread, like Jackie and Danielle and Thais and Katy and Sophia who always have interesting opinions! Just leave them a reply telling them about your questions and I bet they’ll come back and give you some ideas :)

    I’ve already told you all of mine, I’m sorry I can’t be more help!

    Reply

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    I am re-posting this so more than just Jenna will se it.

    I DON’T want my children to be raised here in Utah. I live in Utah currently and for the last two years of our marriage we have fought about staying in Utah. My husbands family is here and he has never left except to go on his mission. He is still friends with the same people he went to high school with as well as college. I think it is great that he found people he likes enough to be friends so long, but there is no diversity of opinion as they were all raised LDS here in Salt Lake.

    I think this is an example of issues in Mormon marriages. The husband feeling like he has the power to decide where to live. Although I will state that *one* of the reasons my husband doesn’t want to leave is that I have a lot of health problems and moving would most likely mean a loss in health insurance which would have a big impact on us financially. I understand that is a real concern, he is in my mind being selfish in not considering leaving because he doesn’t want to.

    Any advice? (The only people I know are my family and people raised in Utah who love it and don’t understand someone who doesn’t like it)

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    I would try to approach it from a positive standpoint of “this will be a fun experience for both of us; life changes help us grow; it would be neat for us as a couple to move somewhere and figure out what we want *our* lives to look like” etc. He may be bristling when he hears things about how you don’t like Utah, or don’t want to raise kids there, or don’t find it diverse. It sounds like he has super deep roots with Utah, so when you say “I don’t like Utah and don’t want to raise kids here” he may be hearing that as a judgment on his preferences/friends/family. Does that make sense?

    Framing it as a positive “we’re in this fun adventure together exploring other states” kind of thing is likely to be better received than focusing on why you want to be anywhere but Utah :) It might put him on the defensive if for no other reason than that he has a gut reaction to feeling like he needs to defend his friends/family/way of life.

    One good thing- come 2014 pre-existing conditions can’t exclude you from healthcare thanks to healthcare reform, so maybe that will help take the financial worry away? Also, maybe you could even talk about how, due to your medical issues, you know you guys will probably need to be stable when kids come along, which might be (I’m assuming here) another reason why you want to travel/see other places *now*. Finally, is there a fear for him of not being able to get a job elsewhere? From the LDS perspective of the man being the head of the household/breadwinner, I can see how this fear may also make him resistant to leaving.

    Finally, I would try and research other states that have the attributes that he loves about Utah with the diversity you’re looking for. That way there are familiar things for him and diversity for you.

    Reply

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    Thank you so much Sophia! I try to avoid talking about why I don’t like Utah because I know it will put him on the defensive but I have never thought that I might be insulting him.

    There is worry about him not being able to get a job, but he speaks Japanese which would be a big plus In certain places. Due to my health he has been the only one making money, but I am finally ready to get a job again so it is great that I can help him feel like we will make it financially.

    Reply

    Christiana Reply:

    What about pushing the dream job aspect, he can look online to find a job that is both well paying and fulfilling and not in Utah. Whenever we consider moving it always centers around my husband’s job and finding the best possible fit for him. So, he shouldn’t worry about not finding a job because wouldn’t you find the job first then move?

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Shaylene,

    I’m not sure that there is a great answer I could give you since I don’t know how your relationship and how your husband is. My husband and his family are all from Utah also, and before we even got married I said I didn’t want to live in Utah. He is very attached to his family and had friends like your husband does. My in-laws have been in the same house for 30 years! My husband has always been supportive.

    I would sit him down and give him good valid reasons why you want to move. AS far as a job goes he won’t know until he applies! If he has a degree and depending on what it is certain areas of the country are much more affluent in jobs. Utah actually has a very poor job market. If this is something you feel very strong about then he needs to listen to you.

    Our experience has been great. After moving out of Utah to Texas, my husband struggled for a bit especially around Christmas time. However he made very close friends here and would not want to move back to Utah now. It has made our marriage stronger and I honestly feel like it has helped us stand our ground on certain things due to the distance.

    My main argument in moving was that I wanted us to stand on our own two feet and start our own traditions without family obligations such as having to go to his parents house from Christmas, or having to spend his birthday with them, having to go to every little event. I wanted us to be able to be our family without being made to feel guilty for wanting that. I also wanted more culture and I felt like Utah was very closed minded and clicky. I didn’t think it was fair for us to live close to his family and not to mine, so we moved to Texas (22 hrs drive from either family).

    If all else fails I’d highly recommend some counseling sessions. It has helped us quite a bit and we are now done. We did it for about one and half years.

    Reply

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    I have always thought distance from both our families would be good for us. Utah is very clicky!
    Tonight I was thinking about how therapy would be good for us, especially on this huge issue.

    I really understand doing everything with your in-laws. That’s how it is for us as well. His mother has made comments about not letting her children move away and I have seen that at work and maybe counseling is necessary for him to hear over his mom’s opinions.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Thais and Sophia both had great thoughts, but I thought I’d chime in as well.

    It sounds like there are two sets of issues your husband has with moving – logistical and emotional. Maybe teasing them apart some will be helpful for you guys when talking about it, like maybe your conversations revolve around the difficult logistics of the move, but what is really holding your husband up are the emotional aspects.

    Logistically, there are a lot of solutions to the employment and health insurance problems. First, your husband (and you) can find jobs in wherever your new home might be before you move. You don’t have to jump in without job security. And in most cases that job would come with health benefits. The health insurance issue could also be resolved depending on where you end up living. For example, I live in MA and you are required to have health insurance here. Because this obviously isn’t available to everyone through their jobs, the state has a variety of health plans you can join. My husband works part-time and contractually so this is how he has insurance right now and it’s totally reasonably priced and offers decent coverage. I know other states have public options as well.

    Housing is pretty straight forward if you plan on renting. Things get trickier if it’s important to you to buy, especially right away. If you guys do want to buy you can always rent for a while first, get to know the area, and shop for homes without the pressure of picking something on a short trip.

    Visiting your families will be harder, of course. But you can be connected in other ways, which you obviously manage since your parents don’t live near you now. Your husband would just be in the same boat. That’s what planes and phones and computers are for. Plus it’s fun to have family come visit you.

    Emotionally, your husband’s concerns about leaving family, his only “home,” and the safety of a familiar social network are all totally valid and you should acknowledge that. Those aren’t reasons to veto a move, but they are reasons a move would be hard and sad and that’s ok. Let him know you see that. On the comforting side, a move doesn’t have to be permanent. It can start out as a temporary experience and you guys can see where that takes you (physically and emotionally).

    The issue of who gets to choose where you both live is more complicated if he really feels that it should be his call. I think that feeling is out of line. You both have to be comfortable with where you live and he gets no special votes because of his biology. One problem here, separate or instead of the male-decision-maker thing, might be that he feels a little betrayed. He met and married you in Utah. His family is there. Why should he have assumed you’d want to leave? Of course you have every right to feel this way or to have changed your mind, but it could leave him feeling defensive – you knew what you were getting so why should he have to unsettle himself now. The answer to this probably to acknowledge his feelings, not be defensive yourself, and explain why moving matters to you.

    Any explanations about why you want to move will probably work best when framed in the positive (for the reasons Sophia talked about). Instead of “Utah isn’t diverse” try “We could live somewhere more diverse and that would be so great.” Or instead of “Utah is so close-minded” try “It’s important to me to live somewhere that has people from all different backgrounds and faiths. I think that is a really awesome experience for kids.” Because while I think your critiques are totally valid, I don’t have any emotional ties to Utah that would put me on the defensive.

    Finally, while you totally deserve to be listened to and to have your opinions taken seriously, so does he. Give him a chance to state his position back. Because there are certainly positives in your situation and even potential compromises – like living in the most diverse neighborhood of Salt Lake City you can find and limiting in-law time.

    Good luck! I really feel for you. My great fear is that we will move to Utah so my husband can work for the church. He doesn’t really want to. But he’s worked for them before and has a lot of connections and I can see us in a position where a full-time job with great salary and benefits wouldn’t be pass-up-able. Even if its in Utah. Oh gosh. But said husband comforts me by assurances that we would live in Sugarhouse or something.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Gross. That was long.

    Reply

    Katy Reply:

    Hi!

    Well, tell him that if you leave, you both can always come back. It doesn’t have to be good-bye forever.:) But for him having never lived anywhere else, I can imagine that he just doesn’t want the change – and I *do* like Utah for the most part. It’s beautiful and it is nice on paper that there is so many LDS people there – everyone likes to feel “normal” somewhere-in the majority of something.

    But moving away from family is also very, very beneficial. Even if it’s just for several years – it’s so very nice to learn to depend one another. I’m the only one in my family that has ever moved away (husband is Air Force) – everyone else is just a short drive from one another. I feel so much more empowered and independent since I and my husband have had to go it alone, together. As I said before, you can always go back. I hope to one day not life so far from family, but until then we’ve had great experiences and have cemented and defined our relationship together in a way that I’m not positive would have happened if we didn’t take these adventures in life elsewhere together.

    Arizona is a nice place to live! (Ha! That’s where I’m from:) Mesa is a great, fairly LDS dense place, but having gone to BYU and lived the AZ Mormon lifestyle – the best word I can come up with is: relaxed. People are a little more laid back (not less faithful of course!) but just not so hung up on being the best, the most perfect, the most everything Mormon as you can often find in Utah. My husband and I loved BYU for the wonderful, superb education we got there (and the football games!), but struggled immensely with the culture.

    I hope that made sense! Until you are able to move, I suppose traveling a lot will be a good alternative. Get to see the world and how others live it without having to complete relocate. Hopefully on some travels someday you’ll come to a town/area that you both think would be a great place to settle for awhile.

    Reply

    Naomi C. Reply:

    My husband and I live on our own with no immediate family in the same city we live in. It was hard at first, but we have formed a family of our own, just us two. That’s the argument I would use. It’s the whole biblical understanding in leaving your family behind and becoming one with your spouse. That’s the way I see this as well. I can truly say that I feel more confident in my marriage knowing that all of the decisions we’ve made were not based on what our family or parents wanted from us.

    On the financial side, you have have your husband start looking for a job somewhere else. Don’t make it final and say you are moving and then have trouble finding employment. A good job offer is incentive.

    I also like the idea that was mentioned before that moving can be viewed as an adventure, trying something different, before you settle down and have children. And if you make it seem less permanent he would be more inclined to consider it.

    Best of luck!

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  15. I haven’t read the article yet, so forgive me if this is in there, but do you mind if I ask what kind of stuff was considered off limits? Not wanting graphic details, I just know that in the Catholic Church you can’t do stuff that couldn’t lead to procreation.

    Since my experience with sex is so…different…than most people’s, I both find this stuff interesting and also can’t relate at all to a lot of it. But I read this post yesterday: http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com/2011/08/myth-of-amazing-honeymoon-sex.html. It had a great point, that maybe we spend too much time talking to single people about how “great” sex is and instead be honest about how while its wonderful, sometimes it can be hard, take a long time to become comfortable with a partner or figure out your own desires, sometimes painful, emotionally intense, and that there’s a lot of health considerations you need to be aware of. So then not only are people not expecting to be easy peasy once you have the ring on, but might realize the importance of waiting till you are with a secure partner who is willing to put in the effort for the long haul.

    Reply

    Shanna Reply:

    Yes. To all of this. And not just for people who are waiting for marriage. This should be taught to ALL kids. I sure wish I hadn’t learned it the hard way!

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Oops I meant to reply to you, but commented separately below.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    This definitely doesn’t get talked about! Honeymoon sex is the worst sex you’ll ever have IMO. lol Many couples don’t understand how difficult and painful the whole thing can be. We read about it and had some low expectations, but man I did not think it’d be that painful. However my circumstances were not the norm in any way and I proceeded to have painful intercourse for the next five years until I told my OBGYN enough! I’m not waiting till I have a baby that will fix this! I can’t get pregnant if you don’t do something about it! And off to surgery we went for a hymenectomy, that’s right… after 5 yrs of marriage, my hymen was still partially intact. According to the OB it was too rigid. One out of Three women have painful intercourse! We need to be more open about this!

    Alright… off my soap box. :D

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    I struggle with painful sex too. NO ONE talks about it! I think in some ways the modern feminist movement has made it taboo for women to admit that sex isn’t the bees knees for them because it would be like admitting they are a frigid, inhibited prude wrapped up in the patriarchy and too afraid to be a sexual creature! So whereas the standard used to be just that men enjoyed sex more than women, now we’ve realized that women enjoy sex too, but then have kinda squeezed out women who struggle with sex from being able to be open about it.

    It took me months and months to get a diagnosis (vulvodynia and other stuff) because whenever I would talk to a doctor, as soon as they heard my husband was my first they would just say “oh don’t worry it will get better.”

    Sorry if I overshared on your blog, Jenna! Feel free to delete/edit this.

    Reply

    Thais Reply:

    Jackie!!!

    I had the same problem!!! See!!! We need to be more open about this because it is soo common. The first time I ever went to a doctor about it was 6 months after we got married. I thought by then it was long enough that it shouldn’t be hurting! He said to give it more time. Then I switched OB’s and every yearly exam I’d ask him about it. I was just told to use more lube, do foreplay, and on and on, then the tune switched to well when you give birth it’ll be fixed (meaning baby will tear the left over hymen). After so many years I didn’t even want to kiss my husband in fear of it arousing him and I did not want to go through the horrible sex pain. That’s when I waltzed into his office and said you need to fix this!!! I can’t do it anymore.

    Hang in there!! You are not alone! lol

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I let TH know from the get-go that my IC could potentially make sex excruciating. He was very gentle and made sure to check with me constantly. I’ll get TMI myself and say there are still positions that I can’t take because my bladder is sensitive.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    I had fantastic honeymoon sex (including the first time). But I knew ahead of time that my hymen situation was minimal and I was the one who set the pace. Actually, I set the pace for at least the first month, which was an excellent system we devised a little ways into the honeymoon.

    It makes me so sad that you and Jackie both had doctors who were so dismissive of your pain. That’s a poor response from a medical provider, especially without looking into the situation by asking you questions and performing an exam (it’s not like a too thick hymen is super rare or something). Ugh. So unacceptable. And way too many facets of women’s healthcare operate this way.

    If your penis hurt every time you had sex a doctor would be all over trying to figure out why.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Wait, is that rule still in place in the Catholic Church? I didn’t realize that!

    Reply

    Jackie Reply:

    Basically, oral sex is OK as foreplay but not on its own.

    And to be honest, it’s definitely not enforced. No one is going to ask you about it. And, IMO, it’s one of those rules made by men who don’t have sex and don’t realize that there can be a time and a place for non-procreative activities.

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  16. The article doesn’t talk at all about what used to be considered off-limits, so you wouldn’t find it there anyway.

    Maybe most famously was oral sex. A letter went out from the prophet around 1982 I think, basically saying that that was a no go for couples who wanted to be worthy temple-recommend holding members. Spencer W. Kimball, the prophet who sent the letter, really had no compunctions about getting involved in member’s personal lives and being really prescriptive about behavior in general. So it wasn’t really out of character.

    Otherwise, I think most of what people hear in addition to that comes from individuals or leaders taking the oft heard quotation that “just because it happens behind closed doors between a married couple doesn’t make it ok” and deciding what they think would be not ok and then handing it out as gospel counsel. Stuff that gets included in addition to oral is sex toys, some guide books (because people feel it can get too porn-y), anal sex or anal play, or any self-stimulation. Of course some of this might not be a good choice, universally or individually, but now it’s up to couples to discuss, pray about, and decide.

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    Sophia Reply:

    I’ve also heard talking dirty, being aggressive, “degrading” sexual positions, and role playing “inappropriately” are also supposed to be off limits. Honestly, when you add all of that in with what you already detailed…

    Eeeeeeesh. Not much left to sustain a monogamous marriage through decades and decades of a sexual relationship :(

    My experience is with the Utah/Texas culture though, and as you said, I imagine it’s different in different places.

    Reply

    Danielle Reply:

    Oh yeah, those are easily on the list for some, as well.

    Like you said, what does that leave, though? How do you tell if something crosses the line in the first place? Is it a “degrading” sex position or just one that involves a lot of contortion?

    It all gets so silly when you start to break it down or think it through.

    Reply

    Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life Reply:

    Exactly… it seems like at some point someone decided that “holy” sex = boring sex, and getting too into it meant that you were being sinful. I wrote recently about how ridiculous I think this idea is. As if you have to choose between having really great sex with your spouse and being a true Christian.

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    Katy Reply:

    I wish I could have talked to you both years ago when we were first married! It has taken me awhile to let go of self-imposed regulations just from something I heard or vaguely remembered from years past sexual counsel. Some of this stuff has taken me years and many discussions with a frustrated husband to clear through! I wasn’t horrible or anything (it’s not like I didn’t let him see my naked or something!:), just often a little too naive and cautious for our own good. :)

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    Danielle Reply:

    Oh! I wish that too! People are entitled to good sex. And to set the definition for what ‘good’ is with their partner – no one else.

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    Sophia Reply:

    I’m glad you were able to work things out with your husband through communication about such a touchy subject. And I agree with Danielle about setting *your* definition of good with your partner. I do wish there was more openness in talking about things like this, in general.

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  17. I stumbled upon this blog linked from a Mormon girl’s lifestyle blog. It focuses on married sex and it’s tasteful and fun. I think pretty much anyone of any persuasion would like it, but it’s especially thoughtful of the religious side of things since the woman who writes it is a Christian and waited until marriage. http://gweninlove.blogspot.com/

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    Jenna Reply:

    While we’re on the topic of conservative sex blogs, I am LOVING http://mormonmissionaryposition.wordpress.com/ lately.

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    Katy Reply:

    Oh my heck. Thanks so much for passing this along. THIS is what I need – frank discussions and topics from people that have lived the religious life I’ve had. This is second best to having that faithful LDS friend with whom you can talk about sex.

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    Sophia Reply:

    That blog is great!

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  18. I’m not a Mormon, I’m German and trying to find my way when it comes to faith and religion. I thought this article was great! I believe couples in general can learn from this. If not anything else, then that communication is important and taking other view points into consideration. Regardless if you are religious or not, that is something that should go for every relationship….

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    Jenna Reply:

    I’m glad you liked it :)

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  19. I found this article really interesting. As someone who sees conservative religions from the outside, one of the things that I found most difficult to understand was the value that appeared to be placed on getting married really fast (to make it “easier” not to be tempted by sex before marriage). I always wondered whether people ended up “stuck” in unhappy marriages because of their religious beliefs.

    I liked this article because it showed me that while this may be the case for some, it is not for all, and also that the rush to get married is being challenged.

    I also loved the “thou shalt not coerce thy spouse” it makes me so sad when people treat friends and family (or strangers) with judgement and hate because they don’t agree with their views, especially that example of casting your children out because they are questioning the church or similar. It’s the perfect way to push people further away, not bring them back, and seems so against the core values of most religions (but also seems to be the main face most of us “outsiders” see of religion).

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  20. I saw this episode of Wife Swap and the one family was really conservative.

    There was a scene when the dad was talking about dating/sex/kissing/boys to his daughters and said to imagine a slice of cheese. Whole and intact. Everything there.

    But when you start to (basically) have sex with a lot of men slowly pieces of you are given/taken away, until you look like swiss cheese. So when you find your spouse and you give yourself to them, they do not have you in your entirety.

    I thought this was a great way to explain to young children the reason for saving yourself for someone special. Because I believe that you do give a piece of yourself both physically and emotionally to everyone you have sex with- be it a good or bad experience.

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    Msleetobe Reply:

    I have to disagree about the swiss cheese example being a great way to deal with this issue. (or the licked cupcake, or the chewed piece of gum, or the smashed piece of cake….) Women especially are told they need to be careful of not becoming ‘damaged goods,’ and this object lesson has really negative effects on women’s views of their bodies and frames modesty/chastity/virtue etc as doing something for someone else and not for ourselves. (Not to mention that it totally discounts the power of Grace, the Atonement, confession, and forgiveness if a person is not ‘whole’ when they marry). Daughters of Mormonism has a good podcast beginning here which includes some thoughts on the problems these kinds of object lessons create http://daughtersofmormonism.blogspot.com/2011/11/episode-30-good-girl-syndrome-part-i.html

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    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    We should agree to disagree here. I don’t think that having sex with every tom, dick, and harry is healthy for young girls and in fact you do give yourself away. Perhaps we should stop pretending that sex is so casual that it doesn’t have a major impact on our personal lives and future partners and those relationships. To me it is the idea that sex is so fun and so cool that society is trying to push that is so hurtful.

    I don’t view women who have had sex before marriage as damaged goods. I view them just as I stated, individuals that have given pieces of themselves to multiple people (be it good or bad).

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    Msleetobe Reply:

    There’s nothing in my response that says it is okay to have sex with everyone and everyone. My response is about how appropriate it is to teach young women that they are a chewed up piece of gum. There is nothing appropriate about that kind of object lesson. There are much better ways to teach positive sexuality than these examples.

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    Sophia Reply:

    This kind of lesson also makes me (personally) uncomfortable. I do think it sends a shaming message to girls. I think we should be careful in making blanket statements about how casual sex damages people, it’s bad for people, etc. You may think that for *you*, but that is certainly not the case for me or my girlfriends. For me personally I have had many incredibly satisfying and mutually respectful sexual relationships. They have run the gamut from “this is just casual fun” to “we’re dating but not that serious” to “wow, I really love you”. I am grateful that I had all the experiences I did, I was safe, I was tested regularly, I never went without two forms of BC, and I chose my partners carefully. While I had sexual relationships all through high school, I decided to wait to actually have sex until college. This was great, and allowed me tons of exploration without worries about pregnancy; later, in college, I really enjoyed sex and had a great time; after college, I was single for 3 years and dated a lot, which included more sexual relationships. I had a great time, enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I feel like those experiences have made me more whole, not less. I wouldn’t take any of it back.

    I would just ask, that just like I would NEVER tell a virgin that they were missing out, or they would regret not having that experience, or that they will have bad sex, etc., people could lay off of the “you’re damaged goods and you’re emotionally damaged as well and casual sex screws people up” talk. I think it is silly to think that I could speak to the emotional experience of a virgin until marriage, just as I think it’s silly to think that anyone could speak to *my* emotional experiences. Even if someone slept around, then got married, and then wished they had never slept with anyone but their spouse- that is THEIR experience, and they shouldn’t try and extrapolate that to other people. My experiences are my own, I know why I did it, I know how it made me feel. We can talk about our own feelings in relation to sex, but I draw a line when it gets into statements of fact pronounced over other people’s experiences.

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    Christiana Reply:

    If I could I would give this comment a giant like, +1, thumbs up, etc.

    Reply

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Me too. These kinds of shaming analogies give me the willies.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Another fantastic podcast site! Thank you so much for linking me to this.

    Reply

    Msleetobe Reply:

    There’s another podcast on that site that you might really be interested in Jenna. It’s with Karina Baker Anderson. The first part is about the troubles she and her husband had when they tried to have a temple wedding (her husband is divorced), but the second part is about natural child birth and her own beautiful home birth story. I’m really hoping one day Mormon Matters/Stories/or Daughters of Mormonism will do a really indepth look at midwifery in LDS history. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic podcast?!

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    Jess Reply:

    I don’t think its really that bad of an analogy but it should be taught to girls and boys alike. It probably depends on how you view the way you are made up… body, soul, etc. When I think of the cheese example it isn’t in a body way, but in a soul way. When men and women have sex with those who aren’t their partners, most (maybe not all) give little pieces of themselves away because they have created intimate bonds where it isn’t appropriate. In reality, both men and women comes as they are into a marriage and there is often a brokenness there, sometimes sexually, sometimes emotionally. So, like I said, I like the analogy but it is probably being presented in the wrong way (to girls, so they think they are giving damaged goods to a man). Like another commenter said, it often shames a person to the point where they forget about grace and forgiveness. Maybe, if we taught this idea to both girls and boys because coming to marriage with as much wholeness as possible is ideal without forgetting to teach forgiveness and grace, it would be more effective. That said, each person is different, and I would encourage those who are teaching others about this topic to use discernment when choosing how to approach the situation.

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    Shanna Reply:

    Yes. I have to second the warnings that this can be more damaging than helpful. I got the same lessons growing up and, when I first had sex, I was almost suicidal from the guilt and feelings of being ‘damaged goods.’ I also felt like this attitude meant that I would never be whole again, and this kept me from going to my parents with the information, and repenting for my ‘sin.’ It took me years to get over this and I think a lot less of this lesson and a lot more explanations of WHY I shouldn’t have had sex with the first guy I wanted to, could have kept me from a lot of heartache. At this point though, I know it didn’t damage me and that I AM whole, not a used piece of cheese. I have had to face a lot of issues stemming from some weird crap I got drilled into me as a kid and I’m a stronger person now. So, I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

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  21. Coming from a conservative Protestant point of view, I think we have a lot of the same issues that were brought up in the article. I had many friends who married young, quickly and had this idea of a prince charming and that marriage would be bliss. I think I’ll be forwarding it to my pastor. It’s a great top of thought on marriage in general, even outside of the LDS realm. I found myself nodding in agreement with a lot of what was said.

    One thing I really liked was the part about maintaining your individuality within the marriage. I’ve heard friends who’ve gotten married and have felt like they have given up on dreams that they had before marriage or kids. They have no sense of themselves outside of their husband and kids and feel trapped. I find that very sad. I like that my husband encourages my hobbies or dreams, and I his.

    I’d go more on the topic of sex and how I don’t think there is enough talk about it pre-marriage in the Christian churches (the ones I’ve attended), but I feel it was covered quite well in the many comments above.

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  22. This is quite the discussion! NICE!

    What I enjoyed most about the article is praying hard will make your marriage better. Pray is woven in the fabric of my life but I don’t view prayer as magic. A great marriage will only be great if both the husband and wife are committed to each other, support each other and are great friends. So yes prayer will help you become more like God and find joy in your life but it will not fix your marriage.

    I believe January’s ensign has an article about Mormon couples.

    In regards to X or XXX I think if you and your spouse are fully open with each other then you will know what is right and that “right” may change with the seasons of life.

    Some couples may be perfectly content and happy with repeating the same sexual experience every time they are intimate and another couple may always be experimenting and searching for new ways to connect sexually. Is one right and the other wrong? I don’t think so as long as there is honesty and utter respect for one another.

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    Jessica Carney Reply:

    Sorry I meant to say praying hard will NOT make you marriage better. Opps!

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  23. I am a man. We married and converted prior to those old times. It came as quite a shock when we were asked some of those questions. It was very hard for me to comply with, although I was very familiar with having to stop doing things I previously thought was okay to do. I had not had any guilt nor inclination that these married things might be wrong until those Temple interviews. It was a personal temporal sacrifice for me, though not my wife. She had no problem stopping “those things”.
    The fact is, that you have the wrong information as to what is considered right today. The fact remains that a Prophet at the time felt strongly enough about this that a letter was sent out. This letter was agreed to and signed by the entire First Presidency–both who subsequently became acting Prophets. Further, one is NOW the acting Prophet. The contents of this letter have never been retracted, although, for whatever reasons, they DID stop asking the questions. One prevailing theory as to why they stopped, is because it was giving ideas to those who had previously never even considered such things. BTW, in my parents generation, such things were never thought of–largely for what was thought to be hygienic reasons. This is still the case among many ethnic groups–in or out of The Church. It was even, and may still technically be, actually illegal not so long ago in many jurisdictions.
    However, it is also significant that this doctrine has not been further codified or spoken of since and is only available now (the letter) on anti websites. I guess I am still just a silly convert, but if a Prophet of God EVER said it–I have to take not.

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  24. This is so frustrating!!! I am lds been married 17 years with her together since we were 15. I dont even know how to start! We were both virgins when married how ever did some heavy petting that was like now we didnt “she” was in denial because i didnt give a crap i was fine with who i was. However we never talked about sex at all because we felt that we cant it will lead to sin…. And that even the thought of it is a sin. Remember to lookth upon a woman is to lust after her!!!! So we didnt talk about oral sex anal sex toys porn postiions. I know about them and was aware because od porn and just being a guy! But she was closed of from the world and sex was never ever discussed because it would “raise couriosity” and shame shame shame those thoughts!!!! Sex can be good but now with 5 kids its rare and boaring i would like to have more but not really. Alot of mormon women get off more at the thought of doing their calling than having sex. Now were lucky if we have ok sex more than once every two months….. So guess what… She doesnt need to get of and shows no interest of an orgasim…. But i do so what do i do…. Masturbate…. Well i guess im going to hell!!! I have a wife who i know loves me but really doesnt care for sex im not gonna put her out.. And its annoying to be with someone whos not really into it! I do blame programing. There are deep parts od her mind that sex is still wrong and xxx sex is wrong. She is the kind of person that would love for the church to dictate what we can do in bed. So she can say seeeee . So what do you tell a woman who doesnt care for an orgasim but would much rather do her god duity first!!

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