What To Do?

25 Jun

It’s pretty clear in the Latter-day Saint world- the ideal is that a chaste young man, back from his mission, finds a chaste young woman, and they have a temple wedding. This happens with astounding frequency, actually, especially when compared to the non-Mormon world, where the idea of staying a virgin until marriage is almost incomprehensible. So you have two sexually inexperienced young people who now have promised their lives to one another, not just until death-do-you part, but forever and ever amen.

What happens when reality comes crashing in?

Those two people have now, to quote a commenter on an earlier thread, gone form “no no no!” to “yes yes yes!” and it’s no surprise that navigating these waters isn’t always smooth. I’m in my thirties, and divorced- and I have to say, looking back  and around at many of my friends, I’m not so sure this is working all that well.

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If we insist on chastity before marriage, we are naturally going to have people marrying very young. If we continue to equate chastity and modesty with not even being able to talk directly and honestly about sex (which is so unfortunately common) how can our young married couples even talk about issues when they come up- and they will. Add to that the intense pressure to start families quickly and you have a potential powder-keg of problems. Telling a couple to pray about it just not good enough, I’m sorry.

Simply taking a straw-poll with my friends and reading over emails we’ve gotten in our small blog’s life, there is a lot of disparity within our LDS marriages, and many of the people experiencing this disparity feel isolated and alone and are not only afraid to talk about it, but often lack the vocabulary to even do so. While the stereotype is that women are more conservative and less interested in sex (emails do provide plenty of sad stories), there are also many women who also say their husbands refrain from sex as well. So what do you do?

We have a friend of the blog who is working on his doctorate in marriage and family counseling and he’s going to help us address these very important questions:  What to do when one partner is less interested in sex than the other? How to approach your spouse to discuss wanting more frequent/better sex?” Look for information soon.

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5 Responses to “What To Do?”

  1. amelia June 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    You know, I think what we do is begin to teach what chastity really means. Because I don’t think “chastity” actually means “abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage.” As with so many things, I think we need to go back to roots. And at its root (literally, if you’re an etymology geek like me) chaste means “pure” not “sexually abstinent.” The fact that we have developed a line of thinking that moves from “chaste” to “pure” to “sexually abstinent” is a bit of a sad commentary on our perceptions of sex as somehow inherently base at best and inherently dirty and contaminating at worst.

    Our problem is a lot more complicated than I can gloss here, but I do think that part of our problem is that we like to engage in this kind of sleight of hand redefinition because it’s a hell of a lot easier to say “don’t do X” than it is to teach people how to cultivate a mindset and attitude and ethical understanding that demands constant engagement with the particular circumstances of each new relationship, that means one will inevitably make mistakes and get hurt. Because if we go with the (in my opinion) better but much more nebulous definition of chaste as “pure” and jettison the definition “sexually abstinent before and faithful within marriage,” then people will make mistakes about who to develop a sexual relationship with and how to navigate it. But, in my mind, the gospel is all about learning to understand and apply difficult moral and ethical concepts rather than relying on crutches that come in the shape of “thou shalt”s and “thou shalt not”s.

  2. Anon June 26, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Could we perhaps also address how to discuss sex before you marry? I’ve often seen books where they have 100 things you must discuss before you marry – and sex is usually an issue, but they hardly ever give advice for if BOTH partners are virgins.

  3. KaralynZ June 26, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I second Anon – talking about sex before marriage is a big one. I know that I read and re-read “The Act of Marriage” before our wedding, and I think it’s a good book aimed at the “terrified inhibited virgin” crowd.. There are a lot of awkward conversations to have that will make things easier in the long run.

    I remember one we had early on that was “What names do you use and would you like the other person to use for your private parts and what words are off limits.” Not often covered but VERY important..

    I had a break in that my husband had several sexual partners previous to meeting me so at least he knew what he was doing.

  4. demon July 5, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    I think they should teach a class in church about it it should start about a week before you get married and last as long as you think it should. I for one think it would have been helpful, you may think you know it all but you don’t.

    I also recommend the book and they where not ashamed. I have been married 12 years and still find that that book helps us out when you are going through a dry spell

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. We don’t have it all figured out. « Missionary Position - June 27, 2011

    […] to backtrack and we’re trying to figure out a revised agenda. As Sister-Wife Fanny said in her previous, most excellent post, we (as a culture) don’t even seem to have the vocabulary to tackle this […]

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