Sexual Intimacy and Newlyweds

newlywedsQuestion: “Am I glad I found you!  There is a gray area that I need some guidance in, and that gray area has to do with being married and being able to “spice things up” in the bedroom.  My wife and I have been married one year, and prior to our marriage, we were pretty obedient lds kids; especially when it came to sex.  Obedient, meaning, we followed counsel to stay away from pornography and not read about the details of all that sex can entail.  Then, when we got married, we got counsel from our bishop in relation to sex (which I believe is the right counsel), he said, “After you are married, when it comes to sex, what you two decide to do (given you both consent) is up to you.”  So now we go from not knowing much about sex, but getting a pretty good idea from all sorts of media outlets growing up about the possibilities, to now being married and suddenly having the “green light” to do whatever we both “consent to”.  But I am aware of Satan and his power and I don’t want to test him, but we do want to know if there is a source (book or something) that will be healthy as to helping us to learn and explore each other’s bodies in a way that is pleasing and uplifting.  I know there are different touches and techniques one can learn that we would like to apply, but we need instruction, and me personally, I would like to see pictures on how to do such.  I write because learning about these things is not something I want to do through “trial and error”, cause I feel the error would provide great destruction to my soul.  I’ll tell you what we have done so far.  We took a trip into a store called the “fun zone”.  Not a good feeling when we stopped in there and we haven’t gone back, no shall we.  Then, the other night, at a more “wholesome” store, there was a book titled, “The Joy of Sex.”  This book does provide instruction with pictures of an actual couple demonstrating things to try.  We haven’t given this book much attention because we are stuck between, is it pornography and “bad”, or is it alright because we are married and it’s up to us?  Any help on solving this dilemma; would this book be appropriate or not?  And if not, do you have any suggestions to help our desires?  Any time you could put toward helping us would be of tremendous value………Thanks for your time………”

Answer: I appreciate the question, as well as your candid inquiry regarding an issue that often can be a hurdle that many newlywed couples encounter. Many marry with hope that they’ll ‘figure out’ sexual intimacy or that it will happen to them magically. Due to the sacred nature of sexual relationships in marriage, it is not discussed prior to marriage and at times can even take on a taboo feel and leave LDS members confused, unfulfilled, and rigid about their own sexuality and sexual connection with their spouse.

You mentioned wanting recommendations on books that I’d recommend that help you “learn and explore each others bodies.” as you stated in your posted question above. Reading is informative but coming to know and understand what feels good for you and for your wife can only be known by your time with her. Also, healthy sexual connection needs to be coupled with service, affection, and consensual agreement in terms of what and how you are connecting sexually. I’d suggest you read the resources below with your spouse and take it a day at a time. There is no magic to it as sexual intimacy and arousal is most often dictated by the brain, not the genitals of either gender. Union, bonding, passion, and sexual fulfillment comes when you are enjoying and experiencing each other. When sexual intimacy becomes about one spouses needs exclusively, becomes demeaning, controlling, or about subservience you will be on a path that will destroy the tender fibers of intimacy that you are creating that could ultimately be strong bonds that shore and protect your marriage.

The books you mentioned are sources for information, but upon my review of the texts I deem unhelpful and clinically pathological in parts. The later book you mentioned advocates pornography, bondage, and domination as healthy ways of sexually connecting. Case studies and research indicates that such behaviors lead to sexual deviancy and sexual addictions. I don’t typically advocate for ‘how-to’ sex books that are photo laden, as they focus on a special ‘act’ or ‘position’ which misses the mark and does not ultimatly foster rich passionate sexual fulfillment. The fact is you will need to learn about your wife’s body and how to enjoy and please her sexually. You will not be able to do this by looking at photos of other women/men in sexual encounters or positions. In fact, this might lead to shame and unhealthy expectations about your body, your wife’s body, or either of your sexual performance.  I’d suggest not focusing so much on the ‘act’ and position or photos and toss that book and instead move to the resources I provided below. These will give you a foundation as well as legitimate information about the biology of sexual arousal and functioning and within a framework that will be supportive of your spiritual and religious beliefs. I applaud your wanting to understand and connect with your wife.

I suggest you first read my online article about couples and sexual intimacy. Then read the books I recommend below.

And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment

The Act of Marriage

Between Husband & Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy

Enjoy the journey!