Love, marriage, sex

Eighteen years ago, when I was dating my future husband, he walked into my apartment where I was in a heated political discussion with my senior thesis group. Spying his face, I pushed my books aside, leapt from my seat and rushed into his arms.
Contentment spread across his features as he sighed, “Wow, I hope you’ll always be that happy to see me.”

6,570 days, a half-dozen children and more crises than I can count, I am still madly in love with my husband. But he rarely gets that kind of greeting anymore.

Too many days, my beautiful hubby walks in from a day at the office and I am putting in laundry, stirring soup on the stove, wrangling with my youngest or (heaven forbid!) sitting right here at the computer. It would only take an instant to run into his arms, but more often than not, I miss that moment.

Driving home from BYU Women’s Conference several years ago, my friend, who was also my Relief Society President probed, “”How’s your marriage? I hope you are working on your sex life.”

I was stunned by her blunt question and quickly assured her that things were hot and passionate at my house, thank you very much. But she went on, “I’m glad. Too many young mothers neglect their husbands for the sake of their kids and their own personal life. You might think you can have a good marriage without a good sex life but it’s simply not possible. Sex and marriage walk hand-in-hand.”

Although I dismissed her advice, it occupied my thoughts for several weeks. We had a great marriage– but I was too busy for romance. At the time I had 4 little ones (I now have six) and my days were filled with their care and the endless list of motherhood demands. My husband’s unspoken desire for more of my time and attention felt like yet another responsibility on the to-do list.

But I love my husband (I married the guy, didn’t I?), so I consciously moved him to the top of the queue. I played love songs on the stereo, I listened to his political lectures, I whispered in his ear, “let’s work on getting the kids to bed a little earlier…”

Soon, he discovered the aphrodisiacal qualities of vacuuming and dancing in the kitchen and everything else in our marriage improved. Erik noted, “It’s not just that you are more interested in sex(although that’s good!), you’re simply more interested in me.”

Because he feels loved, appreciated, Mr.Beautiful is more willing to take part in the humdrum aspects of parenting and my mothering burden has become infinitely lighter. I love feeling like a newlywed, sneaking into the pantry for some serious kissing before dinner and finding new tunes for our “Romance” playlist. And I’ve become more satisfied with my post-post-post-post-post-post-partum body because hubby really doesn’t mind those extra pounds.

My house is now full of teenagers, so our marriage has an interested audience. I believe it’s good for my boys to see hugging, kissing and general affection (though not to the point of embarrassment); they know that a happy marriage strengthens the entire family. Not only does our own family benefit, but we are much more able to help the surrounding community as a united partnership.

Still, no matter our best efforts, happiness in marriage ebbs and flows. One week all is bliss and the next, a small catastrophe sends it spiraling downward. Sexual desire has the same ebb and flow. And there are many times, especially surrounding childbirth and illness, that sex is simply off the menu. At those times, it’s baklava, kindness and long conversations that see us through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on intimacy. And please share your ideas for nourishing romance in the kitchen and the hallways of your life (we’ll keep the bedroom stuff private).

Ooh, and let me know your favorite love songs too– I’m always building that playlist.

About Michelle L.

(Blog Editor) never folds laundry and her car is a mess. She runs through the streets of Salt Lake City, UT, takes lots of photos, plays Uno with her five fabulous boys and buys way too many dresses for the little princess. Her husband is the most romantic man in the world because he does all the Costco shopping AND hauls it into the house (sorry to make you jealous girls). She writes at Scenes from the Wild.

81 thoughts on “Love, marriage, sex

  1. I totally agree! I think my husband is so much happier and my family when I can make our time together a top priority. I’ve only just learned this recently though….but it sure has made a difference! Thanks for the post.

  2. As one who is in marriage counseling, and learning to finally, after 11 years, think about taking time to care about and care for my husband, this article was fantastic. Right now we are working on identifying each others needs and sharing them, then fulfilling them. Each person is different, so each marriage is also going to be different. If you can find a way to express to your spouse your needs and listen to what theirs are, then get humble and selfless, I think you can make it great! We have already seen a huge improvement.
    Two books we have used in Counseling to help us identify our needs are The People Code and The Five Love Languages.

    Oh, and two of my favorite songs are Air Supply’s Making Love out of Nothing at All. Kenny Chesney’s Me & You.

  3. I honestly think one of the greatest things to happen to our marriage is that for the first several years, my husband had to travel a lot. I missed him SO MUCH, and our homecomings were always so sweet. It kept fresh in my mind just how much I loved him because he wasn’t right there with me.

    Now, I’ve found that taking even two minutes to drop what I’m doing and run to find him when he gets home makes us both feel so good! I get a minute to feel like a lovesick 20 year old, and he feels wanted and needed in a physical way.

  4. This is a great reminder to me that I need to consciously make an effort to stoke the relationship fire with my husband.
    I love the song “Digame” by Anna Nalick.

  5. Ben Folds, “The Luckiest.”

    I have to say, I appreciated this post. As a 2-month newlywed my husband and I usually have a lot of attention to give one another – but you know what? I don’t think I usually get up and run to him when he gets home. I like the idea of starting THAT tradition . . .

  6. I like how you mentioned sometimes sex is replaced by long conversations. I am pregnant right now, and there hasn’t been nearly as much sex going on, but there have been quite a few nights where we have stayed up way too late, just talking. Its a different kind of intimacy, but still very satisfying.

    Love songs: Falling Slowly from the movie Once, Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer

  7. I got a big lecture on this from my mom when my husband and I were having the 7-year-itch. She told me to spend five minutes kissing him and loving him when he got home every day. That’s the LAST thing I felt like doing, especially with three kids under four.
    But she said, “do it anyway. Fake it til you make it.” That was some of the best advice I ever got. I would make myself do it at first. He was so grateful for the attention and affection that his attitude immediately changed and we were happier than we’d been in years.

    As far as sex goes, trying new things and mixing it up keeps things from getting to hum-drum. I’ll try anything once or twice! And battery-operated, um, accessories have added greatly to both our enjoyment. (Hey, you asked!)

  8. Save Room for my love by john legend is the perfect song for this post and Walnut Tree by Keane

    I think it comes down to quantity and quality time with our husbands. Every wants to feel attractive, needed and loved. And far too often we’re serving up scintchy portions when it comes to love and affection. Our children learn powerful lessons about healthy relationships from our living examples.

  9. I’m a pregnant, on bed rest, somewhat of a newlywed (1 1/2 years) and I’ve loved this post. I find myself hurting for my husband because I haven’t been able to give the physical attention he is so used to. Our year and a half has been full of sex, love, attention and long, wonderful talks. Though the talks still occur, I have to say that I’ve really missed our physical relationship since I’ve been prescribed to lay here like a veal for the last 3 1/2 weeks (2 1/2 months to go!)

    I’ve always had the resolve to keep my husband my top priority, not at the expense of our children of course. I truly believe that by doing this, our children will grow up in a home full of love and have the comfort of knowing that their parents will always be together and love and respect each other. Thank you for furthering my resolve. I loved this post!

    Oh – and Jennie – we’ve been using battery operated accessories from the begining and I can’t even imagine how other’s do without them!

    Romance songs that we love: Almost anything by Jem, but specifically “Stay Now” “Come on Closer”, “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie, “The Wind” by Cat Stevens, “Such Great Heights” remake by Iron and Wine, “Say I Will” by Peter Breinholt, “Hold You in my Arms” by Ray LaMontagne, and of course “All I Want is You” by U2…is that enough for you? I could go on forever…and it seems I have! Sorry. :-)

  10. I’ve thought more than once about how I don’t give my husband the proper greeting when he comes home and I’m tyring to change that. Sometimes I selfishly think that I should still be a little coy like, “Oh, you’re home? I guess I didn’t hear you come in and play with the kids and have only realized you were here since you came to find me in the kitchen.” When in reality that’s obviously not the case. And how fun is it to come home and have everyone be excited that you’re back? How hard is it to give a kiss worth coming home to?!

    I plan on doing this TODAY. And probably something else later tonight. =D Thanks!

    one of my favorite songs right now is “Lucky” by Jason M’raz, featuring Colbie Calliet. Sounds like one you and your husband would enjoy. “Lucky to be in love with my best friend. Lucky to have been where I have been….”

  11. one of my all time love songs is
    Cuando Amas A Alguien by César Banana Pueyrredón. This page has the lyrics, though there are some typo’s. DH used to ride a bus during his mission, and this song was all the rage and reminded him every day of me. so it was kind of our first song. even though I’m not fluent, it almost chokes me up when i sing along. it’s just a happy song. I’ve been jammin’ it on iTunes since reading your post. Happy!

    thanks Michelle ♥

  12. I was on pelvic rest for three months of this pregnancy #2), and it really stretched our relationship.

    We learned that there are LOTS of way to express sexual love for each other without intercourse. It just takes being willing to try things out and not getting embarrassed.

    And honestly? The best thing we do is go to bed a half hour before we really want to and spend time cuddling and talking in the dark before going to sleep. That’s my manna most days.

  13. I think something as simple as saying “thank you” for little things, like mowing the lawn, helping with the kids, doing stuff around the house is huge. We kind of get into a cycle of taking each other for granted.

    Some of my favorite “get me in the mood music” is by the Afghan Whigs. The band isn’t together any more, but their CDs are still available. Greg Dulli, the lead singer, is in another band called The Twilight Singers. Good stuff.

  14. Michelle, thanks for this post–I appreciate it, and also the way you requested that we share nourishing tips while keeping the bedroom stuff private. Thanks to all the commenters who have followed that request :-).

    I like to maintain this fiction that me and my husband are the only people who have sex. Obviously that’s not true. But it’s helpful to me to think of it that way; otherwise I get unwanted images in my head, of other people, and I would just rather not have them. I have no interest in anyone else’s sex life. No, that’s not true. I need to have no interest in anyone else’s sex life. Remember all those chastity pure thoughts talks as we got as single people? I thought that when I got married, I was home free, and they didn’t apply to me anymore. But really, they apply double: I understand the entendres I never got before; I know enough to go places in my mind that I was not capable of before marriage. Places I really only want to go with my husband.

    And so maybe that’s my advice, since you’re asking, Michelle: if something’s not right with your marriage or your sex life, don’t go talking to other people until you’ve talked with your husband first. Get a book and read it together, or find a professional if needed. But nothing will get fixed if you’re not talking to the most important person first.

  15. I love it so much when my husband randomly grabs my hand or touches me on the arm, back, shoulder, wherever. But it took me years — YEARS! — to realize that I hadn’t actually communicated to him that I liked it. All it took was one simple conversation, and I saw him making an effort that was small, but paid great dividends in how I felt. He likes to remind me that he is not, in fact, a mind reader. It’s hard to remember sometimes.

  16. During the first four years of our marriage, I was pregnant and/or nursing three children. And we had four houses, three jobs, and three moves, one of them cross country.

    Then I got chronically ill.

    This has all, in ways I can’t enumerate here, affected our life in many, many ways, including in the realm of intimacy.

    (Did I mention that I can’t get pregnant and can’t use chemical birth control?)

    I agree with the principle that we ought to show love to our husbands.

    I agree that often we are busy and don’t really realize how much little things could matter to keep some fire alive and to help our husbands feel our love.

    I think it’s important to always keep present in our minds how we can really put family first — spouse and children.

    And I love the discussion about little ways to nurture the relationship, so I don’t want to take away from that at all.

    But I am going to take issue with the following, from your RS pres:

    “You might think you can have a good marriage without a good sex life but it’s simply not possible.”

    “Good sex” is, imo, a journey for most couples; for someone to assert that you simply can’t have a good marriage along the way as you figure stuff like this out to me seems potentially (very) problematic. Is it something worth working toward? Yes. Something absolutely *necessary* to have a good marriage? No. It’s too easy to hold a marriage hostage to unreached ideals. I think that is something that can actually be detrimental to a good marriage.

    There are way too many factors that can affect whether sex is actually ‘good’ (whatever that may mean). Life isn’t a constant, and to me, a good marriage is one that can meet the variation in life and in relationships and in the different facets of the relationship. How many marriages face challenges with sex? Probably more than we would want to realize. Do we really want to say that none of those marriages can be good without everything figured out?

    Again, I don’t argue that sex is important, and worth working at. I just don’t like absolute statements like the one your RS president gave you. And because of my own personal experience with all the barriers to ‘good sex’ that have been out of my control, I’m all the more sensitive to such absolutes. In our marriage, we are finding how to learn and grown as a couple by learning to work together with the many trials we have faced. When we have held our marriage hostage to expectations of what ‘should’ be, then we have faced trouble. When we accept where we are and seek to move forward, then our marriage has the potential to be good.

  17. I love this post! I love how you took responsiblity for positive change — even though things were already good. I think Heavenly Father wants our relationships, every aspect of them, to be the best they can be. Too many people, in too many marriages, try to fix the other person. Try to find out what is wrong with their spouse. If more people would be proactive like you are doing, there would be a lot happier marriages.

    One thing I try to do when hubby comes home is drop everything, even raw chicken, and go welcome him home with a hug and kiss. I think he likes it, but it keeps me focused on him.

    Currently, my favorite love song is “LUCKY” by Jason Mraz.

  18. m&m I appreciated your comment! As soon as I read the comment of the RS Pres. in the (GREAT!) post I freaked out a little… “Ohmygosh are we on track? Is our sex life good enough? Is our marriage good enough?”. I understand the sentiment, but I agree that we shouldn’t hold our marriages hostage to the shoulds…. I’m happier and more content without too many absolute statements in my life.

    I do love this post though because our relationship with our spouse is the only one that our eternal future is determined by. It’s hard to balance sometimes, but in my life I find we have to just keep trying to readjust. We do great for a month or so and then we start slipping into our own worlds of work and homelife and we have to stop and readjust and make a date and start drawing nearer. In our life it is a continuous series of readjustments…

  19. Favorite love song right now (besides a few already mentioned). “Come on get higher” by Matt Nathanson and “Johnny and June” by Heidi Newfield oh, and “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson… they make me ooze endorphins for my husband.

  20. m&m– you know I always love to read your thoughts. Your points are well taken. I thought about including this Newsweek article in the post– Men Who Cheat: It’s Not About Sex http://www.newsweek.com/id/160910/page/2

    It talks about the fact that very few men leave their marriage because of sexual dissatisfaction but rather because they feel unappreciated.

    I know you are doing the best you can in your situation but I’m going out on a limb and saying most of us could do better.

  21. Hubby’s still in school, so on top of working full-time, he’s got homework after Kiddo is FINALLY in bed… but one thing that I know he appreciates is backscratches. So when he’s working on his homework, I’ll come over and scratch his back. It’s a huge sacrifice for me (with my personality) to just sit there and do nothing else (but occasionally read), but he appreciates it, and it’s pretty much our only time together. And it means even more to him when he doesn’t have to ask.

    I’m trying to just *be around him* more, too – instead of devoting his rare time at home to catching up on laundry or dishes, I’ll accompany him around the apt., too, instead of finishing what I’m working on at the computer. Or maybe dropping/turning off what I’m doing/watching and really paying attention to what he’s saying. Again, it’s a rare moment that we get together, and paying actual attention to each other helps a lot.

    Speaking of which, I need to get Kiddo ready for bed so we can maximize that homework time tonight, LOL…

  22. Wow! This post has really opened my eyes to just how foolish I have been in my own marriage. The last half of my married life I have spent thinking that my husband did not want to have much intimacy with me at all. He is already kind of reserved when it comes to affection and I have treated it like he didn’t want any, though I need that kind of thing every day. He is the kind of man who wouldn’t ask for it in a million years if he knew it was something I didn’t want for whatever reason. And I surely haven’t shown any inclination for sex or other intimacy. In fact, not to get too personal, but we’re on the maybe once a year schedule. After reading this I can plainly see from many little clues that he gives every day that he is “starving” for this kind of attention. It’s no wonder our marriage is struggling. With me spending all my efforts in raising our 3 children, plus working, plus all those other mother roles, I have put my husband and marriage on the back burner thinking that once the children are gone things will improve. I don’t know how I could be so blind, but then with as busy as life gets these days it’s not hard to fall into a pattern and think that all with be better tomorrow. Thank you so much for putting the bug in my mind to stop sitting back and doing nothing. Maybe your RS President does have the right idea here. (However I do believe there are situations where marriage has to exist without the sex part)

    I’m going to give it a try tonight and see what happens. I kind of do miss those days, way back when, when it was hard to keep our hands off each other. Hopefully we can get our marriage back on track. Thanks again!

    p.s. Any suggestions on where to get some of those battery operated accessories?
    At this point anything would be helpful!

  23. Okay, I’m going to stay anonymous for this one, but my husband has gained 100 pounds since we were married. I’m not sure what to say about it, but I would be interested in your opinions on a situation like this.

  24. I like this post a lot–thank you Michelle. It’s a good reminder for me.

    I really appreciate what has been said about keeping the discussion out of the bedroom; I hope it stays that way in this thread. I wonder, though, where is a safe place for Mormon women to talk about their intimate problems. Once I taught a lesson on marriage in Relief Society, and I mentioned in passing the importance of sex. After the lesson a woman came up to me and asked if I had any ideas of who to talk to, when you can’t afford a counselor, and your husband doesn’t want to go to the bishop, but you have issues that need work.

    I came up empty. Because really, I’m not that interested in other people’s sex lives. Public discussion of battery operated accessories makes me very squeamish and uncomfortable. I don’t want to be a sounding board for other people, especially in person; I just can’t do it. I want what happens in other bedrooms to stay out of my ears and my head. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable. For me, in fact, it’s essential.

    But sex problems have come up in other conversations since I taught that lesson, and I wonder how many Mormon women need a listening ear and some good advice, but are unable to find resources. You don’t dare search for sex-related things online, and you don’t dare ask anyone in your ward. Tough call.

    All that leads me to this, Ericka: the best I can do is recommend good sex books, which have helped me a lot. Here are some great books you might try:
    The Act of Marriage
    Sheet Music is another one I’ve heard recommended, though I’ve never read it.
    And of course, Laura Brotherson’s And They Were Not Ashamed.

    The Brotherson book and the Act of Marriage both have a religious-centered attitude towards sex, which I find helpful. I think that God wants us to have happy, fulfilling intimate lives.

    You can find the Brotherson book at Deseret Book, or order with the privacy of Amazon, where you never have to look anyone in the face as you buy it. :-)

    I’m also a fan of Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, although I have to filter out some of the secular attitudes I disagree with.

    I also very much appreciate m&m’s words here–thank you. I can think of several marriages I admire where health problems presumably made sex problematic, but the spouses continued to be kind and true and faithful to each other. Every marriage is different, and it’s important to take the long view.

  25. Michelle, I have been worried that my comment came across as taking issue with your great thoughts here — I wasn’t. I think doing better is important to always consider. I think it’s all too easy to slip into routine without making time — real time and focus — for our spouses. And it’s easy to make lots of excuses. I don’t want to be misunderstood as saying that that’s ok, or that it’s not important to be honest with one’s self and consider how one can do better. Even with my limitations, I KNOW I can do better. And I appreciate the reminder!

    I was just uncomfortable with what your RS president said — that it’s *IMPOSSIBLE* to have a good marriage without good sex. And lest it be thought that I’m just trying to defend myself, I think of many different situations where this kind of absolute assertion and equation could end up being problematic.

    For example, consider a woman who comes to a marriage with scars from sexual abuse in her past. It would not be unheard of in such a situation for ‘good sex’ to be a struggle, perhaps for a while. Would that couple be unable to have a ‘good marriage?’ I say of course not. But if ‘good sex’ was the goal, it might actually be harder to have a good marriage than if a good marriage at a deeper level was the goal, imo.

    Or think of a situation where a husband has low libido (for whatever reason) and a wife is actually doing all she can to feed the relationship romantically and sexually, but “good sex” may not be what the man needs to feel appreciated. Is a good marriage impossible in such a situation? I don’t think so. (What does ‘good sex mean, anyway? I think it means different things to different people.)

    What of situations where ‘good sex’ (one spouse’s expectations of what that means) is actually used as a club to complain and beat up on the spouse….even if ‘good sex’ actually does exist? (I know of situations like this, unfortunately.)

    So health problems are not the only factor that could come into play.

    It would appear that for your RS president, the barometer of her marriage was their intimate relationship, and that’s great if that worked for them. I don’t think that she would be the only one in that situation. I just don’t like it when such personal things are generalized in a way that seems to ignore all the nuance and variation and challenges along the way that can exist. And I don’t believe that such things necessarily will be barriers to a good marriage, even if they can be barriers (at least temporarily) to good sex.

    And there is just too much baggage, imo, in our society with equating happiness absolutely with sex. I’m not saying you are doing that…the statement by your RS president sort of triggered these thoughts along those lines, though.

    Sorry if it felt like I rained on the parade, though. I will repeat again that what you are doing with the conversation is great, so I don’t want you to feel like I was taking issue with the discussion you are leading here. I just am concerned about tender hearts whose lives aren’t as simple as your cute RS president seemed to make them out to be. The goal, as you have said, should be to do better…and for each couple, that will look different. The goal, imo, should not be focused on sex alone, but on true love and progress, whatever that may mean in each situation. And sometimes that may not include, at that moment, ‘good sex.’ But I still think that good marriages can happen while couples figure out that and other challenges that may exist. (And I’m not suggesting that I think you disagree.)

    Whew. Yeah. I have strong feelings about this. Sorry. And I know I am repeating myself…it’s super late. (Yeah, insomnia is part of my health issues. :) )

  26. oh, grrrrr….slow server = hitting the post button twice. Sorry. (Editor’s Note: I took out the second repetitive copy of the comment).

  27. This is exactly the kind of discussion that doesn’t happen enough for Mormon women. Discussion of sex is rampant in society and so often, as a knee-jerk reaction, as righteous women we avoid the topic altogether. But sex is a big part of marriage and dealing with the emotions tied to it, whether your having sex or not, is a constant part of the growth process of marriage. So thank you for this post. It is so helpful to see that intimacy is something that every couple has to work on.

    I agree with Justine on this one–communication takes the cake on importance. I often expect my husband to read my mind and have ridiculous expectations (subconsciously of course). I have found that the more I talk (gasp!) the more he listens and does (double gasp!) exactly what I wanted. It’s amazing how the men in our lives are just dying to make us happy.
    And love songs? “Lets Stay Together” by Marvin Gaye. Gets me every time. Other good ones-”She’s got a way” and “Just the Way you are” by Billy Joel.

  28. I can clearly remember listening to Dr. Laura one day on the radio as she was giving a verbal smack down to a woman that could’ve been me at the time. Essentially her point was this: YES, you are a busy young mother and have every good reason to feel exhausted at the end of the day. But somehow, you found the energy for the laundry, carpool, dinner, homework, meetings, phone calls…etc. It sends a very clear message to your husband when the ONE thing that a woman decides she doesn’t have the energy for is sex and intimacy with her husband. ouch. It was like getting punched in the gut… because that was ME!

    It was what I needed to hear at that moment in time. And here is the best kept secret, in my opinion: A man who is sexually fulfilled is happier, more patient, more tolerant and more content in general. It is truly the oil that greases our marriage. It’s not “the answer” but it helps us get to the heart of things a lot quicker and easier.

    And finally… I understand the knee jerk reaction to keep the topic “clean” and feel like we’re doing something dirty or wrong by mentioning the words “battery operated” BUT there is truly nothing dirty or wrong with a married couple experimenting with gadgets that enhance the experience, as they both feel comfortable and within the bonds of their marriage. And with access to the internet online stores, you don’t have to go to the sleazy sex store to get make the purchase. It can all be very discreet. And Ericka I will give this suggestion, not to be gratutitous or suggestive, but because you asked: a gadget called ‘the dolphin’

    Best $8.00 we’ve spent in a LONG time. Have fun! : )

    (comment moderator, if this crosses the line, I will not be offended if you delete it)

  29. Thanks for the suggestions Emily M and anonymous 2 cents.

    And to anonymous with the husband who’s put on a few pounds….
    What advice would you give if it were the wife who had added
    that many? (I hate to admit it, but it’s true)

  30. I’m a first time visitor and as such don’t know your readership demographics, but this article seems to have drawn mostly younger female respondents. I’ve been married for 28 years and there is no question in my mind that the #1 challenge to our marriage is the lack of interest that my wife has had in me. Sure, children, household responsibilities, church callings, etc., are all exhausting and can fill one’s day. Yet, at the end of one’s life, when the children are grown and married, our crowning achievement will be the marriage relationship that we have created, as it is arguably life’s most important action. I suspect that many, many LDS husbands would–if allowed to complain–state that they are undersexed and under-appreciated. The under-appreciated can be dealt with more appropriately than the undersexed…as the options are many and few are good. Personally, I believe that wives will stand accountable for their lack of attention to their husband’s needs, especially if those husbands succumb to temptation and seek satisfaction elsewhere. Many women of the LDS Church seem to just want to hope that their husbands don’t stray…without doing much to prevent it. Men are pretty simple…feed them, make love to them, listen to them…and most of us can do without the first and the third much easier than the second. Final note: Romantic music might set the mood for the wife…but my guess is the only music most husbands need to hear is “meet you in the bedroom.”

  31. Ericka– we love you! I remember a story my friend told about meeting her husband. They were both missionaries in France and at some sort of zone meeting the Elders (they are just teenagers after all) were saying how disappointed they’d be if their wife gained weight after marriage. Kevin spoke up and said, “I’ll love my wife no matter what she looks like but if she gained weight and was unhappy I’d just go on walks with her and make lots of healthy food and it wouldn’t be an issue.”

    Yeah, she knew he was a keeper.

    Your hubby sounds like a sweetie. I’d talk to him about all of these issues and then just see how you can work together to improve. Weight loss is HARD but a happy sex life can make it easier. You know those “better than sex” brownies and such? No they aren’t. The real thing is better and more fulfilling.

  32. This has been a very interesting and very important topic. M&M I totally appreciate where you’re coming from and think you’ve made some very important points.

    I would say this, though. In a marriage without any difficult extenuating circumstances—where the main barrier to sexual intimacy is primarily lack of willingness on the wife’s part—I do think the marriage fundamentally suffers. This isn’t because of the lack of *sex*, though. It’s because there’s something very important and intimate that could be offered that is purposely withheld, essentially saying to your husband, “I could give you this gift . . . but I won’t.”

    I remember talking to a friend once who said she refused to have sex with her husband unless she was “really in the mood,” because if she did so, it made her feel like a prostitute. I think that with some women, that feeling is very real; sex is so psychologically complicated and emotional that I can see why some women would have this visceral reaction and have difficulty overcoming it. But I would also venture to say that for some women (not all–but some) they just . . . eh, don’t feel like it. So they don’t do it. To me, though, that would be like saying that unless I’m “really in the mood” I shouldn’t clean the house, because doing so would mean I’m a slave. Or (maybe even more apt?) I shouldn’t read the scriptures unless I’m “really in the mood,” because doing so would make me a spiritual hypocrite.

    Sex is so so complicated, and so so important, and the purposeful withholding of it can be a very divisive power play in some marriages. I’m not saying that every single time your husband gives you that knowing look you have to throw yourself on the bed. I leave the dishes in the sink sometimes :-). (Not that sex is like doing the dishes–it’s not the best analogy, I agree.) BUT . . . if I don’t do the dishes day after day after day, after a while the kitchen is such a mess no one wants to go in there anymore, and eventually folks give up and start using paper plates.

    Again, this analogy doesn’t include everybody. If there’s an obvious reason that sex isn’t happening (pregnancy, illness, up all night with baby, difficult issues w/ previous abuse, etc.) then the lack of sex doesn’t represent a purposeful withholding. But I do believe that purposeful withholding, especially over a long period of time, can make it “impossible” to have a good marriage, as the Relief Society President said.

    And my favorite love song? Somebody above already mentioned it, but I’ll second her motion: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. If I’m feeling particularly schmaltzy, it even makes me cry.

  33. I read this yesterday and have been thinking about it since. It’s a great post with lots of wonderful discussion. There have been some particular things that caught my eye.

    As many have said I really think the basis for any intimacy is communication. Being able to talk to each other about anything helps build a bond that transfers to many other things. Going on dates (even if it’s just watching a movie after the children have gone to bed) also helps. Later on when the children are older you can actually go out together and talk more.

    There were also words that stood out from the post. Words that have nothing to do with sexual intimacy and yet if these feelings are in a marriage it can also help there as well. “United” “Appreciated” “Kindness” When these things are present in a marriage it only helps to strengthen what is there, sexually or otherwise.

    And for gaining weight – love them. Never lecture. If they bring it up follow their lead on the help they are asking for. Make sure you are cooking and making things that are healthy and when they are ready they’ll make a change. But don’t try to change them.

    Lastly, it is interesting as well to get older and start changing (lovely pre-menopause) and have some of those hormones fluctuate differently. Those conversation skills are even more important so that he understands what the devil is going on when you start getting wierd – even if you’re just as confused as he is.

  34. In this issue of sex and marriage it is important to consider the context of this conversation. We do live in a society that completely misunderstands sex. Sometimes we, just as a result of being in that society day after day, have an unrealistic view of sex as well.

    I believe our sex lives would be the best if we had nothing to compare them to. If it were truly about our relationship with our spouse, how they felt emotionally and physically, and not about meeting some societal expectation of good sex or good marriage.

    When I hear people talk about using sex enhancers, be it drugs, toys, movies, etc. I wonder what is happening in that relationship that the natural satisfaction of sex cannot be met with just those two individuals alone in a room. (I don’t mean to be offensive, I apologize if I hurt feelings. Just trying to honestly discuss the issue)

    Elder Holland gave a talk a few years ago aimed at the youth, talking about using sex outside the bonds of marriage was like playing with fire. “If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love.”

    I am NOT saying those that may have difficulty with sex were immoral before marriage. What I am saying is that, as m&m pointed out, there are many issues that must be resolved to have a fulfilling sex life. That as Pres. Holland points out it is possible to have spiritual and psychic damage that effects our sex lives. Those barriers to intimacy can come from innumerable sources. Which is why they must be addressed in the most lasting, compassionate and intimate relationship available to us in this life. It is another marvelous tool of our Heavenly Father to help us reach our full potential by removing barriers to our eternal progression.

    To me, a fulfilling sex life does not always mean just physical enjoyment. There have been times in my marriage that the physical enjoyment was there but my spirit felt damaged because something else was awry. Other times the physical part of it may not have been as intense but because I felt bonded spiritually to my husband it was an enduring, strengthening, marvelous experience!

  35. Ohh – Love songs

    Martina McBride – There You Are
    Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black – When I Said I Do
    Brad Paisley – We Danced
    Clint Black – Like the Rain
    And there are some albums I just listen to because it makes me think of him… Bryan Adams and Rascall Flats are a couple of the artists

  36. anon – I agree with much of what you say, but I have to strongly disagree with the concept of wives being responsible for their husbands indiscretions. Deprivation and hardship does not negate agency.

    There are many good options to deal with the “undersexed” problem. The bad options that men turn to are a result of laziness and selfishness. The easy, quick fixes do nothing but exacerbate the real problem.

    There are exceptions to every rule, but I suspect that most men in the situation you describe need to get past their reluctance to admit something is wrong, and talk about it. They need to take responsibility for their situation and talk to their wives, and even take the lead to seek marriage counseling. Husbands _are_ allowed to complain, but even better than complaining is to work together with their wives and figure out where the problems are and fix them.

    It’s a two-way street: you won’t be able to fix it on your own. I have read many of the books referenced above, and they are very valuable for men as well as for women. If a husband and wife read through one of them together, it provides a good starting place for discussion.

  37. a different anon–Yes! That is exactly what I mean. My sex life goes much better when I focus on my marriage, my intimacy and not anyone else’s. I agree that our sex lives would be best if we had nothing to compare them to. You’re usually satisfied with your own house until you see another more luxurious one; then you feel dissatisfied. When I get TMI, I start wondering if I’m doing things right, or if my intimate life is really okay, when it was just fine before, thank you very much.

  38. One time my Handsome and I were having a minor disagreement about something (I think it may have been about how to cook the meat for dinner). I don’t remember exactly what we were discussing, but our conversation was in the form of answering questions with questions. Then Handsome faces me, batts his eyelashes, puts on the cutest face possible and asks: “I love you?” Who can keep themselves from kissing such adorableness? It was a great way to reverse the hard feelings, recognize how petty the argument was, and kiss and make up (literally). Consequently, the phrase “I love you?” has been repeated many times since then, generally with the same results of peace, harmony, and giggles of love.

  39. I agree with the link (Newsweek) that men can leave if they’re not appreciated. But women can too. At one point I found myself in a quote-unquote “relationship”. The attraction was kind words and compliments. Before that started, dh and I been going through a few hard years and when it got really bad I remember crying to him often that I just needed a kind word sometimes. I was starving for affection. But he never did say kind words. Then I met the man who was happy to say those kind words. I still don’t know how we made it through without (fill in the blank) happening. Likely a sense of duty. Kids and church and all that. I also found myself wondering sometimes about the wife who I never met. And didn;t want to meet.

    We moved on, but it was an eye opener. Dh and I are working on things and its gotten better, including kisses after work and better communication and to be honest lower expectations on my part. I also wondered how I would react if dh had a coworker who was ready to give him something he was missing at home. I decided it wasn’t going to happen. He’s going to get what he needs. Not that it would be my fault IF he wandered but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    ***Part of this comment has been removed for violating our commenting standards. 2. No insults. Please critique the argument, not the person.

  40. Good morning! I’m the anon who wrote about my husband’s weight gain.

    I think this is such a beautiful and loving discussion of this topic. Thank you to all the commenters about the gift of marriage – we are truly blessed to have spouses so that we can work this all out between the two of us. I was single for longer than most LDS women, so I never for a minute take my husband for granted.

    About the weight gain, my biggest struggle is that I am not attracted to the male form when it is overweight. In other words, if I were to meet my husband now, I would not be interested in dating him.

    I know that sounds harsh, so let me describe the other side. My husband works so hard for our family. For the past ten years, he has gained weight because he hasn’t had time to exercise, sleep eight hours a night, eat lunch, etc. He has a job that literally requires that much of him. Of course, he could make time for these things, but not if he stays in the job he has chosen.

    Well, now his job is changing a little bit, lightening the workload. He says he’s willing to work on getting healthy. I hope so.

    My feelings about this situation have ranged from anger, to resentment, to selfish and immature jabs, to compassion, to understanding, to sympathy, to empathy, to desire, to gratitude. Not necessarily in that order. I wish the last few years had been different for us physically and sexually, but I don’t feel like holding that against my husband.

    I look around my ward, and I see that the men don’t gain as much weight as the women do. And I wonder if the husbands with overweight wives feel like I do: they love their spouses, they recognize all the great things in their spouses, they are loyal to their spouses… they just wish their spouses would take better care of their bodies – for both their sakes.

  41. One more thing -

    there was a commenter above who asked about what to do if the wife is the one who has gained weight. My husband has expressed that he is discouraged by the daunting task of losing a lot of weight. It makes him not want to try. Maybe you can relate to that feeling? So I ask you a question in return – what can a spouse do to help?

  42. Anonymous with the overweight husband – I highly recommend the book “Real Love In Marriage” by Greg Baer. My husband and I read this book together while we were engaged and it literally gave our relationship a 180 degree turn. One of the things it talks specifically about in one of the chapters is a spouse’s weight gain after marriage.

    (The book also touches on sex in marriage and makes what I think are some good points.)

  43. For me, it’s important to be able to respectfully discuss this topic because if nothing is said, or heard about, if no references are ever made, however tactful, then there is the possibility for both shame and misinformation to inform the act. I agree that one’s sex life is, in fact, sacred and no one’s business but your own and your spouse’s. I don’t openly discuss my sex life.

    However, I know that I have been helped by the tactful and sometimes even joyful expressions of my close friends on this topic. I’ve been given ideas and inspiration, and been reminded that no shame is required in figuring out how to make it work between the two of you. I’m grateful for those who have been more willing than I to share what they’ve learned with me.

  44. Sex is supposed to be spiritual AND fun. That’s the whole point. The world seems to understand the fun part. Mormon women are all about the spiritual part.

    My goal is both.

    Our Father in Heaven made our bodies in a way so they we get pleasure out of sex. If we aren’t then we need to learn to be better steward over our bodies. Enjoying sex is not dirty or wrong. It’s how we’re made–on purpose.

  45. Outstanding post and a great nudge for me! And even as I was reading your post, I thought, “I want to know what her romantic songs are!” I’ve been trying to put together a romantic bedroom CD for us for a couple of years. So, thanks for everyone’s music ideas.

    As for overweight spouses: Yes, they have a problem, but the real issue is with you. You need to somehow overcome those feelings and perceptions in order to see your spouse as sexy again. If your aim is to change them, you will only damage your relationship. *They* have to be the ones who want the change. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but your marriage is for forever, so you need to work on mentally adjusting.

    We aren’t a real “touchy-feely” couple, so I don’t ever see us making out around the house and such. We’re OK with that. My dh is very good about always kissing me hello and goodbye. I need to work on responding better.

    Our big “go to” album: Norah Jones, “Come Away With Me”

  46. Matt,

    “I have to strongly disagree with the concept of wives being responsible for their husbands indiscretions.”

    I carefully chose my wording hoping to not suggest that wives were not responsible for their husband’s indiscretions, but were accountable to God for their stewardship of their marriage relationship. In regards to a wife who withholds intimacy as part of a power struggle, or only chooses to participate when SHE feels the desire, or remains blissfully ignorant of her husband’s needs/desires, I believe she will be called to account for her actions/inactions as part of her marriage. I’m not ignoring the role of appetite and its capacity to expand unhealthily, merely suggesting that in a marriage where each partner is seeking their spouse’s interests, it behooves them to recognize that what was “often enough” for one person might not be enough for the spouse.

    LDS doctrine affirms that men and women are fundamentally different and I believe that part of life’s challenge is to learn the nature and disposition of the opposite sex. Is plural marriage an eternal principle? If so, did God create man with the capacity to be married to more than one woman at a time? If so, and the righteous exercise of that capacity is currently restricted, what is the unrighteous exercise of that capacity? It has been a mystery to many women how some men can proclaim to love their wife and yet become intimate with other women, even being in love with more than one woman at a time. (Of course it is possible for women to do the same, although from my small perspective on the world it seems to be more prevalent in men.) Hence, righteous men are asked to not exercise this capacity during this lifetime as they obey one of the basic commandments. That raises the question of what changes to a righteous woman’s role occurs as a result of plural marriage not being currently instituted? It seems to me that in a plural marriage situation each wife spends less time with her husband than in a single marriage situation and has more time to devote to raising children and serving others. Is this perhaps the default mode that God created in women, a preparation for the plural marriage that might occur in the next life? Is it then possible that one of the challenges that righteous women face in this life is the obligation to attend to their husband’s needs to a greater degree than if she had sister wives? If so, and she fails to do so but allows herself to treat her marriage as the way that the women of the world treat their marriages, that opens the door in my mind for her to be held accountable to God for the manner in which she acted towards her husband.

    (Yes, I know there were several stretches in there, and it wasn’t my intent to hijack the post, but I felt it would be useful to understand why I am using the term “accountable” and not “responsible.”

  47. A couple more songs:
    “I Will be Here” Steven Curtis Chapman
    “Standing Right Next to Me” Karla Bonoff — 8 Seconds soundtrack
    “Fields of Gold” Sting

  48. I would say this, though. In a marriage without any difficult extenuating circumstances—where the main barrier to sexual intimacy is primarily lack of willingness on the wife’s part—I do think the marriage fundamentally suffers.

    Again, I agree with this, and I don’t want my comments to be misunderstood as disagreeing at all. I don’t advocate withholding, and again, I think in general, women who are tired and busy really can and should find more ways to open their hearts to their husbands.

    In a nutshell, I just also don’t advocate demanding on the other end of the spectrum, which can happen, too, and can be just as hard on a marriage. Power plays can happen both ways. Force doesn’t equal love any more than manipulation. A good marriage is one where love is really the foundation — Christian courage kind of love, sometimes, even (a la Elder Hales’ most recent talk).

    I also don’t agree with the whole polygamy thing as the rule, and somehow it’s a woman’s job to play the role of many women. !! Jacob 2 seems to me to blow that idea out of the water. I don’t want to be insensitive to your pain, anon, but I can’t help but wonder if your expectations might be adding to that pain. Maybe not…that is for you and your wife to work out.

  49. anon– I truly appreciated your first comment but I do think you stretched too much in your second. I don’t believe that we’ll have polygamy in the next life; the infant male mortality rate is too high and so many young men have died in wars. Polygamy was a temporary measure.

    But even if I did believe, the promise of polygamy in the eternities isn’t exactly a turn-on in this life.

    Most men and women could be kinder, sweeter and more affectionate to their spouse. Yes, sex is spiritual but it’s also just plain old practical (my atheist friends do it too!).

  50. I have a few thoughts to throw out.

    One LDS culture in general is weak in appropriate discussion of this given topic. I used to have a whole class on it when I taught parenting at BYU (we’ll save more of that for a future blog post) but one critical thing as that we understand the role of sex and intimacy in God’s plan. I think we have to shake off the contemporary media views which pervade our thinking about sexuality. Unfortunately with this lack of good discourse on the subject many LDS try to come to a sense of it, but it is difficultly when viewed through the lens of worldly mores.

    Part of coming to understand sexuality and improving it in a marriage is evaluating all types of behaviors and whether those behaviors are truly bringing you closer to your spouse and making you one (emotionally, physically) or whether it rooted in the world understanding of Sex which is rooted firmly in self gratification, pushing boundaries, etc. Satan distorts everything, this included, Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe everything is appropriate, I have seen many marriages suffer from adopting that approach. Far too many people novelty becomes the end game and that is a dangerous goalpost to set, but if you rely on that for fulfillment, you will always find yourself lacking. I fault the pervase culture of pornography as really distorting our healthy views of sexuality.

    Also I don’t think it is fair to say Men want it Women don’t. This stereotype is frequently portrayed. I think the furthering of this helps no one. There is as much variation between men as there is between a man and a woman. Men and women are individually unique in their interests, desires, ambitions, etc. I think it naive to assert that generally any one thing is the problem across marriages. If you take a systemic apprioch there are os many factors at play in even a single domain of a marital relationship.

    While I believe stewardship of a marriage is an eternal priniciple. I believe intimate needs fall in line with many other ambitions, desires, interests in marriage that are all a matter of checks and balances. If we truly love our spouse we are trying to serve them and help them and they are doing the same for us. There is no justification for infidelity or looking to other sources for fulfillment. Sexuality is always about self control, self mastery (before and after marriage) and any persons wrongful actions are not the “fault” of a spouse. Also “often enough” goes both ways- I think a compromise- it does not mean the highest bidder is right. And compromise in marriage is not always 50/50 sometimes its 80/20, sometimes its 90/10 — often we compromise more in one area and our spouse in another. Thats what makes a marriage work. It’s not about power on either side.

    I do not agree with the assertion about plural marriage. You seem to assert that men fundamentally need more and with this I disagree. Even when in practice in the early days of the church it was not practiced by all. To me it oversteps any doctrinal bounds suggest one man and one woman are insufficient as this is God’ current direction for us.

    From a therapeutic standpoint I also have to encourage spouses to talk about what they feel/want/would like to improve in this area of their marriage. Communication is critical to all aspects of marraige. If you never take apart the broken thing and repair it with new parts- it won’t get fixed!

  51. Interesting theory about how a man’s sex drive might be related to the idea of plural marriage, anon, but I don’t buy it. In a recent press release (which can be found on lds.org), the Church’s position on plural marriage is clearly set forth:

    “The standard doctrine of the Church is monogamy, as it always has been, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (Jacob chapter 2): “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none. … For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”

    Also, I appreciate and agree with your assertion that both partners in a marriage should work very hard at being sensitive to the feelings and desires of the other and that each is accountable for his or her respective stewardship of the marriage, but I must take exception to this statement:

    “Personally, I believe that wives will stand accountable for their lack of attention to their husband’s needs, especially if those husbands succumb to temptation and seek satisfaction elsewhere.”

    Yes, wives (as well as husbands) will certainly stand accountable for their lack of attention to the needs of their spouses, but there it ends. Each of us is responsible/answerable for our own behavior, but not for the choices made by others.

    Elder Holland gave a great talk back in 1988 entitled “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments” wherein he says this about attempts to blame others for our own choices:

    “To say that a young woman in such a relationship has to bear her responsibility and that of the young man’s too is the least fair assertion I can imagine. In most instances if there is sexual transgression, I lay the burden squarely on the shoulders of the young man–for our purposes probably a priesthood bearer–and that’s where I believe God intended responsibility to be. In saying that I do not excuse young women who exercise no restraint and have not the character or conviction to demand intimacy only in its rightful role. I have had enough experience in Church callings to know that women as well as men can be predatory. But I refuse to buy some young man’s feigned innocence who wants to sin and call it psychology.”

    And, sorry, but the following just plain gives me the willies:

    “Is it then possible that one of the challenges that righteous women face in this life is the obligation to attend to their husband’s needs to a greater degree than if she had sister wives?”

  52. Sharlee, yes. Willies. Egads.

    I firmly believe “righteous” women are completely capable of satisfying, complementing and fulfilling their husbands without any “help” from sister wives. Being my husband’s equal partner is NOT a trial. When my husband and I are attuned to each other’s needs–emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical–we are complete.

    I don’t want to give anonymous a hard time–I’m sure he didn’t intend to be offensive–but underlying his argument is the assumption that no single woman will ever be “enough” for a man. I couldn’t disagree more.

  53. I’d say our “needs” can be pretty similar, too, actually; and they’re also subject to some of the same complications – chief among which is just plain exhaustion.

    That said, I agree with the “if it ain’t broke…” commenters, LOL…

  54. Heehee… so, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but here’s today’s Family Gem from the Church:

    “Latter-day Saint spouses should do all within their power to preserve their marriages. . . . To avoid so-called ‘incompatibility,’ they should be best friends, kind and considerate, sensitive to each other’s needs, always seeking to make each other happy. They should be partners in family finances, working together to regulate their desires for temporal things.”
    -Dallin H. Oaks, “Divorce,” Ensign, May 2007, 72
    Best friends, kind and considerate, sensitive… sounds like real intimacy to me! :-)

  55. Great article Michelle. I know with certainty of the great love your husband feels from you and of the tremendous happiness and satisfaction he gets from being married to you. ;) Praise for courageous RS presidents everywhere who are concerned with all aspects of women’s lives. I wonder what the Elders Quorum president equivalent of this conversation would be?

    As I read the comments I imagine great big smiles on the faces of many husbands who are wondering what happened. They don’t really care what happened just that it keeps happening. Quick – print this article and read it regularly. Maybe some homes will get extra clean and children will get more fatherly attention than they have seen in a long time this weekend because some husband is feeling really in tune with the needs of his wife. Let me at that vacuum cleaner!

    One of the few things I have managed to learn about the character of God is that he will never ever take away our free agency – not in this life or the next. I don’t know about polygamy in the next life, but if it is there we all will be able to take it or leave it. I for one will leave it. If this life is any indication I couldn’t handle more than the one beautiful woman I have now. I mean that in all the best ways possible.

    As for polygamy in this life, it seems to me that there are very specific circumstances that need to be met for the Lord to allow it and those circumstances are not happy ones. But hey! Let’s not ruin all the happy feelings that the original article garnered by thinking about polygamy or what circumstances might bring it about. Let’s concentrate on becoming happier husbands and wives in whatever circumstances we live.

    One of my favorite love/love making songs: “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira. The title has become kind of a motto for me.

  56. I couldn’t agree more. I think marriage takes effort on both people’s parts. Even the sex part takes effort. It would be nice if our libidos and our infatuations lasted 10, 15, 20 years into the marriage, but they often don’t. So we need to put forth actual effort to keep them up. I am so sad when I see friends who have babies and instantly their husbands are forgotten. The baby takes over the bed, the body, the time (as babies should in a lot of ways, but not all ways) and the husband gets only the scraps of the wife who used to adore him. Like you said, it’s an ebb and flow. But I swear some marriages only have an ebb and no flow. And sadly (but truly) the flow often takes effort. But like you, I’ve found when I put that effort forth–to show a bit of extra affection and love–we’re both happier.

  57. I come from a different perspective than anyone else on here, but there is no one I can talk to about this so I’m just going to see what ya’ll have to say about this….

    When my husband and I dated we were pretty hot and heavy (in the make out dept.) and my number one fear for our engagement would be messing up because we seemed so in love and so physically compatible. However when we actually got engaged I got really cold feet. The engagement was a struggle to say the least, but I married him because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t–and I loved him (and still do) but it’s been a much less passionate love. I don’t regret marrying dh but the truth of it is we both know something changed in me and it didn’t exactly snap right back into place. He is a wonderful, wonderful husband and I am very fortunate to have a man like him. He is beyond patient with me. Truly, I don’t know a lot of husbands who do the things for me that my husband does. That being said, we weren’t the typical “have sex all the time” newlyweds, and I have struggled with my most basic feelings for him. We have had some times where things were better and even great, but in the back of my mind there’s a part of me that wonders if I feel out of love with my husband? When we do have sex I enjoy it, but I just don’t want to have it that often because I sometimes wonder if I married ‘the love of my life.’ So when some of you talk about wanting to keep your marriage like your newlywed days, I didn’t have those newlywed days the way I always thought I would. I have prayed and prayed and have had periods of romantic love for him. I hope that what I’m saying is coming across correctly…part of the desire to make someone happy is the level of love you feel for them and while I love my husband, it’s the romantic love I question.

  58. Anon #4-It doesn’t matter who you are–the infatuation and eagerness die out eventually. Always. At some point it will probably not feel romantic at all even if you had married the love of your life. I think we all have felt like roommates with our spouses. That’s how it goes. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still love your husband and have a fantastic, close relationship with him.

    For me, I made a conscious decision to treat my husband like he was my dream man. Believe me, it was a total stretch, to say the least. I read the book “The 5 Love Languages” (so great!!! Everyone should read it!) and learned how to show him that I love him. Even though I felt like I was acting, I started to really believe it after a while. It totally changed my marriage.

    So much of marriage is mental. The sex part included. The media treats sex like it’s all about the physical. It isn’t at all. It’s about opening your heart and mind completely to someone else. To know that someone totally loves me for who I am is certainly a turn-on for me!

  59. someone asked where discussions about more intimate topics might be had by LDS people, and i just thought i’d mention that there’s almost nothing you can dream up that hasn’t been hashed out (often multiple times. ad nauseum ) over at feministmormonhousewives.org you’ll find a wide range of ideas, opinions and insights in the comments.

    use the search engine to find posts related to your questions. if you don’t find what you’re looking for, they’re pretty open to quest posts or just posting a question for discussion (and shelah might just be able to hook you up if you ask nicely. with chocolate.) ;-)

  60. I should probably just drop it, but coming back to this conversation this morning, I’ll mention that my fictional comment about the wife with no emotional support from her husband (which was stupid in and of itself) becomes even more so if it is no longer identifiable as being a response toward the male “anon.”

    Sorry for the threadjack. Sorry for the original comment. Please feel free to delete both comments.

  61. Well said Erik– The post is a fabulous reminder for both sides of the aisle- to step it up in every way. Bring on the love and the vacuums! Create great marriages!

  62. I can’t believe we didn’t mention “The Reggae Song” by Colors and “Oh How I Miss You” by Ryan Shupe. My teenage sons just introduced me to those this summer.

    Anonymous Wife– you are just fine. :)

  63. Great post and discussion Michelle. I agree that there is room for both parties to do things–even simple random acts of kindness–that can increase intimacy on all its levels.

    At the same time I will never forget the last time I saw my grandfather (he was 98) alive. It was at the end of one of the worst episodes of his dementia I had witnessed–an hour that troubled and exhausted both my grandmother and me. Yet in a brief moment of lucidity he looked me in the eye and asked me to put my grandmother to bed and to take care of her. Of all the aspects of his life that were completely upside down, what he wanted most was reassurance that she would be OK.

    The tender love in his eyes and his voice definitely transcended any physical barriers that existed between the two of them (they’d had separate bedrooms as long as I can remember).

  64. I’m way too late to contribute to the party here, but I just wanted to say thank you for your music recommendations! I’m burning a cd as we speak and I think my DH will be pleasantly surprised when he gets home from work tonight!

    And if anyone has questions they’d like to post at fmh, send them my way and I’ll see if I can hook you up (fmhshelah@gmail.com).

  65. Coming from a woman who has had ongoing health problems for several years and sex is NOT on my top 100 things to do and sometimes it is uncomfortable and not fun…I still do it. I WANT to please my husband, I WANT him to know I am still attracted to him after 12 years and that I LOVE and appreciate all he does and puts up with from me. Sometimes ladies you just have to do it and 99% of the time I am so glad I do because it is fun, feels good and bonds me to my husband like nothing else. A lot of time I don’t want to in the beginning but I know my sweet husband needs the validation it brings him. I think sometimes we as women can be so selfish with sex and thinking if we don’t want it it’s okay. Well…think of him and how important it is to him and don’t you want him to feel that important and validated coming from YOU?? I have grown up a lot the past 3 years and want to do it for him and most of the time it’s good for me too :)

  66. I thought I’d compile a list of the song suggestions mentioned above, so they’re all in one place if anyone is interested. So without further ado, here are the Segullah reader’s favorite love songs:

    Air Supply’s Making Love out of Nothing at All.
    Kenny Chesney’s Me & You.
    “Digame” by Anna Nalick.
    “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once,
    Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer
    Save Room for my love by john legend
    Walnut Tree by Keane
    “Stay Now” by Jem
    “Come on Closer” by Jem
    “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie,
    “The Wind” by Cat Stevens,
    “Such Great Heights” remake by Iron and Wine,
    “Say I Will” by Peter Breinholt,
    “Hold You in my Arms” by Ray LaMontagne
    “All I Want is You” by U2
    “Lucky” by Jason M’raz
    “uando Amas A Alguien” by César Banana Pueyrredón
    music of the Afghan Whigs
    music of Twilight Singers
    “Come on get higher” by Matt Nathanson
    “Johnny and June” by Heidi Newfield
    “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson
    “Lets Stay Together” by Al Green
    ”She’s got a way” by Billy Joel
    “Just the Way you are” by Billy Joel
    “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds
    There You Are by Martina McBride
    When I Said I Do by Clint Black & Lisa Hartman Black
    We Danced by Brad Paisley
    Like the Rain by Clint Black
    Bryan Adams
    Rascall Flats
    album: Norah Jones, “Come Away With Me”
    “I Will be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman
    “Standing Right Next to Me” by Karla Bonoff
    “Fields of Gold” by Sting
    “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira
    Little Foothills Heaven by Corb Lund

  67. I know this is way past the discussion date, but wanted to talk to anon 4 if you’re still listening. I have had similar feelings: that I didn’t marry my true love, that I’d made a mistake that couldn’t be corrected. I even used to worry a lot about the scripture that says “whosoever loves and makes a lie” will be counted with liars and adulterers. Was that me? Sometimes I felt like I’d married the wrong man. I fasted and prayed to love him. And I learned to love him, even be in love with him. I focus on his good points, I practice not criticizing and apologizing when my pride surfaces. After 12 years of marriage I finally learned to enjoy sex and give more of myself to him. Life is much better for both of us. Keep praying. Love him the best you can. You will be blessed for your efforts. Satan does not want you to have a good marriage, show him you are better than that.

  68. My husband had also gained quite a bit of weight and on one occasion had stated that men liked attractive wives as their ‘arm candy’. I nicely threw it back at him that wives (Me)also need an attractive man as their ‘arm candy’. To my great surprise, he started eating healthy, running and working out five days a week and to this day has lost close to twenty pounds!! He’s looking great and I tell him so every chance I get!

  69. All have great suggestions that I knew but have fogotten. But I have a question. Do you think that any of our men are posting these types of questions or suggestions? Is this an accepted role of women? I’m very feminine and I’m not what they call a feminist. I appreciate men for what they are. I’m just really curious about how everyone here is responding. Its all beautiful and I have re-learned and I thank you for that. But I”m also curious, what is he doing to help the situation? I’ve never run into a thread that men are posting to on this subject.

  70. I have read about half of the posts here and it has made me think of several things. This is a topic that I feel very strongly about, and I have had several conversations with my friends over the years who “just don’t like sex that much.” While that is a whole other conversation, here are my initial thoughts.

    First, we had a lesson in RS about what we can do to show our husbands we appreciate them. No one mentioned sex for a very long time until a good friend of mine mentioned timidly how she feels that intimacy is something that is important to remember. And then someone tried to shoot her down by saying that *sex is not intimacy.* Why is it that we are so afraid to talk/think about sex? I think about sex all the time, and it does not make me a *bad* person, it makes me want my husband. Every Day. And I can’t use any chemical birth control either, but there are ways to still enjoy each other and also not get pregnant every month when you are ovulating.

    Second, we wait to have sex till we are married (ideally, or we at least are taught to). Then, we live to the standard of monogamy, which I fully am in support of. But really sisters, if we aren’t having sex with our husbands they have NO OTHER OPTIONS. They wait till we marry them and they covenant to be faithful to us and forsake all others. Most men need sex, it is how they express love and receive love in return. If you have not read the book The Five Love Languages, it would be good for all couples to read and learn how to communicate love to each other. I don’t even know how many friends I have told to go to a lingerie store, buy some *naughty panties* and just let themselves enjoy sex. Get out of the mentality they drilled into all of us as young women and let yourself physically love your husband. You really might enjoy it yourself.

    And I agree, we all go through good times and more difficult times, and in reality we can all do better at many things in our marriages. This is just one that I feel really strongly about, because, for some reason, I have heard from A LOT of women how they don’t enjoy sex, and consequently they don’t engage in it much, and I see the effect it has on their husbands and marriages. Just my 2 cents.

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