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The Marriage Bed

By Melonie Cannon


This morning one of the children woke up too early. He started bouncing a rubber ball against the wall of his room. The steady rhythm woke us up. My husband’s long, dark arm went under the blankets and found me and pulled me to him. We lay there in the morning light, listening to more children waking up, wondering at what our love had created. Our fingers wandered over each other. The four-year old ran in, pushed his stuffed frog onto the top of the bed, and tried to clamber in with us. “Help me!” he yelled as he tugged on the blankets. I lifted him in and he settled right between us, pushing us apart. Satisfied, he laid the stuffed frog on his chest and smugly smiled. My husband and I waved at each other over the frog, laughing. This is the true marriage bed.

“My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (Song of Solomon 5)

For seventeen years, I have shared a bed with the same man. It has become a sacred place. There we have laughed, read, discussed, cried, fought, made passionate love, fed babies, comforted, been sick in, planned, prayed, dreamed, and eventually, I hope, will die in. In retrospect, everything that has happened there has brought me closer to God, but especially the lovemaking. Why? I have a few reasons.

First, I have had to overcome emotional issues that have only come up during sex. I have had to go to the Lord to help me deal and heal with those past pains. Second, because of sex, I have come to see my body in a completely different way. It went from something I despise, to an amazing gift from God that I cherish. I have learned to accept myself. I have felt life kick inside of me. I am completely amazed at the body’s power, something I never knew before sex. Third, when I truly abandon myself to this act of love and creation, for a few fleeting moments I feel like there is no beginning and end to my husband and myself. I am whole with him. Our bodies feel like one body. Our souls feel like one. Isn’t this symbolic of the oneness we should feel with God? It humbles me. When we come apart, sometimes I start sobbing. This probably doesn’t do much for my husband’s self-esteem, but how can I explain to him the deep longing to be one all the time? How can I explain how his love goes to the very core of my being?

I just finished reading the Christian fiction book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is based on the book Hosea in the Old Testament, but set in California during the Gold Rush. Sarah has been forced into prostitution at eight-years old. She is twenty when she meets Michael Hosea, a farmer and a man of God. Her bitterness toward men and God knows no bounds. Over time Michael teaches Sarah about God. When she finally abandons herself to Michael, she also symbolically and eventually abandons herself to God and His will in her life. Michael says to Sarah, “I promise to love and cherish you, to honor and sustain you, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in the bad that may darken our days, in the good that may light our way, Tirzah, beloved, I promise to be true to you in all things until I die. And even beyond that, God willing.” …When he kissed her, Angel was lost in a wilderness of new sensations. It had never felt like this, warm and wonderful, exciting and right. None of the old rules applied…She was dry ground soaking in a spring rain, a flower bud opening to the sun. Michael knew and gently coaxed her with tender words flowing over her like the sweet balm of Gilead healing her wounds. And she flew, Michael with her, into the heavens.

Earthbound once more, Michael smiled. “You’re crying.”

“I am?” She touched her cheek and found a single tear.”

I think that God gives us the gift of lovemaking to remind us of Him. Through it, we are healed and made whole. Now, some people might find that thought disturbing, but I don’t. He is the Creator of us all. What a wondrous gift to give His children! For a few moments, I am completely enveloped in love and the fruits of that love are a stronger marriage and four beautiful children. I experience Oneness in my marriage bed. We are creators – creators of love, even when I am looking into the eyes of my beloved over a four-year old and the belly of a stuffed frog.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of Oneness with God? With your spouse? Do you strive for Oneness in your relationships? Has lovemaking taught you anything about God? (Now there’s a question for a Relief Society meeting).

About Melonie Cannon

Melonie has surrounded herself with beautiful words for as long as she can remember. This led her to find a home with Segullah after writing an essay published in the May 2006 Segullah issue. She was invited to join the staff and has been a part of Segullah in various capacities since, including being the creator of the “Words Fall In” podcast.  She received her M.Ed from the University of Utah and was a certified Secondary English teacher before becoming a Mom of four. Over the years, her focus has been on natural healing modalities and becoming a sacred sound healing practitioner with a focus on the drum, rhythm, voice, and vibration. She is finishing her PH.D. in theology and metaphysics to further these studies and help women to connect to the divine within themselves.

38 thoughts on “The Marriage Bed”

  1. Melonie, this is a beautiful post. You've articulated many of my feelings about physical intimacy. I will say that one thing lovemaking has taught me about God (and yes, can you imagine discussing this in RS? lol) is that He loves us and wants us to have joy in our marriages. Why else would he give us this gift? He is benevolent and generous, indeed.

    And yes, I am striving for oneness in my marriage, but I think it takes a lifetime of work! Physical intimacy certainly helps us as we work towards this goal.

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  2. Reading this on a Sunday reminds me of the idea that intimate time together for a husband and wife on the sabbath is a double mitzvah.

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  3. I haven't spent enough time thinking about it to say whether I completely agree with your theory that sex is God's way of teaching us about being whole with Him, but if that is true, then it makes sense why Satan is trying so hard to warp the way the world views sexual intimacy.

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  4. Melonie, I'm having a hard time finding words for my thoughts, but I thought this was beautiful. I think there is much to be learned as we ponder marriage and this very important part of the most important mortal relationship there is.

    And yes, it's no wonder the adversary wants to warp this part of life so much.

    I do think that the sheer pleasure God allows in marital intimacy tells us something of how God wants us to enjoy life and all that our senses can bring to enrich our life. If you think about it, there are so many counterfeits of the true beauty that God provides, so many ways the adversary wants to hijack the physical and separate it from the spiritual…while the true doctrine is that "the spirit and the body are the soul of man" (DC& 88:15).

    I also think sex is something that, while opening up some of our most intense physical sensations, also demands a great deal of our spiritual selves. Mortals are wired to be very selfish in this way, and our society, imo, only exacerbates the selfishness that I think we are supposed to overcome. I believe true intimacy requires selflessness, sensitivity, and other virtues.

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  5. Mel, I love your point about how marital intimacy brings emotional issues to the surface–that has certainly been true for me, and while that emotional processing can be very painful I've also found a lot of much-needed healing. (cue Marvin Gaye)

    From sex I've learned a great deal about trust, vulnerability, transcendence, generosity, and surrender that applies to other facets of my life. I take much comfort in this kind of oneness, although sometimes I find its fleetingness unbearable.

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  6. There was a recent post on another blog discussing family life in which the author, in passing, mentioned that during a difficult time one way he and his wife reunited was through sex. I've discovered the same thing–sometimes when we're tired or wrung out emotionally from other events it seems to be the perfect thing to restore balance. Right now I'm almost 30 weeks pregnant and getting to the point where it is totally unappealing physically, but at the same time I miss it emotionally. I've also learned a lot of the same issues–trust, vulnerability, etc, that others have.

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  7. Beautiful post Melonie!

    I really love the parts about accepting your body, and being one.There is something truly remarkable about entrusting your body to someone else, and having someone else entrust their's to you. Perhaps this trust and being vulnerable is what we can learn about trusting God and being one in spirit.

    Sex has also been such a healing force in my life and in my marriage. It is such a blessing.I sincerely feel bad for those who struggle with pornography or infidelity in marriage. There is something wonderful about knowing that my oneness with my husband has been total and absolute.

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  8. I've long wondered what purpose there could be in the fact that the oneness we feel is so very often fleeting and hard to hold on to. I, too, struggle with wanting that part to last much longer after bodies disengage. Is there a lesson in this? Will it be different in the eternities? I love Krista's comment, and I have had similar thoughts. Will something else take the place of this act, or will we get to feel that oneness in a whole new way?

    Sadly, I also wonder if some people use the oneness they feel with their spouse as a substitute for the oneness we can experience with God. I know I have been guilty of it a number of times when I am feeling disconnected. I'm not sure it's a bad thing in itself to look to our loved ones for that comfort, but something to be aware of certainly. The oneness is so much better when we allow it to direct our perspectives even higher, but I find that hard to do when I'm not in a good frame of mind to begin with.

    In any case, this post has given me something to work toward and improve in my approach to intimacy. Thanks, and beautifully written, too.

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  9. During sex is one of the few times I feel "present." It took quite a few years to turn off the grocery lists and To Do lists running through my head, but now it is one of the few times I am just present with my husband and not multitasking and thinking about what else I still need to do.

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  10. Melonie, thank you for this beautiful and thought-provoking post. You've expanded my vision. My husband and I have had great chemistry since the first time we kissed–even before that, when I was wishing we would. We've always been open and comfortable with our bodies together, and sex has always been fun and fulfilling. Reading your post, I felt, though, that I've recently forgotten how much more it can mean. If I remembered, I'd be less selfish and more spiritual about sex, more generously aware of all that it symbolizes, more grateful for the love and oneness. I have felt the power of the Spirit, and I have cried after. But not lately. Thank you for helping me remember this larger vision.

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  11. I'm grateful for safe places, too, Melonie! This was beautiful. I understand that feeling of oneness with your spouse, and I love it. It is tremendously sad that so many people in the world have lost the sacred joy and love that comes in sex. There is really much to be learned from it, when we cleave unto our partners.

    This was so beautiful, thank you.

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  12. I enjoyed the post, Melonie. I think you've discovered the formula from Genesis:

    ish + ishshah = adam

    Which is to say it takes both a male and a female to form a complete human being, both in the sense of creating a new human being and actually being a full and complete human oneself.

    I should think that sex with one's husband would be a healing balm for a wife plagued with self-image issues. In his passion and desire for her she can experience how he perceives her, as beautiful and desirable, perhaps a perception that is not fully available to her in any other way.

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  13. "Have you ever experienced the feeling of Oneness with God? With your spouse? Do you strive for Oneness in your relationships? Has lovemaking taught you anything about God?"

    Yes.
    Yes.
    Yes.
    Yes.

    Because it is so sacred, I don't want to share details here (or anywhere, for that matter), but I do want to say that some of my most powerful spiritual experiences have been while making love with my husband.

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  14. "Sex has also been such a healing force in my life and in my marriage. It is such a blessing.I sincerely feel bad for those who struggle with pornography or infidelity in marriage. There is something wonderful about knowing that my oneness with my husband has been total and absolute."

    I know what you're trying to say, but just a friendly reminder to be careful of how you say it. Statements like this can really hurt people who ARE going through that with their spouses. Its kind of backhanded sympathy to express a sadness over someone else's tragedy and then follow it up with "because not having to deal with it has blessed my life SO much, and its wonderful!" I hope that makes sense.

    Also, none of the people who are dealing with this probably ever doubted their spouses love for them, and thought it was "true and absolute" as well. We never know what can/will happen in our marriages, and we shouldn't be so quick to pronounce ours as healthy and absolute. Pornography and adultery can affect the most devout of couples.

    (I haven't dealt with either of those, but I have my own trials and I know how statements like this can hurt)

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  15. anon,

    I was thinking the same thing about this topic in general…having had friends whose lives have been devastated by unhealthy marriages in this way. Pres. Kimball once said that most (or at least many) divorces come over this issue.

    I think, though, that the sympathy expressed here is genuine. I have seen enough of the Segullah women to know that they know and recognize that life is messy and there is plenty of less-than-ideal-ness to go around. For all those in pain, know that people here care, and please don't misunderstand one comment or one post as not recognizing that there is a lot of pain out there. It's just hard to cover all the facets of one topic in one post or comment, ya know?

    another anon, I remember watching a couple in my ward growing up go through that — he had cheated on her, but she decided to stay. I think only the healing power of the Atonement can really help.

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  16. i think this is why it seems weird to me sometimes to see other people’s beds….it’s such a sacred place. so private.

    I struggle with where the line is on that, too…but by the same token, I think it's important to acknowledge in general terms how sacred it all is. I think our society has made sex so commonplace that sometimes I think we can forget what it really means in the plan of salvation and what it can mean in a healthy marriage, in God's plan for marriage.

    In recognizing that, again, I know that there is also a lot of pain around this issue in many marriages. Tricky topic to address at any level, really.

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  17. another anon,
    I wish that there was a straightforward answer to your wonderful question. It is a question that hundreds of LDS women (and men) are going through. One of my dearest friends had to draw extremely close to the Lord so that she could receive very personal revelation in regards to her relationship after she found out her husband had been into pornography for years. She was ready to walk out the door, but the Lord told her directly to stay with him and support him through this trial. It has been a couple of years and a long haul, but through receiving revelation consistently, she has pulled through it with him, and they are no on the other side of the trial. Like M&M said, the only healing balm I know of in a case like pornography is the atonement. As far as adultery goes….I don't even know how to answer to that kind of deep betrayal. I am sure there are women out there who are reading this who might be able to give us some insights into the healing process. I'll send out a prayer for you.

    Teresa and others, thanks for all the wonderful comments.

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  18. Anon-
    Please don't make ill motives where none were intended. It was not backhanded, underhanded, or in any other way an insult. I sincerely do feel for people who have those struggles, or struggle with sexual dysfunction in marriage.

    When I said absolute, I was referring to sex as an act, not to the love people have towards one another in marriage. Nor did I question the devoutness of other couples.

    “because not having to deal with it has blessed my life SO much, and its wonderful!”
    And please, don't be so presumptuous (which is not to imply infidelity or pornography have been a problem in my marriage, because they have not).

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  19. Melonie, wonderful post! Thank you.

    I love the image of your kids waking up and coming in your room. One of my favorite memories growing up was when my whole family would gather to talk on my parents bed-all seven kids (apparently we broke the bed frame once!). I now treasure those moments (too few) of having my five children surrounding us on our bed.

    Thanks for teaching and sharing about this most important topic. My answer is yes also to those questions. Physical intimacy is a beautiful part of becoming one.

    I, for one, appreciate how well you described the importance of oneness. I think using that end, we can teach our children why pornography and premarital intimacy, and even self-manipulation can be damaging to their future marriages.

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  20. I have had some of my most profound spiritual experiences during love making, and it is intimacy and pleasure with my husband that has made me most grateful for my body. That God would create us to feel something like that? He must really love us.

    I don't know what it takes to travel the road back to sharing after marriages have been marred by betrayal and pornography. I know marriages that have been destroyed by both, and these sexual sins turn everything upside down(for lack of a better term). I guess you just have to believe that, if the other person is willing to do what it takes, ie, remain faithful, or go through the steps to give up the addiction to pornography, the Atonement is big enough for stuff like this. Somehow you have to find the faith to know that there is nothing broken that, given enough effort, repentance, time, and true commitment, Jesus Christ can't make better. I imagine a marriage that goes through something like this would never be the same. That doesn't mean it can't be made stronger than it started, though.

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  21. I thought this post was absolutely beautiful. Stunning, actually. And it was reassuring to hear someone else express things I too have felt.

    You're writing about shedding tears really moved me. My experience is a bit different. There are times, during the act itself that I am moved to tears, sometimes even sobbing. I know this was very strange for my husband at first, but as we've talked about it I think he understands as well as he can why it moves me to tears to be so vulnerable to another person that it opens up the deepest parts of my soul, parts I often do not have words or names for. I cry because I am feeling things (wonderful, powerful things) I don't know how to metabolize and because I am so thankful to both God and my husband for a relationship and an act that allows these parts of me to found. For me, that is the healing nature of the sexual relationship. That is where the oneness is found. It is the sharing of parts of my soul seemingly unknown even to myself.

    Not every experience is like this. At times, sex is just sex. But these experiences of deep emotional and spiritual connection have taught me the difference between "just sex" and the power of intimacy in a marriage. And I have to say, strange as it may sound to some, that the latter involves the Spirit. At least for me. Those times have been amazing and I have felt a glimpse of the gift God has given us in this power.

    Thank you for this post. I wasn't sure, with all that I hear women around me say about sex, that others felt as I did: That the sexual relationship can be deeply spiritual, healing, and sacred. I felt a real sisterhood in this post and thread. Thanks.

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  22. as a single nope. Live the Law of Chastity,etc but am apparently resigned to live life without loving and being loved as so many described in this thread. Happy for you all though wondering why some of us must live life without being loved.

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  23. Not me, I was worried that what I wrote might come across as "aint I darn lucky" kind of gloating post. I truly hope that wasn't the case because I am completely humbled by the blessing of finding a man who could see what was inside of me, rather than the outside. They are out there. I don't know why so many amazing people go through life single. I do know,however, that God works His will and purpose through our lives..including through our trials.
    My question about finding the Oneness with God was the vital part of this post. We are loved..each of us..individually and powerfully..by our Creator. To be one with Him is a goal we can all work toward.

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  24. You write about the unknown to me as I am single still and perhaps always will be. I remember hearing my 8th grade religion teacher speak of sexuality and I imagined the act of love making would have you feel like you are both floating on the ceiling or something like that. A few years ago, I so desired to feel sexual intimacy and worried if I went on a date during that time period if I would be able to keep the law of chastity. I worry that my thoughts were not in keeping with law(in fact-they were not). However, I am much better now and grateful for that. Although I was not afraid of love making when I was young, I am now afraid that I would not be good at it. Plus, I am not as pretty as I was when I was in my twenties. I feel pretty at times. When I feel unattractive, I am so grateful that I am single and do not have to deal with the complexities of a husband finding me unattractive.

    I am not a touchy feely person. As a child, I would freely embrace my mom and hold her "hostage" for a moment when she tucked me into bed. I was never as demonstrative as a lot of people and never liked to hug too much. However, I have craved being held by a man and never have been in the sense that I crave.

    At times, I have felt very one with God. It was so wonderful to feel so pure and so right. I used to think that I might be very close to being translated as I felt so close and felt I was so worthy. Those were the days! I know that a lot of people experience a special closeness during their mission or prior so I am probably not so unusual. However, I felt much peace since becoming LDS and even when my condition made it difficult for me to go to Church and I stopped going. I think that I stopped feeling the closeness to God more or less by I felt unworthy and did not want to offend God when he gave me so much peace and I did not live up to such peace. Well, it is not like I would normally share these intimate feelings with any. IN fact, this may be the only time I have articulated one of these feelings other than to my self. Thank you for letting me share.

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