Your brain probably tells you your husband just wants sex – and that it has very little to do with you. What if you were wrong? What if it actually does? Today in the podcast, I am going to explain the difference between men and women in the way they express love and closeness. Today is about cleaning up the thoughts around this. You might just feel a closer connection than ever before.
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References for this episode:
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel (affiliate link)
Alma 39 - Come, Follow Me
Before we get started with today’s topic, I had quite a few questions about last week’s Come, Follow Me lesson, so I thought I would take a few minutes and discuss it.
For those of you listening who aren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Come, Follow Me is our weekly scripture study that we do as a family. We have certain chapters to read and have a book with discussion topics. This year we are studying the Book of Mormon.
So, last week we were reading Alma 39-42.
Alma 39 is where Alma is talking to his son Corianton and giving him some counsel. For a long time, this chapter, and particularly a few short versus have been used to put fear into the hearts of church members when it comes to sex. But, I believe, that this is a misinterpretation of what is happening.
In this week’s Come, Follow Me and other lessons we’ve had throughout our life, the focus is on the line in verse 5 saying “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yeah, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?”
So, what we’ve taken from that verse is a phrase I hear quite often is that “sexual sin is next to murder.” And a lot of adults have carried that line into their marriages with a belief that “sex is next to murder” and it is wreeking havoc in marriages.
But, as I have said, I think this is a complete misinterpretation of what this scripture is saying. If we look at the verses leading up to it Alma says to his son
“Though didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom”
“Thou didst forsake the ministry”
“Thou shouldn’t have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted”
It also says that Corianton did go “after the harlot Isabel” and it was she who “did steal away the hearts of many”
But it was ALL of these thing that were an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Not just the sexual sin (if there was some, because going after a woman doesn’t necessarily indicate that sexual sin was committed. And we don’t know for sure that she was a harlot or if Alma was just calling her that because she influenced Corianton and helped lead people away from the gospel.)
Forsaking the ministry and leading people away was the more grievous sin in my opinion. But when we say it is “next to murder” there is no judge of what that even means. If we were to rate sins and murder was 100…where did these sins come in? 99? 50? 10? We have no judge of what that actually means.
So, I encourage you to study these verses out for yourself. Get on your knees and pray about them and see if you can come to a different understanding that what you’ve had before. What I share with you, is of course MY THOUGHTS. I encourage everyone to have their own personal revelation for what these scriptures mean for you and your family.
If you come to a different conclusion, I encourage you to address it with your kids and your family. There have been many topics that I have taught my children on, and then have come to a different understanding later. I think I’ve developed a much better relationship with my children when I have gone to them and said, “Hey, remember what I said about this? I feel differently now. Here is what I think about it now.” And possibly even apologizing for things I have said and done in the past.
I know that when my children were a lot younger and in the early days of my marriage I handled things very differently that I do now with pornography, masturbation, and sex. I’ve had to go to them and apologize for how I’ve handled things. But in doing so, I have created a closer relationship with them. So, I encourage you to do the same.
And let me be clear…I do believe that sexual sin is serious. I very much believe in the Law of Chastity. But I don’t think that telling ourselves and our children that it’s a sin next to murder is helpful. I think it does more damage than good for their sexual relationships. I like to tell them how wonderful sex is and how sacred it is and I love the talk by Elder Holland that talks about how much the Lord cares about how we come into this world and how we leave it. Those are the things I focus on.
How many of you think that your husband doesn’t really care about you, he just wants sex?
This is a pretty common thought I hear from many of my clients. They think that it’s about the sex…and not them. And I understand where they are coming from. When their husbands forget to romance them. They forget to keeping dating them. It seems like every physical touch is headed somewhere. It feels like all they care about is sex.
But, that just isn’t true. Of course they like sex. And they want it. But, if all they wanted was sex, they could really go out to any street corner and get it. They really could. But it isn’t just sex they want. They want YOU. They want to experience the deepest form of connection, with you.
Esther Perel, a psychotherapist, in her book Mating in Captivity tells the story of two of her clients; Mitch and Laura. She says “While it is clear to Mitch that his desire is rooted in love, he needs to help Laura trust the sincerity of his interest in her. Far from seeking a selfish discharge, he longs for union.”
“For her part, Laura learns something equally crucial about Mitch – that the the language of words fails him, as it invariably does in the realm of emotion, he communicates with his body. She’d always felt that Mitch’s “itch for the horizontal” had little to do with her; it was just a raw physical release. As she hears him, she sees that Mitch needs physicality to voice his tenderness, his yearning to connect. Only in sex does he feel emotionally safe. By limiting him to her own nonphysical language, to the exclusion of his sensual language, Laura has stifled his ability to “speak” to her. She blinds herself to her husband as he really is, and at the same time reinforces the very behaviors she rails against. When Mitch is reduced to using a truncated language of words, the romantic lover disappears and the bully emerges.”
She goes on to say, “Mitch and Laura exemplify two extremes on the mind-body continuum. Couples are often configured on opposite sides of this divide. There are those for whom the body is like a prison in which they feel confined, self-conscious, and self-critical. The body is an inhibited site, awkward and tense. Play and inventiveness have no place there. Words feel safer than gesture and movements, and these people take refuge in speech. When reaching out to others, they prefer the verbal route. There are those for whom they body is like a playground, a place where they feel free and unrestricted. They retain the child’s capacity to fully inhabit their bodies. In the physical realm, they can let go; they don’t have to be responsible. They are often the partner in the relationship who wants more physical intimacy. It is especially during lovemaking that they are able to escape their inner rumblings. For them, sex is a relief that puts a halt to their anxiety; for their more verbal partners, sex turns out to be a source of anxiety.”
So, what does this story tells us? Often, what we interpret as “I want sex!” Is actually a desire for intimacy and connection with the one they love most. I think about most of the guys I know. Most aren’t great at being able to verbally express their emotions. But with sex, they don’t have to use words. They can express what they are feeling through the body. Communicate how much they love and adore their wife.
My husband is the oldest of 5 boys. He often tells me stories of wrestling and fighting with his brothers. It often looked like they didn’t like each other very much. But really, this was their way of strengthening bonds and friendship. He now considers his brothers to be his closest friends. Men typically tend to be more physical and less verbal than women.
Of course, for men, sex begins in the body. They have massive amounts of testosterone that drives them toward sexual expression. Sex, for men, is a way for them to feel excitement and pleasure. And these emotions fuel his energy to pursue his work, his purpose, and pursue his wife. He often pushes through the daily monotony of life with the fantasy of a sexual reward at the end of a hard day. Sex is the most thrilling adventure. Because his orgasm is pretty reliable, a variety of acts, positions, and rhythms as a great way for him to explore and elevate his gratification.
But most importantly, sex is the way he gives love. The moment he can see his partner getting turned on is when he is the most sexually satisfied. It’s baffling to most men when they are called selfish because of their preference for sexual connection. In their hearts, there is an expectation of mutual, exquisite bodily pleasure.
Sexual release makes men feel like they are finally home. After all the challenges they’ve faced throughout the day, sex embodies love and care and provides soothing and support.
Making love literally creates a deep feeling of attachment to their partner. Being desired by his partner can be the single most reassuring part of his relationship.
Sexual connection is how men often feel safe enough for emotional vulnerability.
So when your husband approaches you for sex, you can choose to think “he just wants sex” or you can choose to think “he loves me and wants to connect with me.” It’s completely up to you!