CharlieBrown: I think, when all is said and done, you are correct. The challenge I see is how difficult it can be to see past our own insecurities and anxieties (Laura Brotherson's "Good Girl Syndrome" for example) to adequately discern the Spirit's voice in these matters. The Church's stance on such things is mostly about "mutuality". If that is the most important consideration, then perhaps the Spirit's only role here is to help communicate each other's desires and feelings on the matter without actually testifying that either spouse is "more correct"?
Greg: Would you care to elaborate a little -- who do you believe is being selfish in this scecario? The husband for asking (pressing?) for intimate acts that make his wife uncomfortable? Or the wife for being less than enthusiastic about facing her discomforts and anxieties around the requested activities? I ask because, after years in a sexless marriage (as the higher desire spouse), I have a very difficult time seeing any of my own desires as less than selfish.
I think the issue is selfishness. It the absense of "an anxious concern for the welfare" of our eternal companion. It is stunning to me how applying of a single gospel principle can remove all complexity from a problem scenario.
Something annoys me about all those sex-oriented articles never making a mention of how the gospel does also apply to appropriate and fulfilling sex. For, "by the power of the Holy Ghost, one can know the truth of all things," including the issue of sex in a marriage. Being in tune with the Spirit indeed would enable Latter-Day Saints to remain in harmony with gospel essentials, rather than imitating the world and risking stepping into the Adversary's territory.
I'm on the other end of this issue. There is something I would love to enjoy together with my wife, but she is uncomfortable with the idea of it. Trying to talk about it just leads to her looking at me like I'm some kind of deviant even though it is something that is not a sin and that many, many couples in and out of the church enjoy. It hurts that she is unwilling to even try to move in my direction. Sometimes it feels like sex always has to be on her terms, her timetable, her rules, and my feelings and desires and needs just are not important to her.
This was a very well thought-out reply; thank you for it. The inability to discuss intimate needs and wants is a killer. My experience is that my spouse was taught that you can only do "this" and "that" and absolutely nothing else; anything else was not even considered; not even discussable. The "routine" established on our honeymoon when we were both shy virgins who didn't know what they were doing was never allowed to be varied. Our intimate time turned into one being obedient to the other's childhood teachings. Please take the advise of discussing and working out a course both can be happy with. I also heartily agree with the remark that porn is not a good example of true intimacy. Porn is a "how-to" for cheap thrills; it does not teach you how to love and cherish your spouse. I am left wondering: was the husband reading a sex manual, or was he watching videos and reading titillating sex novels? To me, there is a difference between "medical" or "marital" advise and pornography.
Going through this exact issue with my spouse almost to the tee.
Having the conversation will be extremely difficult and unsafe.
Excellent article. The topic is an issue in many marriages. You have handled it very wisely and fairly. If I know my spouse wants something more or something different and I'm not open to communicating freely about it, then I'm closing down communication channels. There is nothing wrong or immoral in a husband and wife's intimate physical relationship if they both agree. Whether or not we are comfortable with something is the issue, not whether an activity, place or position is "right" or "wrong."
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