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After 15 years of helping couples sort out their sexual intimacy difficulties, I can say I have a fairly good idea where most of the confusion began. Confusion comes from a lack of direct, open, honest communication regarding appropriate sexually intimate relationships. As a faith-based culture we are great at teaching morality and the birds and the bees, but then we stop there. Perhaps such teachings were effective 50 years ago, but today, based on all the worldly messages and counterfeit messages regarding sex, it is not enough.
We as parents, leaders, and families need to take it one step further. To help illustrate my understanding, let me share with you my personal experience in helping my daughter and son-in-law prepare for sexually intimate relations.
A few years ago, my amazing daughter was engaged to be married. This daughter of mine was active in her faith, had served a mission for her church, and had been present at almost every morality lesson taught during her growing up years. Owing to her personal faith and the lessons on morality she had been taught, she wanted and chose to wait until marriage to engage in any form of sexual relationship.
As Kari’s wedding day approached, I reflected on all my years of marital counseling and concluded the following: I am going to take my counsel with Kari regarding sexual intimacy a few steps further to help her prepare to enjoy a beautiful, sexual, intimate experience. So, I told my daughter, “You and I are going to have a talk before you get married, and this talk is going to be different than the other sexuality talks we have had during your growing up years.” A few weeks before her marriage, I invited Kari to join me for a drive and to go to dinner. I wanted to make sure I had her as my captive audience. There would be no getting away and saying, “Oh Mom, I know all this.”
As her mother, as a marriage counselor, and as a mature woman, I told Kari, “I know you appreciate morality. I know you understand what sexual acts are. I know you are mature and ready to be married. Now, Kari, I want you to know how to embrace your sexuality as a woman, how to experience sexually intimate desires as a woman, how to allow yourself to feel as a woman during sexual intimacy with your soon-to-be husband, and to understand how amazing sexual intimacy is between a husband and wife. I want you to know how right and beautiful sexual desires are within the bonds of marriage and that a woman needs sexually intimate relations as much as a man. I also want you to know that the sexual relations you and Ryan are going to share will be nothing like the movies, and at times it will feel awkward, new, exciting, confusing, and even appropriately erotic. All these feelings are right in the bonds of marriage, and together, if you are both open to exploring what you enjoy during sexual intimacy—both in sexual acts and in sexual pleasures—you will bond together is such a way that your marriage will have a solid foundation. This foundation will help you and Ryan to feel closer to each other than in any other way.”
Now I can tell you my daughter turned a few shades red during this conversation. I am sure the redness was not due to a lack of maturity but to the fact that she was shocked her mom was talking so very openly and directly about such topics in personal ways. After Kari and I had concluded our conversation I told her, “Now there is another party to this forthcoming event in your life who also needs to have this talk.” Having met Ryan, her fiancé, I knew there was a very good chance no one was going to talk to him the way I had talked to Kari, so I told Kari, “I am going to give Ryan a similar talk.” I am positive when Kari told Ryan that his soon-to-be mother-in-law wanted to have a sex talk with him, he was rather shocked and thought, “Who does she think she is? And man, I hope she changes her mind.” Interestingly enough, after my announcement to Kari, Ryan’s presence in my home dramatically diminished.
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