I get lots of email responses to the Ask Angela column (if you’re new to the blog you can read past articles here) here’s one I thought you all might be interested in reading. When I initially responded to this question my intent was to leave the issue of “sleazy” comments or “inappropriate” gifts out of it. After all, it’s so subjective. One person’s sleazy is another person’s every day conversation – ya know? So the point I wanted to make was in any situation, if you feel uncomfortable, you can be polite, but still excuse yourself from the occasion. If a bridal shower/party/family dinner/ or whatever is uncomfortable you can leave.
But I got a lot of responses about how the “Latter-Day Saint community doesn’t know how to address sex …can’t believe you’re wasting your time as a member” or “Shame on you for pushing your own agenda”(huh?) or even one email that said, “My sex life is great! Just thought you should know.”
Still, everyone has an opinion and that’s cool, but yeah like I said, I thought the email below was particularly interesting and wonder what you all think.
Angela, I really appreciated that you used the letter you did and responded the way you did about the bridal showers. I was saddened and bothered by so many of the comments made in response to it and how few people there are my age (or any age) that really understand this that have the ability to communicate it.
I have been married twice and they are such opposite experiences that it has given me an amazing perspective on intimacy whether people are religious or not.
My first marriage was rough. I was her second husband, and she’d had a child out of wedlock that had been placed for adoption. She was in a “good place” when we met and began dating. I had struggled with a porn/masturbation problem as a young man but had learned how to abstain for several years. When we got married, our past experiences combined for a poor relationship regarding intimacy. It “worked” and we were intimate, but it was emotionally clumsy and often frustrating and unfulfilling for both of us. We argued about it probably more than any other aspect of our marriage. My porn problem came back, and she disregarded a lot of moral standards in choices of movies and TV shows, and was selfish, and controlling in her pursuit of intimacy. I was overly demanding of it in return.
When I realized the seriousness of my own problem and recognized it as an addiction, I reached out for help. She left immediately and we were divorced less than three months later. I got all the help I could get through counseling, programs, and support from family and friends. It was great. My ability to comprehend emotions in others as I became clean skyrocketed and it felt like I’d received a superpower in perception of emotions. In the process of staying clean I now avoid media in all forms that I wouldn’t expose my small children too, and set pretty strict rules for myself.
I met a woman a short while later who would become my wife. She was not like other women because she was so incredibly pure and clean and held herself to the same rigorous standards I now held myself to (much higher than most LDS, even our devout families hold). We had the same ideas about marriage and intimacy and we didn’t have to talk about it hardly at all to realize that!
When we got married, I realized what I wish more people could understand. Intimacy is supposed to be private. Not because it is icky, or immoral, or gross, or addictive (which it is extremely), but because it’s special. My wife and I have the chance to create our own world, our own universe for just the two of us, free from any taint, or influence, from anyone else. Or, that’s the ideal that we are working on. Of course we both have to recognize and fight against the influences and forces that shove their way into our lives and reject them. And we do pretty good at it, BECAUSE we limit so tightly the amountof those invasive forces we will be exposed to. It is impossible when we are exposing ourselves to it daily on top of all the incidental exposures of life in general.
It is like we have a blank canvas just for the two of us. The second we buy someone else’s lingerie, or “romantic idea”, or feel aroused through some movie we’re watching, we have let some stranger paint on our canvas and it is difficult to erase. It doesn’t matter if it makes our universe look boring. That’s coveting. In reality, our own universe, our world, our bedroom is infinitely better than anyone else’s (and I can say that for certainty because I have seen and experienced much more than I wish I ever had) because we are not ashamed of what is ours.
Sometimes intimacy should be discussed with others but only in two circumstances I can think of: 1. To educate our children on the principles and facts of intimacy as is age-appropriate for each child and 2. If there is health concerns or abuse present.
Because of my past behaviors and weaknesses, I am constantly pushing away the ideas and notions that I picked up along the path of my own addiction, and I am often having to recognize when something is stimulating and exciting for the wrong reasons.
Too many of us, especially in the younger generation, are carrying around these low-grade addictions to sex and we satisfy those cravings through evening TV shows, pg-13 movies, and products and conversations that make us curious for dangerous things, or cause us to laugh and giggle like pre-teen immature kids pretending to be grownups at bridal showers or during guy-time.
Some comments to your article argued that it’s our LDS taboos that cause us to search it out. That is completely wrong and is evidence of a sheltered or distorted mindset. The rest of the world talks about sex all they want and they can’t seem to get enough of it, and it’s getting worse and worse to where even PG cartoons are full of innuendos and double entendres, pushing the limits constantly, getting all the adults in the audience a quick fix of stimulation to keep them involved and interested. Completely manipulative.
Sex is meant to be private. Adults looking for stimulation and excuses to talk, fantasize, or joke about it are showing evidence of their craving for their next “hit” and their addiction to it. Next time you are in a group setting and something scandalous comes up, see how quickly it takes over the conversation almost every time. It is powerful stuff and is meant to be, but that is why it needs to be kept under wraps. It is only anatomy some may say, but that anatomy has the power and tendency to rule our lives, unless we avoid it except in private AND when appropriate. It can be and should be one of the purest expressions of love. The second it becomes selfish, it is destroyed, momentarily. The second it becomes worldly, we have invited other people into our bedroom, or privacy, and that is truly gross.
When it is done right, it is more incredible than anyone can ever portray and becomes amazingly divine.
Thank you for reading.