Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Healing the Couple

A few years ago, I gave a presentation on intimacy in marriage to our ward. After the presentation, we gave a copy of the book And They Were Not Ashamed to every adult couple or single adult in the ward. This book, one of the best I have found on the subject of intimacy from an LDS perspective, was written by Laura Brotherson.

Some people thought I was crazy for doing this. Others were taken aback that I would suggest that one of the keys to happiness in marriage is getting intimacy right. But something I said then was that if you heal the couple, you heal the family. I still of course believe this.

A few would have nothing to do with the book. I think it brought up a lot of fear for them, and it was easier to just set it aside and bury it along with their feelings. Still others complained, as one visitor who asked a ward member, "Is that all your bishop talks about?"

To me, the negative responses didn't matter. I knew I had been clearly prompted to step out of my comfort zone—way out!—and present this book to the ward. I have learned this lesson the hard way: When the Lord inspires you to do something, ACT and act quickly or you will regret it. I have never for a moment regretted sharing this book.

(By the way, I have never received any compensation for promoting this book, and there are no affiliate links in this post.)

For most of those who were there that day, the book answered a keen need. Many ward members, especially women, expressed gratitude to me for sharing the book. It created a touchstone that had been missing. It helped couples talk about tender subjects. One husband told me that his wife went home after Church and read the entire book that day and then wanted to talk to him about it when she was done, at about 10 o'clock that night!

As a bishop, I never counseled anyone directly about their intimate relationships, only to seek the help that they needed from a qualified counselor or other worthy resources. However, one bit of general advice that I have shared with many people is that it is good to talk openly with your spouse about your personal feelings about everything, especially intimacy. It is sad to me that some couples don't feel comfortable talking about this subject. That is understandable, but it a barrier that needs to be crossed if you want to truly be one with your spouse as God intended you to be.

I admire the way Laura straightforwardly addresses a delicate topic and I love the way she documents what she has written with quotes from the scriptures, Church leaders and other Christian authors. If you are married and you don't have this book, I encourage you to get it (or the CDs—we have both). The book is both enlightening and encouraging. If you are looking for answers about your intimate relations, this book has answers. I endorse it without reservation.

4 comments:

  1. This book is the best. I credit it with helping me to overcome my my "dabbling" in porn. Reading it helped me understand that my urges were not part of me being an out of control pervert. That "I am sinfull and can do nothing about it" would overcome me when I would see the slightest bit of bare skin on a picture and I would just think, "oh what the heck - I can't ever get rid of these urges so just give in."

    After reading this book it helped me understand that God put those urges in me for a reason. That helped me with my self-esteme and then I was able to resist more and bring my spirituality back up - which helped me resist more. For several years I have been able to see a bilboard or ad that is bordering on porn and I can say to my self, "that isn't proper and I know why it appeals to me, but I am not going there" and be OK with it. I don't feel shame for seeing something that is apealing.

    The bishop in my ward also just had an hour with the women of the ward on this subject and gave each of them a copy of this book. I think he is one brave man - who also has a great heart and really wants the marriages to thrive - not just get by (or be "at risk"). I don't know how it has changed others, but unfortunatly my wife just hid the book somewhere and still does not want to read it. I will just keep trying to be the best husband I can.

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  2. I was excited to hear about your bishop sharing this book in your ward, and I think the steps you have taken yourself are fantastic. I believe Laura's book has blessed many people with the knowledge and power to overcome Satan's wiles.

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  3. I'm an LDS therapist and have couples come to therapy frequently who have problems with intimacy. I had clients who finally convinced me to read Laura's book saying, "You should read it - she teaches about this the same way you do!"

    I'm so thankful that I followed their suggestion and picked up a copy! She does indeed handle the subject with tact and wisdom, holding sex to be a sacred bond of the marital covenant and a blessing of joy unto those who will go forth with faith and inspiration to embrace it.

    Now I can refer my clients to read the book together and take on the assignments within its pages with the Spirit as their guide and companion.

    My hope is that more bishops, stake and branch presidents, general leaders and authorities will do what you have done.

    I also hope that individuals who have read and applied the principles of the book will have the courage and foresight to teach the youth of the church - in the home and in all forums - to look forward to marital intimacy such that they understand the real reasons why they need to guard it with their lives; why they need to be true, chaste, & virtuous. Not motivated by fear but by love and by reverent anticipation of the sacred blessings.

    In our day as in heretofore no other, we need men and women of faith and virtue to understand clearly and deeply the principles of righteousness that lead, through marriage and full immersion in family life, to exaltation and eternal lives. We need wives and husbands to embrace all that God has endowed them with to ennoble and exalt them through each other. This book stands as the best resource I have read to assist in that effort.

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  4. Bravo! My husband also counsels LDS couples about intimacy as a marriage coach, and writes a blog called the LDS Marriage Bed. http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com.

    I had no idea there was such a problem about this among married people in the Church until he started doing this, and he got his start from Laura Brotherson's book as well. It was a great benefit to us and to many of the people my husband works with.

    Thanks for following inspiration on this. That took a lot of guts to face the inevitable backlash, even as a bishop. It may not help everybody, but if what you did helps even one couple, you've helped generations of members to have happier relationships and actually WANT to live together eternally. That is a wonderful thing.

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