When you are young, love and marriage seems all about passion. I suppose if it were not for passion, many of us would not have given our spouses a second look. That’s really a shame, since there is much more to marriage than young, passionate lovemaking. I sympathize with you young couples today who may be reading this. You must feel so much pressure to “measure up” to the fake lovemaking you see in the movies and on television. You would do well to “unlearn” anything you’ve seen on screen and do what comes naturally to your relationship. Our Heavenly Father gave us wonderful bodies. Cherish each other for your spiritual selves and everything else will be as it should be.
[S]exuality is a beautiful power given to mankind from God. President Kimball has observed: “The Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of that kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His commandment to the first man and woman to be ‘one flesh’ was as important as his command to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’” (Quoting Billy Graham, Ensign, May 1974, p. 7.)
It is also of interest to note that the word sex or sexuality does not appear in the scriptures. Rather, it is described in holy writ with the words know or knew. This idea of “knowing” or “becoming acquainted with” connotes a deeply satisfying aspect of married love (Brent A. Barlow, Ensign, “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage” (Sept. 1986), https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/they-twain-shall-be-one-thoughts-on-intimacy-in-marriage?lang=eng).
As time moves on, babies come into the home bringing exhaustion and time constraints. Those passionate moments which came with such frequency before are now squished between 2:00 a.m. feedings and 4:00 a.m. toddler nightmares—if the partners even have the energy. This period of life—sweet in so many ways—often seems as if exhaustion will never end. Squeezed in passionate moments become cherished time together. Patience is the key to this period of the intimate marital relationship. Remember that bringing joy to the relationship is what intimacy is all about, and that requires being patient and unselfish with each other.
It is important at this stage of your marriage to make time for each other alone. Send the children to play with grandparents if you live close, or set up a babysitting exchange with other couples. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your children overnight, at least take an occasional afternoon or evening together. Date nights are critical—and occasionally skip the movie and get in some quality cuddle time.
The challenges and rewards of marriage come as two people learn to be one. It is no easy task for two previously separate individuals to learn what is needed to become physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually one while retaining healthy self-esteem. Becoming as one requires the best effort from both spouses. But since their goal is eternal life, all the effort is worthwhile.
. . .
Both husbands and wives have physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs associated with this sacred act. They will be able to complement each other in the marriage relationship if they give tender, considerate attention to these needs of their partner. Each should seek to fulfill the other’s needs rather than to use this highly significant relationship merely to satisfy his or her own passion.
Couples will discover differences in the needs or desires each partner has for such a relationship, but when each strives to satisfy the needs of the other, these differences need not present a serious problem. Remember, this intimate relationship between husband and wife was established to bring joy to them. An effort to reach this righteous objective will enable married couples to use their complementary natures to bring joy to this union.
The intimate relationship between husband and wife realizes its greatest value when it is based on loving kindness and tenderness between the marriage partners. A Parent’s Guide, (1985), pp. 44-52, Chapter 6: Mature Intimacy: Courtship and Marriage.
All too quickly, babies and toddlers turn into worrisome teenagers. What could be intimate moments are often spent in worried discussion about teenage issues—sometimes even arguing about those issues. When you manage to get past the worry and discussions, passionate moments are sometimes interrupted by teens returning home from dates or late work schedules. By this time you’ve given up trying to teach them to knock before entering. If they haven’t learned how to knock in 15 or 16 years, they deserve whatever embarrassment comes their way. Just grin and consider it revenge.
Teenagers become young adults and fly from the nest. Get this: Empty nest syndrome is a myth—a big lie! If you fall for it, you are cheating yourself and your spouse out of the best years of your marriage.
True, bodies have changed and often don’t work as they used to work. Adjustments may need to be made to how you approach intimacy, but the rewards are great. Time is now your best friend. You have all the time in the world for kissing and cuddling. The squished moments of the past are long gone. The only interruptions are those we place on ourselves, like deciding whether to answer the phone, or let it roll over to the answering machine. After retirement, even the time of day for intimacy is flexible.
Don’t let age or physical restrictions get in the way of the sweet passion for life. Drugs are highly overrated and often interfere with other medications, but satisfaction can be reached in a variety of ways. Have frank, open discussions with your physicians and pharmacist. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, or to ask for alternative solutions to chemical drugs.
Passion is now the culmination of a lifetime of loving each other. It is sweeter, richer, and lovelier than ever before. Passion comes in many forms; and ebbs and tides. Your marriage, on the other hand, is something that can and should last forever.
Tenderness and respect—never selfishness—must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord, (President Howard W. Hunter, Being a Righteous Husband and Father, General Conference, Oct. 1994, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/10/being-a-righteous-husband-and-father?lang=eng.)
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.