Readers, before I plunge into this week’s truly irresistable query, I wanted to put in a brief plug for a fantastic meet-up coming soon to Salt Lake City: on June 11, Carol Lynn Pearson (applause!), Margaret Toscano (applause!), and your very own friendly Mormon feminist advice columnist (that’s me!) will be speaking at the Mormon Stories Conference, a weekend-long event that includes socializing, service projects, and even a group MoTab outing. I would love to meet you there. For more info, click here.
I’m in my mid-twenties, un-endowed, and engaged to be married in the temple soon. Most of the men that I previously dated were men with whom I had no particular chemistry, which meant that I always felt chaste even situations that I consider (in hindsight) to have been somewhat compromising. However, I find my fiance very attractive. Often when we simply kiss, cuddle or touch I get quickly turned on and sometimes I have sexual thoughts and feelings with no warm up or warning at all. Over the past few months even ordinary physical contact has become unexpectedly arousing.
I’m committed to living chastely because I believe it brings personal blessings and pleases my Father in Heaven. There’s not really any likelihood that I’m going to have premarital intercourse or purposefully fool around, but I do feel guilty for the way my body reacts at times to otherwise fairly innocent-looking situations. My fiance and I are pretty frank about everything, including sex generally, but this is one area where I feel self-conscious and abnormal. I’m way too embarrassed to talk about my personal sexuality with my bishop, an older man who alternately talks about the terrible seriousness of sexual sin and expresses his complete faith in me as a “good girl” who gives him no cause to worry. I don’t think he’ll understand, and I’m afraid he’ll deny me a temple recommend, ask lots of awkward questions, or attempt to micro-manage the physical side of our relationship. I worry that my inability to talk to him means I’ll always feel like this is an unresolved issue.
Lately I’ve found myself constantly pushing my fiance away and avoiding any kind of extended kissing, hugging or cuddling, just to be safe. I’m concerned that my stiff behavior is starting to bring unnatural stress and tension into our otherwise wonderful relationship. I don’t want to leave it permanently stilted! However, I also don’t want to feel like I’m trying to slip by on my temple recommend interviews, or that I’m disrespecting my covenants, my fiance, or my Heavenly Father. What should I do?
Now, readers, you know I couldn’t put a question like that on the back burner. So right away I started thumb-typing into my iPhone:
That is a terrific “problem” to have! Being sexually attracted to your fiance is natural, normal, healthful, and–heck, I’ll say it–divine. I do not believe arousal is a sin. It is a sign that you’ve made a terrific choice in a partner and that your attraction is growing more intense as your commitment deepens.
I totally support you in wanting to stay chaste until marriage, and your thinking on this sounds really clear to me. I hear nothing hear that would suggest you need to talk to the bishop.
I do suggest that you try to talk to your fiance about the reasons you are keeping your distance. Make it fun if you can. Let him know that he’s got you really fired up, and to keep it safe until your big day, you need to set the boundaries a bit more firmly than usual. An old rule I heard for LDS engaged couples was “2 before 12.” That is–two kisses, and be home (alone) before midnight. If you can keep it together until the wedding–how many hours, days, weeks, months?–it’s all fireworks after that.
Well, no more than a few hours passed before BC wrote right back:
Thank you! Your thoughts are unbelievably comforting.
I was really embarrassed to ask, and after sleeping on it I’m not sure I really want you to answer it on-line. I guess I don’t want to turn it into an even bigger deal in my life. I think in some ways writing out my letter to you was therapeutic enough to get me thinking about how to talk about this with my fiance, which I did this morning. I still have concerns, but it feels like less of a burden now that he understands what they are. We’ve got two months until the wedding. At least they’re a busy two months!
However, if you’ve already started writing on the topic or think that this would be a good question for other people to talk about, feel free to disregard my hesitation and go ahead and post on it. Thanks again,
Two months? Phew. Yeah, BC, I think you can make it. And do I think this would be a good question for other people to talk about? Do I ever!
Thinking about my exchange with you, BC, set me to remembering bridal showers in the stake where I grew up. Without fail, gorgeous white-haired “Sister T” (always with a Mona Lisa smile) was invited to every bridal shower. And without fail, gorgeous white-haired “Sister T” (always with a Mona Lisa smile) brought the bride-to-be an elegantly wrapped box with a classy but alluring white satin nightie and peignor. And without fail, whenever it came time to open the present from “Sister T,” all the other women of the stake (who had bought crockpots and pans off the registry) nudged each other and whispered, smiling their own Mona Lisa smiles. Because in the Orange California stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was “Sister T”’s job to put the S for Sex in the Bridal Shower.
Over at Feminist Mormon Housewives, our own Lisa has blogged about being the one to put the S for Sex in the Bridal Showers in her own Idahoan stake of Zion. But imagine, just imagine, if every Mormon feminist-leaning bride had a roomful of frank and friendly women ready to really dish about intimacy!
BC, I hope you don’t mind if I convene a little bridal shower for you right here, right now. We’re all collectively thrilled that you’ve found someone who lights your fuse. And there is a lot of wisdom about sex among AMG readers. So, readers, now it’s your turn to present BC with the blogging equivalent of an alluring but classy white satin nightie and peignor: a gift of real womanly wisdom about developing a healthy intimate life with your dear husband. What do you wish you would have known? What classy but alluring info would you like to share?