Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Out of the best marriage books...

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A successful marriage includes a successful sexual relationship (however the couple together would define success), but it is not realistic to expect an easy path to a mutually satisfying sexual relationship in an environment of sexual ignorance.  The mechanics of reproduction are typically not a mystery, adults know what goes where, but the art of being a skilled lover and how to manage the very emotional nature of a sexual relationship are topics many Mormons feel uncomfortable making a focus of study.

When I got engaged I was keenly aware of my ignorance in these areas and it gave me more than a little apprehension about my ability to give my bride a wedding night that would live up to her expectations.  My ignorance was a shame to me, and the prospect of somebody seeing me buy a 'sex book' or asking anybody for guidance was terrifying. 

At some point my fears overpowered my shame and I went to some out of the way bookstore I never went to before (or since) and purchased a well known book on sexuality.  While there was some useful information in it, the entire topic was treated without reverence, and the images in the book were clearly intended to be more erotic than educational (which I suppose was why it was shrink wrapped in the store).  All in all I wouldn't call it the best experience, but it got me started.

A little while later I was in an LDS Bookstore and unexpectedly came across a paperback with a blue cover that was written to help prepare ignorant virgin Mormons like myself for the sexual side of marriage.  I don't' recall the title of the book but it was small and thin enough to fit in a suit coat pocket.  I sheepishly purchased it.  The content was far more helpful and reverent towards sexuality and it left me feeling much better prepared.

While our wedding night was a success, the early years of our marriage was a time where everything was wonderful, except in the bedroom.  My wife had little desire for intimacy and it bothered me greatly.  At times I blamed myself, wondering if things would improve if I could better please her, sometimes I wondered if the problem was she no longer loved me like before.  My job downtown was in an office building that was beside a very large bookstore, and sometimes on my lunch break I would go there and try to find a book that would help fix this one sore spot in our marriage.  I still struggled with the fear of others seeing me do this since the book shelves were not high enough to hide me, but I desperately wanted our marriage to improve in this area.

Over time I've found a number of books that were helpful, and my wife likewise made an effort to learn, and found resources that were helpful to her.  I'm no longer ashamed to head into Chapter's and check out or purchase a book on marriage or sexuality.  It is Satan that wants us to feel shame over it and overcoming that is a big step forward.

As I found early on however, there are books on sexuality that treat the topic with due reverence and, and others that do not.  Below are some books that I would encourage you to consider reading:

And They Were Not Ashamed - Laura M. Brotherson
If you only read one book on marriage and intimacy, it should be this one.  Physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy are covered in detail, accurately portraying both male and female perspectives.  Each chapter has exercises that are relevant and helpful.  The teachings of latter-day prophets and apostles are prominently featured in the text and the content is harmonious with the moral standards taught by the church. 

For my wife, it was very helpful to hear some of the things said in this book from a woman and presented in a gospel context.  It they had come from a man she may have dismissed them as self serving, and if they came from a non-Mormon she would be tempted to write it off as the way of the world.  It also covers how to raise children so they are better prepared for marriage.  Likewise it was a great help to me in understanding my wife's feelings on several fronts.

His Needs, Her Needs - Willard F. Jr. Harley
This book details the top five relationship needs for men, and the top five relationship needs for women and teaches spouses how strengthen a marriage by satisfying those needs for their partner.  While it does generalize about men's and women's needs, it is an excellent starting place for a couple to discuss and learn more about each other.

The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman
Just because you feel love for your spouse doesn't mean your spouse feels loved.  All of us have a set of internal 'rules' that govern what looks like an expression of love to us and what doesn't.  This book lays our those rules in terms of 'languages' or ways we express love.  For a spouse to feel loved, their partner must express their love in the language their spouse understands.  While it also is a generalization, it is a useful framework for a couple to use in teaching each other how to show their love for each other.

Personality Plus - Florence Littauer
While this book is not specifically about the marriage relationship, it is certainly helpful in building a stronger marriage.  In this book the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of 4 basic personality types are discussed, along with how the different types relate with each other.  Having a better understanding of your spouse's innate personality traits helps reduce personality conflicts, and the same skills are useful in dealing with children, co-workers, people at church etc.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands - Laura Schlessinger
One of the joys of marriage is to have somebody who is so different from you in so many ways love you in spite of those difference, but sometimes those same things make it hard to understand each other and lead to frustration.  Society also projects an image of marriage that often leads women to treat their husbands in ways that are counterproductive.  Dr. Laura takes on the task of helping wives to understand their husbands and work with them in her typical, no-holds-barred style.

There are of course other books that are worthwhile, but these 4 should be at the top of the list for most couples.  It works best if both spouses read them, and that can even be a date night thing, but even if they are read by only one spouse they will be beneficial.

We hold that the glory of God is intelligence, and the church stresses life long learning.  Certainly God is perfectly knowledgeable in this area.  It may mean stepping out of your comfort zone as it did for me, but the blessings of learning the skills of marriage may be result in the greatest blessings of your life.


  1. One of my favorite Christian books about sexuality in general but women's sexuality specifically is Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. Another I have just read that speaks to male/female relationships is For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn. She also coauthored the best-selling For Women Only which I have just started and expect to be very helpful with my blog. Those two are Christian written. Like your choices, those three would be on my Top Ten must read books for marriage and relationship issues. The last two I would suggest anyone read to understand the opposite sex, particularly since they are not only about sex but why we behave as we do.

  2. I have read all of your posts regarding marriage and sexuality.

    I have read the first 3 books you have listed another books as well.