Thursday, May 31, 2007


I have found that in spiritual matters, life is not black and white. Issues have to be approached personally, with Spiritual guidance, taking into account contexts, consequences, and the effects on others involved. Counsel for one person may not be appropriate for another.

Beck recently commented that in an intimate relation with his wife, the only way he could "do it" was through a fantasy of a male friend. He seemed to feel guilty about this. This started me pondering about the morality of fantasy during intimate relations, especially if the images come from outside the relationship.

Engaged young adults have often asked me if it were sinful to visualize sexual relations with a future spouse. Or after marriage is it wrong to fantasize sex with your wife. My response has always been: What are the consequences? Before marriage does it make it harder to maintain your Temple worthiness when you are with her? Does it distract from the rest of your life? Is it a fleeting experience or does it consume you? Does it lead to masturbation or porn? Does it distract from your relationship with the Lord? Each person is different and must answer for himself and then seek guidance from the Lord. Because of my SSA I occasionally worked on visualizing my wedding night with a woman I loved very dearly, but had little sexual attraction for. I believe that it helped. In an earlier blog I have said more about this.

In a temple interview a young married man asked if he sinned if he visualized sexy women sometimes while being intimate with his overweight and less attractive wife. He said that he loved her very much. He said that sometimes it helped him maintain an erection and reach climax. He said that he limited such fantasies to those difficult times. I told him that if it inhansed his ability to give her pleasure and reach fulfillment himself and that if it did not bring negative effects, spiritual or moral, outside of the bedroom that he should continue. He should also continue to avoid porn, etc. I felt that this advice had the concurrence of the Spirit. Future interviews indicated that he and she continued to have a loving, bonding relationship and that he was not having serious fantasy problems outside of their intimacies.

A stake president of mine when asked in bishops' council about appropriate behavior in intimate relations with your wife said that one General Authority conseled him that "Anything that bonds the couple together in love is ok. Anything that leaves one partner feeling abused, demeaned, exploited or less loved is wrong. What goes on in the bedroom is between the couple and the Lord. Bishops should not ask indelicate questions in their interviews." I know that some BYU professors (whose motivation I question) feel compelled to make lists of what should should or shouldn't happen in the bedroom and some of them have out of date quotations from previous Church leaders as evidence. I believe that this information should be filed with those which counsel that a good Mormon cannot be a Democrat and supply general authority quotes to back this up. The same waste basket receives both in my house. The first time I served as bishop, some other bishops I know probed deeply into the intimate practices of married couples. This was condemned by the First Presidency and bishops are counseled to only ask the question provided, "are you morally clean?"

In my intimate relationships there are times when I cannot reach a climax. If this happens frequently not only am I frustrated but my wife also. She usually finds it easy to reach a peak (usually many). But she says that she is not fully fulfilled if I cannot reach the peak. So at times I permit a fantasy of a male to help me reach a climax. This helps us to both to be fully satisfied and to bond in love. I have never shared this with her. I don't believe that it is necessary. I didn't ask to be wired this way: to be aroused by males. I believe that the Lord understands my mortal makeup and confirms me in this. I avoid porn and daily try to "bridle my passions". I even try to avoid the men's bathing suit and underwear adds that appear in the paper.

I know that the Lord loves my wife and me. Even though I have all my life struggled with an SSA emptiness that I choose to never fulfill (and at times wish I could) I feel His love, patience and support.

Everyone and every relationship is different. I don't share this information to suggest that anyone else should do likewise. You have to work out your relations with the help of the Lord. But if you have been broadsided by those professors or some other well meaning person, you may want to reconsider the issue. Please respond with your reactions to the above. If you want to discuss anything with me privately, use my email that is posted on this website.


Abelard Enigma said...

I even try to avoid the men's bathing suit and underwear adds that appear in the paper.


sorry, but chuckled when I read that. Probably because I have to do the same. It's really hard when a newspaper article is continued on a page next to such an ad. Fortunately, black & white grainy newspaper print makes the images less enticing.

I think the counsel you received is very sage advice.

"Anything that bonds the couple together in love is ok. Anything that leaves one partner feeling abused, demeaned, exploited or less loved is wrong. What goes on in the bedroom is between the couple and the Lord.

But, it does beg the question: How much should we share with our wives?

Beck said...

I'm flattered that something I said in my post triggered this very insightful post of yours.

I need to clarify that I did not feel guilty for having fantasized per se of "him", as much that I did it without her knowledge, or without her even being aware that I did it about "him" to help her. I don't think she'd take that very well... and I'm not in a position to "discuss" it: "Hey, honey, you know when I think about Tim, I can certainly have sex better with you, yooo hoo!" I don't think so... So that makes me feel guilty, even if the end result was positive for her.

So I go back to ABE's question: Should we share such things with our wives? I don't think so...

playasinmar said...

I'm glad fantasy isn't off limits.

gentlefriend said...

A woman once confessed to me as her bishop that she had had an affair prior to meeting her husband. She asked if she should tell her husband. I told her that he didn't need to know, that it may have a negative effect on the relationship. She felt guilty about the secrecy and told him. It threw their relationship into a loop. It took many months to heal and it left many scars. Sometimes total openness can cause more harm than good.

My wife has known about my SSA since before we were married. She accepts me as I am. (She even bought me some Trevor Southey art work because she knew I would like it.) She also knows that our relationship is the most important thing in my life, that I love her very deeply. I have never asked her about her attractions or fantasies. She has never asked me about mine. I don't think sharing my fantasies during sex would help our relationship. I don't think it would necessarily hurt it. but it may hurt her. She is more concerned about her weight and appearance than I think she should. To me she is beautiful. Telling her of the fantasies may just reinforce some of her negative feelings about herself. This is not necessary nor desirable. Part of my justification for the fantasies is that she enjoys seeing me fulfilled as much as I enjoy giving her pleasure. I have never told her that I am not sexually attracted to her, nor will I ever. I am spiritually attracted to her. She is a wonderful woman.

I have never violated our covenants. I am honest and trustworthy with her. I do not feel an obligation to be completely open about everything with her. I don't expect it from her.

Does this respond to your questions?

Sean said...

never thought of it that way. it may help. but like beck i think that i might not feel right about doing it.

coping mechanisms. sigh. i hope all this does get straightend out in the end.

gentlefriend said...

Sean: Yes, I wish everything were black and white. Life's issues are messy and seldom clear cut. But if everything were clear we would have no need for the Spirit. It seems that one of the vital learnings of mortality is to follow the Spirit (the rod of iron)through the mist of darkness.

I am not promoting this technique. I am just describing how I cope with my unique mortal chemistry. Each person is unique. That's why our guide should be the Spirit and not another person. (D&C 1:19-20)

-L- said...

I've got a few comments.

First, I largely agree with what you've said here, and it certainly applies in my case. As I've mentioned on the blogs before, I do fantasize about guys during sex, and I've found it to be necessary at times for any sexual intimacy to take place. For someone who is "Kinsey 6", I don't see how it could be any other way.

On the other hand, there is the scriptural prohibition of looking on another woman and lusting after her. I assume this means men too. :-) That guidance has more weight than the particulars of local church governance giving an admonition of "hands off" the bedroom topics.

Add one more layer to the difficulty: one may know their sexual attractions and believe they have a great attraction to their spouse before marriage, but nobody can keep the law of chastity and know for certain what performing sexually will require after marriage. It's a gamble, really. So, we pray and we do what we believe God approves of and hope that He will provide a way for things to be okay.

It may turn out that once in a marriage, you have the conflicting commandments to not lust (fantasize) after others and to also have children. I don't have any obviously "right" way of dealing with this, so we've done what works. I hope that such fantasies can be decreased and eliminated eventually--I think that's a worthy and possible goal.

In the mean time, I appreciate your advice about porn. I've found that when I look at it, sex is easier. I have fresh material, so to speak, to get my mind where it needs to go. This is a horrible situation, obviously. It's one I'm still trying to work out.

These are dangerous waters to swim in, and we all need a healthy dose of humility in navigating them. I don't think that sexual fantasies are ever "right," but I do think they may be the lesser of evils--a less bad choice.

As for telling a spouse these things, I never had the guts. It was the last remaining thing I couldn't bring myself to say to my wife (for many of the reasons listed in your post and comments above). But, I blogged about it in increasingly overt ways over the last several months, and my wife finally relieved some of my apprehension in her post in which she acknowledged that she understands and thinks that our sex life is healthy, even given the compromises. I was very relieved with that, because I don't want to feel like I'm being dishonest with her. Discussing these issues with my wife has never been easy, exactly, but it's made us so much closer together as we deal with them that I think it's a good idea to keep it as an eventual goal. It's something to work toward in being one.

Beck said...

L: You're an inspiration and poster MOHO to openness between husband and wife on these issues. I just can't see getting there (where you are) from here (where I am). So for now, silence on such matters remains the current mode of operation - maybe someday... but until then, this silence may be the "lesser of evils"...