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In this episode of “Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist“, Laurel and Brian interview Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife about advice for women who are trying to cultivate desire followed by advice on how to decide what you and your spouse are okay with in the bedroom.
Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife is a psychotherapist who focuses on issues surrounding female sexuality and feminism within the LDS framework. She holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Boston College where she wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality. She has taught college-level classes on human sexuality and currently has a private therapy practice in Chicago. In her private practice, she primarily works with LDS couples on sexuality and relationship issues. She also teaches online courses to LDS couples on these issues. She is married, has three kids, and is an active member of the LDS church.
Make sure to sign up for her upcoming seminars in the California bay area on April 18th
THE ART OF DESIRE SEMINAR FOR LDS WOMEN and LOSING RELATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT UNDERMINE YOUR INTIMATE LIFE (AND HOW TO CHANGE THEM)
If you have a question for the good doctor you can comment below OR send an email to email@example.com
I have a question for Dr. Finlayson-Fife! How do single, young adult women develop their sexuality?? I’m 31, single, dating, and hope to marry in the temple (at some point). But I also want to embrace myself as a sexual being and not be afraid of sexuality, particularly if I get married (or long-term, if I don’t). How do I do that??
I would also love to hear what Dr. Finlayson-Fife thinks about this issue. I don’t think the church has any healthy message for people that fall into this category. I am a women in her mid-30’s who is not married and have personally experienced many extremely negative effects from the churches messages about sexuality, marriage, womanhood and adulthood . I recognize there are some positive things as well, but as I’ve gotten older the negative has definitely outweighed the positive. Logically it is absurd that the same rules I lived by as a 16 year old in regards to sexuality and romantic relationships still apply to me as an adult….but that is what the church teaches.
As a side note: I think referring to unmarried people as “young single adults” or “mid-single adults” is VERY problematic, especially for women. The terminology the church uses for unmarried people is a symptom of the larger issue of tying adulthood and identity to marital status. This terminology reinforces the idea that people are only “whole” and fully legitimate adults if they are married and until they are married we are separate and labeled as such. We never refer to married members of the church as “Married Adults”, or “Young Married Adults” or “Mid Married adults” . By placing a separate title on unmarried people it establishes them as the “out” group, with the goal of becoming like the “in” group/married people. This is evident in the fact that unmarried people are separated from main congregations into “single wards”. These ideas also infantilizes unmarried people by defining adulthood as somehow congruent with marriage. Unmarried people are not thought of as “full adults” until they are married. We see this play out in singles wards when married couples are called to preside over or chaperone single ward meetings and activities. It’s not uncommon for a married person/couple who is younger in age is called to preside at single activities over adults who are older and have more life experience than the married member. These messages have profound implications for all church members.
I really appreciate the all of Dr. Finlayson-Fife’s podcasts, she has been extremely helpful to me.
Rach, I really don’t think the church seperates single adults from married adults because they think full adulthood doesn’t come until marriage. I think they do it to make it easier for two peope to find each other, and married couples are in leadership positions because they’ve been through it already and can provide counsel.
Obviously the church is focused on its members being married and having children, as the family is seen as the most important thing in the church. For some, marriage doesn’t happen. For some, children never happen. But it doesn’t change the importance of The family in the church or in eternity.
Why is it so important for us to either be married or be desperately unhappy about the fact that we’re not? Last I checked, Christ, not the family, was supposed to be the center of this church and the source of joy in our lives. And everyone can have access to Christ.
@Silverhawkwarrior, The idea isn’t that you have to be unhappy if you’re single, the idea is that there are additional types of joy available in families and that it’s the ideal circumstance for living and teaching the gospel.
Nobody says you can’t live the gospel as a single person -with Christ(?), Paul, Moroni, etc there is no shortage of examples of fine single saints- but rather the gospel says that families are an eternal organization that can add joy to existence.
The Church absolutely wants its single members to be happy, and I’ve never heard anything remotely suggesting that they shouldn’t be. But family is the ideal, and for good reason. Life isn’t always ideal, but that doesn’t mean life shouldn’t have ideals.
As for the young/mid single adult comments. You realize you’re welcome to come to a family ward if you’re not interested in being in a singles ward. You don’t have to be at the singles ward if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Rach, you are kidding me.
These cultural divides are quite worrying to me. Solving the problem of a large group in the church feeling marginalized based on their marital status isn’t easy. Single adult groups are named and identified precisely because that is were we are losing people and failing to sufficiently welcome and integrate them into the church. Because of that failure special efforts are made to reach out.
For what it’s worth, in a recent ward council we discussed what we can do to help those that feel thus marginalized. While the 31+ groups are now allowed to organize their own wards
We would feel like we have failed those in our ward if they felt the need to go elsewhere because they didn’t feel welcome as equals in our ward.
Forgive the 2 comments. Browser oddities on android resulted in a premature post.
I’m married and a member for 22 years, almost all my life. I will shate with you my personal opinion and hope it help in any way.
I personally don’t think the terms hurt any one, because are just terms. About the single wards, you don’t have to attend it’s not mandatory. It’s there for the ones that can benefit from meeting other single members and share experience with them, but you can attend to the ward on your area that is not just for single members. I never did but, my cousin used to alternate.
I recommend you to pray for a companion,and attend the temple as much as you can to pray there. I’m sure you have been doing it, and it can be frustrating by times but, I know that Heavenly Father’s plan is perfect and He has some one for you, and if you can’t find him in this live but, you live toward the commandments you will receive a partner later and for eternity.
About living like a 16 years old, it can sound funny but, it’s about purity and keeping the commandments, no matter how old we are the commandments are the same a rend we have the same responsability of stay pure. I bet it’s not easy and again prayers and reading the scriptures, positive thinking and put your thought in service others will help you keep the tentative away.
I will keep you in my prayers and wish you the best. I promise that there will be a lot of more good things and thousands of blessings if you keep strong now. God bless you.
With love, Sister Baez. 😉
Read D&C 132 in its entirety and you will understand where women stand in the LDS religion. Men become Gods and women can only reach that celestial state if they are married to them in the temple and he calls them from the grave. Then they spend an eternity birthing children to populate their own universe. Unmarried women can never reach that same celestial state.
Former member of the church for over a decade.
10 years, yet you still troll LDS websites?
Then you quote a section, and not read it. Wow, I can’t wait to hear your next wisdom. Maybe read things you quote before quoting them.
Seems like you forgot…Neither is man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord. Neither can receive exaltation (the highest degree of the Celestral Kingdom) without “Eternal” marriage. One can still obtain the Celestral Kingdom without being sealed. Both are gods, not just the man.
Celestrial autocorrects to Celestral?
Question, she recommends that girls pretty much masturbate to find what turns them on. Isn’t this against the “principle” that we should keep our thoughts clean and pure? I teach 14-16 year old boys, and the doctrine is pretty clear of what we should strive to do. I don’t believe there is a double standard for girls.
Sometimes I think our society thinks way too much about sex and our sometimes selfish needs and wants. I believe it’s good and super important in bonding a man and woman, but I sometimes wonder if Christ just thinks we spend way too much time and energy on this when he has other work for us to do. But we’re narcissists today. It’s all about “my needs.”
Men cant become Gods without a sealed spouse. They are one unit.
If you haven’t noticed, after 30 or marriage, every one focuses serving and strengthening the youth. When one is single they don’t want to focus on other people’s kids and families in general. So you should feel incomplete until you have an other half. Even if you don’t find them until the next life. We are to endure till the end. But the church wants to support the singles they are just focused on the youth.
Am I really hearing this correctly that Jennifer suggests that women masturbate to find their sexual self? I did not “touch myself” growing up in the church and I stayed chaste but I had no problems knowing and being comfortable that I had a sexual side. There are other ways to accept your sexuality without disobeying Heavenly Father’s loving rules/commandments.
On the same note, she mentioned a couple who was strong in the church who didn’t wear underwear outside to spice things up…if she’s talking about not wearing garments, which are a sacred outward symbol for our covenants to God, then that’s obviously not ok. It seems like she’s condoning going against the commandments for the sake of exploring your sexuality. God should be the most important thing above all else. There are ways to spice things up with a spouse without breaking your covenants. I worry that people will be lead astray with this advice. Jennifer, I sincerely am curious, did you grow up in a LDS bubble where some people were extreme in their teaching that you now resent and are retaliating by advising to go against what the church/the Lord says is right or wrong? I’m just trying to make sense how you can claim to be an active LDS member and then give this type of advice?