Photo attribution here.And that Mormon girl would be me.
*Note: as you may have guessed, this post is about sex. It's not explicit, but it is direct. If that makes you uncomfortable, you probably shouldn't read it.
Recently I got my first ever request for a post on a particular topic: post marital sexual deactivation. This is a post I've been wanting to write for quite some time because, frankly, I love sex, and it's really hard to go from having semi-regular access to it to zilch. Second, this is something every divorcee faces but no one talks about, and by now you know how committed I am to talking about the important things that make your average Molly Mormon/Peter Priesthood squirm. On that note...
First of all, I want to kick this off my saying that I know it's, like, a thing to run around saying we feel sorry for men and their ginormous sexual appetites and how it's not their fault and it's all evolution and they have a biological need to spread their seed and all, but I just want to throw it out there that there are many, many women--LDS and otherwise-- with healthy libido, and plenty of men I've met that can either take sex or leave it. So men, you are not alone in the struggle to fly solo after your companion has jumped ship. And women, you are not weird for liking, loving, missing and/or needing sex. So when we all got this letter tucked in with out divorce decrees...
Don't have sex anymore. Not with your former spouse, not with your (not yet married to) "future spouse", not by yourself, not with an elf... Do not have sex here or there. Do not have sex anywhere.
Good luck with that.
...it's safe to say that men and women alike had issues.
We all have different attitudes, experiences and opinions about sex, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you are recently divorced you will have to reconcile your sex life (or lack of sex life) in some way or another. We as LDS people have an interesting, complicated relationship with sexuality to begin with. We are taught to fear it, but look forward to it. We love it, but fiercely try to control it. We have rules dictating our sexual behavior a mile long and we are accountable for our actions. In fact, it is not only considered appropriate, but it's expected that our leaders will ask us probing questions about our sexual conduct at any moment. Our eternal salvation is perpetually at stake.
With that magnitude of significance and consequence lacing our biological, God given desire to procreate it's no wonder that we get spazzy about sex. As for those of us who have experienced sexual intimacy, we find ourselves in an even more complex position where we did our best to transition from forbidden to sacred and bonding (or at least just plain fun) and now, not only are our souls torn up from the dramatic shifts in our lives, stress levels high, moral compasses whacky and ideals all in question, we have the task of un-familiarizing ourselves with a notoriously relaxing, pleasurable, relieving, happy making activity we once enjoyed. Oh yeah, and we're so lonely we can't watch an insurance ad without bawling.
All that is to say, I hear you! I know. It totally sucks. I hate it, and I'm sorry. Unfortunately, this, like many other things in our lives right now, doesn't have an easy answer. God loves us, is aware of us, grieves with us and ultimately, so far as I can tell (because there really is no literature on this that I've been able to find) doesn't make any moral exceptions for us. We are commanded to be abstinent once more. That's the long and short of it.
That being said, I do have a few thoughts and tips for those of you who feel similarly to the way I do about this issue. Having made it nearly 18 months now without a gentleman caller knocking at heaven's door, this is my advice:
1. Embrace and accept it. It is what it is. No amount of suppressing, avoiding, fixating, indulging, blaming, guilting or denying will make this go away. Craving sexual intimacy is not weird, it's not wrong and while it will likely vary in intensity from time to time, it's not going to go away, and that's okay. This is a moment in time. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to step out of its way and let it happen.
2. Remember that acting on impulses will likely bring momentary relief or enjoyment, but ultimately, when that fleeting experience is complete, we are where we left off, but with less of God's Spirit. I think we can all agree, we could use as much of God's Spirit as we can get these days. Premarital sex is still (now to me, having seen first hand what the bonding power of sex can do) terrifyingly dangerous, especially in the state we're in, and pornography is a cheap counterfeit that sincerely has the capacity to dramatically distort our view of this sacred thing we crave. (Click here for a great website with more on this.) Ultimately, no matter how much emotional pain and turmoil we're in, it's just not worth it. It's just not.
3. Closely related to #1, try not to beat yourself up about it, because things do happen. Guilt serves one purpose and one purpose only: to motivate us to change. If it's not motivational, it's just another tool in Satan's kit. Accept and love yourself, no matter what you're going through and how close you currently are to following Christ's gospel perfectly. The love of God is endless and cannot be withheld from you if you will look up.
4. Do your best not to dwell. We all have memories of the past and hopes for the future, but letting them run rampant in our minds can only bring us down. Acknowledge that there will one day again be a time and place for that, and allow your mind to be freed by any one of the following:
-Climb a tree and see what you can see.
-Dance with a child, or have her tell you a story from her imagination.
-Take up a sport or some sort of physical fitness hobby. There's more than one way to release endorphins ; )
-Look outside yourself to see the needs of those around you. Help someone in some small way.
-Read a (wholesome) book that takes you somewhere new. The library is full of cheap vacations.
-Make a bucket list and start crossing off adventures.
-Write out how you feel. Sometimes just writing it out, then chucking it will get unhelpful things out of my system.
-Make new (platonic) friends.
-Join a club - hunting, knitting, cycling, dancing, you name it. The more foreign to your regular routine the more brain capacity it takes to learn, the less brain power you have to spare for unhelpful pining.
You get the idea.
I'm not saying it's easy. Heaven knows the struggle I've had and still have with engaging fully in the present life I live. So much time missing and wishing. I am saying, however, there is a high road. In all of the deluge of confusion, pain, grief, frustration and heartache that comes with the end of a marriage, I have found that the most long lasting satisfaction comes when I do my best to take the high road. It's hard, but we can do hard things.
Keep your chin up. Like everything else it gets better with time... sort of : )