“LDS couples will find “Real Intimacy” an invaluable resource as they navigate through the waters of emotional and physical intimacy. The information within is presented as candid, research-based and applicable to its readers. An important step towards sexuality being less taboo and more healthily accessible within our Mormon culture.”
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, author of “the Mormon Therapist” blog
“Preparing for and maintaining an intimate and dynamic sexual life can be elusive and confusing at best. Real Intimacy provides holistic integrated guidance in the art of sexual intimacy. All key variables affecting sexual vitality are examined – the physical, emotional, spiritual, practical, cultural and religious. Like a wise sage, this book provides the knowledge and direction needed to build a loving relationship that can stand the test of time.”
Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, LMFT; Clinical Professor, Department of Marriage & Family Therapy, Seattle Pacific University. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, Medical Family Therapist. Author and host of The Gift of Sacred Intimacy – A Couple’s Retreat.
“Hodson, Worthington and Harrison have created a comprehensive guide for creating and sustaining intimacy throughout the course of marriage. Their professional insight combined with relatable stories and examples will help any couple navigate the varied obstacles that can disrupt intimacy while developing a stronger sexual bond.”
“A candid and courageous exploration of a topic too little discussed among Latter-Day Saints—-both relevant and practical.”
– Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, PhD
REAL INTIMACY also tackles the sensitive issues that can threaten intimacy and a close relationship. It doesn’t shy away from the hot-button issues of the day that have been known to create havoc among couples, but it discusses them in a way that we know is out of love and a true desire to help and aide in healing.
This book would be nothing without the importance of communication, as with any relationship we find ourselves in. I enjoyed the way it is able to get you to thinking and talking about ways to address your issues, knowing that the end result will be a stronger more sustainable bond.
Designed to reach you where you are, through REAL INTIMACY we are able to find oneness in our relationships and become the person we want to be.”
The authors take the time first and foremost to explain that this book is not just about sex. Intimacy between husband and wife encompasses the sexual aspect of the relationship but involves many more areas of connectedness as well. As noted on page 7, “real intimacy doesn’t differentiate between physical, spiritual, sexual and emotional components. It combines them all.”
As explained in the book (and as many of us can attest), in the LDS culture it can be overwhelming and difficult to reconcile the idea that outside of marriage one should avoid anything sexual in nature of any degree and then once a simple ceremony is performed we should run towards it bursting with eagerness. It can be quite the paradox. If you are shunning trigonometry and avoiding it at all cost year after year (believe me, I know–I spent my young life avoiding trigonometry like the plague), is it realistic to expect that we become mathematicians overnight? The same applies to anything in life, including sex. This book helps us to understand that it’s all right that we are required to learn together in marriage how to have a mutually sexually fulfilling relationship and that the hiccups along the way don’t mean we are failing. It means we are learning, evolving and growing.
The second chapter is entitled “The Godly Design of Intimacy.” It teaches that God meant for us to enjoy this kind of fulfillment here on earth. God made our bodies to be able to enjoy physical intimacy with our spouses–not only to participate with Him in the creation process but to draw us closer to our spouses than any other human being. God intended physical intimacy to bond married couples to each other in a way that they are bonded to no one else. Sexual enjoyment mustn’t be viewed as carnal or evil when it is within the Lord’s boundaries. Sexual enjoyment is a gift from God and is meant to be joyful, sanctifying and unifying in marriage.
Naturally, the authors also explain that every sexual encounter with our spouses is not a mind-blowing experience. I liked that they compare sexual encounters to spiritual experiences of other natures. “Physical intimacy with a spouse can, generally, leave us feeling as we did upon leaving the Temple or another spiritual experience, we experience the same feelings of refreshment, rejuvenation and our relationship renewed… Of course, we don’t have a miraculous spiritual experience every time we attend the Temple… Does this mean we are worshipping inappropriately? Of course not. It means we are tired, spent, overwhelmed and it also intimates that all of these emotions and experiences can and are acceptable before God, as we go through the stages of life, parenting, aging and the ups and downs that are inherent with being in relationships.” (21)
The book teaches that physical intimacy is the ultimate symbol of giving of oneself wholly and completely to another individual, bringing faults and weaknesses, being vulnerable and exposed, giving and receiving, and finding unconditional love, acceptance and security in return. The subject of marital intimacy is not an easy subject. However, this book provides a safe and secure avenue of learning and understanding between husband and wife and helps facilitate open communication surrounding subjects in marriage that are difficult and often awkward to broach. The conversational style of writing felt comfortable to read. The concepts covered were easy to understand and tastefully and appropriately articulated.
I highly recommend “Real Intimacy” by Hodson, Worthington and Harrison. I would recommend it to newlyweds, grandparents, both to couples struggling in their marriages and even couples who don’t feel they are struggling. It is a book for every marriage of every kind, and an excellent resource for parents looking for the right wordage to comfortably talk to and educate their children about sex. This book will help us understand ourselves better — the preconceived notions about sex and intimacy that we bring with us into our marriages and how they affect our relationships. It will help us to overcome what the world tells us it “should” or “shouldn’t” be like. This book will strengthen and solidify the sacred marriage relationship and empower couples with tools to find fulfillment and joy as they broaden their understanding of intimacy in every sense of the word.”
Review and Foreword
by Matt Townsend Relationship Expert and Founder of the Townsend Relationship Center
“I just want to have a real discussion about sex and intimacy.” That desperate plea – voiced by many of their clients – prompted Kristin B. Hodson, Alisha B. Worthington and Thomas G. Harrison to produce this long-overdue book. It certainly is a real discussion about how to find real intimacy – sexual and otherwise –with our spouses. With unembarrassed candor, “Real Intimacy” features straightforward discussions that help married couples overcome attitudes and barriers to the “oneness” they desperately want and need.
Early on “Real Intimacy” hits us between the eyes with the sad truth: Most of us enter married life with little or no idea of what “real intimacy” means, much less how to develop it. Parents and friends dance around the concept, giving us a distorted view that intimacy occurs naturally with enough romps in the sack. After the wedding, we’re sent off to grope in the dark – literally and figuratively – in a clueless process that can produce pain and ultimately destroy intimacy. This book is a must-read for the soon-to-be or veteran married couples who want to finally find or re-kindle “real intimacy.”
“Real Intimacy” explains that sex is one of four cornerstones of the “pyramid of intimacy” – and it can be joyous and fun! This book is filled with information that takes the mystery and ignorance out of human sexual relationships. There’s even a “Sex Ed 101” section to help us understand basic anatomy and techniques. But sex must be intertwined with other pyramid cornerstones – emotional, spiritual and physical — to become great sex; and great sex deepens the other forms of intimacy in a divine circular process.
“Real Intimacy” is a joy to read, with creative and humor-filled analogies and suggestions for initiating discussions about potentially awkward or taboo topics like sexual responsiveness. “Approaching a conversation on intimacy with your spouse,” the authors note, “can feel as potentially intimidating or daunting as your first sexual encounter. However, with a few basic skills…you will feel more confident and willing to begin having these conversations.”
You know that this is not another timid, tepid book about sexuality and intimacy from a chapter title like “How Intimacy Is Like Dining.” “When it comes to food, sometimes we want a seven-course meal and sometimes we want a quick drive-through. Sometimes we are hungry and sometimes we are full – but we join our spouse anyway for a meal. Sometimes we don’t feel hungry, when we start eating we realize we were hungrier than we thought. Intimacy is the same way.” Or how about a great discussion of one couple’s use of the television characters – “Bert and Ernie” – to name their sexual regions.
I readily agreed to write the foreword for this wonderful book because I strongly endorse it and its refreshingly honest and candid approach. More importantly, I realized that it would bless the lives of so many good and wonderful people who are searching for real intimacy in their most treasured relationships.”