…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Purity and Passion

By Rex Goode


A Book Review

Chad (used by permission)

Together, my wife and I read the book, Purity and Passion by Wendy L. Watson. I recommend this book to couples struggling to recapture the kind of marital intimacy God intended us to have in our marriages.

I found Sister Watson’s redefinition of “making love” a wonderful departure from what the world considers “making love” to be. Her higher, more spiritual definition of “making love” is “co-creating love,” and suggests that in marriage couples can enhance their marital intimacy by focusing not on the physical side of intimacy, but rather, on the spiritual.

In the early stages of recovery, a challenge faced by most addicts is learning how to let their spiritual selves soar while somehow containing their natural, physical selves. Typically, this consists of trying to subjugate physical desires by exercising sheer willpower, counting days, or maintaining a strict schedule of activities to counter the desire to act out. However, Sister Watson suggests that if we focus on things of the Spirit, i.e., those things that bring us closer to God, or things that remind us of “who we have always been,” as Sheri Dew has pointed out, that our spiritual selves will become the dominant power over our physical selves. To me, that is a critical challenge, but victory over the physical self can be ours if we’re willing to do our part and ask God to turn our weaknesses into strengths.

Learning to let my spiritual self dominate my physical self in regards to co-creating love has provided several important benefits:

  1. It has helped me to relax, so that I’m not so driven to satisfy my own physical cravings. Instead, I am able to focus on my wife’s spiritual needs for love and comfort. Release is not the final goal for me any longer. Rather, I seek unity and togetherness in our marital intimacy.
  2. It has helped to create a new level of trust between us because my wife feels I am more motivated to co-create love together rather than satisfy my own wants. Again, the result has been greater unity of purpose, more oneness, and greater attraction.
  3. I feel more secure knowing my intentions, knowing that my heart is more pure and motivated to enhance the strength of our marriage. Over time, I am learning to trust myself more, and I now have the strength to say “not now,” (and sincerely feel okay with it) if I feel my heart is not in the right place at the time. Admitting that to my wife has actually increased the trust factor for her because she’s learning that my actions are becoming more motivated by my heart than by my hormones.

Reading the book together and pausing periodically to read scriptures and discuss ideas in a candid and respectful way have created topics of conversation that have helped to heal our marriage. For one, we learned that this is not just my problem; it is our problem, because whenever one partner has a problem, it becomes both partner’s problem–we remind ourselves that we are a team.

We also learned that as we center our lives in Christ, even above each other, He will bless and sanctify our marriage. Just as we participate in the Sacrament each week to renew our covenants with God, we can renew our covenants with our sweethearts by the way we live and co-create love together. Coming to a time of marital intimacy with pure hearts and love for our partners allows the Holy Spirit to sanctify our time together, and the Lord will approve of and encourage this special and sacred act of togetherness.

Some chapters in the book are a little bumpy to get through, because of course, if one wants to increase marital intimacy, one does not engage in extramarital sexual behavior, be it with oneself or another person. For this reason, my wife and I each read the first several chapters independently, then read together those chapters dealing with ways to enhance the relationship. One of the last chapters offers 30 ways to build intimacy in marriage. Wonderful! It encouraged me to take two days off work this week to stay home and clean the house together. For that, my wife is feeling “irresistably drawn” to me. OK, “irresistably drawn” is a term used by Sister Watson, but hey, my wife agrees! And I’ll take that as a sign that my marriage is getting better.

It’s a good read, especially if done together and if you take it at an unhurried pace to allow time for discussion and reflection.

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