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Assertiveness & Women’s Sexuality: Mormon Sex Info Podcast

One of my favorite things about the topic of assertiveness is that is can apply to any and every aspect of life: career, family, marriage, friendship, etc. I chatted with Natasha Parker LMFT, and using ideas from my book, “The Assertiveness Guide For Women: How to Set Healthy Boundaries, Communicate Your Needs, and Transform Your Relationships,” we discussed how assertiveness can be applied to sexuality, specifically to Mormon women’s sexual experiences. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

You Are A Whole Person

Sometimes Mormon culture seems to perpetuate the idea that women exist solely as a helpmeet or support person for others (namely their husband and children). We often define ourselves in relation to other people, and while it’s wonderful to be focused on relationships, we may unintentionally begin to lose sight of own selves. When it comes to sexuality, LDS women may be playing out the paradigm that they are meant for the pleasure of the other person. This can be deeply problematic if we chronically neglect our own needs and feelings in constant sacrifice for someone else. Before you were a wife or a mother, you were a distinct and whole person, and you continue to be those things once you have a family as well.  The great thing is that the more fulfilled and confident you are in your own identity, the more you can really connect with another person, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

Get Clear On What You Want

When people hear the word “assertiveness,” they often think of someone speaking their mind or getting things off their chest. While that’s certainly part of it, my full definition of assertiveness means we have to back up a bit and really listen to and understand our emotions. Before you can share your feelings with someone else, you have to know what they are! If you are struggling to feel close or fulfilled in your sexual experiences, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions: 1) what do I think? 2) what do I want? 3) what do I feel? 4) what do I need? Understanding what it is you value, what it is you enjoy, and what it is you want is one of the first steps to asserting yourself to your partner in your sexual relationship.

Partnership Is The Goal

According to our Mormon doctrine, there are certain hierarchies of stewardship, power and influence that we often see play out in our everyday lives. Misinterpretations of scripture can lead to relationships where one person dominates the other (almost always the man over the woman). Phrases like “preside over” can lead to power struggles, and a Mormon woman may feel inferior to men and believe she’s always at the mercy of her husband. This distorted belief can translate to marital sexual relationships where one person’s needs and desires trump the other’s. As a therapist, a mother, wife, and a Latter-day Saint, it’s so painful for me to see this unequal dynamic play out; it’s not Zion! The true doctrine of Christ helps us understand that men and women really are meant to work together, equally yoked in a partnership. This applies to how well connected they are on all levels, emotionally, sexually, mentally, etc. I am optimistic that this generation of young Mormon couples seem to be working toward practicing more equitable relationships; this is very inspiring!

Overall, practicing assertiveness helps us see ourselves as sexual women with needs and desires that are worthy of acknowledgment. It also helps us get closer to our partners in intimate relationships, as we are showing up, being seen, and expressing ourselves.

Click here to download the podcast interview ($1.29)

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About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her book The Burnout Cure is available now and The Assertiveness Guide is available now.

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