Category Archives: Sex & Relationships

How We Talk To Youth About Abstinence

May 28, 2015

AbstinenceThere’s been an article circulating for the past couple of days that really got my attention. It’s called The Damaging Effects of Shame-Based Sex Education: Lessons From Elizabeth Smart, by Kristen Howerton.

I highly recommend you give it a read, but the gist of it is that a person’s worth is not tied to their status as a virgin or non-virgin, and we need to be so careful about the way we teach abstinence to youth. Shame should not be the driving force behind a teenager’s decision to not have sex.

The article got me thinking a lot. I am LDS (Mormon) and was raised that way. I attended church every week and was taught by my leaders that sex was reserved for after marriage and that I should be careful to keep myself “pure” so that I could get married in the temple and ride off into the sunset to have a thousand babies. I don’t remember ever having one of those horrible “no one wants gum that’s already been chewed” lessons, but chastity was talked about often, albeit in a vague sort of way.

All that was super easy until I was about 15 and my family moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to Florence, Italy. It was like being dropped onto a whole different planet. Gone were the days of nervous hand-holding and pecks. Suddenly my young dating life was full of french kissing and turning down sex on a regular basis. And here’s that part that really surprised me.

I wanted to have sex.

Like really.

And I’d had no idea I’d feel that way. From the way I’d been taught at church, I’d thought it would come down to me having to put my foot down when some nondescript boy tried to pressure me into doing things I didn’t want to do. I was completely unprepared for the fact that maybe I’d actually want to do those things, and that maybe I’d really like said boy, and oh great. Hormones. This was my struggle for the next seven years. I cared about my church’s teachings and I really did want to wait for marriage, but I also wanted to have sex. Now. And I had no idea how to reconcile that.

This was seriously tricky business. I had lots of boyfriends, some Mormon, some not, and in almost every relationship it was a struggle. Whenever I felt like things had gone too far I ended up beating myself up about it. I was stuck in this awful cycle: slip up, feel awful, repent. {Rinse and repeat.} At one point I had a church leader tell me that there may be a limit to the amount of times God will forgive us. (Can I just add that I disagree with that wholeheartedly?)

It was a struggle, to say the least. And when my wedding day arrived I was almost as excited to stop living in that cycle as I was to

finally.

have.

sex.

So what’s my point with all this (besides some ridiculous oversharing)? My point is, I am really grateful that I didn’t have sex until marriage (I felt strongly about it and I think it saved me from a lot of heartache), but I also wish I’d been a whole lot gentler on myself. I think I was afraid I’d make such a big mistake that I’d never come back from it, and the fact of the matter is–that is never true. Ever.

If adult me could sit down raging teenager me and give her some advice I would say this:

Turns out sex is going to be a big deal to you, and even though it isn’t going to be easy, it is going to be okay. It is a great thing to strive to live up to the things you believe in, but you also need to remember that you’re a human (and a teenage one at that), and you are absolutely going to fall short of your own expectations. But guess what? That’s the whole point of being alive.  You’re here to grown and learn, and no matter what choices you make you are valuable in the sight of God. Also, maybe just choose one guy to make out with on prom night. They might compare notes the next morning, and yikes. That could get embarrassing.

So here’s my big message today. No matter what your stance is on sex outside of marriage, and no matter whether you’ve lived up to that or not, you are valuable, no matter what. You are important, no matter what. Do your best to do what you think is right, and then when you fall short, well, remember that’s the point. We are not the sum total of the things we do or don’t do right.

We are so much more than that.

 

Baby Daddy.

April 20, 2013

When I was 15 and in the throes of my very first romance I thought very intently about what kind of man I wanted to marry. It was something that needed to be pondered. Weighed out. Decided. And then I made a declaration.

I can remember it very clearly–I was standing in the dining room of our rented Italian home with our nanny Cammy. Every available surface was lined with vintage wine bottles (our renters’ decoration) which they had made us swear with all solemnity not to drink. (Hilarious. They didn’t realize how safe their precious collection was with their Mormon renters.) I had made a decision, and I made the following statement (Cammy, back me up on this):

I want to  marry a guy who is tall with green eyes and curly hair. It would be cool if he were good at computers. And, I like the name David.

Okay, if you know us maybe your jaw just dropped? If not, please know that that is exactly who I married. David Welch, green eyed, curly haired (childhood nickname Big Wave Dave), computer software engineer David.

Or in other words, I think I dreamed this man up and then somehow convinced him to marry me.

There are other weird things about us. Like on our first date (17–I know–17) when I told him I thought it would be great if we got married because I thought it would be really fun to live with him. He thought for a moment then agreed.

Or maybe the time he was present at my first kiss? Me and another 14 year old emerged from the bushes to find David standing there with a smirk. “What were you two doing?” he asked. I yelled something like “Shut up, Welch.” Or maybe the time we were high school gym partners?

Anyway, I digress.

The point is, there is no one who could possible be better at loving me. No one who thinks I’m quite as funny or encourages my writing quite as well. No one who would allow me to scowl at him for hours on end when morning sickness struck. No one who I’d find quite as brilliant and understanding or a better listener.

What’s even stranger is that when he was 13 he said he wanted to marry a blue-eyed supermodel named Adriana Lima. Oh. Wait. That wasn’t me.

An Actual Conversation from an Actual Marriage

May 27, 2011

The following true life events occurred over the weekend. As I feel the scene has great dramatic potential I am presenting it to you as a screen play. Movie agents are to contact me directly through my email.

SETTING:

Costco. A warehouse-type store that sells everything in post-apocalypse supply quantities. For example, 30 rolls of toilet paper. Or 20 onions. Or 80 oz of Cetaphil lotion.

CHARACTERS:

WIFE. HUSBAND. Married 3 years, generally get along famously.

DIALOGUE/ACTION:

HUSBAND and WIFE are standing in giant doorway of warehouse, showing warehouse employees their membership card.

HUSBAND: (speaking in whisper) Have you ever noticed that there are really good looking people working here? I swear there was a gang of Swedish models working the registers last time I was here.

WIFE: (looking annoyed) Really. That must have been so nice for you.

HUSBAND: (oblivious) Yeah.

Cut to registers. About an hour has passed and cart is full of items in ridiculous amounts, including 6 bottles of shaving cream and the world’s largest box of condoms. (not to be used together)

HUSBAND: (touching WIFE’S arm and pointing discreetly to woman working at register, who is in fact, gorgeous even in her warehouse red polo). See. I told you. Where do you think they find these girls?

WIFE: (Turning on HUSBAND) You want to know what I think? I think that is the second time you’ve brought up how hot the Costco workers are. I also think you probably should have married a COSTCO WORKER if you find them so interesting.

(WIFE storms away to food court to buy a large hot dog or perhaps a giant piece of pizza, leaving HUSBAND looking bewildered.

Scene fades.

 

Please tell me you’ve had this conversation.

How to Stay in Love with Your Spouse Even When He/She Does Annoying Things

March 31, 2011

On February 15, 2008, the first full day of wearing my brand new sparkling engagement ring, I realized something alarming. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted to give me advice. Some of it was great (Write in your journal! Have your bridesmaids help you with your thank-you cards!), but some of it was not—and I mean inappropriate, make you squirm, get me out of here, advice.

For example, during a meeting at work one of the organization’s ancient members offered me the following pearls of wisdom:

  1. Marry a return missionary. (Ignored.)
  2. Make sure your fiancée doesn’t look at porn, because if he does, he’ll never stop.( O.M.G.)

A mere 3 days later I was forced to sit through a 45 minute lecture with another work associate who walked me through all the reasons why I probably didn’t know my spouse well enough (I assured him we’d dated for several years), and the statistics of how many marriages end in divorce. If it wouldn’t have caused negative repercussions for the organization I worked for, I would have told him to go to hell.

After David and I got home from our honeymoon in Maui and real life started, I did an assessment of all the advice I’d been given and mentally threw out most of it. However, there was one bit that really stuck and I think really is worth something:

Give your spouse a free pass on 5 things you find annoying.

Sounds simple, right?

When you chose to be with your partner I’m sure you had a long list of reasons why. Mine included important things like his green eyes and the fact that he can befriend anyone. I know you had a list like this. And I’m hoping that at some point you also thought about your then boyfriend/girlfriend’s faults and decided that the pluses outweighed the minuses.  Then came the Annoying Things.

You know what I’m talking about—and this doesn’t just apply to spouses. Annoying Things are those little habits belonging to the people around us that for no apparent reason drive you completely up the wall.  They never rinse out their cereal bowls. They chew too loud. Maybe they’re ridiculously perky at 6 in the morning, or they clip their toenails on the couch. And suddenly these little things are a big deal and are taking away from your relationship with that person. You can be sitting there—surrounded by everything you ever wanted in life (someone you love, a happy home, and a giant bowl of stir fry) but all you can think about is the way they slurp their noodles. You know it’s ridiculous, but you just can’t help it! It bugs!

You’ve got two options here. You can say “Quit slurping your noodles/Clipping your toenails/Whistling through your nose when your sleep/ Singing lyrics wrong/etc.!” And end up feeling more bugged, only now your spouse is on the defensive and perhaps brings up something annoying that you do. OR, you could invoke what I like to call the 5 Annoying Things clause.

Here’s how to use this important bit of marital wisdom:

1. Make a list of things you love about your spouse. Remember the reasons you’re with them. Spouse appreciation is a big deal, so do this even if they’re not doing Annoying Things.

2. Remember your own flaws. No matter how perfect you think you are, know that you are doing at least 5+ things that your spouse finds annoying.

David and I haven’t shared our 5 Annoying Things lists with each other, but I can imagine that his looks something like this: changing clothes repeatedly when I’m nervous to go somewhere, being able to decimate a clean kitchen within 6 minutes, never answering my cell phone, having terrible taste in music, and my ability to tune out everything (including small kitchen fires) when America’s Next Top Model is on.

3. Make your Free Pass List. Make a mental list (it’s not important enough to commit to paper) of Annoying Things you are willing to quit obsessing over, and keep it secret.

4. Think of reasons why the Annoying Things may actually be endearing. For example, during our first year of marriage David and I had conversations like the following about 3 times a week:

JENNA: (Walking into the room) You’ll never believe what I saw on Animal Planet. There are monkey in Japan who have learned how to hot tub during the winter to keep warm. They look hysterical!

DAVID: (Working on his computer) Uh huh.Really.

30 seconds of silence.

DAVID: (Coming to) Wait, what did you say?

You can see where I’m coming from. Here I am sharing completely interesting and engaging bits of knowledge and he has the nerve to keep his mind focused on his work. Really. However, once I started using the Free Pass list I realized that this delayed reaction thing was actually quite endearing. David’s mind seems to constantly be churning out new ideas, programs, etc. and his intelligence is one of the things I love the most about him.

5. Work the free pass. The next time the annoying thing comes up (and let the list be flexible) remember the list and just let it go. Hallelujiah. Freedom.

 

Right now I’m sitting across the table from David at a Starbucks. Just told him what I’m writing about and he said “You’re worth 10 Annoying Things.” I knew I married well.

How to Succeed as a Gold Digger

January 19, 2011

The term Gold Digger once conjured up the image of old prospectors, toting pick axes and dreams of finding precious metals in the Old West. I’m assuming you know I’m not talking about this type of gold digger. But as the future wife of an incredibly wealthy man, you really are not much different. You too have aspirations. You too have skills. And you too are willing to work for your money. I’ll open this article with a description of my favorite historic gold digger,

Peggy Hopkins Joyce: A Gold Digger’s Inspiration

Peggy Hopkins Joyce was one of the most inspiring gold diggers of the 19th century.  Born Marguerite Upton, Peggy ran away at the age of 16 to travel with a vaudeville troupe, later becoming a showgirl and actress.

Before the age of twenty she had scandalously married and divorced twice—and as her millionaire ex-husband began to stack up (6 husband + numerous high-profile lovers) she began to earn something of a reputation, particularly when she started doing things like spending over $1 million in a single week on pearls and fur coats.

Many have remarked that while charming, Peggy was not talented as an actress or dancer. Clearly her talent lay elsewhere. In one of her many interviews with the press (which she usually showed up to wearing something scandalous) she explained her secret:  “I may be expensive, but I deliver the goods.”

And therein lies the secret to success.

Preparing to Meet Your Millionaire

As Henry Hartman said, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”  And if you’re going to have any hope at securing a long term position as a gold digger, you’d better prepare. Don’t think the opportunity will just be handed to you—along with hanging out in millionaire breeding grounds (casinos, high-end parties, clubs, charity events, etc.) you have got to be 110% prepared at all times to meet your Money Man. The following components are completely essential to your success, but whether these are natural or acquired through artificial means is entirely up to you:

DD’s + . This is crucial. Forget about the initial costs, think what an investment they are. And if you are ever involved in some type of flood think what an asset chest-level floaties will be.

Long blond hair. I don’t care what you have to do to get it. Check out my hair growth post, or invest in good extensions and a lot of peroxide. A few women manage to pull off the sexy brunette look, but don’t take chances—blond is tried and proven.

A Jamaican tan. In the past creamy skin was all the rage, but in the year 2011, it’s all about the tan. Forget about the health of your skin, all you need are a few good years to get you the riches you deserve. Consider nude tanning at least a part-time gig.

Big lips. Victoria’s Secret offers a great lip gloss that does wonders. Do not feel you need to invest in cosmetic surgery. There will be plenty of time for you to inject fat from your butt into your lips when you are a billionaire.

Consider a temporary career as a sex worker. This includes stripping (think Anna Nicole Smith), posing nude (Holly Madison), or being a show girl (Peggy Hopkins Joyce). Many Money Men are looking for a way to piss off their ex wives or inheriting children, so the trashier you are the better.

Act the part. In your role as an aspiring gold digger, remember, you are:  1) arm candy. 2) crazy about old, oftentimes decrepit men. Make it believable.

Facing Down Hurdles

Your biggest road blocks will be:

1.       Adult children. These are your intended’s children and your Money Man may have pesky attachments to them and what they think. Don’t let them get in the way. Any time a conflict arises over their father dating you, act as sweet as possible and then dissolve into tears the second you and Money Man are alone. Say things like, “Why do they hate me? I just want to make you happy.”  Or, “They may be older than me, but couldn’t they consider me more of a friend? How can they blame me for loving you?” NOTE: It is important to become a pretty crier. No floating makeup, blotchy skin or runny noses. I suggest waterproof makeup and artificial tears.

2.       Your conscience (Maybe.) Remember, you are NOT taking advantage of Money Man. This is strictly a business transaction.  Your company, beauty and dedication for his millions.

Good Luck! And if all else fails, marry the love of your life and hope for the best.

How to Survive a Trip to Blue Boutique’s Adult Room

January 7, 2011

This is a subject dear to my heart.

In case you do not live in Utah, I will give you an idea of what The Blue Boutique entails. Think naughty nurse costumes, meets body chocolate, meets stripper heels, meets candy thong. And this is just the front store.

In case these first items just aren’t what your depraved adult mind is looking for, then your next move is to walk discreetly to the back of the store, through a set of western-style swinging doors framed with suggestive neon lighting, partially hidden by a wall. Welcome to the Adult Room. It is a 12×12 room full of dildos, condoms, porn, vibrators, and some other things that to be honest I have no idea what they could be used for. Many things are battery operated. Many have photos of Jenna Jameson (whom I’ve always felt a connection with since when introducing myself in Europe many people would say “Jenna… Like the porn star?” But this is another story). And the room is always, always crowded with sheepish looking adults who are all trying not to look at each other.

My first 5 minutes in said room I always have a minor panic attack positive that I’ve just seen one of my church leaders, but at the point of me writing this, this has never been the case. Mostly they are people of all ages who to be honest, I’d probably rather not picture having sex so I follow in suite, looking closely at items, making sure my eyes are averted from others at all times.  If someone gets too close to me, risking eye contact or an acknowledgement that yes, we both  have sex, although of course, not with each other, then I become deeply immersed in the literature of whatever product I’ve picked up. I may be the only person to have read the ingredients of strawberry flavored lube, or the many features of a spiked vibrator. When I finally find the item I’m looking for (and by the way, why are condoms confined to the back room? It seems we should be handing them out like candy), I casually let the hand holding the item drop to my side and saunter to the counter as though I am at the grocery store purchasing a pack of gum, or a carton of milk.  (Ever notice how awkwardly you walk when you are trying to look natural?)

The sales people make the purchase the easiest part. They check my I.D., ring up my purchase, and suddenly I am on my way. I exit the store holding my opaque black plastic sack (that is always enormous by the way) and suddenly feel as though I have a great secret. Everyone in the store knows what that black sack means, but only I know what is inside. I feel a great swelling of pride and joy.

I have survived yet another trip to Blue Boutique’s Adult Room.