PROVO, Utah — People who stay married without learning to be happy together sexually as well as spiritually can't count on eternal blessings, said a Campus Education Week speaker Aug. 20.
Douglas Brinley, professor emeritus of church history and doctrine with a doctorate in family studies, said God designed the world with a romantic purpose, and he wants men and women to learn to be truly happy with one another.
Those who simply wait it out cannot expect to live in the celestial kingdom, Brinley said. Happiness includes a shared intimacy that's rewarding and validating.
"A couple's sexual expression is a barometer of the quality of the total experience," he said. "Marriage is not just a legal outlet for sex. It was designed by God to provide physical, emotional and spiritual validation. My suggestion is to share what works, learn from experience and — for you older folks — don't skip steps."
Brinley said both spouses need to be aware of what interferes with good sexual experiences: poor hygiene, weight problems and lack of good technique.
He advised bringing a sense of humor to the bedroom and helping one another out with feedback and charity.
"Charity is the ruling virtue," he said.
Married couples in the highest kingdom in the afterlife will continue to procreate, he said, while those in lesser kingdoms will not.
This life is the first place and time that people get to try marriage, he said. "The first time we could marry, the first time we can create bodies. This is our primary reason for coming to Earth."
He suggested sitting down with one's spouse and asking, "Are we pleased? Is Heavenly Father pleased with our marriage?"
"Marriage is a profound commitment where we learn," he said.
He quoted President Spencer W. Kimball, who said, "Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects. It has to do not only with immediate happiness but also with eternal joys."
Conversely, Satan has every reason to disrupt, disturb and destroy the home and the family, Brinley said, quoting President Boyd K. Packer.
"We've got a job to do," Brinley said. "The brethren are trying to get us together."
Brinley shared some sobering statistics on marriage and divorce in the Mormon church:
6-17 percent of temple marriages end in divorce
24 percent of LDS non-temple marriages end in divorce
"Why would LDS couples who don't like each other stay married?" Brinley asked and then listed finances, children, fear of social stigma, belief in change and a belief that if covenants are kept, blessings will automatically result.
Brinley said the latter is partially true, but the Lord expects people to work to achieve those resultant blessings.
The goal is not just to stay married but to find a way to love one another and have joy in the relationship, he said.