Retired religion professor gives advice on dating and marital happiness

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Prayer, scripture study and temple attendance are all important elements of a successful, happy marriage. However, to live happily ever after, one key aspect is constantly overlooked.

BYU Women’s Services and Resources recently hosted a Dating and Healthy Relationship Conference for men and women. The conference featured six lecturers who discussed relationship tips, from dating red flags and break-ups to how to communicate effectively.

Douglas Brinley, a retired professor of religion and successful author of multiple books on marriage for Latter-day Saints, addressed students on how healthy couples maintain a good relationship and specifically how intimacy plays a role in a happy marriage.

Brinley said there are key components that make up a happy marriage. He said he has a checklist for couples that will help them to create a happy marriage. The list includes first, that the couples pray together both morning and night. Second, couples read church material like daily scripture reading and the Ensign together. Third, couples should attend the temple frequently. Fourth, couple intimacy between husband and wife is crucial. And fifth, that couples hold Family Home Evening.

Although he said all of these things are important to creating a healthy marriage, Brinley feels that marital intimacy is frequently overlooked. Without marital intimacy, the relationship will most often struggle.

“I learned years ago that when you get involved in the lives of couples, and they are having problems, intimacy is generally a disaster,” Brinley said. “We live in a very erotic society … it can poison a marriage very quickly.”

Brinley referred to President Spencer W. Kimball and said husbands and wives are commanded to have sex when they are properly married. It’s a way for a husband and wife to connect with each other and draw closer to the Lord.

Brinley explained how intimacy should be looked at like taking the sacrament. It is a way for couples to renew their love and commitment to each other on a regular basis.

“Sexual relations is a reflection of the quality of the marriage,” Brinley said. “And people who have good marriages, enjoy their intimate times together.”

According to Brinley, couples who have fulfilled other aspects of a healthy relationship first, like prayer and temple attendance, can only strengthen their relationship through marital intimacy. Husbands and wives who can communicate and share their feelings are able to enrich their marriage. He said people can’t solve their problems with sexual relations; sex only enhances a good marriage.

Brinley also said when people date, they are always on their best behavior. He said it’s important to date someone long enough to really understand each other. You want to marry your best friend.

“Time is the great leveler,” Brinley said, “but you need to go together long enough to really take a look at his tribe and he needs to look at your tribe and you need to spend time together and apart.”

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