Monday, January 17, 2011

Even More Thoughts on Single, Female, Mormon

More than a week later, I'm still getting comments and still have discussions scheduled with long-distance friends to catch up about this article.  I know that I'm still thinking about it and probably will for a long time.  I really do value everyone sharing their own perspective.

Lindsay wrote a fabulously long comment on my blog post, so long in fact, that Blogger wouldn't let her post it!  Alas, here it is:
Count me as one of the people that drove up your blog traffic...I was very interested to see what people commented, so I've checking back. (I also read the comments over at Feminist Mormon Housewives, which you might be interested in if you haven't seen them already -- this article has definitely caused quite a stir!
Here are a couple of my thoughts, take them for what they're worth, my perspective: as your first commenter said, I don't know for certain where I would be on this issue at 35/36 if I had not gotten married at 27, but overall I don't think I would be where she is. I just don't honestly relate what I was seeking as a single person to sex. Different people have different sexual needs and desires, but far more than physical contact, i wanted someone to share ideas with, have stimulating conversations, have some fun too, a marriage of the minds. Making the decision to have sex as if that was what I was truly missing in singledom would have been completely counterproductive for me. Indeed, I think the prohibition against sexual relations mistakenly leads some people to think that's where it's at, that's what they're missing. I'm not bagging on sexual intimacy, but the reality is that it doesn't end up being quite as romantic and exciting after a couple of years as it once seemed like it would be. And since I also study marriage and family in grad school, I can say that in general women's responses to questions about their sexual relationships within marriage and relationships show that sex doesn't end up being THAT important (except when there's a specific sexual problem, which lowers the perception of relationship quality)--women just tend to have lower sexual desire than men and sexuality ends up receding in importance in comparison to other aspects of the marriage. Like I said, though, I am speaking for myself and my experience and what we find about women in general; individuals may have a different experience and different relative importance of sex in their lives.
I guess the other thing that I thought while reading the article is that I cringe within myself whenever I catch myself saying something like the author said: "I’m just unwilling to believe that’s what God wants for anyone..." If there's one thing that I feel life has taught me, it's that God and I don't think alike. I used to say a lot during my days of working out my problems with the church, I just don't want to believe in a God that does/thinks X. I got some real wake-up calls when I actually learned that there was a God (and He wasn't me) and His attributes and beliefs did not revolve around what I thought they should be. I think God asks some incredibly difficult things of us at times -- that does not seem strange to me anymore.
Some of the comments at fMh are to the effect that being heterosexual and single and lonely in the church is hard, but being homosexual is harder. I would probably agree, but when i think about other people who have it hard too, people I know: a mentally disabled woman who knows that she's missing something in terms of companionship but is also frequently told that she is not capable of having a relationship, going to the temple, etc; a man who is completely paralyzed -- cannot even speak (has ALS) but still has full use of his mind. I guess my point is not to say this person has it worst because every situation is subjective, but can we really say that God would not want me to suffer through X -- when clearly he asking others to suffer through other incredibly difficult and intense situations.
Well, anyway, Lauren this is probably a monstrously long comment, but you got me thinking and that is a dangerous thing.
P.S. I probably need to stop thinking about this and qualifying all my thoughts, but I just wanted to clarify that I know the author is talking about more than a longing for sex, but companionship, closeness, etc. -- I definitely felt that as a very real longing as well. I guess part of my concern with her article is that she seems to be conflating the two, which based on my own experience and much research on women end up being two very different things. And I feel genuinely concerned that conflating the two in that way could lead her to greater unhappiness and loneliness and disconnectedness. 

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