Monday, April 30, 2007

SGA, Romantic Love and Marriage

Last night for hours I enjoyed consuming my way through the Blog feast prepared by Mormons with same gender attraction. So much good stuff, so little time! A frequently discussed issue is "Should I marry or stay married to a good friend whom I love when I don't feel much physical attraction for her." I cannot really answer this for anyone besides myself, but maybe my thoughts may help someone struggling for his or her answers. Foxx reviewed a book on the social history of marriage that started me thinking about my philosophy of marriage. The ideas that follow are not all original to me. I have read and gathered from many sources.

In the scriptures we have Abraham sending his servant off to pick a wife for his son. The servant brings her back "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." Genesis 24:67. He married her and then he learned to love her. Because of Lehi's instructions the wife selection pool for Nephi and his brothers was just Ishmael's daughters. They married and then worked out their relationships during the physical hardships that followed.

It seems that down through the ages love was not the basis for mate selection. People married and some of them learned to love each other. One philosopher said that "we owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity: romantic love and gunpowder."

President Spencer W. Kimball said, "'Soul mates' are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price."

This suggests to me that almost any two people can come together and build a loving relationship if they are willing to put in the work and sacrifice to grow together in love. A therapist and Church leader friend of mine said: "We act our way into a new way of feeling more often than we feel our way into a new way of acting. 'Love' in the scriptures is a verb, not a noun. Love is not as much a feeling as it is a way of acting, no matter how we feel." (President Kimball told our country in the June 1976 Ensign to love our enemies so that they will no longer be our enemies, instead of building up stores of weapons to fight them.) Individually we tend to build up defensive tactics to defend ourselves. Reaching out kindly and sensitively helps us break down our own barriers and invites others to likewise let down their defenses.

My friend said: "You don't love a person forever unless you decide to day by day. Love is a daily decision."

What about sexual attraction? I remember sitting in a BYU marriage class before I was married. On the board was a drawing of male and female genitalia as the professor discussed sexual relations with the class. I remember looking at the female drawings and hoping that in marriage I could develop an attraction to the female body as strongly as I felt towards the male body. I hoped that boobs would excite me as much as pecs. For me, after many years, this has not happened. I do enjoy carressing my wife and feeling her touch. I enjoy giving her pleasure. I enjoy cuddling with her and enjoy the fulfilling oneness we feel in our intimate relations. The recognized sexuality experts, Drs. Masters and Johnson, said that the most important techniques that lead to sexual satisfaction are not developed in the bedroom. They are developed in the every day relationships outside of the bedroom. Through patience and acceptance and flexibility and creativity over time my wife have found fulfillment in our intimate relations. I think that is because we have used these same principles outside of the bedroom.

I have never experienced the pink clouds of romantic love or the surge of passionate physical desire in our relationship. But I do experience caring, respect, trust, empathy, friendship, and unconditional love in our marriage. We are committed to similar goals: to raise self-confident, caring children, to provide service in the Church and community, and to stay in tune with God.

Neither of us are perfect people. Marriage for us has been on the job training, with many mistakes contributing to many hard times. There have been times when we each wondered if we made the right choice to be married to each other. This is when our Temple Covenants have come to our rescue. The public commitments of the Temple marriage ceremony, supported by families, Church, and society have helped us get through the rough times when positive feelings wore thin because of stress and conflict in the relationship, economic challenges, sickness, and children. My wife and I have come to where we are because we have been both commited to higher purposes than the bliss of continual emotional, economic, physical security and satisfaction. It has been challenging. The Covenant we made to each other and God and society has helped us through many rough spots and brought us to where we are today.

I had a very immature understanding of “love”when I married. I hoped that it had to be more than physical attraction because of my SGA. It is! I wouldn’t trade our relationship for anything in this world. We have even survived raising many teenagers! (They are good kids and, in spite of their imperfect parents, I think that they will make this world a better place.) I still am not above temptation and will never be, but I thank God for the Temple Marriage Covenant that has helped us get this far along the path.

I do not criticize someone who has chosen another path, to not marry or to divorce because of SGA. I encourage each to seek out God's guidance and to follow and learn from the path they choose.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gaydar Aide??

Maybe there is something to this gaydar stuff. I certainly don't have any of it or at least don't trust my prejudgements of people. I know men with effeminate characteristics who say they are thoroughly heterosexual and hairy masculine men who have SSA. Honestly, I don't wear a sign saying, "I am attracted to men." I am a friendly person. My mission taught me that I can even talk to people on the subway or on the bus. I go to the gym almost every day and say "Hi" or smile at or talk to probably 10+ men each time. I enjoy being with people of many diverse backgrounds and have learned a lot from these encounters.

But last night it happened again. I walked by the jacuzzi on my way to the swimming pool and said "Hi" to a friend of mine and smiled at another guy in the jacuzzi. After my swim the other guy was still in the jacuzzi. I don't even remember if I smiled at him this time. He followed me into the shower room and took a stall across from me. (Although I have often requested curtains, none have been installed.) He is probably in his early 20's, blond, goodlooking, well built and well endowed. He began masturbating and smiling at me. I tried to look elsewhere, but was many times not successful. He could see that I was aroused. I kept my hands from my genitals as I washed. I really wanted to masturbate with him, but I didn't. He gestured to me like he was driving a car suggesting that he wanted to go for a ride with me and then gestured that he wanted to give me a blow job. I have never done anything like this in my adult life, and tempting thoughts flooded my mind. But I know what I would give up in a few moments of pleasure with him. And what would this do to him? It would reinforce an apparent addiction to shallow, sterile, relationships. I would help him continue in a pattern of empty encounters that would reinforce others in the same addictions. I shook my head indicating "No". He did this a number of times and finally then gave up and went back to the jacuzzi. I went to the locker room with testosterone surging through me and went home with throbbing testicles, hoping to be rescued in the arms of my wife. (I have never told her about these incidents.)

I don't intend to send out signals to those with SSA. But I seem to attract them. I guess that's one of the consequences of being friendly in a world where men seldon even make eye contact. I am surprised at how open and warm people can be if you initiate the conversation.

Forrester, I don't want to scare you away from the gym. It is a great place to get addicted to endorphins and it is great to feel strong and healthy and to burn out the stress of the day and to clear my brain. The collective energy in the gym motivates to work harder than I would at home. I have read a number of books while on the cardio machines and overall have met some very interesting people and may have helped them with my support and friendship. I believe that just a smile and positive recognition from me may enlighten a dark day for someone.

My shower encounters aren't things I talk about with others. I thank you all for giving me a chance to vent. I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I am new to the Blog scene. I use Google Alert to keep up on what they are saying about the Mormons. One of the links that came up was Elbow's blog. I clicked on to it and discovered some of the the blogging world through links on his site. To be able to comment I had to set up this site. It has been here blank for a while. I don't know what to say. I am a good listener. I respond better to other peoples comments. So let me begin with two responses I gave on Elbow's website. First a response to introduce me to him:

Since we are all unique. I can never understand fully how you or anyone else feels. Each alone must choose his path. But I can share my own feelings as a married Mormon with strong same sex atractions. I know the emotional emptyness that cries to be filled with a male partner. It is not just physical. But I believe that this emotional hunger has come to me biologically in mortality. I feel no guilt at its existance. It is part of me. I have filled it somewhat in non- physical relationships as a scoutmaster, as a young adult leader and teacher, as a bishop, and as a father. Thus far I can see no indication that my sons inherited the SSA gene. No one but my wife and those who interviewed me for my mission know about this. I realize that if I continue on the path I have chosen that this hunger for male intimacy will never be fulfilled. I wish that my world were different, so that I could have all I desire. It seems unfair. But then I consider the emptinesses I would feel if I chose the path of male intimacy. I love my wife. I am not sexually attracted to her like I am to men. Erections are sometimes difficult to achieve when we are intimate. But we love the warmth of each other's bodies and have worked out techniques where we each usually reach climax. She is my best friend. My life would be terribly empty without her. I love my children and enjoy their love and repect. Had I chosen another path I would not be able to give them Father's blessings or attend their Temple weddings. I would feel a hunger for those things. I have been able to counsel and guide many boys and young men, some of whom who struggled with SSA, and young women also. I have tried to help them accept and love themselves. Another path may have given me opportunity to help others. But I have been able to bless so many in the Gospel context, I am glad I have stayed on this path. I am far from perfect and have and still do have many opportunities to satisfy my SSA, but I have thus far never violated my covenants with my wife. I have experienced the healing and prophetic powers of the Priesthood flowing through me. Had I followed another path I would hunger for those experiences. There is so much thus far in my life that has been filled at the price of denying myself satisfaction of my strong, continual hunger for total physical and emotional intimacy with men. In describing my path I am not suggesting that you should follow. You must decide for yourself. And I trust that you will do what is right for your unique life. But I do suggest that you consider the possiblilty that you will not be able to satisfy all the hungers in your life and pray that you will choose those that will bring you the most happiness. I am not critical of those who take a path different than mine. God loves all of His children and will try to guide them to peace and happiness where ever.

Next a response to his annoyance at gay men staring at him on the subway:

What bugs me is that often in the gym showers a guy opposite me stares and smiles and starts masturbating. I don't feel bad about being aroused by the good looking ones, but I should look away and not stare. I find this extremely hard to do. I already have enough hormones pumping through me. I don't need any more. By being aroused and staring I am reinforcing some poor guy who has to has to resort to a shower room for a relationship. But in many cases it is hard to turn my eyes away. They usually quit when someone comes into an adjacent stall or when they see that I am not going to masturbate with them. If it's possible I try to strike up a conversation with them in the dressing room to let them know that I don't reject them. Some have become gym friends and tell me about their life struggles, but they know that I am not into having visual or physical sex with them. Some won't even talk to me afterwards. Thats OK. I only wish I could keep from looking or staring.

This should give you a little window into my life. Have a good day!